Friday, June 18, 2004

On the Mass Chomskyfication of Europe

French anti-Chomskyite and all-around voice of sanity Alain Finkielkraut on the Chomskyfication of the European Left:

After a brief parenthesis, the grands simplificateurs are back. Since the fall of communism, we've been witnessing the stupefying restalinization of part of the intelligentsia and the movement of the socially-concerned. No longer having any adversary to measure up to it, America appears all-powerful. And this image of American omnipotence has breathed new life into the pernicious idea that politics can do everything: all the world's misfortunes are perceived as crimes; the objective universe seems to be made up of subjective wills, those which resist evil and those which foment it. This is why the idea of conspiracy has once more seized hold of the feeble-minded, and whoever talks about conspiracy soon or later ends up talking about the Elders of Zion…

One might have hoped we could have left the twentieth century with a different idea of politics than the Robespierrist conception of the struggle between humanity and its enemies. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall however, this idea has been making a paradoxical comeback. And it's the tragic character of politics which has become obscured once again. Anti-Americanism is no less violent than it was in the 1950s. When America is a victim, as on September 11, it's because it is a hyperpower. The one original feature of our time: adding Israel to the camp of absolute evil. Thus, during the movement against the war in Iraq, a new demonic entity was invented: Busharon…

It is not the institutional left we are dealing with here but the so-called "Left of the Left" and its increasing grip on the spirit of the age. Back in 1968, leftists were reading Marx, Trotsky or Lenin. In our day, everyone is invited to read Noam Chomsky. I thought this intellectual had been discredited by his preface to Faurisson [a French academic Holocaust denier] and by his ardent denial of the Cambodian genocide. I was wrong. The most prestigious publishers are fighting over the rights to the political works of a man who condemns to non-existence every crime or atrocity for which the American-Zionist entity cannot be held responsible.

It is important to remember that, while Chomsky is still a fringe figure in the United States, he is an increasingly mainstream intellectual in Europe. Certainly, the increasing derangement of the European Left is expressed in rhetoric which is, in all essential points, indistinguishable from Chomsky's.

I fully recommend reading the whole interview. Finkielkraut is a brilliant, if at times unnecessarily verbose (he is French after all), voice of decency and reason in a time of metastasizing dissonance. He is one of the few French intellectuals left who has attempted to continue the tradition of Albert Camus in opposing ideological tyranny even when it has become unpopular, isolating, and even dangerous to do so. Needless to say, I admire him immensely.