Today in my class on Marxism, neo-Marxism, post-Marxism we discussed the intellectual origins of the Budapest School and the avatars of humanist dialectics. I mentioned this telltale story: When Georg Lukács said that even the worst socialism was preferable to the best capitalism, Leszek Kołakowski replied: “Ah yes, the advantages of Albania over Sweden are self-evident.”
Images: Georg Lukács (1885-1971) and Leszek Kołakowski (1927-2009)
Paul Ricoeur, “Memory, History, Forgetting,” Translated by Kathleen Blamey and David Pellauer, The University of Chiacgo Press, 2004, “Preface,” p. XVII): “… and finally, Emmanuel Macron to whom I am indebted for a pertinent critique of the writing and the elaboration of the critical apparatus of the work.” Elaboration of the critical apparatus! This is quite an acknowledgement! Paul Ricoeur was one of the most penetrating, most profound thinkers o…f our times. Such a recognition for Macron is for me a ,ajor, idelible recommendation for a critical intellectual. In the times of moral idiots and cultural barbarians like Trump, Putin, and Orban, I don’t need to justufy my support for Macron…
How democracies perish: Never was the title of Jean-François Revel’s 1983 book more appropriate than in these dark times for liberal values. Far from living the end of history, nonchalantly predicted by a a bright Straussian political thinker in 1989, we witness the vindictive comeback of reactionary (I measure my terms) forces and ideas belonging to the age of tyranny (the title of Elie Halévy’s famous lecture in the 1930s). This is is Havel post-communist nightmare coming true. And all this debacle is happening under Western eyes…
We are not in the 1930s, the Fifth Republic is not the Weimar Republic, and it’s crucially important to remember that France is the country that gave to the world, in August 1789, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen,a fundamental document of the French Revolution and in the history of human and civil rights. Whereas Marine Le Pen is an unswerving exponent of the populist Far Right, Emmanuel Macron symbolizes the resurrection of the Center in Franch politics. Marine Le Pen’s all-consumming xenophobia reminds us that Nicolas Chauvin, from whom the term “chauvinism” derives, was French. Macron comes from a republican tradition that includes Gaullists, liberals, and democratic socialists.