Was AB de Villier's cry justified

Wounds and abuse of memory

A year ago it was in the series Lignes my text Fragments mécréants - mythes identitaires et République imaginaire (Fragments of an Unbeliever - Identity Myths and the Imaginary Republic). The subjects of this book seem more relevant than ever to me: polemics about the Islamic headscarf and the law that rehabilitates the virtues of colonialism, the revolt of the banlieues, Collections of historians' signatures on the laws of remembrance, commemorations for the abolition of slavery, the massacres in Sétif [1] and the pogrom of October 17, 1961 [2], the law of 1905 separating church and state, passionate quarrels about Tariq Ramadan [3], Escalation of the victim discourse between Dieudonné and Finkielkraut, racist attacks by Georges Frêche [4], Controversy over the Mohammed cartoons and the right to blasphemy, polemics over the murder of Ilan Halimi [5], Rise to power of two integristic brothers in Poland, problematic confession by Günter Grass ... - the wounds of memory run the risk of becoming cancerous. Something contributes to this repulsive decomposition and the hectic return of what has been repressed for the most varied of reasons. But why now?

Globalization intensifies migratory flows and other population movements. It confuses the distinctions between what is one's own and what is foreign. It tries to dissolve the linguistic and cultural elements of citizenship. The explosive revolt of the French banlieues appeared as a symptom of a deep crisis. But its importance was put into perspective by the refusal of millions of Latin Americans living in North America to be deported to an illegal zone with no social rights. "No one is illegal ! Those who are here are from here! ”These calls, which were heard on May 1st in Paris or Los Angeles, express a desire for equality and demand an extension of immigration law.

Globalization emphasizes the forms of spatial separation between center and periphery, north and south, city center and suburbs or “extra-urban zones”. This results in a dissolution of the representation rooms and the representation of the space, a nauseating flow in space and time: the young person excluded from wage labor who remains locked in his neighborhood develops only in his immediate surroundings and in an imaginary space of his country of origin or a religious community and not in the national space, access to which he is forbidden. The mobile elites, on the other hand, live in the globalized area of ​​airports and financial markets rather than in their country of origin. These opposing experiences of the national territory and the area were articulated in a pointed form in the different perceptions of European reality in the referendum on the European constitution.

The rhetoric of a world without borders applies to the circulation of capital and goods, but it is brutally denied by police demarcation, the erection of walls (between Israel and Palestine, between the USA and Mexico), the barbed wire fences in Ceuta and Melilla, the Zones in which people should be prevented from migrating, increasing discrimination through visa requirements, repatriations to the border, which in this case still exists, “controlled immigration”. In some French municipalities, wooden fences are being built around the so-called “sensitive quarters”.

Armed globalization, the control of energy resources by the ruling powers, the new division of spheres of influence, the creation of military bases form a process of recolonization (or post-colonization) that rips open the never completely closed wounds of colonial massacres and conquests. The lobby of the revanchist right, which enforced the Law on the Positive Sides of Colonization of February 23, is part of this trend. The global war, declared by Georges W. Bush as a crusade of the absolutely good against the absolute evil (a holy war), places the enemy outside of humanity and turns him into an animal. Guantanamo, Abu Ghreib, the gray areas in which people are detained are beyond any jurisdiction. Abuse of prisoners is portrayed as an accident or assault, while the Pentagon's studies on the reintroduction of torture and the new US anti-terror law ("torture light") follow their own logic: anything is allowed against an enemy whose humanity is negated. The racist clichés of the colonial era are taking shape again (right up to the stands of the football stadiums), and Interior Minister Sarkozy's remarks about "the scraps" of the suburbs sound like an echo of the masters of this world who are compiling a list of "rogue states" the treatment of which escapes the flexible constraints of international law.

The split in French society fits in with this international context. With rising structural unemployment, precariousness, exclusion, the breakdown of solidarity and social security, with increasing social and school segregation, all “opportunities for advancement” are blocked, through wage labor as well as through education, if not social Lead descent. The increasing inequality at the expense of the weakest exposes the badly or not at all repealed breaks in colonization, which are all the more painful since the past did not come to terms with, since the “decolonization” in Algeria turned into a civil war that emerged from a war of liberation emerged. The presence of those who returned to the motherland and the Harkis [6] as well as a strong post-colonial immigration revive the disputes of the past in the middle of the old metropolis.

Finally, the left, the bearer of values ​​such as equality, anti-racism and internationalism, has problems with its own history and memory. How could one be the "civilizational" and conquering republic of a Ferry-Tonking [7] forget the zeal of Guy Mollet and François Mitterrand during the Algerian War, the nationalist twists and turns of the Communist Party on the colonial issue [8]who have favourited Eloi Machoro Assassination in New Caledonia [9]who have favourited Ivry Bulldozers [10], Pierre Mauroy's lie about "Islamist strikes" at Citroën in 1982, the Jospin government's refusal to legalize the sans papiers, the latest immigration laws, support for the discriminatory Islamic headscarf law in the name of an imaginary republic? And the whole thing orchestrated by the "accidental" vote (at least that's what François Hollande claims [11]) of Article 4 of the Law of February 23. “We weren't paying attention,” admitted the chairman of the socialist parliamentary group, Jean-Marc Ayrault. Except when listening to the unconscious! The Socialist faction abstained from the vote on the law in November 2005, just as it did in 1955 when the Law on the State of Emergency Against the Algerian Uprising, which is now aimed at the revolt in the suburbs, was passed.

Is the education to blame? In gloomy times, when the sky is covered, it lies like a lid over the wailing spirits. Better dim lighting than curfew and total darkness. The process that the reactionaries from all Rousseau camps want to make extends to the entire Enlightenment and turns against the criminal tendencies of the time: “It is the old Europe that is to blame for everything (...) it has everything formulated, defined and invented [12]. ”Alejo Carpentier illustrates very well the contradictions and ambivalences of republicanism when he writes about the arrival of the Declaration of Human Rights and the guillotine on the same ship in Guadeloupe. But that still does not justify a one-sided accusation that tends to institutionalize an inherited collective guilt [13]. The republic in year II is not necessarily followed by the Thermidorian or imperial reaction, there is no direct continuity.

On the night of the counter-intelligence, all cats are gray. And in the great pot of anachronisms, Rousseau, Condorcet and Diderot are cooked in the same disgrace. The author of replied to the plantation owners, who described "negroes" as "a human form who was born for slavery" L’Histoire des deux Indes (The story of the two Indians): “The negroes are narrow-minded because slavery breaks all human resources. They are sufficiently angry with you. They are wrong because the tyrants are not owed the truth. ”He denounced not only that Code Noir, but also "without exception all works of law that reduce man to bondage". And he calls for a legitimate revolt: “Your slaves need neither your generosity nor your advice to end the blasphemous oppression. Some massacred whites have atoned for some of our crimes. Two settlements of fugitive negroes have already established themselves, which are protected from your assassinations by treaties and the balance of power. These places are signs of light that tell of a thunderstorm, and the only thing the negroes lack is a courageous boss to call on them to take revenge and cause a bloodbath. Where is the great man whom nature owes the honor of mankind? Where is the new Spartacus who will hardly find a Krassus? Then the Code Noir will disappear. "In 1781 Diderot added:" He will appear, we should not doubt it, he will carry the sacred banner of freedom [14]. ”These are not the words of a Bugeaud, a Sant-Arnaud, a Ferry-Tonking or a Guy Mollet.

Universalisms. The abstract universalism - or the "imperialism of the universal" - which is ascribed to the republic, served as a comfortable mask for the oppression of class, gender, race. Today it takes on the devious form of a commodity-shaped cosmopolitanism that uses the generous hopes for a world without borders in its favor. As legitimate and necessary as the criticism of this universalism may be, it does not oblige us to transform the biological universality of mankind into a social and political one. If the universal declaration of human rights does not enshrine real equality and solidarity, it sets in motion what Abdellali Hajjat ​​calls "universalisms". The struggles of the exploited for equal rights, from Olympe de Gouges to Alexandra Kollontai, from Toussaint Louverture to Malcolm X, are based on this.

There are historical differences in manners and customs, but in their name one cannot renounce all the values ​​that have become common in the course of hard battles and reduce them to questions of taste. Slavery is a crime at every latitude and cannot be justified by any cultural custom. This is also the case with the fight against the oppression of women, which is not negotiated within the framework of religious traditions. In the case of the Zapatistas in Chiapas, one can see the conflicts that arise from the customs and traditions of the indigenous people and the Zapatista demands for the liberation of women and homosexuals.

Edouard Glissant, a poet from the Antilles, cannot see the archipelago unless he also recognizes the sea from which it separates and the mainland whose contrast it represents. On the contrary, he sees a new alliance between “continental thinking, which reveals the glories of the One in the Diaspora”, and “island-like thinking, in which the infinite variation of diversity is concentrated” [15].

Geometries of space. We produce a plurality of spatial representations and inhabit several spaces of representation - the local space of the neighborhood or the village, the regional space, the national space, the continental space, the global space. In this mobile spatial scale, the national level formed the dominant area of ​​socialization for a long time. The shock of globalization explodes its relative unity: the young unemployed, who are exiled to their suburbs, and the mobile elites move in different dimensions. While the mobile elites move in Europe and the world, the national space becomes an abstraction for the young unemployed. They seek refuge in their family territory in the suburbs or neighborhoods or take refuge in the idea of ​​a country with a mystical origin or in a religious community and conjure up their spatial vertigo by searching for roots and origins.

Toni Negri demands “a line of flight” into a voluntary exodus for the victims of any discrimination. The “nomads” of globalization are divided into migrants who are less looking for a promised land, but rather for one that will at least take them in, and into the caste of entrepreneurs and speculators who are constantly on the move and from a financial and benefit from the symbolic mobility rent. A journalist enthusiastic about globalization claims, “Certain leaders have divided nations, their future lies in globalization. Business lawyers - bankers, executives of multinational groups, etc. - earn almost as much as previously only general managers of companies in the CAC 40 (French share index), namely half a million euros a year. ”These nomads of the Luxury “have different interests than the less mobile people who capitalism will no longer need in the future, but who are stuck to the national clod [16]. “One can only feel sorry for the sedentary and“ stuck ”!

Although inequalities in income per inhabitant are decreasing regionally in France, they are increasing between municipalities due to unemployment, business closures, urban exclusion mechanisms and territorial segregation. Since the early 1980s, the gap between rich and poor municipalities has been widening, which is due to the different tax revenues (e.g. between Drancy and Neuilly-sur-Seine).

Archipelago. Frantz Fanon refused to assign origins and rebelled against the belief that his origins could dictate his behavior. He defined himself as an unfinished creation rather than a prisoner of history; he did not want to be "rooted", not tied to a deterministic past, and become a "slave to slavery" locked in a world of retroactive reparations [17]. The words of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwich sound like an echo: “Identity is not an inheritance, but an invention. She invents us and we keep inventing her. And we won't know them until tomorrow. My identity is diverse. I am absent today, present tomorrow. To be what I want and not what I should be [18].“

People of the peoples. Contributing to a movement of concrete universalization in no way means a normative homogenization of cultures and traditions. The Zapatistas claim to dream of a world made up of different worlds. Even if mankind of human rights remains an abstract, regulative idea, it can arise from the universalization of exchange, culture, literature, cinema, in the form of a people of peoples (just as the movement critical of globalization is a "movement of movements") ) Are defined. This is perhaps the practical solution to the riddle of an untraceable “European population” that at the moment does not exist historically, politically, socially, culturally or linguistically, but which could be composed in a new and heterogeneous manner.

Post colonialism. The legacy of the colonial unconscious modulates class relationships through the play of diverse forms of discrimination. Social and ethnic equality are closely intertwined. Post-colonialism accumulates exploitation and specific oppression. The result is a hybrid situation, a flowing world of exodus and inner exile, which corresponds to the image of the colonized as drawn by Albert Memmi, which mixes and accumulates the discrimination. The Institut national d'études demographique finds that North Africans are 79 percent higher than the French at risk of becoming unemployed, regardless of their level of education. Young French people of North African descent are two and a half times more likely to be unemployed than young French people of French descent [19].

About the revolt of the banlieues claims the young activist and scientist Abdellali Hajjat ​​rightly and against the fantasies of Alain Finkielkraut: “The reasons for this anger are social and political and not ethnic or religious. It is not about a lack of integration, a word that makes no sense at all today as long as it tries to encourage a dangerous culturalist model of explanation. ”State rhetoric stigmatizes“ the dregs ”like George Bush the“ rogue states ”outside of the international law and aims to "construct new dangerous classes" from the post-colonial youth [20]. The criminalization of entire families and the alleged determination of the prerequisites for becoming a criminal in three-year-old toddlers follow the same logic.

"Luxury laboratory?" When Peter Sloterdijk of the mobilization against the Contrat première embauche (CPE) learned that France seemed to him “more and more mysterious, hermetically sealing itself off from the world, a world that strictly rejects the demand for more and more state, this inability to reform. When I read the French newspapers this spring, I had the impression that I was in the fifties or sixties. France is the most hermetic country in the world, even Tibet seems completely transparent to your country [21]. “Archaism? Old-fashioned ? A Gallic Tibet?

The German philosopher's view of this anachronism is not only negative but also curious: “The French have shared a luxury laboratory since the 1980s.” They are now forming “tribes that live in a well-tempered social bubble of luxury”. Since the Mansholt Report of 1971, legitimate ecological concerns about the future of the planet can be used to justify austerity and the dismantling of social rights. The French "tribes" seem safe - including those of the banlieue - privileged over the Andean or African tribes who are at the mercy of hunger. But this privilege is very relative. Millions of unemployed people live in our luxury laboratory, more and more precarious people, a steadily growing number of people (including many students) who are in the restaurants du cœur [22] feed, more and more working poor without shelter, more and more sans papiers and above all more and more hopeless people. Repeating that “it is worse elsewhere” does not change the reasons for revolting against injustice, here and now. The laboratory assistant Sloterdijk closes his observation with the remark: "What you ask is to escape the social cold". Is this evidence of selfishness? He wonders why “one of the most sheltered populations in the world is referring to this discourse of political and social catastrophe”.

Actually, this is anything but surprising. The misery paralyzes and depresses. The most precarious have most reasons to revolt, but fewer opportunities to resist. The resistance of the social movement in France, which seems so “mysterious” in the eyes of Sloterdijk, is only the result of other resistances and accumulated struggles: the general strike of 1968, the strikes in winter 1995, the no to the liberal European constitution. The outbreak in the suburbs and the movement against the CPE inscribe themselves into this dynamic, which, although it failed to stop the liberal dynamic, did better than anywhere else to hold it back.

The walker from Sanssouci. “We were a carefree generation,” admits Sloterdijk. Verily In 1968, after a quarter of a century of increasing growth, unemployment fell to a minimum (tens of thousands) and was usually short-lived. So some believed that they could achieve “everything and immediately”.

A privileged country like France now has more than ten percent unemployed, six million excluded and precarious, more than a million children below the poverty line; eighty percent of the population believe that their children will live worse than their parents, and only five percent of young people have confidence in the future. Until the 1970s, the poor were mostly found among the elderly, and those under thirty enjoyed relative prosperity. Since 1975 the country has discovered mass unemployment. In the 1980s, the long march of young people looking for work began with “support contracts”, extended internships, temporary measures, “work for the youth” etc. What sociologists call the “extension of youth” is actually an extension of family dependency. Under these conditions, the massive rebellion of the “luxury tribe” of students against precariousness is just as legitimate as that of the suburbs against their triple exclusion: social, spatial and ethnic.

According to Sloterdijk, France is producing "a kind of political exception that tends to create a sheltered space in which the gusts of labor and the icy waters of liberalism only trickle through in a regulated and tempered manner". If that were true, it would be good. In the age of globalization, the dream of such a “microclimate” or a “reserved bubble”, as the philosopher puts it, is a “beautiful illusion”, but an illusion: “What I call a sphere or a fatherland means that the state Institutions and the state rule thanks to an eternal mothering of the Citoyens. ”To interpret social resistance against the capitalist market as nostalgia of the womb and as an eternal demand for maternal care is kitchen table psychology. Because the ball is no longer turning. The “carefree” generation has become a blasé and exhausted generation in the image of Daniel Cohn-Bendit. It is better to dream with the generation critical of globalization than to go under with the generation of Cohn-Bendit. To dream that another world is possible and necessary in all cases. Stand up, utopians!

"Social Mix". This topic has become fashionable in government discourse. This mixture, which is now called the “visible minorities” out of euphemistic shame, is limited to the homeopathic introduction of a “Muslim prefect”, a state secretary of North African origin who advocates equal opportunities (and called the “ass-creep of the republic” by young people will) and a newscaster for a time from the Antilles.

In a column in Liberation of March 17, 2006, said “butt-crawler”, Azouz Begag, updated the government propaganda - pitting the suburbs against the universities - against the anti-CPE mobilization: “In November 2005, the youth were asked out of the banlieues to respect French law. Their destructive acts were strictly sanctioned. Therefore, these young people would not understand if the high school students and students had the power to prevent a law they disagree with and therefore occupy the street and the universities Revolt of the suburbs and arrest nearly 6,000 during the mobilizations against the Contrat première embauche. Most of the youth from the suburbs have understood exactly why the high schools and the street were occupied, as they are the first to be provided for the precarious jobs and daily misery, and many of them are at the universities to " trained precarious ”. As far as the social mix is ​​concerned, it is by no means the rise to a “visible minority”, but rather the colorful marches of the visible majority against precariousness.

Reverse purge. Azouz Begag and other government officials demagogically attempted that banlieues to play off the disinherited (occasionally addressees of late compassion) against the universities against the well-to-do in education. In the name of an alleged radicalism, denounced by Daniel Hémery and Pierre Vidal-Naquet as “identitarian populism”, with which the “homeland reversal” of some leftists wants to occupy the field and play young people off against each other, instead of finding common ground in the face of the social catastrophes of liberalism.

A somewhat more demanding discourse theorizes the primacy of the anti-colonialist struggle in relation to social disputes. The democratic question becomes a national question or a question of “race” or “ethnicity” before it becomes social, and the social divide is no longer related to a communitarian split: “The political fields, the spaces, the times, the aims of the struggle are to some extent to be viewed separately from one another [23]. “Partly of course only; nevertheless one can put it into words. To be considered in part separately from each other? To what part and to where? It is important to clarify this in order to know whether the revolt is taking place banlieues and the anti-CPE movement complement, compete, or contradict each other.

If this does not happen, the critique of abstract universalism becomes an angry ontology: “The white political field excludes the non-whites. The natives are not allowed to cross the white line ”unless they accept that“ as Senegalese protectors, they bow to the political logic, interests and actions that are only partly their own, and the central issue, post-colonial oppression, constantly in push the second row " [24]. Main and secondary contradiction? Hierarchy of oppression? Sadri Khiari clarifies: “Why not speak of a post-colonial field, but of a white political field?” To a fictional questioner, he replies: “To speak of the whites does not mean to pin them down as whites in an essential, philosophical sense, that does not mean that whites are inherently bad. ”So whiteness would not be a racial category, but a political and symbolic one. But the symbolic also has its logic: “The migrant workers are not just workers, they are also post-colonized workers. ”Sure. And vice versa: “The white workers are not just workers, they are white.” In order to keep the symmetry to the end and to avoid a dubious ontology, it would have to be said that they are “also” white. The lack of a little word in the second proposal focuses the whole question on the interplay between the workers, the post-colonized, and the whites.

It is known that the self sets itself through opposition, and that resistance to specific oppression takes place over a moment of autonomy, provided that such autonomy does not result in voluntary seclusion. When autonomy isolates itself, any transgression of its limits becomes synonymous with betrayal. Aware of the danger, Khiari tries to combine the separate spaces: “The non-white political space, which is therefore a limited space, which does not know any foreign goals and missions with regard to the white political space ... The white one Space participates in this space, it is inside and outside. It is a disharmonious space, a separate space, not a contemporary of the white space, which nevertheless occupies it in many places. ”The possibility of building something common takes place precisely in these overlaps.

Fire dances. People were amazed - and concerned - at the self-destructive violence that erupted in the banlieueswhich was not directed against the state symbols, but against the neighbour's car, the school, the day care center or the Kiez high school. Daniel Hémery, Claude Liauzu, Gilbert Meynier and Pierre Vidal-Naquet then suggested in an article that the young people only allegedly attack the community when they turn against a public institution, since it already becomes one beforehand (through general reification) Consumer object had been degraded. Accordingly, they would have reacted as frustrated consumers and not as citizens [25]. There's more to it than that. In 1968 we wanted to torch the stock exchange. Our violence was directed against the symbols of power on our territory. For the youthful rebels of November, the capital (their center) has become foreign territory, a place of wealth, a large historical museum and luxury store to visit and loot, but also a hostile place full of traps. The pent-up resentment expresses itself as introverted violence against the closest thing for lack of a possibility to define goals that seem too abstract and far away to be attainable.

The movement Mouvement Immigration, which appeared in 1993, understood the importance of this spatial inscription of the resistances very early on and insisted on the struggle in the country itself on its behalf banlieues. The territory where the movement asserts itself is first of all the Kiez, a trampoline for the action and a possible basis for a retreat in the event of a transfer or capture of the mobilization in the course of its national expansion. The Association of the Kiez wants to “stay in direct contact with its immediate surroundings”, create places of solidarity and “keep their space under control” in order to maintain harmony with the local population. The territory is the place to be conquered by the rejected and - materially and symbolically - "exiled" migrants who are outside the walls of the polis and who defend and maintain a social connection through sporadic violence.

Headbutt. The media headbutt by Zinedine Zidane at the end of the last World Cup may have made his team lose the game, but it did not reduce the popularity of its creator in the neighborhood and in the suburbs. He was also blessed by Fidel Castro (who on that occasion made Zizou a rebellious Algerian facing a European colonial ruler) and honored by Eduardo Galeano. One can even spot a paternalistic and jovial Chirac on the steps of the Elysée Palace, who trivializes the incident, despite the “zero tolerance” of youth violations of the law, which is promoted by his interior minister. In thirty years the victorious goal of Grosso and the fourth coronation of Italy will have been forgotten. In contrast, the numerous television channels of the future will show the historical and symbolic headbutt again and again. There are certainly reasons for this headbutt - the anger, the nerves, etc. - but it remains strange, at such an important moment under the gaze of millions of spectators, behind the icon of football, to the detriment of the hypocritically proclaimed sporting propriety rules, the To recognize young bully from Castellane (district of Marseille), because such a push has to be learned. "Respect!", More than one Zizou fan would have said to himself to digest his anger: We lost the final, but the honor is saved.

Zidane then apologized - sponsoring committed - to the young people and their educators, but he didn't regret anything. This reflects political and deliberate verbal violence by Lilian Thuram, also a French footballer, towards the minister on the hunt for the Sans Papiers is far more significant. But in the absence of words, the actions take the floor, and the calm gesture of the virtuoso dribbler escaped from its originator in order to open up to the most varied and contradicting worlds of imagination.

De Cive (From the Citizen). As a judge in Pontoise, Didier Peyrat has been fighting on two fronts in his controversial but intelligent texts for several years. Against the flight of the interior ministers forward on security issues and against the demagogic act of innocence that he accuses part of the left [26]. The path is narrow and balance is not always possible. It did not stand up to the November test. The revolt of the banlieues was no longer a comprehensive, complex and contradictory phenomenon in Peyrat's eyes: "It was neither a mass movement nor a protest against injustice", but a "negative minority phenomenon that produces injustice" [27]. "Completely negative". Negative in every way ...

For Didier Peyrat, those who blame all youth in the suburbs are just as wrong as those who congratulate them. The balance seems to have been preserved.But only temporarily: “You have no clumsy and excessive social movement in front of you, which nonetheless points in the right direction; you are witnessing an outbreak of negativity. ”An unconditional outburst, with no predecessor? The trigger has been forgotten: the death of two young people who hid from the police in a transformer, social, academic, ethnic discrimination, spatial segregation, and constant harassment by the police. The phobia of the negative is the opposite of the advertising slogan of the Carrefour grocery chain ("Be positive! Be positive!")

Didier Peyrat's problem is that he persists without considering a before and an after: “This revolt had the objective function of rejecting the desire to be part of a society and the radical right and the symmetrical radicalisms to revive. ”(A little further down we find this symmetry of the zeitgeist.) The revolt also led to the taking of words and awareness-raising, collectives, initiatives (the enrollment of young people from Clichy and elsewhere in the electoral lists), rap, political distinctions, that gave shape to the initial revolt. Regardless: Because the November uprising is "not even a deformed conflict between social forces", it is simply a criminal act for our judge. His comment in Liberation of November 8 was entitled "Suburbs: May '68 or Weimar?" The answer lies in the question. If it's Weimar, then we don't need to worry about taking refuge in a state of emergency, a state of emergency that was established in the colonial era.

Memory thieves. It is known that history is written by winners. The history of the vanquished is stolen from them. Like the work of the archaeologist, memory work unearths the remains of another, repressed history. The so-called memory laws about the Shoah or slavery are intended to serve this purpose. The endeavor is not without risk if a state institutionalizes history through a consensual reconciliation, which through this reconciliation appears frozen and monumental. It is a conflict-laden memory. Walter Benjamin predicted that memory was a war. “In history as in war,” replies the Soviet dissident and historian Michaël Guefter. Both contradict the tendency of historicizing historians to turn the past at the expense of all massacred possibilities into the preparation of an inevitable present.

The presumption of state historiography, as reflected in Article 4 of the Law of February 23 on the Benefits of Colonization, aroused the protests of historians (including the recently deceased and already missing Pierre Vidal-Naquet) on behalf of the " Freedom for History ”. History does not belong to the state or to parliament. This is true. But does it belong to historians alone? Their indispensable part consists in researching sources and their documentation. But the facts seldom speak for themselves. History would be honored if it proclaimed the truth about the truth and found out the truth and nothing but the historical truth. But it cannot claim to uncover the ultimate truths, but only, as Siegfried Kracauer put it, the truths "before the last things" [28].

So history never has the last word.
The dispute is political and its case is never filed.

"Laws of Remembrance". Strange laws, the effect of which is moral rather than legal, that risk souring large numbers of repentant people. They can be useful, less as reparation than as a contribution to the development of what used to be called "morals," that uncertain achievement between law and ethics that distinguishes the reasonable (what Orwell called "decency") from the intolerable and the Principle rises, behind which one no longer falls behind, and which is no longer up for discussion.

If that's the function of the laws of memory, leave it at that so that it doesn't sound trite. This is exactly what moved the historians, who demanded that all memory laws be repealed because "history is not a legal object" [29] be. Some, including Claude Lanzmann and Henri Rousso, rightly replied that these laws are different. The Taubira Law of 2001 - which recognizes the traite négrière (slave trade) as a crime against humanity - does not presume to dictate the subject matter of history, as the law of February 23rd does. It just requires wiping out a blind spot. But most of the defenders of the laws of remembrance are primarily concerned with the Gayssot law, the spirit of which (the sanction of revisionism) they insist to the detriment of the wording. Article 24 of this Act requires fines and imprisonment against anyone "who denies the existence of one or more crimes against humanity as defined by Article 6 of the Statutes of the International Military Tribunal, which form part of the London Four Power Agreement of August 8, 1945 are". The law thus fixes history according to the statute of the Nuremberg Court of Justice. That is why Madeleine Rébérioux, historian and then president of the League for Human Rights, vigorously protested against a law that would open Pandora's box [30].

Historically correct. In autumn 2005 the Antillais-Guyannais-Réunionnais collective brought an action against the historian Olivier Pétré-Grenouilleau, author of the work published in 2004 Les Traites négrières (slave trade), and requested, among other things, that he, like Bruno Gollnisch, be excluded from university teaching. The offense was explained less by his book than by an interview with the newspaper Journal du Dimanche on June 12, 2005. Without in the slightest denying the cruelty of the Western slave trade with its millions of dead, he recalled that the Oriental slave trade had lasted longer and claimed more victims because of the support of African decision-makers. He refuted the equation of the slave trade with the Shoah, arguing that the slave trade involved the massive deportation of workers whose lives were disregarded and who were treated like animals for racist reasons, but not a genocide that occurred on one Birth criterion based. Both questions are worthy of discussion among historians and researchers, as was expressed by the call for “freedom for history”.

The third point of Pétré-Grenouilleau's interview was a little more sensitive: he questioned the Taubira law, which qualifies the slave trade as a crime against humanity. When asked about the anti-Semitic slip-ups of the cabaret artist Dieudonné, he replied: “This accusation of Jews arose within the American black community in the 1970s. It will be relevant again today in France. That goes far beyond the Dieudonné case. It is also a problem with the Taubira law, which regards the slave trade in blacks by Europeans as a crime against humanity and thus equates it with the Shoah. The slave trade was not genocide. The Shoah and the slave trade are two different processes. There is no judge's scale of suffering. ”These omissions provoked an understandable outcry in the French Antilles and Guyana community. One can question the legal and philosophical justification of the term “crimes against humanity” [31], however, it is part of international law and it is undisputed that slavery and the slave trade are crimes.

Political use of memory. On January 23rd and 25th, the European Parliament discussed an appeal on the “need for an international condemnation of the crimes of the totalitarian communist systems” proposed by the Swedish MP Göran Lindblad on behalf of the European People's Party. The resolution was passed by 93 votes to 42. The proposal for a European memorial to the victims of the communist regimes was ultimately rejected, but the introduction of an official reminder nonetheless inscribed itself in the same revanchist and reactionary dynamic as the bleak law of 23 February in France. It is not about condemning specific crimes (which should have been followed by legal proceedings), but rather the ideology that has apparently guided the parliamentary majority to avert the return of the specter that threatens liberal globalization. The text, represented by a majority of MEPs, confirms: “It must be clear that all crimes, including those committed in the name of an ideology that preaches such respectable ideals as justice and equality, must be condemned without exception. This is particularly important for the younger generations who have no personal experience with the communist regimes. ”Because in some countries there is a kind of“ nostalgia for communism ”. Conclusion: "It seems to be proven that the criminal extent of communist crimes is not a coincidence, but the deliberate political consequence of the founders of these systems before they came to power." So the crime was already in the idea!

Historically unscrupulous, this logic of genesis connects the horror of Stalinism with communism, as if Christianity in its diversity and in its many variants was limited to the Inquisition and its butchers, or Islam to the fanaticism of Mullah Omar. The European Council goes so far as to propose removing class struggle (by Marx, Daniel Guérin, Jaurès ... and even Guizot) from school textbooks when it says that the crimes were justified in the name of a theory of class struggle.

Judges and historians. When one calls the slave trade a crime against humanity, one posits this humanity as a nascent one, in whose name servitude is condemnable. The term turns humanity (a moral idea) into a legal sacrifice. The crime against them is declared non-statute-barred. Subjected to the special calendar of jurisprudence, it becomes absolute in the face of eternity. But human justice is by definition relative, a proportionality between offense and punishment, a matter of discretion. Papon could not be condemned for the entire crimes of National Socialism, but for his personal responsibility in a chain of responsibility. Verdict: 10 years! That is little for an immeasurable crime against humanity, but it corresponds to the legal standard.

The trial against Papon brought the confusion between the historical measurement of time and time to light: Historians were summoned to the trial - not as experts, but as witnesses - and, as is customary, had to swear to the truth and nothing but the pure truth proclaim. If a historian accepts to become a judge, one has to expect that the judge will find himself in a position to assess the professional competence of the historians and to knock them out with his law.

Prosecutors and defendants. Edgar Morin, who was charged with "racism" by the Versailles Court of Appeal in June 2005, won the case. That was the least. The Israeli director Eyal Sivan, who lives in France, lost his trial against Alain Finkielkraut. In a radio interview on Radio J on November 30, 2003, Finkielkraut accused the director of Route 181wanting to destroy the Jews in the name of universal emancipation - "turn them off, make them disappear, kill them" [32]. Sivan filed charges of defamation. In June 2006 the Paris court ruled that Alain Finkielkraut “expressed an opinion - undisputedly derogatory in view of the unanimous rejection of anti-Semitism - on the basis of a free analysis of a public work of art”. Such an exclusively intellectual approach seems completely unfair, mainly because it is based on a dubious comparison between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism and in no way seems to take into account the fact that higher claims are being made towards one's own people. The judges found the assertion of an identity of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism merely "doubtful". However, they did not find Alain Finkielkraut's allegations against Eyal Sivan of "wanting to let the Jews disappear" defamatory. Sivan replied on June 27th: "So it can be said, without defamation, that Mr. Finkielkraut hates Muslims and wants to kill and destroy Arab immigrants and make them disappear."

Act of persuasion Paolo Persichetti was hastily kidnapped on the last weekend in August 2002 and extradited to the Italian judiciary at night at the exit of the Mont Blanc tunnel. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison in 1987 in Italy at the second instance on the basis of a single testimony by a former comrade for aiding and abetting murder and membership in an armed organization. Fled to France, President François Mitterrand and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin gave him a written promise on behalf of France that the deportation decree signed by Edouard Balladur in 1995 will not be applied. The Sarkozy-Perben tandem broke this promise, although Persichetti did not live in secret and taught at the University of Paris VIII.

Detained in Viterbo since then, Persichetti served half of his sentence in the course of his various arrests. According to Italian law, he is now entitled to apply for facilitating conditions of detention with opportunities to go out and work or at least a transfer to the prison in Rome to be close to his mother. He did so one day after Berlusconi's election defeat. After reading his book, which was published in French and Italian [33] the judge who oversees his penal system decided against it: “Reading Persichetti's texts makes it clear that he is assigned to a camp that he defines as that of the vanquished, that he opposes all public institutions that he accuses, the history of the Winner, and in doing so, via the 'reports of the parliamentary commissions' (Chapter 3 of Exil et Chatiment) encouraged an angry doggedness. The political cult of sacrifice, to which he repeatedly worshiped, and his persistent disdain for the state judiciary are confirmed by the examined documentation. Even if he articulates himself with a certain maturity that enables him to present his ideas while respecting social rules, the cult of political sacrifice remains incompatible both with the values ​​on which the democratic constitutional state of Italy is based and with the requirement to to confess his actions and accept the murder conviction, which would be necessary for a new assessment and a critical review. Therefore, the conditions for the court that oversees the execution of the sentence are not given, but they would be necessary to decide that the prisoner is no longer in danger. In this case there was certainly a beginning of formal rehabilitation, which was made clear through an acceptance of social rules and the use of the available cultural resources over several years. But in order to benefit from the measures of a facilitating penal system, a reflection should be discernible that points in the direction of a critical and clear condemnation of the crimes committed, which would then have to be confirmed by observation of the prisoner. "

Even if one ignores the judge's lack of linguistic abilities, her arrangement remains a jewel of legal flower picking. The served sentence is not enough, he has to repent and renounce, as in the good old heresy trials.

A premeditated crime? In the literature supplement of Le Monde published on December 23, 2005 under the name of Frédéric Nef, a specialist in metaphysics, a hammering review of the little book by Alain Badiou, Circonstances 3 (circumstances 3) [34].

The author of the article is amazed that such a book can appear “with impunity” (apparently the book and the publisher should have been burned at the same time). He accused the philosopher of "deliberately" defending ideas that were just as dangerous as those that Finkielkraut was interviewed with Haaretz accuses. If, when it comes to questions of thought, premeditation makes matters worse, then from now on you have to rely on the primal scream and Pavlov's reflexes.Mr. Nef's accusation becomes downright disgusting when he turns to his “Israeli friends”: “If Badiou wants you to die and demands the abolition of the Jewish state, then it is only for your own good.” So a deliberate crime after all? As if the abolition of a Christian state or an Islamic republic were aimed at causing a massacre of Christians and Muslims [35] !

Holy wars. Under the pretext of freeing three kidnapped Israeli soldiers, Israel continuously bombed Gaza and Lebanon, permanently destroyed Lebanon's infrastructure, caused an ecological disaster and left more than 1,200 victims, 90 percent civilians. In the name of a limitless war against "Islamist terrorism" (by Hamas and Hezbollah), George Bush and Tony Blair unconditionally supported these violent measures, which defy international law. The European Union was content to regret the “disproportionality”.

One can be just as concerned about Hamas' election victory and the popularity of Lebanese Hezbollah as about any other sign of the "desacralization of the world". But the growing influence of Hamas is the direct consequence of Israeli intransigence (disqualification of the Palestinian interlocutors, failure to apply the Oslo Accords, continued colonization of the occupied territories, construction of the wall) and the galloping corruption of Fatah. And the influence of Hezbollah since the invasion and occupation of Beirut in 1982 is the combined consequence of a will to resist and the powerlessness of the Lebanese state. Since then, numerous Israeli decision-makers have openly called for the conflict to be confessional. Ouzi Landau, then Interior Minister, declared in 2001: “I prefer Hamas without a mask to a masked Palestinian authority. At least that would make things clear. Then there would be a life-and-death struggle between us and the Palestinians, because as long as the Palestinians hope, the terror will not stop. ”That is why Gaza has to be desperate and“ one million more Jews have to immigrate in ten years ”. A goal that fits in with Ariel Sharon's call to French Jews to emigrate to Israel [36].

Various UN resolutions speak of the occupation of the Palestinian territories since 1967 (anyone who speaks of occupation recognizes the resistance to it as legitimate) and unsuccessfully demand the withdrawal of Israeli troops. Bernard-Henri Lévy saw the last invasion of Lebanon as a liberation undertaking, which he compares with the resistance of the Spanish Republic to the Francoist coup of July 1936: “Today, July 17th, the anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish Civil War is celebrated. Seventy years ago the generals' coup took place, which sparked the ideological and international Spanish civil war wanted by fascism at the time. I can't help thinking about it when I land in Tel Aviv [37]. “He dared. BHL is thus participating in the anti-totalitarian crusade that George Bush launched against “Islamist fascism”. From the Iraq war to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, this policy resulted in the destruction of a region and Iran, which is less subservient than most Arab states, the champion of the oppressed Islamic populations.

Tribal feuds. A communitarian conflict threatens between the Ligue de Defense Juive and the radical left. Even more right than Bêtar,was the Ligue de Defense Juive Founded in 1968 in the USA by Rabbi Meir Kahana, who called for the Arab population to be expelled from “Greater Israel”. Furthermore, the league invokes the fascizing ultra-Zionism of Zeev Jabotinsky. She is recruited from the clubs of krav maga, the martial arts of the Tsahal commandos. During the February 26 demonstration in memory of Ilan Halimi, the representatives of the league opposed anything that wore a Palestinian shawl or was considered Arabic: signs of kebab bars, Islamic butcher shops ... It is not surprising that this movement is taking off feeds ideological references of the traditional radical right, but mainly refers to Alexandre del Valle, to whom the 11th Paris Court of Appeal confirmed in 2005, “to frequent the royalist milieus at the same time, the Catholic-integrist, the right-wing pagans and anti-Semites, the radical right, those from Greece, the new right and the European identity fascists. ”Such an award does not prevent the professional plaintiff William Goldnadel from calling this personality“ kosher ” [38].

In the name of the Judeo-Christian cause against the Islamic threat, the right-wing radical Philippe de Villiers will also become the lapdog of the new Zionist (radical) right: "If we make an election recommendation, then it will be in his favor," said a person in charge of the Ligue de Defense Juive [39]. Yves Kamami, Vice-President of Bnaï B'rith, wrote after de Villiers was kicked out of the demonstration for Ilan Halimi: “We were shocked by the dogmatic and Trotskyist stance of the radical left, which threw you out of the bloc against the slogans of the Crif . ”The Union of Jewish Entrepreneurs and Professions of France (UPJF) went even further and found de Villier's commitment“ very welcome ”because“ Monsieur de Villiers is on the same side ”. We didn't doubt it.

It is surely superfluous to confirm that de Villiers' expulsion goes back to the radical left, which also opposed taking part in an ecumenical demonstration, in the first row of which is the Minister of the Interior, who is responsible for the deportation of the Sans Papiers and for repression against “the scum” of the suburbs, and other political decision-makers, none of whom are inclined to take to the streets against racist crimes. The murder of Ilan Halimi is a vicious crime, the anti-Semitic character of which has been established. It is therefore all the more important not to apply double standards to the victims of racism and anti-Semitism.

Blasphemies. The publication of cartoons in a right-wing Danish newspaper, some of which lump Islam and terrorism together, sparked predictable polemics. On the one hand, people shouted blasphemy and called for censorship. On the other, they acted as an unconditional defender of freedom of expression. Some cartoons equate Islam and terror and are therefore to be criticized, but on a political level. They must not be banned. British MPs took advantage of the situation to apply an ancient anti-plasphemous law to Islam designed to protect the Anglican religion. From the standpoint of equal treatment of religions, this approach seems logical. For a secular materialist attached to the secular character of public space, however, this would set an unacceptable and unsettling precedent. The deputies of a German federal state rushed to demand the legal possibilities of a ban on public representations that lack respect for the Pope and the papacy. One can only imagine too well how the clerical reaction in Poland or elsewhere is escalating the situation. The condemnation of blasphemy inevitably means putting a good part of world literature and painting on the index, from de Sade to Bataille to Prévert, not to mention the libertines of the 18th century. The only convincing position in the British controversy is that of Ken Loach: abolishing all anti-plasphemous laws and unconditional recognition of the right to blasphemy.

This right does not prevent anyone from combating the insults of one group or another, of one religion or another, as was the case with the Danish cartoons. It is easy to understand why Salman Rushdie and Talisma Nasreen, both victims of the fatwa, signed an appeal of the "Twelve" for freedom of expression on this occasion with Bernard-Henri Lévy and Philippe Val. It is much less acceptable that this call, in the context of the imperial mobilization against terrorism, is directed unilaterally against the “new global totalitarian threat” and just as unilaterally condemns a “green fascism” without the slightest word about the Iraq war, the occupied territories, to lose state terrorism, armed globalization and the recolonization of the world. This dissent is political and not religious.

Permanent de-clericalization. In autumn 2005, the centenary of the separation of church and state was gnawed by doubt, torn between the normative hardening of the law against the Islamic headscarf and the sirens of a tolerance of the market: malaise in secularism.

An essayist specializing in the information society took the risk of pleading for a “free market for religions”: “A century after the separation of church and state, one could be inspired by the new rules for regulating the markets in France and to establish regulative and competitive conditions for a real liberalization of religions elsewhere [40]. ”Republican secularism would be reduced to a religious office, which would follow the example of the stock exchange supervisory authority and ensure the“ undistorted ”functioning of cultural competition.

On the other hand, the celebrants of the Priestly Republic - shyly - tried to revive Gambetta's cry: "Clericalism is the enemy!" To which Louise Michel already replied: "The enemy is Gambetta!" and with it the bourgeois clericalism, the positivist cult of the raison d'état, every form of "Combism" [41]from yesterday and today.

At a time that has chosen Guizot's maxim “Enrich yourselves!” As its maxim, what we suffer from, as Péguy once stated, is an Orléanism [42], a bourgeoisisation and thus a double Orléanism, namely religion and the republic. So we fight on two fronts “against the secular priests and against the ecclesiastical priests”, against the ecclesiastical catechisms and against the anti-clerical catechisms and for the “permanent de-clericalization” of religion and state.

Theological immunity. Shy voices, including Jacques Chirac's, rose because of concern about the “disproportionate” Israeli response to the kidnapping of its three soldiers (as if it were not a pretext for a long-planned operation). This euphemism of “disproportion” shocked Claude Lanzmann: “An amazing word is articulated by thousands of politicians, that of disproportion. But what disproportion [43] ? ”Lanzmann claims that Israel would not have existed for a long time if it did not react disproportionately. For Lanzmann this imbalance legitimizes itself as if by itself. In what name? Because of an Israeli exceptional position that goes back to the ethnic privilege of the chosen people and justifies a kind of theological immunity? Jean-Claude Milner, who attributes all the misery in the world to "old Europe", claims that "the first task of the Jews is to free themselves from Europe" [44]. Where are the standards?

“No forbearance”. “Like many French,” said the pathetic education minister and destroyer of social achievements, François Fillon, “hopes that the 2007 presidential elections will be a great democratic rendezvous”, but “a sharp, constructive and transparent competition between the two formations that make up the government will put, the UMP and the PS [45]. ”He is therefore very concerned about François Hollande's answer to a question from Olivier Besancenot [46] in a television broadcast on June 2. Caught coldly by the postman when he asked what he would do if everything turned out differently and he himself was at the top in the second ballot, the first party secretary replied that he would of course, in the name of republican discipline, call for Besancenot choose.
For a sincere Sarkozy supporter like Fillon, such statements by a leading socialist to vote for a revolutionary organization are “political cynicism” and “really bad”. It is time, he insists, to make it clear that the radical left advocates insane ideas (such as forbidding dismissals, defending the public service and social security, rejecting the plebiscite institutions of the Fifth Republic, etc.). It is time for Fillon to make it clear that this group (the LCR) “disregards democracy” (because it calls for the abolition of the presidential regime, proportional representation, the expansion of democracy to the world of work, the right to vote for foreigners). The minister's little rapporteur was interested in the resolutions of the 15th Congress of the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire, which he asked to be taken seriously: “The social appropriation of central economic areas, the self-organization and direct action of the wage earners in order to build a socialist democracy! “What a nightmare!

In order to prevent this nightmare, the ultra-liberal Fillon calls on the social liberals - in the spirit of the resolution of the European People's Party - to fight the extremists (left) with “the same energy” with which the republican right is fighting the radical right: “We have the right to demand intellectual and moral clarification from the leading socialists to a radical left that detests the market economy ”. (That is almost as nice as Renan shortly after the Paris Commune.) Because “the republican right needs a modern left” and “the PS and the UMP face a common challenge: to win the battle of ideas without compromising . “Common challenge, common interests, in the golden mean of symmetrical extremes, like bad luck and brimstone [47].
An electoral stand for Sarkozy is titled “No Forbearance for the Radical Left”. It sounds like an echo of his “Zero Tolerance” towards the “scum”, the migrants and the dangerous classes.

Translated from the French by Elfriede Müller


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