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The French Intellectual World In Debate on `Neo Reactionists`

The French Intellectual World In Debate on `Neo Reactionists`

Posted December. 18, 2002 22:18,   


A historian`s book published in October is putting the French intellectual world into a whirlpool of debates.

The book is `Rappel a l`ordre (An Order to Go Back to Stability)` by Daniel Lindenberg.

The part creating the debates was the book`s subtitle called `Enquête sur les nouveaux réactionnaires (A Study about Neo Reactionists).” Lindenberg said in the book that the left-wing intellectuals, who had led the French intellectual world, apostatized after the collapse of left-wing at the French Presidential Election and General Election in April ~ June, and he called them `Neo Reactions.` He criticized, “The left-wing intellectuals turn their backs on their beliefs, which they kept as a golden rule, such as Liberal Democracy and Moral Freedom, and Human Rights and Equality.”

The French intellectual world started to boil as soon as the book had been published. A historian Pierre Nora made a cynical remark, “It is an absurd book. This book pushes the criticism to democracy to the enemy of democracy.”

The French intellectuals` refutation continued through various newspapers and magazines, and finally a long declaration was published last week on the weekly magazine L`Express criticizing the assertion of Lindenberg was `a witch-hunt.` It said, “Intellectuals have right to discuss about the worries of public on the (left-wing government`s) crimes and immigration policies. His attempt to make us Fascists is bizarre and Stalinistic.” The reason why the `Neo Reactionalism` is in the middle of debate in the French intellectual world is related to the change of the French political geography such as the collapse of the left-wing at the last Presidential Election, and the rising to power of the extreme right-wingers.

Lindenberg is insisting, “The violent reactions to my book means that I hit the main point.” And some analyze that the collapse of the left-wing continues to the downfall of the French intellectual society, which has swayed since the World War II.

However, some pointed out that the fact that this debate became the matter of concern of the media like Le Monde`s taking the debate as the headliner was reflecting the still solid soil of the French intellectual world. Le Monde wrote the recent editorial like the following. “This debate is beautiful in terms that France still can be in the middle of scientific debate, but at the same time, it is vain in terms of dividing intellectuals.

Jei-Gyoon Park phark@donga.com