Posts Tagged ‘politics’
Les Renards Pâles. Yannick Haenel. 2013. Situationism Reborn?
“The memory of Guy Debord and the Situationist International went through me like the flash of a flaming comet: they were the last, in France, to give life to the word ‘revolution’, and to live that out as true freedom.” (Page 26)
Jean Deichel, the narrator of Les Renards Pâles (the Pale Foxes), is 43 years old and unemployed. Rent unpaid, living in a kind of stupor, he leaves his flat and goes to live in his car, a Renault 11 Break, in one of the last streets in Paris where parking is not metered.
Turning the radio on Jean finds that a new French President has been elected – he had chosen not to cast his ballot. As he listens he keeps hearing the word “work”. Work? It destroys people’s lives. After having slogged his guts out in the Parisian suburbs, he has decided that he simply does not want a job. Jean imagines what would happen if everybody refused to be docile, to obey the “republican duty” to labour, a general strike against work…
A very different story to the man who loses his post and pretends to go out to the office every day follows. Jean roams Paris, guided by his ‘I Ching’, En attendant Godot, found in the glove compartment. He is unconcerned with current events, sensitive only to the changing “clouds and overgrown weeds that cover the last empty spaces of Paris.”
Something of a psychogeographer and a cousin of Walter Benjamin’s Flâneurs Jean does not linger in the modern Arcades, les Halles, or the luxury elsewhere but remains outside, often in the 19th and 20th Arrondissements. He sees the phantoms of the Commune rise, thinks, at Tourelles, of an Internment Camp for ‘undesirables’, refugees and resistance fighters, in 1941. Jean is aware of the hidden civil war that continues in France right till today. It was if the “blood of revolutionaries had never ceased flowing in France.” (Page 95)
A Belleville encounter with an acquaintance, and his circle of rebellious “artists” (the inverted commas are Haenal’s) rises into an intoxicating debate about confronting the “nouvel élu” (the President). Jean announces that he had voted for Max Stirner, the author of the Ego and His Own, (1844). Is this an affirmation of his “uniqueness”? One, Bison, is a veteran of the Genoa 2011 protests. He does not stop talking about the G8, that it crystallised the world split into the resistance and the repression. Corned about his own politics, Jean admits, to the disdain of his questioner, that he voted for nobody. He finishes by thinking that the phantoms of the state take a life of their own, “politics eats the body of those who have the weakness to believe in it.” (Page 43)
Two of this group leave to join the Tarnac Group (L’inssurection qui vient). Yet Jean’s own itinerary leads to perhaps a more radical end.
The Dogans and Les Renards Pâles
Fascinated by a wall slogan, La Société n’existe pas, Jean ponders the idea that there is no place for him, or us, in a society that talks of “re-educating” the unemployed through compulsory labour. He meets Malian migrants, working as dustmen, “picking up France’s shit to feed Mali.” A mysterious woman, nicknamed ‘La Reine de Pologne’ who visits the swimming pool he uses to keep clean, takes him to a Griot (Malian Sorcerer) who explains the story of the Renards Pâle, a creature of their cosmology, “cet animal anarchiste qui s’étatait rebellé contre la Création” (page 109) The cruelty of this anarchist animal, inspiring divination, could come to Paris and in an insurrection that could overturn our world.
The novel unfolds into that tumultuous uprising: “un spectre hante la France, c’est L’Afrique”. Treated as slaves, massacred under colonial rule – as “brutes” in the Heart of Darkness – Africa has come to France as the ‘sans papiers’ (‘illegals’). The deaths of two Malians, Issa and Kouré, set the wheels of rebellion in motion. An “Insurrection of masks”, abolishing the very of countries, and…at the conclusion, masks and identity papers. “Cette nuit à travers les flames qui la consacraient, la place de la Concorde reprenait son ancien nom: elle était à nouveau la place de la Révolution.” (Page 173) The old name, Revolution, is restored, and, in a world where nobody has identity papers any more, the conclusion left just beyond the tips of our tongues. That may well be a world without borders, and free from the “republican duty” to toil in misery.
André Breton spoke of. “convulsive” beauty. He would have been stunned by Les Renards Pâles. The novel’s pages are studded with agitated movement (a frequent word is ‘tituber’), and glimpses of the majestic beyond. The past weighs in both through nightmarish revenants, and reappears through more kindly Furies. Heanal has made a political and artistic intervention that breaks the boundaries of what appears possible – and impossible. In this sense it is truly in the line of all that was best in Situationism. That is not all. The prose and delivery of Les Renards Pâles stands muster with the best contemporary world literature.
Le Monde critic Jean Birnbaum is amongst many who have fallen for Haenel’s “hypnotic charm” and “sublime voice” (le Monde des Livres. 23rd August 2013) This book is important: it must be read.
* The Tarnac group’s ideas are clearly referenced by Haenel, ““S’organiser par-delà et contre le travail, deserter collectivement le régime de la mobilisation, manifester l’existence d’une vitalité et d’une discipline dans la démobilisation même est un crime qu’une civilization aux abois n’est pas près de nous pardoner; c’est en effet la seule façon de lui survivre”
L’insurrection qui vient. 2007.
Account in English here.
Marxists back Newman in Chippenham!
Andy Newman is the Labour Party prospective candidate for the Chippenham constituency.
We should be very proud of what was achieved by the Labour government between 1997 and 2010.
The Labour government with Gordon Brown as Prime Minister, and Alistair Darling as Chancellor, had introduced a number of specific and targeted measures that boosted the economy.
Comrade Newman spent much of this time backing the Labour Party by supporting candidates of Respect and Socialist Unity.
He was Swindon spokesman for the Respect Party and, amongst other activities, invited George Galloway to speak at the town.
Newman ran the Socialist Unity site.
We say, phooey! and whatabout? to this past.
In a gesture of solidarity we announce our intention to campaign for Comrade Newman.
Chippenham Map for Socialist Canvassers.
Update: a bit tardy but worth waiting for, Andy Newman announces his candidacy on his own site.
The Wiltshire Daily Small Pig Breeder and the North Wiltshire Digital DJ, Alan Patridge Jnr, have given this extensive coverage.
The contest looks a close run with Labour scoring 6.9% in Chippenham at the last election.
A Great Humanist and Progressive.
Albert Jacquard passed away yesterday
“A specialist in genetics he was noted for his defence of the concept of sustainable degrowth. He supported a range of progressive movements including the campaigns for free software and the international language Esperanto . He was also president of the association Right to Housing (Droit au Logement).”
Died Wednesday evening
The geneticist and leftist Albert Jacquard died Wednesday evening at his home in Paris (6th arrondissement) at the age of 87 years, announced Thursday his son told AFP.
Born on the December 23, 1925 his passing was caused by a form of leukemia.
Libération gives Jacquard’s political background in more detail (adpated),
His first books, such as Eloge de la différence : la génétique et l’homme (1978) enjoyed an enduring great popular though he moved towards writing about philosophy, popular science and political anti-liberalism (in the French sense, against free-market ideology) and humanism.
Professor Jacquard loathed neo-liberalism. He was a parliamentary candidate in Paris 1986 heading the ‘ Liste Alternative’. This was backed by various movements of the alternative left (the Parti socialiste unifié, the Fédération pour une gauche alternative, Ligue communiste révolutionnaire, the Parti pour une alternative communiste) (1). In 1999 he figured on the environmentalist list list led by Daniel Cohn-Bendit (in 84th position).
In the 1990s, Albert Jacquard put his energy into another cause: the poorly housed and ‘undocumented’ – sans papiers – immigrants. he participated in the rue du Dragon Occupation in 1994 and that of the ’Eglise Saint-Bernard. His face became publicly familiar as that of the Abbé Pierre, Gaillot or Emmanuelle Béart, his comrades.
Amongst many tributes Jean-Luc Mélenchon has said
Albert #Jacquard aidait à être humain. Il ne faut pas que sa lumière s’éteigne.
Albert Jacquard helped us to be human. The light he shed should not cease.
(1) I was on the Parisian ‘co-ordination’ for this campaign, as one of the representatives of the Fédération pour une gauche alternative
Breaking “UKIP Monopoly”.
“The neoliberal Tory-boys of UKIP should not have a monopoly for opposing a corporate-dominated, anti-democratic EU whose policies they largely support.”
“The No2EU campaign will be standing in the 2014 Euro elections under the slogan ‘No2EU -Yes to Workers’ Rights’.
“Our movement created the basis for democracy in the 19th century with The Chartists and the demand for universal suffrage which is now being taken from us in the 21st century by the EU.
“The only rational course is to leave the EU and rebuild Britain with socialist policies,” he said.
No2EU TUC fringe meeting
Yes to workers’ rights!
As the myth of ‘Social Europe’ is finally exposed how can workers reclaim their rights?
Monday September 9 at lunchtime
Venue: The Hermitage Hotel, Clifton Suite, Bournemouth
Speakers: RMT general secretary Bob Crow
John Hendy QC trade union rights lawyer
Former Labour MP Dave Nellist
Communist Party chair Bill Greenshields
It is sad to see an old comrade, Geoff Martin, involved in this Vanity Politics.
Who will support this?
That is, apart from Bob Crow, the Communist Party of Britain, and Dave Nellist’s Socialist Party.
More on this sorry tale here.