Sunday, March 21, 2004

El Justiciero

Time has come for decisions. Either Europe unifies to resist the engineers of the apocalypse, following Tony Blair. Or it poses as an opponent of the United States, following the pseudo-"camp of peace" led by Jacques Chirac, Vladimir Putin and the hesitating Gerhard Schroeder. The "viva la muerte" chanted by the Islamist legions vindicates Tony Blair. But the terror they spread, petrifying European citizens, threatens to lead to resignation after resignation. — My personal hero André Glucksmann in the Wall Street Journal. (Hat tip: Franco Alemán of Hispa Libertas — sitting in for Tim Blair — Alemán also blogs on recent revelations about what the Aznar government knew and when it revealed it).
Glucksmann also gave an interview to Le Figaro yesterday. "Sleeping soundly is the slogan of every cowardice," he hissed. Here is more:
[...]Are Europeans blind to this threat?
Opposite such a ferocious desire for annihilation, by what perversion of intelligence is one able to chastise not its henchmen or its agents but those who, in churchillian fashion, have from the very first day decried, identified and fought the destructive rage driving the international terrorist organizations? What visual dysfunction must one have to substitute the slogan "Aznar, Basta Ya! for "ETA y al-Qaeda, Basta ya!" and to exorcise a planetary threat by brandishing quaint signs adorned with the word "Paz" ?

Precisely. In your book, West Against West, you talk of Islamism as if of a machine for "total war" against civilians...
The fantasy of a great planetary revolution, anti-Liberal, anti-Western and anti-capitalist has by turns fed the fanaticism of the nazis, the communists and the Islamists. It is their secret nihilist convergence that explains their common taste for redemptive violence. The obsessive fear common to these movements is not of capitalism but of the "spirit of capitalism" (Max Weber) and human rights which are inseparable.

In other words, as you say in your book Dostoevsky in Manhattan, Islamism is one of the many contemporary variants of nihilism. Can you explain this point?
Some commentators would have you believe that Islamism is not nihilistic because those who are mad for Allah "believe" in an absolute. Indeed: their absolute is terror. Islamism, like communism and nazism, is in fact the crowning achievement of a desire for annihilation: better to want nothingness itself than not to want anything at all. Dostoevsky and Nietzsche called that nihilism and Heidegger would call it "desire of desire." The nihilists want to rule by chaos and tyranny. They show themselves to be all the more bloody for thinking, deep down, that evil, like the devil, that other stale idea from the superstitious era, no longer exists. "May the sun burn out!" : that was how Leon Trotsky invoked the "eternal darkness." In Baghdad, Istanbul, Atocha or Jerusalem, the terrorist sacrifices to the same logic. Islamism is the local dialect of a globalized, destructive state of mind. The nihilist, be he Islamist, Bolshevik, fascist, racist or chauvinist, breaks every taboo and shrinks before nothing, like the child soldier of Monrovia who, when asked whether he might slaughter his own parent, answers, "Why not?"


You call on intellectuals to have more lucidity and courage in the face of international jihadism. What do you mean?
Comes the moment for decisions. Either Europe unites in resistance to the engineers of the apocalypse, as Blair has chosen; or it poses as an opponent of the United States, the path of the pseudo-"peace camp," behind Chirac, Putin and the hesitant Shroeder. The "viva la muerte" chanted by the Islamist legions vindicates Blair. But terror they inspire and that freezes the European citizen risks, on the contrary, compounding retreat upon retreat. For the Old Continent, nothing would be more juvenile and more fruitless than hoping to cement its unity in opposition to the United States.

In other words?
Europe's genuine cement must be the struggle against terror and the absolute rejection of the massacre of civilian populations. Let's judge a political doctrine by its effects. The dainty pleasure of putting sticks between the Americans' spokes leads to European impotence, to the paralysis of the Security Council, to the dramatic weakening of Nato. Let's stop jumping around like baby goats, shouting, "anybody but Bush!" After all, that "cretin" George W. Bush isn't all wrong: a minimum of democracy and a zest of tolerance in the slums of the world, sometimes introduced from outside and manu militari will foment security for Madrid, Paris, London and New York.
See some of my other Glucksmann translations here, here, here and here.

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