Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Le Débat

Serge Audier reviews the history of the influential journal Le Débat. In large part he is rehashing one of the theses in his book on "la pensée anti-68," which Sam Moyn reviewed here. Much of the intellectual history of the past 40 years is bound up in this saga. For my own take on one aspect of this story, now somewhat out of date (it was written as a response to a polemical piece by Perry Anderson), see here.

And incidentally, Marcel Gauchet, the editor of Le Débat and focal point of Audier's critique, played a large part in the "Benjamin Constant revival," which Jacob Levy discusses here, in a blog post that includes a nice compliment to French Politics. (We intellectuals may live in a small world, but never let it be said that we're not incestuous. I not only wrote the review of Helena Rosenblatt's book, to which Levy refers, I also translated essays for the Cambridge Companion to Constant, which she edited, including part of Gauchet's book on Constant.) As Levy notes, the Constant revival extends well beyond the narrow confines of the Latin Quarter. This is one of many reasons why it can be misleading to write French intellectual history as an exercise in the sociology of small groups or the ethnography of some exotic tribe, although the temptation is permanent, particularly among outsiders gone (almost) native, like myself. The Parisian microcosm may be a basket of crabs, as Audier implies, but political thought continues to matter there in a way that it doesn't in the United States, as Moyn's closing lament makes clear.


bernard said...


As a pro translator, what is a good equivalent for "panier de crabes" in english? I deal with those in english everyday, but I don't know how to call them. thanks in advance

Unknown said...

snake pit

Anonymous said...

One of Le Monde's new directors feels that DSK isn't really on the left (the IMF approves of Sarkozy's retirement reform so I can see quite a problem already for DSK....), likes Royal but frowns on her difficulty at choosing her entourage/staff, and figures Hollande is the most "competent" of all socialists. He also promises that he's no Dassault and won't influence what's in the paper, let alone pen articles whenever he feels like it (as Dassault does for Le Figaro).

Personally I don't see any Hollande traction among people, but I'm pretty sure that he's angling for Finance minister, not president.

bernard said...

Thank you, Art.

kerry candaele said...

Thank you for attaching the link to your article on the Perry Anderson pieces. I would have enjoyed reading his response, as I thought there is so much to like in those two articles. Your presentation is hardly dated, it seems to me, with the likes of Zizek and Badiou and comrades getting away with far too much intellectual posturing and bad faith these days. Anderson is one of the smartest historian/provocateurs around, the other two being something else altogether.
kerry candaele