Saturday, January 11, 2014

Kapil on the Dieudonné (non)-Affair

Arun Kapil has a very long post on the Dieudonné business here. He makes many good points, including, perhaps, one hopes at any rate, his smackdown of my expression of alarm at what lies ahead. He may well be right. He is closer to the situation than I am. Nevertheless, I think he underestimates the potential harm of what he concedes is a widespread and increasingly uninhibited antisemitism in certain segments of French society. For Arun, these people are not alarming because they operate at "the degree zero of politics" and are products of a degraded popular culture. One can agree on the last two points and still worry about the potential for disruption and contagion. I've also been struck over the past few days by the crowds gathered at sites where Dieudonné performances have now been banned. Quite a few of the people interviewed on the TV news did not appear to be young denizens of the Paris suburbs or excluded visible minorities. Most seemed closer to 30 than to 20 in age, were well-dressed, and evidently had no difficulty coming up with the minimum 38 euros necessary (as Arun notes) for a ticket. Yet they were eager to tell the national TV audience that they believed their hero was being suppressed by "the Zionist lobby" through its immense and occult influence on the government.


Joel Naber said...

Thank you for all your postings on the Dieudonné phenomenon. I am appalled by all the comments who deny the antisemitic agressiveness of D. and his followers.

Arun Kapil's reasoning is erroneous. It is sufficient to look at the row of photos you have posted at this blog a few days ago, of dozens and dozens of people, mostly french I guess, visibly of all ethnic backgrounds present in France today, showing the quenelle in front of jewish institutions and symbols. Kapil is right of course about these people's dumbness, but this does not mean at all powerlessness. To persist in imagining them as powerless is a rationalization.

I think that it is also already an error to speak of Dieudonné's supporters as people "who feel that they have no voice in today's politics", which I have read in an earlier posting on your blog. The need to find a reason for what they are doing is understandable. But at the same time I think this is a very widespread error, even when people try to explain the success of nazism in the 20s and 30s. It is important to understand that the quenelle is a gesture that symbolizes an anal penetration of the enemy, penetration understood invariably as a humiliation of the other. D. and his followers express by this gesture that they do not want to conceive of human relationships in any other way than in a way of subjugation, humiliation, domination. They decry the supposed oppression of society by the Jews, but it is a projection of their very own desire to oppress and humiliate. It is wrong to think of them as victims of society. This is already succumbing to their ideological suggestions. It is very important for them to cultivate an imagination of themselves as victims, because they need this in order to legitimize their desire to oppress and humiliate others.

Anonymous said...

Art, thanks for the post on mine. I've responded to your comments at length in an update to my post.