Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Interview with Olivier Roy

Adam Shatz talks with Olivier Roy, who reminisces on his past with la Gauche prolétarienne.


Anonymous said...

It is interesting that a former Maoist became an apologist for Islamist terrorists: They are only "nihilists" who use Islam as a pretext for their destructive fury, just as youthful French Maoists were nihilists who used their puerile Marxism in 1968 to overthrow the "bourgeois" Fifth Republic. Of course Roy would never admit that he was an idiot in his youth, and probably still is.

brent said...

Many of us are 'idiots' in our youth--it comes with adolescence. Roy's podcast is interesting in that--rather than the abject confession you seem to want--he explains, in rich detail, the context that led him and many others of the brightest students into a Maoism that may have reached a dead end but was hardly nihilistic in intent.

Likewise he offers lucid explanations, based on first-hand knowledge, of Islamist strategy. This is not apologism, though some demagogues will tell you that any attempt to explain terrorism is a sign of complicity. Luckily in the US we have politicians lining up to growl "bad guys", which obviates the need for rational analysis.

Rédaction Contreligne said...

Olivier Roy (and his "islamisation de la radicalité") and Adam Schatz (well known for his stupid comments on K Daoud's article) are two disgraceful chaps. I am not surprised to see that Roy was a maoist, 40 or 50 years ago !

Anonymous said...


What led Roy and his fellow Maoists to their puerile Marxism is of no interest to me. Whether it was Althusser or Sartre, their ideas were silly and I doubt that they even read the two pied pipers of imaginary Marxisms (Raymond Aron). If they were the "brightest" students of their generation, who were the dumbest? I didn't find the podcast particularly illuminating. No one would dispute that Islamist terrorists are deranged. Calling them nihilists is not an explanation. If there is a "rational" explanation for killing people and blowing oneself up, I would like to see what it is.

Massilian said...

@brent, @ redaction contreligne,
It is so very easy to look 50 years back and with all our present wisdom say these maoist puerile assholes were dumb bourgeois punks or the likes.
I was one of them. For lots of diverse interesting reasons. I must say I learned a lot. I dropped off from my comfortable liberal "intelligentsia" family and met people I would have never met otherwise, I worked for almost a year in 3/8 shifts; I learned to operate underground; I travelled a lot, I learned to use printing equipment and offset machines, I learned that if you decide to carry a gun it is because you intend to use it otherwise you don't and you have to accept and understand that and how this may affect your stupid life. And more.
And finally, I quit.

I learned much more when I stopped being so "engagé" or "enragé" and had to understand why and how I had become a follower and a proselyte and became too lazy to use my own brain anymore.
That took me several years and hard work to recover my independance, not to trust, nor rely nor endorse, nor adhere anymore to anything, any cause, or whatever I read from whoever. That made me quite a loner in my social life. Nobody did such an effort. Nobody accepted the annoyance of doubt. Eventhough "It's not the doubt, it's the certainty that drives you crazy." (Nietzsche).
I don't have one hour to listen to O.Roy and A.Schatz at the time, but I certainly wouldn't lightly dismiss them out of hand.