Monday, January 29, 2007

Choosing Sarkozy.

You remember Sarkozy: the guy who wanted to "karsheriser" the ghettos; the hard right free-marketeer who opportunistically tried to distance himself from the government's neoliberal reforms when the going got tough; the man whom The Economist elected to slaver over as an exponent of smart solutions the "post-ideological age".

Guess who's voting for Sarkozy? André Glucksmann, philosopher, writer and 'personality' of the French left. He doesn't agree with Sarkozy on many things, understand, but he is moist about the "murmur of innocent hearts" that Sarkozy said he heard when he visited Yad Vashem. Moreover, of course, he is unimpressed by the PS candidate, Ségolène Royal. Of course, this has nothing to do with the bulk of Royal's policies, which happen to involve a Blairite combination of neoliberal economics and pandering to reactionary attitudes on 'law and order' and 'family values'. Royal was, alongside the former PS leader Hollande, ardently in favour of the EU Treaty Constitution. Her answer to the riots last year was the reintroduction of military conscription. She has, as Minister for the Family, campaigned against sex education in schools and AIDS prevention ads on television. Glucksmann can have no difference of principle with most of this, at least no more than he has with Sarkozy's attitude to immigrants. His problem appears to be that Royal is not an Atlanticist: he dreamed that Bernard Kouchner, the former proconsul in Kosovo, would win the PS leadership bid. Better yet, he fantasises about a Sarkozy-Kouchner candidacy, because Sarkozy has said bad things about the Sudanese government and good things about the Chechen struggle. He doesn't like dictatorships either. He is the "American neoconservative with a French passport". Hating the left, despising working class politics, and being no particular friend of Muslims in France or anywhere else, Glucksmann's decision is entirely logical.

I've been reading some of the archive of his material, and if you think British pro-war liberals are bad, you want to check this guy out. How outraged he was at the outrage over the invasion of Lebanon. How disgusted he was that the French government didn't participate in bombing Iraq. How shocked he was at the failure of the French to say 'Yes' to the EU Constitutional Treaty. Glucksmann, of course, had been a soixant-huitard attracted to libertarian forms of communism before becoming one of the 'antitotalitarian' nouveau philosophes of the late 1970s - that wonderful time when Paris became, in Perry Anderson's phrase, "the capital of European reaction", having only recently discovered the existence of the gulag. For some reason, Glucksmann was able to benefit in particular from the mystifying benedictions of the inestimably superior Foucault. That is one reason why, without being as handsome or rich as Bernard Henri-Levy, he was able to become a media darling too. Glucksmann has been championing the expansion of the American empire at least since the fall of the Berlin Wall, (now invade Yugoslavia! now Afghanistan! now Iraq! now Sudan!) and is now in the position of preferring a radically xenophobic authoritarian neoliberal to a dimwitted centre-left opportunist.