Writing in Libération, Jacques Rancière talks about populism and French politics today.
The People Are Not a Brutal and Ignorant Mass
Not a day goes by without the risks of populism being denounced on all sides. But it is not so easy to grasp what the word denotes. What is a populist? Despite various fluctuations of meaning, the dominant discourse seems to characterize it in terms of three essential features: a style of speech addressed directly to the people, bypassing representatives and dignitaries; the assertion that governments and ruling elites are more concerned with feathering their own nest than with the public interest; a rhetoric of identity that expresses fear and rejection of foreigners.
On January 26, Alain Badiou gave the closing lecture of the France-Culture forum, of which the Nouvel Observateur is a partner. Below appears an extract.
This text by Alain Badiou, which the Nouvel Observateur published as a pre-release, is a summary of the 'concluding lecture' which the philosopher gave this Saturday, 26 January, at the Sorbonne, at the end of the 'L'Année vue par... la philo' ['The year as seen by... philosophy'] forum, a day of debates organised by France-Culture in partnership with the Nouvel Observateur.
The awarding of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union in a Dutch newspaper cartoon was mocked by depicting the Nobel committee at the end of its deliberations, realising it forgot to select the peace laureate. One member shouts, ‘Quick, a name! A short one please!’
The true misjudgement of course is that the EU, rewarded for its supposed role in preventing war in post-1945 Europe, began as a sideshow to preparation for war with the Soviet bloc and today terrorises southern Europe, whilst lining up for war with Syria and Iran.
In the 1950s, the first initiatives towards Western European integration were taken by France to prevent a straightforward resurrection of West German economic and military power as favoured by the Atlantic ruling class. There was real compromise involved but early European integration still was part of the West’s Cold War line-up.