André Glücksmann
April 7, 2003 9:02 AM   Subscribe

Bin Laden, Dostoevsky and the reality principle: an interview with André Glücksmann. Europe is trapped by complacency and an all too human desire for oblivious contentment, says a leading French philosopher. This helps ensure the success of the nihilistic terror and extremist ideology exemplified by al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein. Nobody wants war – but genocide is worse than war.
posted by semmi (15 comments total)
Though being mired in constant fear of everything from child kidnappers to shark attacks to asian diseases to your arab-looking neighbour is also a good way to ensure the triumph of terror. Perhaps we can work on some middle ground?
posted by Space Coyote at 9:14 AM on April 7, 2003

Seems our government expresses the same nihilism.
posted by letterneversent at 9:15 AM on April 7, 2003

Also on Warfilter.
posted by Ljubljana at 9:34 AM on April 7, 2003

I'm really tired of this argument. 966 people were massacred in the Congo last week, the latest in a long line of atrocities in that part of Africa. This didn't make front page news either in Europe or America. Europeans are no more 'oblivious' than Americans, they simply have different capabilities and priorities. Who's going in to sort out the Congo? No fucking one, that's who.
posted by Summer at 9:44 AM on April 7, 2003

Who's going in to sort out the Congo? No fucking one, that's who.

Where is the UN when you need them?
posted by a3matrix at 9:46 AM on April 7, 2003

They're there looking at the bodies a3matrix. Otherwise we wouldn't even know about it.
posted by Summer at 9:48 AM on April 7, 2003

Exellent point Summer! Thanks!

Altruism is a uniquely individual trait. Nations and corporations just can't cut it as they are soulless entities!

Where is the outrage at the suffering when no national or corporate self interests are at stake? Why is this brutal dictator not roundly denounced both by media and politicians?
posted by nofundy at 10:40 AM on April 7, 2003

That sounds about par for the UN Summer. Looking at it after the fact. I bet they will have a bunch of meetings about it too. Then they'll all get together on a podium and condemn the acts of violence as a horrible thing.
But, will they actually ever get around to doing anything? I doubt it very much.
posted by a3matrix at 10:52 AM on April 7, 2003

posted by leotrotsky at 11:14 AM on April 7, 2003

If I had to argue with M. Glucksmann, I would say that these are not nihilistic philosophies - rather, they are responses to being confronted with the crisis of modernity, the creation of a historical consciousness. Islamic fundamentalist is really more akin to fascism than totalitarian communism simply because its response to the crisis is more akin to the former than the latter. Against withering draughts of history and modernity, the fundamentalists have decided to create a new set of myths about ancient traditions to live with which empower them to act.

Surprisingly to all, liberal democracy, rather than roll over and die - being the most historically-aware form of government - did the same thing. The seemingly bizarre actions, when viewed from the outside, of the pro-war movement, are nothing less than the creation of a mythos to counteract history and enable their way of life to continue.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 4:47 PM on April 7, 2003

This is what passes for philosophy these days? Oh my.

Socrates asked: what do a beautiful woman, a beautiful vase and a beautiful bed have in common? His answer: the idea of beauty. My question is: what do extremist ideologies like the communism or Nazism of yesteryear and the Islamism of today have in common? After all, they support ostensibly very different ideals – the superior race, mankind united in socialism, the community of Muslim believers (the Umma). Tomorrow, it could be altogether different ideals: some theological, some scientific, others racist. But the common characteristic is nihilism.

Right off the bat he makes uniformed and self-serving statements. Nihilism isn't common to communism, nazism, or Islamism in the same way beauty is common to a beautiful woman, vase or bed. Beauty is an intrinsic part of the beautiful vase, without it the vase would either not be beautiful, or the statement that is was would be contradictory. Communism and Nazism were not intrinsically nihilistic in the same way. Nihilism is the perspective that there are no universal moral structures to guide human actions. Communism and Nazism (however wrongly) attempted to create and impose moral structures in a nihilistic environment, but where not nihilistic in and of themselves.

Another error in this interview is that terrorism is treated as an ideology. Terrorism is a set of methods deployed to attain certain goals, not a world view. Nazism was a world view that lead to violence and brutality, but that violence wasn't for the sake of violence alone, it was a method of furthering the Nazi world view of racism. Glücksmann seems to feel that terrorism is a intrinsic part of Islam, when in reality terrorism is a method that has been used by many people for many causes. Undeniably there are Islamic people who use terrorism as a method, but that shouldn't implicate the religion as a whole.

Glücksmann seems to be putting the cart before the horse in order to reach the conclusion he wants. Osama et all see the world as nihilistic, emptied of moral structure by the western forces of secularism and capitalism. He and his followers are trying to impose an islamist moral structure on the world in order to save it (in their view) from further defilement and alienation from the natural order (read: God.) Perhaps this is what the answer to Glücksmann's question should have been, not nihilism, but the need to impose order on a world out of control.
posted by elwoodwiles at 5:11 PM on April 7, 2003

But, will they actually ever get around to doing anything? I doubt it very much.

a3matrix, the fact may have escaped you that the UN is a collective security organisation reliant upon the consent, commitment and basic fucking giving-a-shit of the state entities that are its component parts. Rwanda? The UN was there, and not enough countries gave a shit about black people killing other black people. Sierra Leone: the British guilt-trip about Empire kicked in. Same with Côte d'Ivoire and the French.

Anyway, the piece itself makes me recall the little ditty 'one of these things is not like the others'; Glucksmann's argument is so reductive that it makes Procrustes look like a front-man for HappyHappySleepytime Orthopaedic Beds. For slightly more decent thinking: I've spent the last few days re-reading Slavoj Zizek's Welcome to the Desert of the Real, and his conclusions on the fake victory in Afghanistan and the paranoic state of the US post-Sept-11th seem even more apposite now. In fact, he draws similar conclusions to elwoodwiles: that the oscillating nihilism-fundamentalism of terrorism (not, I should note, of Saddam) is the opposite side of the same coin flipped by the PNAC-ers whispering seductively in Dubya's ear.
posted by riviera at 9:15 PM on April 7, 2003

I like the first review of Welcome to the Desert of the Real on amazon.
posted by homunculus at 9:56 PM on April 7, 2003

it makes Procrustes look like a front-man for HappyHappySleepytime Orthopaedic Beds

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:43 PM on April 7, 2003

what do extremist ideologies like the communism or Nazism of yesteryear and the Islamism of today have in common?

Extremism. Duh.
posted by callmejay at 9:56 AM on April 8, 2003

« Older The Division By Zero Conspiracy   |   WWTBAM Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments