"Le moment populiste", part 6. The inversion of values

The unleashing of the logic of limitlessness into a world deprived of guidelines inspires a deep identitarian and existential malaise in spirits. Photo: Pixabay
The unleashing of the logic of limitlessness into a world deprived of guidelines inspires a deep identitarian and existential malaise in spirits. Photo: Pixabay
16.10.2017

Boulevard Voltaire introduces its readers to a recent book that the editorial team appreciated. Every day, a new extract is published. Le Moment populiste. Droite-gauche, c’est fini!, by Alain de Benoist.

The idea of progress, the secular form of the belief in Providence, has entered into crisis itself, and the idea that tomorrow will necessarily be better than today has nearly died under the effect of the dynamic of permanent acceleration theorized by Hartmut Rosa. The “singing tomorrows” have disappeared, their place taken by a diffuse fear of the future that nourishes thoughts of catastrophe and phantasms of disaster. “The future contains no more promises” (André Gorz). This fear of the future, mainly deemed to be the bearer of threats, is paradoxically accompanied by a tendency to erase the past. “The refusal of the past, a superficially progressive and optimistic attitude, reveals, upon analysis, the manifestation of hopelessness in a society incapable of facing the future,” remarked Christopher Lasch. All “presentism” forbids us from representing the future as anything other than a leap into the unknown

This loss of references is especially due to the fact that, for the dominant ideology, man is not fundamentally social and that he can construct himself from nothing, moreover all men are treated as fundamentally identical (“the same”) and therefore interchangeable with each other. In the normative scheme, the objective then becomes to favor everything that permits man to become even more “independent” from his fellows: the exaltation of “nomadism,” the free circulation of men and capital, the praise for hybridization of every type, the negation of collective identities, the eradication of particular cultures, the programmed amnesia of past, the elimination of identitarian concerns, criticism of every form of belonging and descent. The “liberalization of mores” itself results from the necessity to subject every area of social life to capitalist consumption, the left is only committed to an indeterminate liberty, indifferent to institutional and social-historic conditions allowing it to be established, a conception of liberty which is also the conception of liberal anthropology.

But the people does not interpret the suppression of all norms as synonymous with greater freedom. Spontaneously hostile to a “counter-culture” that endeavored to deconstruct all guidelines on the basis of an abstract conception of freedom devoid of any reference to a substantial normative framework, it confusedly perceives that to be free is not to break away and refuse but to join and participate (in bonds, in circumstances, in ways of living), which implies recognizing conditions (notably reciprocal obligations) that allow for the autonomy of human communities. In a world where all forms of authority are de-legitimized, one after the other, with the sole exception of the technical authority of “experts,” and the only institutions called upon to regulate human relations are juridical contract and mercantile exchange, the people happen to realize that this loss of meaning is linked in some way to economic relations superseding social relations, the primacy of the economy and the “furies of private interest” (Marx) leading to a reification of human existence that puts an end to organic social relations, to human interdependence. “The economy transforms the world, but only into the world of economics,” said Guy Debord.

The unleashing of the logic of limitlessness into a world deprived of guidelines inspires a deep identitarian and existential malaise in spirits. When one speaks of populism, we must take this malaise into account, even more aggravated by the internalization of the idea that there is no alternative to the disappearance of every horizon of meaning within the world of economic reproduction: “The world must no longer be interpreted or changed: it must be endured” ( Peter Sloterdijk). “Our heritage makes us poorly adapted in relation to a world that devalues what we valued spontaneously and elevates what we looked down on to the forefront.” Marcel Gauchet observes. The people are deeply affected to this inversion of values.

Source: Boulevard Voltaire