Speech given in Villepreux Saturday September 8th 2007
Bourgeois … In the past, meaning until the end of the 70s, the word bourgeois was considered as an insult, as much by the prole as by the artist or fallen aristocrat. Today it has disappeared from the vocabulary, to the benefit of the rich, of the jet set, thus proving that money, and the values that go along with it, is no longer shameful nor suspect. Neither shameful nor suspect to the old elites of Gotha, that can rival in vulgarity the well-to-do of show-biz in Gala. Neither shameful nor suspect to the popular classes who dream of meteoric individual success themselves scratching their Lotto ticket and watching “Saga,” “Nouvelle Star.” Neither shameful nor suspect to the immigrant lumpen-proletariat who only dream of threads, custom cars, and bimbos … The old money, the poor middle classes, the new poor … among them all, everywhere, liberal ideologies have triumphed, it’s firstly what this is about, when we speak of the bourgeois …
First Part: What is the Bourgeois World?
A human community, a social class gone global with its seizure of power on Earth, and spirits that have become one with the story of liberalism. To understand the bourgeoisie, what it is, how we can recognize it and attack it, we firstly understand the liberal tale, its rise, its domination, its lies, its contradictions, its decadence.
The bourgeois-liberal world is based on two pillars, one spiritual, the other material, like every society, every human group. Knowing which is inferior to the other – what distinguishes the idealist thesis and the materialist thesis – is less important than understanding that one doesn’t go without the other, like the head and the legs … Thus these two pillars are: individualism, inaugurated and theorized by the cogito of Descartes (“I think therefore I am”), an affirmation / emancipation from the old world where community and fatum came first, which contains the seeds of all the freedom and the arrogance of modern man.
The Market, which in this world originating from the free and thinking individual man, has become this “nous” that henceforth governs relations between men-individuals in a world where God is silent.
The double advent of natural sciences’ rationality against the divine order and quantifiable individual interest as the motive of action created a world based on Reason, the individual free in rights if not in fact, and clearly defined individual interest in the bourgeois era. A free man, conscious of his rights, and seeking his well defined individual interest defines the ascendant “liberal.” The most perfect figure of the liberal ascendance in France was and remains the ironic Voltaire.
The figure of the doubly speculative honest man … Speculative in the spiritual scheme: the cogito of Descartes comes from dubito: dubito ergo sum res cogitens …. Also speculative in the scheme of business, this honest man was also an arms trafficker and a slave merchant, a liberal in the Anglo-Saxon and Thatcherite sense of the term.
Bourgeois Left and Right
Beautiful abstract and universal ideas made possible by the least beautiful material possibilities. The free thinker and the bourgeois, that where the problem lies … and it’s why “liberal” means both “open spirited man” but also “cold businessman” in our contemporary imagination, right wing man like left wing man, because rationalist liberal epistemology comes as much from “The Rights of Man” of a Rousseau as from the transgressive egoism of a Marquis de Sade. Marquis de Sade who never did anything other than push the intrinsic amoralism of liberal thought to its ultimate conclusions through literary provocation.
The Liberal Epic: Right / Left Combat
This inherent duality in liberal reason’s conception of man, behind which the man of the Market stands. The market itself considered as the sole rational social bond – so natural – between men, who suddenly become Homo economicus.
This duality together would constitute the collective epic of the bourgeoisie, according to the development of its contradictions, and determine the history of both the bourgeois left and the bourgeois right, the fight of the liberal economic right against the “human rightist” left within that little bourgeois theater called “democratic debate.”
This problematic duality would also constitute the “bourgeois sensibility,” the history of its cultural sensibility that we can qualify as “painful consciousness,” in effect painful consciousness of this contradiction perfectly expressed and realized in this new artistic category which is con-substantial to it: the story of the bourgeois novel.
Ascendance, Ideas, The Enlighteners
But if the bourgeois ethic of liberty and formal equality, founded on natural right and Reason, permitted the ascension of the bourgeoisie and its seduction over the world of ideas by the ideology of the Enlightenment, and finally its seizure of power from the Ancien Régime of fate and divine right … It was bourgeois profit, its domination by money, that increasingly made it the most powerful class, to the point of gradually being able to pass away from its humanist ethics, as the untenable exacerbation of its contradictions. A bourgeois ethic soon reduced to a rhetoric as desiccated as the Scholasticism of the Ancien Régime could be, retaining less rationalist humanism than scientism … Scientific progress had the big advantage of testifying to the superiority of the bourgeois spirit by concrete proof of its domination over Nature, but above all by constituting – via technological progress – one of the keys of the turnover and growth of profit. Thus, progressively, the social class of “creative doubt” and legal equality became the class of technical expansion driven by the lure of profit. The valorization of Capital – which is another name for the Market – and its corollary, the democracy of the Market, became the new religion of the philistines who, after two full centuries of full power, end up lamenting the old order and the nobility of the Ancien Régime! But this bourgeois epic, though triumphant, did not go smoothly, these clashes were only the proof, and moreover even the incarnation of its moral and practical contradictions.
The Proletariat, Proof of the Bourgeois Lie
But if the bourgeois class overtook the aristocracy of the Ancien Régime, it also created the proletariat and its working misery, History’s proof and the concrete reality that, behind the entrepreneur, the creator of wealth, jobs, and progress by the capitalist valorization of technology, stands the speculator, the creator of exploitation and inequalities … The history of the struggle – by its victims – against this violence likewise constitutes the history of the workers’ movement. Hence Marxism … Material and moral misery of the working class in flagrant contradiction with the promises of the Enlightenment and its economic ideology of the “invisible hand” – supposed to bring collective well-being through individual selfishness, which is, don’t forget, at the origin of the Marxist critique as a communist project, an ideology of combat critiquing in turn the dominant class, like the ascendant bourgeoisie had done with the nobility, reformist left, radical left … the ideology refusing the lie of formal egalitarianism as divine fate whose strategy itself was double: either the syndicalism of compromise, or revolutionary syndicalism. On one hand a scientist, positivist left, trying to surpass the bourgeoisie but retaining the achievements. On the other a more romantic, more radical left convinced that the ethics and epistemology are one, and in order to escape one, we must also question the other… A radically anti-bourgeois left, opposed to social-democratic compromise, for which the problem is limited to the elevation of purchasing power, which attempted, without ever achieving it, to surpass the bourgeois-liberal era, both in the epistemological scheme as well as the ethical, through the ideology of the “new man” which will lead to the strongest communism, resorting in part to the values of the old world, like the valorization of the family with Proudhon, the ascetic Greco-Roman heroism dear to Sorel, even if it meant making tactical alliances with anti-bourgeois forces coming from the Ancien Régime and the ideas of the right …
Other Attempted Alternatives to the Bourgeois World
The Marxist-Leninist epic, the most important in its duration and ambition: creation of a new man and a classless society, should not conceal that there were other attempts to escape liberal-bourgeois domination, its purely capitalist logic, which, after the failure of Sovietism and the triumph of the social-democratic left, only means the satisfaction of the consumer by constant augmentation of purchasing power permitted by growth …
Idealization of the Past, Exoticism…
Romanticism was the individual, poetic flight into the mythologized past through the idealization of the Middle Ages. An equally individual flight, not in time but in space, through exoticism, consisted of fleeing the Western bourgeois world in order to go live in other societies, often more traditional, caste society in India, tribal society in Africa … An approach of breaking [with bourgeois society] through escape that was at the origin, don’t forget, of the hippie movement. Even if this attempt was finally transformed by the market in turn.
Fascism, Nazism …
Both forms of idealization of the past must not be confused with the mixed, half-reactionary, half-futurist experiences of Fascism and Nazism. Social and political experiences that sought to retain bourgeois technology but in the service of an ethic drawn from the pre-bourgeois period, to the antitheses of the Enlightenment … The Nazi, Fascist attempt mixed technological rationalism and ethical irrationalism, which also failed. And the left, to hold onto its moral leadership, often pretends to confuse them with these very subtle constructions of the spirit that were the “troisième voie” ideologies [Translator’s Note: I kept troisième voie in the original as “third way” in Anglophone countries refers left-liberal policies popularized by Bill Clinton or Tony Blair]. These projects of the conservative revolution that seriously pose the question of progressive limits to the ideology of progress in Russia, Germany, and France.
Troisième Voie: Cercle Proudhon
An attempt at the troisième voie was realized in the margins of Cercle Proudhon in France, where a dialogue between nationalist monarchists and ant-reformist syndicalists took place, where men of good will, joined together beyond their origins in the same values of nobility of heart, honor, combat, and love of country, attempted to form an improbable anti-bourgeois sacred union. A sacred union of good willed men to which the system responded with a flag waving sacred union against the Germans.
Germans Yesterday, Arabs today…
As in the past, today the same system tries to prevent the sacred union of the victims of the Market: small businessmen, artisans, employees, proletarians of all origins, by a sacred union against the Arabs. Hate for these North Africans that these bourgeois in power have brought to our land in massive numbers themselves.
The Trap of the Clash of Civilization…
Despite the failures of past cross-front attempts, I think that it’s still the responsibility of this “troisième voie,” this broad and subversive sacred union, vilified as much by the liberal right as the Trotskyite left, at the polar opposite of today’s theory of “the clash of civilizations”, to find for itself both the salvation of France and an alternative to the bourgeois world. An alternative to this bourgeois world today fully embodied by the American imperium, its tribal [translator’s note: in the sense of identity politics, communautarisme, in French] and un-egalitarian values behind which globalist financial capitalism’s desire for omnipotence hides, the destroyer of spirituality, cultures, differences in identity. A generalized essentially Judeo-Anglo-Saxon merchant spirit far from our Hellenic-Christian, Celtic, Gallic-Roman values, and our Euro-Mediterranean destiny.
On Merchant Totalitarianism
After the failure, often in blood and fire, of all regimes that opposed it, we must very well admit that the democracy of the Market – where democracy is in fact only the means of the Market – has only scored points and extended itself since the 80s. It has extended from where it was born, in Western Europe, to all domains of life, including those of the spirit, by the intimate commercialization of the body, of culture, of medicine, and even religion, itself also reduced to the liberal law of Human Rights, far from any transcendence. Market democracy that only scores points and geographically extends itself: to India, to China – only Africa escapes it through misery. And which reveals itself to be, in fact, the only true totalitarianism, contrary to the naivete of Hannah Arendt.
Part Two: What Is To Be Done?
Then what is to be done? Without returning to past experiences, we try to see, today, here, through reality and the present forces, what are the possible alternatives to the bourgeois world, to this market heading towards merchant totalitarianism that never stops mutating in order to reinforce itself and survive.
From Moralism to Pornography
Pushed ahead by the law of profit, forced to find new markets, the bourgeoisie, in order to remain master of the game, doesn’t cease to change, changing until it denies that values that permitted it to impose itself. Entrepreneurial and parsimonious in the take-off period, it functions today, on the contrary, as the polar opposite of the bourgeois moralism of the 19th century, demonstrating the first principle, the ultimate principle of the bourgeois world, for which it is capable of sacrificing all the others, holy profit.
From Libertarian Liberalism to Security Liberalism
A liberalism that was puritan became libertarian, after and thanks to Mai 68, which then evolved and mutated since the election of Sarkozy into security liberalism. Security liberalism, namely a liberal regime for the globalist bourgeoisie and everyone who favors the weakening of the Nation, but a security regime, not for delinquents or illegal immigrants that pose problems for the people, but for the workers and the middle classes, who might want to revolt against the liberal elite. A liberal security regime that we can also define, far from being out of order, as a libertarian liberalism which, feeling outdated, pretends to solve the problems that it itself created and continues to aggravate by two or three gimmick laws which always ultimately penalize the petty bourgeois and the lower class whites. A security regime towards the working people, without ever touching, in reality, on the delinquency of lumpen-proletariat or elite predators. A liberal security society that we can also qualify as the “society of policed consumption,” both permissive for the half wit consumer and repressive for the productive citizen, on the American model.
The Anglo-Saxon World … Against Europe and France
This totalitarianism that we must resist, despite the disproportion of the present forces, firstly comes to us, I repeat, from the Anglo-Saxon world. Today embodied by the American empire, as it was by the British empire in the last century, this power, essentially Judeo-Protestant, un-egalitarian, and Thalassocratic, always demonstrated hostility towards Catholic and Christian France, towards its Euro-Mediterranean destiny, and always offered it, in partnership, only a relation of subjection. A submission that is unfortunately often accomplished with the complicity of the French elites, whether it was Philippe Égalité during the French Revolution, Pascal Lamy through the European Community, and of course, a certain President Sarkozy today.
The Mystic Ultra-Liberalism of the Neo-Conservatives
A brutal liberalism, which turned its back to the morality of the Enlightenment, and which, no longer capable of justifying its domineering and militarist abuses through Reason, today finds refuge in mysticism, the God of the chosen in the Old Testament. A mystic ultra-liberalism that tries, since September 11th, to lead us into a pseudo “conflict of civilizations” which attempts, especially for us, to oppose Europe in favor of a West that is only the false name of Anglo-Saxon American domination, in order to prevent a Europe of peoples and nations that is in our interest.
To Escape the Anglo-Saxon Domination, as the Economic, Cultural, and Geopolitical Model By the Nation of 1789
This recent offensive of the capitalist Anglo-Saxon empire occurs today, outside this mystical-liberal ideology of the neo-conservatives, through liberal globalization. A global hegemony of the Market, and of those who control it, which necessarily happens through the destruction of nations and notably of the French nation. A French nation systematically likened to the flag waving and warlike period of Barrès in order to actually liquidate this progressive, egalitarian, secular, and assimilationist French model, which protects our sovereignty, freedom of conscience, and the social benefits of the people. A nation that the liberal right – in the name of the fight against archaism, shoulder to shoulder with the Trotskyite left – in the name of the fight against nationalism, tries to liquidate today. A smooth collaboration that doubtlessly explains position of the little postman of Neuilly [Translator’s note: Referring here to Olivier Besancenot, extreme left politician and Neuilly-sur-Seine, a wealthy suburb of Paris] close to the media and native liberal decision makers also from Neuilly themselves!
The Defense of the French Nation…
That’s why, in order to resist this imperial subjection and its mystical-merchant totalitarianism, we must, in the first place, preserve the nation. To defend, in the face of criticism from the right as well as the left, not an obsolete and vengeful nationalism, but a new nationalism, protective of the social benefits coming from the National Council of the Resistance (CNR) [Translator’s Note: The body representing the French Resistance in World War 2 that adopted a strongly socialist program], protective of our industry, of our jobs, and our political independence. An alter-nationalism capable of considering a healthy cooperation between nations and peoples. A French nationalism, assimilationist but not homogenizing, based on a strong state capable of telling the priorities in economic matters in order to protect our industry, base salaries, small and medium sized enterprises. A strong state also equipped with a strategic vision conforming to our national interests. Interests that are evidently not subject to an Anglo-Saxon empire, which we have always mistrusted in the scheme of values, and that has always played against us in order to weaken our radiance: whether in the time of perfidious Albion in Canada and India, or more recently, with the United States, when we recognized the perverse game they played in Indochina, in Algeria.
A Sacred Union of Non-Aligned: Chavez, Putin, Nasrallah…
In brief, defend a social and non-aligned France. In order to do this, work in partnership with all the regimes that resist the “New World Order,” from Chavez’s Venezuela to Putin’s Russia. Without forgetting the prestige and the place that is still ours in the Mediterranean, where they still speak French and where they respect France’s past – besides its government today – in the Maghreb, in Lebanon. A sacred union of all societies that place themselves on the side of a certain heroism, of a certain poetry of existence in relation to the times, to utility, to calculation. The Slavic world, the Arab world, which are not unlike, for us, the vision of our Catholicism of the Middle Ages or the socialism romanticized by both Sorel and Proudhon.
Reactionaries and Progressives Against the Liberals
Considering the failure of Soviet socialism rejected by the peoples, and social-democratic reformism, entirely submissive to the diktat of capital, I would say, to conclude, that the single possible alternative to the bourgeois world can only occur through the sacred union of reactionaries and progressives. A union of reactionaries, whether monarchists, Catholics, Hellenists, Muslims, but all attached to a certain classical order, with the progressives, all enemies of the bourgeois world, whether they come from the PCF of Marchais, today’s Worker’s Party, the Serbian resistance, or Venezuelan Chavismo. A union of reactionaries who are often right and progressives who have often been screwed over, against the liberals who dominate the world today and who have always divided in order to rule. Against this empire engaged headlong in the destruction of our human societies and nature. Against this world singularly devoted to the cult of Mammon and increasingly causing problems of overproduction, pollution, inequalities, which lead to catastrophe. What project, what hope?
What Project, What Hope?
Of course, not the great day of revolution tomorrow morning. But, by waiting for a more favorable relation of forces, not bearing the brunt of this globalist and merchant dictatorship too painfully, by bringing us together in solidarity. Without going to the camp of the saints, we organize in networks, continue to produce necessary and relevant critiques of a world based on permanent change. Elaborate a doctrine of struggle and resistance without falling into scholasticism, sterile nostalgia, in order to escape, at least conscientiously and personally, the system that reduces us to precariousness, solitude, depression, when it does not master our minds. In brief, participate in a collective project, define a hope, try to be lively and happy despite everything.
That’s why we’re gathered here!