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DSK: Libération’s ‘Philosophical Hero’


My sister-in-law telephoned to tell me that Dominique Strauss-Kahn had been arrested in New York on a charge of rape. She thought it was the kind of thing I would like to know, being a psychiatrist and a scribbler, but also that neither the radio nor television reach my little corner of la France profonde, and even the satellite rays of the Internet arrive only intermittently and spasmodically, when the wind is in the right direction.

Naturally, we discussed who had plotted to bring about DSK’s downfall, not whether he had actually done it (though my sister-in-law informed me that he had what the police in England call ‘form’ or ‘previous,’ that is to say similar episodes in the past). First there was Nicolas Sarkozy, soon to campaign for his second term as president of France. DSK was seen as the principal electoral threat, a recent poll suggesting that 60 percent of the electorate would vote for him if he stood against Sarkozy, giving him an outright victory in the first round. If anyone would want DSK out of the way, Sarkozy would.

But so would his rivals in the Socialist party, to which he adheres, all the rest of whom are complete nonentities by comparison with him. They are all campaigning for the Socialist party’s candidacy for the presidential elections, and therefore had a very good reason for wanting DSK out of the way.

My sister-in-law, I need hardly add, is a great reader of Agatha Christie.

Naturally, I rushed out to buy the newspapers. I must say the account of events given in them struck me as very peculiar. The chambermaid was cleaning and tidying his suite under the impression that he was absent. He came nude out of the bathroom (how else is a man supposed to come out of the bathroom, asked a psychiatrist writing in Libération, a question that it takes approximately 30 years of education and training to be able to ask) and fell directly upon the chambermaid, attempting to rape and force oral sex upon her. It seems he was due to catch a plane to Berlin very shortly afterwards, to speak to Angela Merkel about the crisis in the Eurozone: whether this will count as an extenuating circumstance for his conduct remains to be seen.

My first thought, if this account should turn out to be true, was that DSK must have been and be suffering from an organic brain condition. He therefore needs an MRI scan, with particular attention to his frontal lobes.

Libération carried a curious article by a novelist called Luis de Miranda, titled “A philosophical hero.” It is only in France — no, only in Paris, and only in certain arrondissements of Paris at that — that such an article could be published. The author takes DSK’s guilt for granted, but does not condemn him for it, quite the reverse. “We bet,” said the author, “that in his depths Dominique Strauss-Kahn is joyful. Perhaps he doesn’t admit it to himself yet. But behaving thus at this point in his biography could only have been voluntary. I add that it is heroic.”

The feelings of the woman don’t seem to count for very much in the opinion of the author, at least by comparison with DSK’s heroic renunciation of the prospect of supreme power in his country. “If the cleaning woman has been attacked, the woman worker had violence done to her, then we are touching on the sublime, in the Kantian sense. . . . A political suicide rather than the death of an automaton or the possibility of a reign unleashed.” The author concludes:

This event in New York is a sacrifice, a renunciation of an anticipated excess of power, a gift to the French national interest. In that, DSK, you are heroic. Thank you.

It is good to know that the higher drivel is still being produced: By providing easy targets, it makes life so much easier for the rest of us poor scribblers.

Actually, DSK as Socialist candidate for the presidency would have been a good thing for France. That is because he is a socialist the same way that Genghis Khan was a humanitarian. Not that the others are exactly red in tooth and claw; they are corporatists rather than socialists.