Postmodern Conservative

Conformist Heretics

Alain Finkielkraut is a distinguished French philosopher and literary critic, born of Polish-Jewish refugees and recently elevated to the summit of French literary prestige, the Academie Francaise.  (For those of you who listen to French, try the podcast of his terrific interview program on the France Culture station, Repliques.  There’s no better spoken French, and no better intellectual discussion.)

This morning I was reading a short piece (“Roaring Non-conformists”) of Finkielkraut’s from a kind of diary he kept in 2001.  It was so insightful and so timely, I thought I would share a few hastily translated tidbits:

“Today’s favored ones put all their energy into convincing themselves that they are the oppressed, the rejected, the banned, and that they are not going to put up with it.  Those who are admired and who voice received opinion congratulate themselves warmly for their work of resistance.  … The spirit of our times noisily exults in thinking against the current and in formulating on any subject only the most inconvenient considerations.  The more one is well-connected, the more one claims to be provocative.  One claims to have to answer for the crime of heresy, when one is in fact running the show…  They match the stereotype of the risqué, they embody the cliché of rebellion, and do it with the utmost self-satisfaction…  For they play every role: the advantageous role of the Master and the prestigious role of the Condemned.  They live their eager adherence to today’s norm as a heroic challenge.  They are dogma and blasphemy at the same time.  And to demonstrate their marginality, they hurl insults at their very rare adversaries.  In a word, they bring together shamelessly the euphoria of power and the intoxication of subversion.”

I leave the last word of the essay untranslated:  “Salauds.” 

Most Popular

White House

Nikki Haley Has a Point

Nikki Haley isn’t a Deep Stater. She’s not a saboteur. She wouldn’t undermine the duly elected president, no siree! That’s the message that comes along with Haley’s new memoir With All Due Respect. In that book, she gives the politician’s review of her career so far, shares some details about her ... Read More
White House

Trump vs. the ‘Policy Community’

When it comes to Russia, I am with what Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman calls the American “policy community.” Vindman, of course, is one of the House Democrats’ star impeachment witnesses. His haughtiness in proclaiming the policy community and his membership in it grates, throughout his 340-page ... Read More
Law & the Courts

DACA’s Day in Court

When President Obama unilaterally changed immigration policy after repeatedly and correctly insisting that he lacked the constitutional power to do it, he said that congressional inaction had forced his hand. In the case of his first major unilateral move — “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” which ... Read More
Books

A Preposterous Review

A   Georgetown University professor named Charles King has reviewed my new book The Case for Nationalism for Foreign Affairs, and his review is a train wreck. It is worth dwelling on, not only because the review contains most of the lines of attack against my book, but because it is extraordinarily shoddy and ... Read More