Saturday, December 19, 2015

Alain Finkielkraut on French Laicity . . .

Alain Finkielkraut

In a recent blog entry, Bill Vallicella directed readers' attention to a quote of Alain Finkielkraut that has been translated from the French and posted online by Amy Sterzinger, and I was so taken by the same quote that Bill quotes that I've posted it here:
Laicity is the solution that modern Europe found in order to escape its religious civil wars. But contemporary Europe doesn't take religion seriously enough to know how to stick to this solution. She has exiled faith to the fantastic world of human irreality that the Marxists called "superstructure" thus, precisely through their failure to believe in religion, the representatives of secularism empty laicity of its substance, and swallow, for humanitarian reasons, the demands of its enemies.
Bill offers a cogent explication of Finkielkraut's brilliance in this quote, and my reading follows Bill's.

Basically, France adopted "laicity" - a strict version of secularism - when the French still took religion seriously and knew that believers really do believe what they say they believe. French laicity forced religion out of public life and made it a purely private affair. This was a solution so long as believers and atheists both took religion seriously, but as atheism gradually 'forgot' the radical passion of religion and relegated religious fervor to a Marxist "superstructure," analyses of religions and religious motives grew superficial.

Religious beliefs were now always dismissed as epiphenomena, not to be taken seriously, false representations of some more basic, economic reality, and religiously based upheavals thus came to be seen as rebellion against economic conditions, rebellion with a potential for revolutionary uses, such that a hope for martyrdom and the reward of celestial virgins was never about a divinely promised paradise - which even the Muslims couldn't truly believe in, or so said the atheist analysts - but, rather, was about some misperceived earthly utopia to be realized in the future, through material, not spiritual means.

Big mistake.

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At 7:36 PM, Blogger Antony Trepniak said...

A very good point. This is the heart of the Left's deadly confusion about Islamism. The SWP's document The Prophet and the Proletariat has indirectly influenced a huge slice of opinion for the past 29 years, and we now have a Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition who is fully signed up to that way of thinking. The roots of it lie in the Congress of the Peoples of the East, in which Zinoviev declared that the nations of the East would be able to effect a Socialist revolution ("under the wise leadership of the organized workers in the West") without having to pass through Capitalism.

This is in sharp contrast to the perspective of old man Marx, whose little-read article on The British Rule in India ("...whatever may have been the crimes of England she was the unconscious tool of history in bringing about that revolution.") would send a modern-day "anti-Imperialist" into a foaming fit of apoplexy.

At 9:03 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Time passes, the old are gone, memories fade, and the orthodoxies of yesterday become the heresies of tomorrow . . .

Thanks again for the links.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The SWP's document The Prophet and the Proletariat is yet another data point (among many, alas) establishing a pretty warped perception on the part of the Left. It is becoming obvious that the Left and the elites are using the Muslim world to mitigate traditional liberal society (i.e. western civ.) as they engineer global technocratic authority and enhance and strengthen their hold on power... And with the emphasis on that last bit: enhance and strengthen their hold on power...

At 4:47 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Anon.

Jeffery Hodges

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