The French Feel Threatened by American Intellectual Trends


I'm still shaking my head over this article, not sure whether to laugh or cry! If I read this correctly, French politicians and thinkers feel that current American intellectual trends are dangerous and should be resisted by all patriotic French citizens. The New York Times had a similar treatment of the issue.

The intellectual trends being referenced here are critical race theory and post-colonialism, and its associated cancel culture (and de-statue-ing culture, too, I believe). Here some excerpts:

"In a speech in October on the 'Fight against Separatism', [President Emmanuel] Macron warned against leaving 'the intellectual debate to others' as he cautioned of the 'certain social science theories entirely imported from the United States'.

"His education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer also warned in October that there is a 'battle to wage against an intellectual matrix from American universities'.

"Some French intellects have also argued that American universities are to blame for giving justification to acts of terrorism carried out by Muslims. After three Islamist terror attacks last fall, Education minister Blanquer accused the universities of being complicit. He was supported in an open letter from 100 prominent scholars that blasted social theories 'transferred from North American campuses'.

"One of the signatories, Gilles Kepel, argued that American influence led to 'a sort of prohibition in universities to think about the phenomenon of political Islam in the name of a leftist ideology that considers it the religion of the underprivileged.' Historian Pierre-André Taguieff argued in the same way that the 'American-style black question' was a 'totally artificial importation' to France. He said that it was all driven by 'hatred of the West, as a white civilization'.

"'The common agenda of these enemies of European civilization can be summed up in three words: decolonize, demasculate, de-Europeanize,' Taguieff said."

Well, that's all very good, but what civilization gave us Foucault? Derrida? Fanon? Barthes? Baudrillard? Glissant? Senghor? Etc.? Was it not France and the Francophone world? Indeed, it was 1987, when reading Malcolm Bradbury's supremely satiric novel Mensonge, that I realized the mischief that would result from French critical theory. I guess the chickens have come home to roost! Tant pis!