The Populist Moment, Chapter 5, Part 2:
Alain de Benoist
The Theses of Jean-Claude Michéa
Translated by F. Roger Devlin
No doubt we should have expected this. The views developed by Jean-Claude Michéa were not slow to earn him many critiques, mostly directed at two of his books, Orpheus’s Complex and Mysteries of the Left. Rushing into a breach opened by the sociologist Luc Boltanski, Serge Halimi began hostilities in the pages of Le Monde diplomatique, which he has edited since 2008, followed by the economist Frédéric Lordon in La Revue des livres, and then by Philippe Corcuff, a militant anarcho-third-worldist who has passed through the Socialist Party, the Greens, and Alain Krivine and Olivier Besancenot’s New Anti-Capitalist Party. They were immediately copied by several occasional bloggers.
The most striking thing about this artillery barrage, as observed by the target himself, is that it has not come from the bobo Left which Michéa has regularly attacked in his books, but by authors much more resolutely engaged “on the Left” from whom we had learned to expect better (Boltanski and Lordon’s critiques of capitalism, to cite only them, have often been suggestive). A possible explanation: The influence of a Pierre Bourdieu’s coagulated thought on these “state-appointed insurrectional sociologists” (Aude Lancelin): the “bourdivine” Left does not like to be questioned, as Jean Baudrillard had already observed.
It is worth lingering over this polemic, not to defend Michéa, who has been quite capable of defending himself — especially in a text published online on August 2, 2013 by Médiapart in the form of an open letter to Philippe Corcuff, in which he responds to his other critics as well — but because despite the caricatures and bad faith arguments, it raises important fundamental questions. This is a trait characteristic of most debates on Left-wing ideas (one would unfortunately have difficulty finding the equivalent on the Right, where the debate concerning ideas generally amounts to an accumulation of slogans with their associated insults and bird names).
But what exactly is Michéa being criticized for? For having broken ranks with the Left, as one might think when reading the Frédéric Lordon’s horrified exclamation: “Now he is breaking with the Left?” This would obviously be absurd, since what Michéa is fundamentally reproaching the Left with is having broken with socialism. Michéa has not chosen to break with “the Left” in order to rally to “the Right!” Besides, one would have to be singularly foolish to imagine that criticizing the Left means ipso facto to rally to the Right or defend its positions (it was with reasoning of this sort that those who denounced the fraud of a “free world” dominated by the Americans during the Cold War were denounced as “objective allies” of the Soviet Union). Michéa is a socialist and partisan of a classless society, as well as a radical democrat of libertarian sensibility and an advocate of degrowth whose emancipatory project has nothing to do with any sort of restorationism. Affirming explicitly that we must “think with the Enlightenment against the Enlightenment,” according to the excellent formula we owe to Theodor Adorno, he appeals to the young Marx, Marcel Mauss, Guy Debord, George Orwell, and Christopher Lasch, not to Bonald or Joseph de Maistre, and still less to Maurras!
In his response to the “new guard dogs” who have attacked him, Michéa himself says that he “must have tapped into quite a hornet’s nest to have elicited such hostility.” That must indeed be what happened, since he put his finger on the essential. By saying what? Quite simply, that if the Left has betrayed the people by rallying to the market society, it is because it has broken with the inspiration of the original socialists, something only possible because the cultural and social liberalism to which it appeals takes its inspiration from the same sources as the economic liberalism (what the Italians call “liberalism” simpliciter) it pretends to fight against. This is all that was necessary for the mechanism of suspicion to be triggered. Like many others before him, Michéa has been pronounced “unclear.” He has confused issues, deconstructed ready-made ideas, and upset labels. This is what he cannot be forgiven for.
But let us have a closer look.
The chasm now separating the Left from the people has been the object of numerous studies these past few years (especially on the part of Vincent Coussedière, Pierre Sansot, Laurent Bouvet, Gaël Brustier, Christophe Guilley, etc.). “This people whose revolutionary instinct used to be praised is now caricatured by the dominant Left as a reactionary and racist ox condemned for its narrow conservatism and attachment to old moral principles, which make it resistant to the new spirit of capitalism.” In spite of appearances, the same goes for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, for whom the people “more closely resembles a somewhat vague group of victims and the oppressed rather than the Marxist revolutionary proletariat or the laboring masses the Communist Party once claimed to defend,” as witness his irenical conception of the problems of integration.
The Left has dismissed the people at the same time as it has abandoned its will to social change and submitted to liberal logic, which has led it to appropriate the idea that there is at bottom no alternative to capitalism’s unlimited expansion and the establishment of a market society. This double shift should be analyzed dialectically, for each orientation is both the cause and effect of the other. It has been Michéa’s merit and originality to give an explanation that cannot be reduced to questions of circumstance or a mere rise in “reformism.” We must rather see in it the final result (and logical consequence) of an internal contradiction of the Left resulting from its dual inspiration: on the one hand, the defense of the popular classes inherited from the workers’ movement, on the other that of “progressivism,” i.e. the ideology of progress inherited from the Enlightenment to which liberals also appeal.
Workers’ socialism was born out of an opposition to modernity which generalized the exploitation of salaried work, the destruction of traditional structures, and the atomization of society, whereas the philosophy of the Enlightenment was at the leading edge of that very modernity, affirming itself from the start as the militant “party of change” in favor of a progress posited as intrinsically “liberating.” The alliance between workers’ socialism and the progressive Left was formed, as we have seen, at the time of the Dreyfus Affair, when it was necessary to make a common front against a clerical and reactionary Right devoted to the “alliance of Throne and Altar.” This right has very nearly disappeared today, since it has been buried beneath the liberal Right, whose ideological presuppositions are the same as those of the Left. When Jacques Julliard writes, “On the Left, moral liberalism and economic regimentation; on the Right, moral regimentation and economic liberalism. It is on this sort of cultural Yalta Agreement that the Left-Right opposition still operates,” he is being anachronistic. It has been a long time since “the Right” renounced any impulse toward “moral regimentation,” and since the Left rallied to a free-trade economy of liberal inspiration.
The circumstances which gave rise to the alliance between socialists and the progressive Left having disappeared, the equivocation inherent to that alliance has appeared once again in the light of day and allows us to understand the causes of the profound and general state of crisis in which the Left now finds itself. The alliance between socialists and progressives has today exhausted all its positive virtues, as Michéa says. Deprived of its old enemy, the reactionary Right, the Left has launched a fuite en avant [a reckless action to escape a dangerous situation one does not want to face — Tr.] to compete with the liberal Right on the grounds of modernity and modernization (involving the eradication of the “world of yesterday”). This explains its rallying to a society governed by the dyad of the market economy and the ideology of the rights of man, i.e. by the idea that we can succeed in “living together”[vivre-ensemble, a contemporary French political cliché –Tr.] by the simple mechanism of competing private interests and abstract procedural law. For the class struggle and the denunciation of social inequalities, there has been substituted a “struggle against all forms of discrimination” which aims above all, with impeccable progressive logic, to do away with “archaisms” in the name of “foreverybodyism.” Hence Michéa’s lapidary observation: “Socialism is by definition incompatible with capitalist exploitation; the Left, alas, is not.” Under these conditions, socialism can no longer (without definitively ceasing to be itself) base itself on a philosophical heritage common to the “Left” and on a liberalism which today remains its principal enemy, insofar as the primacy of “rational” (calculating) individualism antagonizes above all everything that is collective and common.
As soon as “the Left and the Right agree in considering the capitalist economy the unsurpassable horizon of our time,” it is obvious that the Left/Right divide no longer has any meaning and, correlatively, that the question of class alliances is posed in a new way. This is why Michéa does not hesitate to say, following Pier Paolo Pasolini, Cornelius Castoriadis, Christpher Lasch, and many others, that the Left/Right dichotomy has today become obsolete and fraudulent. Marx, he reminds us, never refers to the opposition of Left and Right, but rather to the class struggle. We may add that he did not even oppose equality to inequality, but called for us to pass from the “realm of necessity” to that of “freedom.” The only division that matters henceforth is that which opposes not Left and Right, but the partisans (wherever they come from) and the adversaries (wherever they come from) of globalized capitalism as a system of total control and dehumanization — a divide which we ourselves have recently described as the opposition between “center” and “periphery.” Such a partitioning involves a joint critique of the Left and Right’s elites whose convergent interests, above and beyond any partisan divisions, are based on class solidarity. It required courage to say this. That is what Michéa did, and that is what he cannot be forgiven for.
Michéa likes to recall, citing Marcel Mauss, that capitalism is not simply an economic system, but a “total social fact.” We have employed the expression “Form-Capital” in the same spirit: capital insofar as it forms global society, and insofar as it becomes the general form of that society. Now, Michéa shows that the partisans of “permanent moral and cultural transgression” are acting in the interest of the predators of global finance insofar as capitalism can only extend its grasp by dislocating not merely the structures of traditional communitarian life, but the social bond, shared values, specific ways of life, popular cultures, and so on. Capitalism cannot transform the planet into a vast market — which is its goal — unless that planet has been atomized beforehand, and unless it has renounced any form of symbolic imagination incompatible with feverish devotion to the novum, viz. the logic of unlimited profit and accumulation. “Without the new paths opened by cultural liberalism,” he emphasizes, “the market cannot continually take over all human activities, including the most intimate.”
Serge Halimi says that to consider economic and cultural liberalism “bound together” is an “error.” Of course, he does not offer the least bit of proof in support of this contention. We note, moreover, that his article is not directed exclusively against Michéa, but also against Geoffrey de Lagasnerie, author of a book in which he argues exactly the same thesis as Michéa . . . except that he celebrates the very thing Michéa condemns unreservedly, since this unconditional adept of a “Left-wing” modernity goes so far as to attest to the ultra-capitalist thinkers of the University of Chicago such as Gary Becker, assuring us that he finds in their “pluralism” (?) the best rampart against the Left’s “authoritarian impulses!” Lagasnerie’s program is interesting in that he defines the “central problem” he has chosen to confront as follows: “How to thwart the nostalgic or reactionary impulse necessarily found at the heart of any critical project” (note the “necessarily!”). To this question we may oppose another, well stated by Michéa: “How can we liberate individuals and peoples without thereby destroying the social bond itself, and thus humanity?”
Jean-Claude Michéa’s critics are therefore blaming him for confronting “the Left” with its own contradictions, and demonstrating that a choice will henceforth have to be made between defending “progressivism” and defending the popular classes, not only because those two themes are ideologically, politically, and sociologically incompatible, but also because the historical circumstances which led the two tendencies to form an alliance have today disappeared. Their reaction can thus be interpreted as a desperate effort to evade this analysis and “save” the ideology of progress.
The method to which they have recourse consists in saying that the popular classes are not perfect and that the ideology of progress is not completely without merit. Significantly, their criticism concentrates on the notion of “common decency” which Michéa takes from George Orwell — but of which an equivalent could easily be found in Victor Hugo, Jack London, Jules Vallès, Elisée Reclus, Sorel, Proudhon, and many others.
They criticize as idealistic or essentialist the idea that the popular classes are spontaneously inclined to mutual aid, generosity, reciprocity, and collective solidarity, and are more given to that form of gratitude which makes one capable of accepting a gift as something other than what is due or a right, and also more given to judge on the basis of shared values that there are “things one simply does not do.” They denounce the very notion of “common decency” as a myth, pure and simple. Corcuff make it a “timeless characteristic of human nature” (sic). Lordon sees in it the “manifestation of an imaginary people’s eternal essence.” “Common decency,” he adds, is not for Michéa an anthropological or sociological observation, but an “act of faith.” Frédéric Lordon as well, wanting to bring out the “repugnant consequences” of “traditional values” whose inheritance Michéa is accused of wanting to assume, laboriously reminds us that ordinary people sometimes attack racial minorities, go about looking for gay men to beat up, and, of course, vote for Hitler. In short, ordinary people are like everyone: capable of anything — as Spinoza already noted. What a revelation!
This critique of “common decency” is of an extraordinary poverty. One would need to be very naïve to think Michéa does not know that many traditional customs have proven as absurd as they are repugnant. (“There have been societies where having a priest tear out a child’s heart was a regular part of ‘what is done’”!) It is also very naïve — or in very bad faith — to think he does not know that the people can be mistaken; that it can be abused, manipulated, and bewildered; that it can show itself intolerant, cowardly, or bigoted; that it can beat up immigrants and homos; that it “is always in favor of material progress” (Julliard); that it often dreams of becoming bourgeois in its turn, and so on. Michéa, as far as we know, has never pretended that the people were naturally good, naturally infallible, or that it received its virtues from an essence that fell from the sky.
Contrary to what his critics say, Michéa has never been vague about “common decency.” He has even given some dozen definitions of what he means. In Doublethink (2008), he emphasizes that the virtues covered by this expression are rooted in what Mauss calls the logic of the gift. He has even gone so far as to describe “common decency” as the “modern reappropriation of the spirit of the gift.” But this is precisely the sore spot: for the logic of the gift, organized around the triple obligation to give, receive, and give back, is proper to traditional societies as opposed to modern societies, which are only familiar with the logic of commercial exchange.
Concerning “common decency,” Michéa simply makes the empirical observation that it is obviously more common among the people whose way of life has long encouraged this type of ordinary virtue than among the bourgeoisie or the elites, and who are more often victims of money’s dissolving power (“I observe more common decency in the simple and popular circles than among the affluent”). He does not say that these virtues fall from the sky or can be explained by the proletariat’s genetics.
Lordon reproaches Michéa with failing to see “that the people owe only to exterior social conditions (and not to its ‘essence’ qua people) its failure to fall into indecency” — in other words, that the people have only moderate desires because they have been “deprived of the means for intemperance,” so much so that “common decency merely makes a virtue of necessity.” We recognize Bourdieu’s influence in this insistence on emphasizing social determinism’s importance regarding individual desires and behavior. Michéa wrote explicitly in Orpheus’s Complex that “the popular classes are still relatively protected from liberal egoism, not so much by their supposed ‘nature’ as by the maintenance of a certain type of social fabric capable of keeping the most invasive forms of possessive individualism at bay every day.” Ordinary decency, which confers a greater capacity for intellectual and moral resistance, is historically rooted in practices of mutual aid and systems of solidarity which have played an essential role in the lives of villages or popular neighborhoods, while on the contrary the way of life of the higher classes rather contributed to inhibit these qualities, whether we are speaking of the capitalist system’s principled amorality (in which honesty does not pay) or the mere fact of living amid wealth, which leads people to lose their sense of life’s realities.
It would be an equally serious error to interpret “common decency” as a new form of moralism. Jean-Claude Michéa himself emphasizes that it is “light years away from moralizing and puritanical constructions.” “Common decency” is not part of the moral order but of common sense, indeed of what Marx called “common reason.” The conviction that “there are things one does not do” obviously does not prevent drunkenness, lying, or adultery, and even less the freedom to relax and amuse oneself, but represents the popular form of an ancient ethic of honor for which certain mental attitudes and certain forms of behavior are simply dishonorable, i.e. socially shameful. Michéa emphasizes:
It is not that the man from the working-class neighborhood is an ideal being by nature, in Rousseau’s sense of the term. He is a complex being, capable of the worst as well as the best. But in popular neighborhoods there remain structures of common life founded on the anthropology of the gift which, even if they are under serious attack from modern society, still make possible symbolic relations of exchange between neighbors.
Ordinary men, wrote Christopher Lasch, “have a more developed sense of limits that the higher classes. They understand, unlike the latter, that there are limits to man’s control of social development, of nature and the body, of the tragic elements of life and human history.” Similarly, they are conscious that loyalty and solidarity are only effective if anchored in a social fabric of physical proximity. The capacity for loyalty, adds Lasch,
needs to attach itself to specific people and places, not to an abstract ideal of universal rights. We love particular men and women, not humanity in general. The dream of universal brotherhood, because it rests on the sentimental fiction that men and women are all the same, cannot survive the discovery that they differ.
“The humblest strata of the middle and lower classes, populism’s natural electorate,” writes Arnaud Imatz, “can sometimes display a narrowness of mind capable of engendering xenophobia, racism, chauvinism, and anti-intellectualism, but it remains no less true that the rootedness, solidarity, organicism, and moral realism which they defend are the best guarantees of respect and of the survival of democracy.”
It is in fact the critique of common decency that we must question. What does this critique mean? What does it reveal if not a mistrust of or even contempt for the people? The critique of the people as naturally irrational is not new, since it goes back at least to Plato. Irrational, badly informed, manipulable, often uneducated, full of base instincts — their case is aggravated in our time because they think there are too many foreigners in France, or are in their majority favorable to self-defense and the death penalty; the people must be kept away from questions that require expertise (“those who know”), and can finally only be allowed a minimal role in political decision-making. In this view, the demos is no different from the plethos, the dangerous crowd.
Serge Halimi proclaims that our “possible salvation” will not come from “resurrecting last century’s proletariat” — a proletariat to which he may prefer late modernity’s atomized masses. “Michéa’s people,” he writes, are Jean Gabin in La Belle Equipe: muscular, French, head of the family [sic].” This is a stupid remark, but it leads us to recall that Julien Duvivier’s La Belle Equipe (1936) was greeted in its time as the movie most inspired by the Popular Front — and that this admirable movie was certainly not a reactionary work. But the allusion is revealing: Halimi thereby shows how foreign the Popular Front’s spirit is to him — and above all how the very idea of a Popular Front today would repulse him. Frédéric Lordon, who admits he is unable to understand what could concretely be meant by the invitation to conduct himself “decently” in daily life, does not hesitate to write that the people is among the “most tangled of sociological concepts,” and that “celebrating the people” could be a form of “social racism”! He adds that “one does not see very well” just who these “ordinary people” evoked by Michéa are. He should read somewhat less of Spinoza and look about himself a bit more. In any case, the negative descriptions of the people made by Michéa’s critics can only receive approbation from liberals who have always mistrusted the “little people [gens de peu].” It forms part of the standard demonization of populism flourishing today in all circles.
Lordon also reproaches Michéa with “breaking with his time” — in other words and in plain English, criticizing modernity and the very idea of progress. But with what does he credit modernity? Exactly the same thing as the liberals: having legitimated the right of secession (the right of “clearing off,” to quote his own term) from excessively constraining social structures; and permitting “divorce” — in short, rendering the individual able to satisfy his “desirous impulses” independently: “To leave, to quit: This is what individualistic modernity allows.” You would think you were reading Benjamin Constant! But how does he not see that in defending the possibility of “clearing off,” he is first of all defending the secession of elites which is characteristic of a new transnational class that wishes both to free itself of borders as well as of all the rules to which it wants everyone else to submit?
Michéa’s crime is thus to have recalled the popular classes’ attachment to values, which the idea of progress regards as so many limitations upon the abstract autonomy of a subject cut off from primal belonging. Michéa annoys people because he recognizes, and even emphasizes, the “conservative” reflexes of a working class whose values are most often traditional and communitarian. Such values, diametrically opposed to the market society’s individualism and to humanity’s transformation into atomized monads, obviously refer back to the Ancien Régime (which explains that they concur on certain points, even if obviously not all, with the critique of liberalism made by counter-revolutionary thought). With remarkable bad faith, Michéa’s adversaries conclude that in the final analysis, his work demonstrates an unacknowledged desire to go back to the Ancien Régime. Their bad faith consists in forgetting the fundamental distinction Michéa draws between the Ancien Régime’s values, which are all traditional values (i.e. permanent values), and the Ancien Régime’s hierarchies, which he expressly rejects, as (obviously) did the first socialists.
This inability to distinguish between the Ancien Régime’s hierarchic and inegalitarian structures and the largely egalitarian sociality of its base — i.e. the forms of solidarity and popular traditions basic to the social bond which then prevailed among the people (often serving as a beneficial form of compensation for the dominant hierarchy) — appears with perfect clarity in Lordon’s accusation that Michéa is dreaming of a “return to familial and village communities.” This remark is certainly not without merit at a time when everyone is celebrating the merits of localism and “circuit courts” — but it is very revealing of the author’s preferences, apparently directed toward megalopolises where mass solitude reigns, but where everyone can “clear off” (to go where?). Above all, it shows that for Lordon, traditional society can only be analyzed as constraint, superstition, or a damper, without any positive aspects. The very idea of symbolic debt is only imagined as a constraint, taking no account of mutual aid and friendship’s liberating aspects. This hatred of roots, this refusal to admit that the universal is only reached by way of a concrete singularity, is an unmistakable sign.
Then come the criticisms at the level of electoral politics; in othr words, the most pathetic criticisms. In the eyes of his detractors, explains Aude Lancelin, Michéa has become “the seductive intellectual Trojan Horse of an authoritarian [sic] 100% French socialism [socialisme franchouillard] whose definitive and only real political expression today is Lepenism.” Philippe Corcuff accuses Michéa of contributing to “disarming the Left” [sic] through his writings. The same tone is heard from Luc Boltanski, who does not hesitate to describe Michéa’s ideas as capable of leading to a “conservative revolution.” Fancy that! In short, it would be dangerous to appeal to new divisions “at a time when Marine Le Pen is bombarding the ‘UMPS’ alliance” (Aude Lancelin)!
Rather than pose a question as hollow as “Into whose hands is Michéa playing?”, these low-level critics would do better to ask why Marine Le Pen is monopolizing a “bombardment” which any critical Left worthy of the name would have begun well before her. But of course, this would oblige them to ask how to take back the popular classes which the shift by the Left have caused to shift to the Right in their turn. Rather than examine their consciences as to why the people does not recognize itself in the Left anymore (the answer would be, because the Left has rallied to the dominant ideology), these critics prefer to make accusations against the man who has put his finger on their overwhelming responsibility for this development — at the risk of letting it be understood that, all in all, they prefer globalized capitalism to “100% French socialism.”
The accusation of “playing into the National Front’s hands” by confusing the Left/Right opposition, a contemporary variant of Sartre’s watchword (“not to rob Billancourt of hope” by telling the truth about the Soviet camps), obviously represents the bottom rung of thought. It amounts to saying that the truth should be disguised according to circumstance, and that thought is just a question of tactics. To this repulsive idea that an intellectual should not say what he thinks, but what he imagines he ought to say as a function of the most recent poll numbers, Michéa gave the best possible answer: “If there is one thing of which I am absolutely certain — in light of all the twentieth century’s revolutionary experience — it is that, as Gramsci wrote, only truth is revolutionary. And that one must always be ready to speak it as it is, whatever the context and whatever the consequences.” Indeed, only the truth is revolutionary! How can one be taken seriously if one is not convinced of this?
Does all of this mean that Jean-Claude Michéa’s thought cannot be criticized? Of course not. But the criticism must be intelligent and honest. In 2008, for example, Anselm Jappe published a “critical examination” of The Realm of Lesser Evil, another of Michéa’s books, which was far better and more constructively argued that the critiques of Lordon, Corcuff, and Co.
Jappe approves of Michéa’s having described “the Left” as a form of liberalism (“this bitter observation is, in fact, essential for understanding the history of capitalism”) and of his having reminded us that capitalism is absolutely not conservative in its essence. He adds that “Michéa’s great strength is insistence on the necessity of a moral reform if we are to escape the morass of market society.” He criticizes Michéa, on the other hand (relying on the critique of value developed notably by Robert Kurz, an author to whom we were among the first in France to draw attention), for not sufficiently taking into account the “centrality of the critique of political economy for understanding capitalist society.” On this point he is not mistaken. Emphasizing that “the materialist explanation of history is not logically identical to belief in progress, concerning which Marx began to have doubts in his old age,” Jappe writes:
One of the strong points of the critique of value is to have broken radically with the base/superstructure dichotomy, not in the name of any supposed “plurality” of factors, but relying on the Marxist critique of fetishism. Commodity fetishism is not a form of false consciousness, a fraud, but a total form of social existence upstream from any separation of material reproduction and mental factors, because it determines the very forms of thought and action.
One can only agree with this remark, which also allows us to understand Form-Capital’s irresistible tendency to limitlessness, i.e. the pure dynamism of capital accumulation. Moreover, Michéa has not failed to take this into account.
The situation is quite different with Michéa’s more recent critics. In their criticism of him for revealing “the Left’s” internal contradictions; for his “extolling of the people”; for showing signs of “Manicheism,” “essentialism,” and other minor sins; for showing that social liberalism is merely the “cultural” face of the market system; and above all for not positively evaluating the “social advances” which they for their part have no intention of renouncing, the critics give proof that they are unable to take the necessary critique of liberalism to its logical conclusion.
The truth is that one part of the extreme Left refuses to abandon the ideology of progress, just as it refuses to abandon globalization under the pretext that they can provide another version of it. They want to save precisely what is most destructive in modernity: They want to save social liberalism. In this regard, Philippe Corcuff’s criticism of Michéa is revealing: “giving his readers conservative footholds by struggling primarily against individualism, political individualism (and the cultural liberalism which is its continuation).” We can obviously conclude that for Corcuff it is the contrary which must be done. For example, he justifies “enjoyment without restraint” by having recourse to the same arguments as liberals for defending the “market without restraint” — like the sinister José Manuel Barroso, former President of the European Commission who is today employed by Goldman Sachs, denouncing the criticism of free trade as a “xenophobic and reactionary” fantasy!
These folks have forgotten the young Marx’s devastating criticism of the ideology of the rights of man. They want a world without borders without asking themselves if such a world would still be human. They do not acknowledge the idea, hammered at by Michéa, that “the logic of liberal individualism, by constantly sapping all still-extant forms of popular solidarity, necessarily destroys the whole set of moral conditions which make an anti-capitalist revolt possible.” They have forgotten that a revolution is not simply a radical change involving a clean sweep of everything that came before, but that etymologically (revolvere) it involves turning back to find a foothold the better to launch oneself forward. In so doing they are providing, even if being unaware of it, a striking confirmation of Michéa’s theses by showing through their own example to what point a “Left-wing” party has been corrupted by liberal thought. This is the proof that, from now on, a transversal cut is running through all camps.
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 Le Complexe d’Orphée; Les Mystères de la gauche. De l’idéal des Lumières au triomphe du capitalisme absolu (Paris: Climats-Flammarion, 2013). Cf. also Impasse Adam Smith. Brèves remarques sur l’impossibilité de dépasser le capitalisme sur sa gauche (Castelnau-le-Lez: Climats, 2002; reprinted by Paris: Flammarion, 2006).
 Luc Boltanski, “Michéa, c’est tout bête,” in Le Monde, October 6, 2011.
 Serge Halimi, “Le laisser-faire est-il libertaire ?”, in Le Monde diplomatique, June 2013; Frédéric Lordon, “Impasse Michéa,” in La Revue des livres, July-August 2013, 2-13; and Philippe Corcuff, “Intellectuels critiques et éthique de la responsabilité en période trouble”, website Médiapart, July 25, 2013.
 Jean-Claude Michéa, “Pourquoi j’ai rompu avec la gauche,” in Marianne, March 12, 2013.
 Jean-Claude Michéa, “Pas de société socialiste sans valeurs morales communes,” interview in L’Humanité, March 15, 2013.
 Olivier François & Jacques de Guillebon, “Le peuple et la gauche : un malentendu ?”, in La Nef, January 2013, 23.
 Ibid., 24.
 The same irenicism appears in Fédéric Lordon, who subscribes to the immigrationism promoted by business interests even as he proposes to legalize all illegal migrants, thinking that will prevent them from being used as the reserve army of capital. He does not see that such legalization will instantly create a leak through which a new crowd of illegal immigrants will arrive. We would thus be caught in a never-ending spiral, whereas even Lordon, not really contradicting himself, declares it “obvious that the abandonment of any regulation of population flows is an indefensible aberration” (“Ce que l’extrême droite ne nous prendra pas,” in Le Monde diplomatique, July 8, 2013, 4).
 It is well-known that the excellent Jacques Julliard — who defines himself as “a Christian, and therefore an individualist” — disputes this point with Michéa on the grounds that, according to Julliard, the Left has always presented itself as an alliance between the progressive bourgeoisie and the popular classes insofar as it claimed to draw its political philosophy from the French Revolution. This would amount to forgetting that the Left has never been monolithic and that the philosophy of the Enlightenment was only one source of inspiration among others. This difference of views has been the occasion for a passionate dialogue: Jacques Julliard & Jean-Claude Michéa, La Gauche et le people (Paris: Flammarion, 2014).
 A reference to “marriage for all France,” a slogan used by the proponents of same-sex marriage in France that became law in 2013.
 Jean-Claude Michéa, “Pourquoi j’ai rompu avec la gauche.”
 Jean-Claude Michéa, “Pas de société socialiste sans valeurs morales communes.”
 Geoffroy de Lagasnerie, La dernière leçon de Michel Foucault. Sur le néolibéralisme, la théorie et la politique, (Paris: Fayard, 2012).
 “Jean-Claude Michéa répond à dix questions,” in Les Racines de la liberté, 324-326. Cf. also Bruce Bégout, De la décence ordinaire. Court essai sur une idée fondamentale de la pensée politique de George Orwell (Paris: Allia, 2008); Rémi de Villeneuve, “Du sens commun au sens interdit. Genèse de l’abrutissement technoscientifique,” in Les Racines de la liberté, 127-152; and Pierre Prades, “Christopher Lasch et ‘la Common Decency’. Un héritage puritain,” ibid., 209-238.
 “Jean-Claude Michéa répond à dix questions,” in Les Racines de la liberté, 310.
 Christopher Lasch, The True and Only Heaven.
 Ibid., 36.
 Imatz, Droite/gauche, 232.
 This does not prevent him from recalling that democracy rests on popular sovereignty: “Democracy, popular sovereignty: the same idea, viz., that of a community’s mastery of its own destiny” (“Ce que l’extrême droite ne nous prendra pas,” 2).
 Cf. Frédéric Santos, “Le populisme : une réponse aux mensonges des élites ?”, website Ragemag, April 11, 2013. The author recalls populism’s historical past, which he defines minimally as “a form of thought opposing, within a single society, the people as a whole to the elites (those holding political or media power) in an extremely simplified form of class struggle.”
 Aude Lancelin, “Tempête sur Michéa,” in Marianne, August 31, 2013, 74-76.
 “Michéa today, he writes, is a libertarian socialist endowed with certain conservative leanings. He is of mixed origin, but his philosophy, fascinated by essences, has difficulty thinking about mixture” [sic]. We may easily grant Corcuff that he has much less difficulty thinking about mixture than Michéa, but what can we conclude from this at the level of ideas?
 This was an alliance between France’s main establishment parties, the center-Right UMP (which was dissolved in 2015) and the center-Left Socialist Party.
 Anselm Jappe, “Examen critique de l’ouvrage de Michéa,” in Revue du MAUSS permanente [e-journal], September 17, 2008. Jean-Claude Michéa, L’Empire du moindre mal. Essai sur la civilisation libérale (Castelnau-le-Lez: Climats, 2007).
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