Essay oversatt fra fransk av Bruce Bawer
“Anti-racism”: A product of show business
The French philosopher reflects upon the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the “anti-racism” phenomenon, and its roots in popular entertainment.
By Robert Redeker
Anti-racism is not without parties, without concerts, without television broadcasts, without social functions, without various festivities. These celebrations devour morality, and the political is reduced to the role of a pretext for partying. This festive mania suffices to prove that in dealing with anti-racism, we are dealing with a double parody: a parody of morality and of politics. Just as the “demonstrations” of May 1968 and the years that followed parodied the French Revolution – what were they, after all, but the cozy war-play of a generation that sought the thrill of history without accepting its risks? – the frivolities of anti-racism are a parody of morality and of politics.
If everyday life has been swallowed by “reality TV,” reality itself has been swallowed whole by the world of TV. Let’s be more precise: it has been engulfed by the universe of entertainment. The modern form of entertainment is developing into the antithesis of the sense assigned to entertainment by its most profound analyst, Pascal. The author of Pensées viewed entertainment as an escape from metaphysical reality. Today’s entertainment industries are of a different order: they engulf and digest all of reality and spit out an ersatz reality, where everything is fake – a world of falsity. If the soul of the middle ages came together in the churches, and that of the nineteenth century in the factories, the soul of our time, if it exists, is embodied in the amusement parks.
What do the celebrations of anti-racism celebrate? A kind of caste – composed of stars of show business, film, TV journalism, sports – or, more precisely, the super-caste media, the “rebelocrats” – to use the beautiful neologism of Philippe Muray – the auto-famous. The working class, once the spearhead of the left, which succeeded in the fifties in taking action beyond its material interests – for peace, against imperialism, that is for political reasons – is, however, for its part, profoundly indifferent to anti-racism, and produces no large-scale social mobilization around this theme. Without doubt this is because the working class recognizes that anti-racism is the great power of our time? Doubtless it has also intuited, as expressed in the books of Renaud Camus, that it may risk the replacement of indigenous peoples by others, the Great Replacement. At the top of the ladder, the super-caste celebrates its goodness, its magnanimity, its wisdom, thereby legitimizing its “symbolic domination” which ensures, by the way, the commercial promotion of cultural products that it places in shops and supermarkets. The celebration of anti-racism by innumerable actors in the entertainment industry takes place in public – thereby constituting the window display, as it were, in which they exhibit their wares.
Anti-racism has its ceremonies televised like the Oscars. They are always the same – they are always congratulating each other and exhibiting their complacency, their self-importance, their arrogance. This is not an intellectual arrogance – that is too far beyond their reach! – but a moral arrogance. The only thing it takes seriously is the role of political moralizer. This televisionary caste has taken over the spiritual direction of society. What was once the role of religion and philosophy, in short, is now the role of the mercenaries of the entertainment industry. To them is assigned what Auguste Comte called the “spiritual power,” without which no society can endure. According to Comte, it is the purpose of such power, which is necessarily distinct from temporal power, to respond to “the spiritual disorganization of modern nations” by “restoring a moral order” and “reorganizing minds.” Focusing on this aim, the philosopher who gave birth to positivism tracks the role of intellectuals in society. Yet the effect of the entertainment industry is to increase the disorganization Comte spoke of. Its constant war against classic and literary culture in the name of fun, its ridiculing of intellectual rigor, was never intended to hinder a solid, organized intellectual structure. The war against school – where the world of show business was victorious by using the tactic of scorched-earth culture – afforded the entertainment industry the opportunity to capture spiritual power. Teachers who in the sixties still possessed a small portion, were rendered tacky by the telegenic brawlers. The implicit message of the new possessors of spiritual power is summed up in a single imperative: be like us, look like us. See how fraternal we are, all skin colors combined! We’re the good people! We’re the virtuous ones – manifesting virtue as redefined by the cathode tube! We’re the beautiful, the rich, the famous – the ones with Rolexes and villas in Corsica! We’re the preachers of anti-racism!
Spiritual power was once, as noted, the preserve of major institutions such as the Church and its rival – and twin – the school. These institutions have now been rendered secondary, been minoritized: instead of staying true to their mission, they now drift, disoriented, in the wake of the entertainment business. They want to blend into the mainstream of global entertainment, turning into clips on the great worldwide variety show that life has become. Let us give an example: based on cases of pedophilia, the world of show business continues to campaign for the Catholic Church to renounce clerical celibacy, in other words to renounce that which is more elevated than it is. “The showman becomes the central figure of our time. His arrival on the scene marks the end of culture,” observes the Czech philosopher Karel Kosic. The identification of culture – philosophy, theology, literature, and so on – with spiritual power characterized European civilization for centuries. This identification is, in fact, an excellent definition of civilization. But spiritual power is now in the hands of the showmen – the TV and movie stars, the singers, the sports figures. The most striking feature of contemporary pseudo-elites, which broadcast an endless stream of moral lessons in anti-racism under the spotlights of the television studios, is the proletarianization of the mind, and therefore the proletarianization of morality, of which those lessons are the expression.
I am using the word proletarianization here in the sense conferred upon it by Renaud Camus: it refers to a situation in which the bottom becomes the model – the ideal – instead of the top. Model: that which we copy. The ideal: that which we strive for. These people, who claim the status of an elite, most of whom, even if only television hucksters or pop singers, proclaim each other, and claim themselves to be, “artists,” express themselves in a very enfeebled language that has become familiar in every society, a language that no longer respects precision of vocabulary, or syntax, or even diction. The wedding between anti-racism and the entertainment industry – the merging of anti-racism with the world of show business and the turbo-caste composed of the privileged members of the entertainment world – represent a parody with two faces: a parody of politics and a parody of morality.