File spoon-archives/postanarchism.archive/postanarchism_2003/postanarchism.0307, message 7

Date: Sun, 6 Jul 2003 02:55:07 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [postanarchism] Bourdieu: "A Cardinal Visits the Anarchists"

By the way in case anyone is wondering I keep posting
these articles that have already been posted in the
past because there is really no other way to get them
up on the Spoon Collective server - hopefully they are
from far enough back that it is not terribly annoying.
If it is let me know...



Pierre Bourdieu on Radio Libertaire:

A Cardinal visits the Anarchists*

Interview conducted by Archibald Zurvan

transl. by Sharif Gemie

On 1 March 2001, Pierre Bourdieu discussed his most
recent work, Contre-feux no 2, pour un mouvement
social européen [Counter-Attack 2: For a European
Social Movement] (Editions Raison d'Agir, 30 francs),
on the `Weekly Diary' programme of Radio Libertaire.
As Bourdieu has been placed on the black list 
by those who dominate the media, `Science's Cardinal 
Ratzinger' [1] (as he was described by the editor of
the Temps Modernes: see Le Monde, 18 September 1998)
came to debate some points with the anarchists. 

Radio Libertaire: Why have you accepted the invitation
from the anarchists' radio station? Is it to publicize
your `Raisons d'Agir' collection? Don't you know that
RL, which is almost the only independent radio
station, only has a tiny audience – even if they 
are the elite of the listening public? How do you get
on with the official media?

Pierre Bourdieu: The official media repel me – by
which I mean that they are repulsive.[2] I
consistently refuse all invitations from 
television or radio. It is simply out of pleasure, out
of a sense of solidarity, and in order to call for a
non-centralist, non-authoritarian form of
mobilization, even a libertarian mobilization, that I
am here. In the arguments which I develop, it 
seems to me that the anarchist tradition has a role to
play. I consider that all who are inspired by
anarchist thought, or who are close to that way of
thinking, are precisely the sort of people I 
want to reach. Alongside others, anarchists seem to me
to be particularly suitable to enter into the new
international political movement which is being

RL: You write that everybody who is concerned about
social movements, and in particular intellectuals and
researchers in Europe today, ought to get involved [in
this movement]. Is there a general theme, a philosophy
which inspires your thinking as editor of this

PB: Yes and no. The basic philosophy is given by the
title of the collection: `Raisons d'Agir' [reasons to
be active]. We are trying to recreate a link between
those who analyse and try to explain social phenomena
(the researchers in social sciences, sociologists,
economists, etc.), and those who act. This is an 
extremely difficult task, as the connection between
the two has been muddled for a long time, particularly
by certain intellectuals who are supposed to be
supporting social movements, and who, having entered
the Communist Party as if it was a church, 
have become zombies. It is also difficult to put the
ideas of socio-economic experts into simple words. You
need to decode what lies behind the economists'

RL: To recreate the link between actors on the ground
and intellectuals, to overcome the suspicion of the
type of language used by those who claimed, in the
name of the Marxist religion, to have the monopoly in
leading the people along the unique path of
emancipation and happiness, you need to find another 
language, different from that of the boss, the party
or trade-union bureaucratÉ

PB: Yes, nobody speaks like they used to. People will
no longerbe treated as if they were bloody idiots. The
creation of trade unions or of any sort of parallel
institutions (such as SUD [3], for example), flow – to
an extent – from this understanding that now is the
moment to stop listening to the authorities' voices.
Trade union officials, dogmatic intellectuals, even
when they appear to be talking subversively, still
unconsciously obey authority: this can be seen in the
way they act. What we're doing with these little 
books that anyone can read, isn't a waste of time.
This attempt to present complex knowledge, which is
frequently difficult to put into simple language, is
accompanied by an unrelenting struggle against one of
the signs of voluntary obedience: that of 
veneration. There is a dreadful gap between the
educated, who possess what I term `the monopoly of the
universal' and the mass who aren't educated, who don't
understand and who follow those with knowledge. I call
for a struggle against the veneration of elites, a
veneration which allows their self-reproduction – a
point which I also apply to myself in my analyses.

RL: In your book you correctly stress that Europe is a
`trap', a mask' which hides the unlimited domination
of the USA and multi-national companies. However,
couldn't you be bolder when proposing remedies? To
`struggle' for the mere `democratic transformation' of
`non-democratic' institutions', to `radicalize' 
instead of annihilating the European project, to
replace the European Commission by `an executive which
is responsible to a directly-elected European
parliament'É To us, all your proposals seem extremely
timid, particularly when compared to 
the pernicious potential of this process which has
been systematically developed and set in place over
half a century and which, today, is dragging all of
us, Europeans and non-Europeans, towards a catastrophe
whose first portents were visible as soon as the
European framework was created, and whose latest
terrifying symptoms are mad cow disease, 
diverse epidemics, the massacre of animals, the
collapse of whole sectors of the economy, and the
threats to public health, etc. 

PB: Europe today is a network for the dominant
economic forces. Europe has been identified with
modernity, in the sense that modernity is the opposite
of archaism, conservatism and nationalism. In fact,
there are two Europes. The first, which distinguishes
itself from the USA, and asserts its commitment to the
ethics of solidarity, to solidarity with the Third 
World, and to a welfare state. The other Europe which
is currently being built, and which hides the first,
is a simple appendage of the USA. This is the Europe
of social destruction, and the planned elimination of
collective structures, following the model 
of Britain or Canada: leading to a type of dominion
status or customs union with the American metropolis.
This form of Europe must be clearly denounced: it is
this form which today is preventing Ireland from
saving its public services. But this struggle cannot
be fought at a national level. At the national level, 
all we'd be fighting would be puppets, straw men, such
as our two co-habiting rivals [ie Chirac and Jospin –
SG]. The struggle must be world-wide, but it is at the
European level that one can hope to find new forms of
organization which will allow the drawing together of
the those forces which are already active today, and
spur on new mobilizations, whether by trade unionists 
or others.	

RL: What do you mean by what you term a European
social movement?

PB: We must build on three pillars, or three forces.

The first is formed by the social initiatives which
have been organized mainly in Europe over the past few
years, which operate through open co-ordination,
without hierarchies or centralization, inspired by
anti-authoritarian, libertarian ideas of
self-management, even if they don't use these terms.

The second is formed by the old trade-union
structures, which have certainly disappeared in
Britain, but which are still alive in Italy and in
Germany, and which must renovate themselves.

The third is formed by researchers in Europe and the
world in all fields (economics, sociology, sciences in
generalÉ), who are devising the instruments needed for
reflection and for action to radically transform the
present socio-economic order. 

I realize that the combination of three forces may
seem an explosive mixture, but who could guarantee the
unity of any combination in this matter?

RL: Concerning what you term the third force of the
social movement, you write: `We must force scientific
achievements into the realm of public debate. At
present, they are tragically absentÉ' Putting to one
side the positive aspects of scientific development,
doesn't your idea risk masking the damage done 
by a science `without conscience', and risk making
scientists into a homogeneous category, united in
their support and participation with other social
forces which are fighting for a radical transformation
of society?

PB: That's true: you can't speak of a homogeneous
class of scientists. Not all of them are joining the
movement of opposition and struggle. Of course, you
must be sceptical of science and experts, but that's
easier to do if you have some experts with you. 

Besides, you must recognize the bravery of some
researchers, sometimes their real anguish. Like all of
us, they too need recognition, and without respect,
some will drift into an unhappy feeling of resentment,
even towards fascism – something which we have seen in
the past. 

RL: Even if we're only considering the need to
stimulate, to co-ordinate and to organize both planned
and spontaneous actions, don't you think that we must
ensure that these actions move along the same path? We
would like to hear your opinion about one such
movement: ATTAC [4]. In our opinion, the idea of 
fighting economic inequality by a tax on currency
movements which are said to be speculative seems to be
a tragic misunderstanding, as the proposed instrument
will legitimate and encourage the development of

PB: Yes, I agree with your analysis of ATTAC. But, to
return to what I said concerning Europe, it's true
that my proposals are somewhat reformist. But there
are also something concrete activities, such as the
forthcoming meetings in Vienna, Athens, 
etc. This is a utopia that is on the move, quite
different from movements such as ATTAC. 

It concerns the regrouping of militants, of resisters,
of anarchists, of all conscious rebels. Through
organizing, they can become a real opposition. They
will contribute to raising people's consciousness, to
awakening their judgements. Yes, the critical part of
my book is more developed than the constructive part.
You can't build social movements out of old 
models. There are no more master thinkers. To me, it
seems useful to try to draw together and organize
those forces which are looking for each other, to
create forms of organization which will encourage the
birth of new ideas. 

* Translator's note:

The following text is a translation of an interview
given by the leading French sociologist Pierre
Bourdieu. It is freely available for non-profit
purposes, on condition that the both original source 
(Le Monde libertaire, dated 5 April [i.e. 12 April]
2001, No. 1240 ) and the translator's name are

1. Cardinal Ratzinger is a controversial Catholic
cleric who has criticized the Vatican. [SG]

2. In the original French, this sentence works much
better as a pun. [SG]

3. SUD is a new trade union federation, created out of
a wave of discontent with the recent Jospin
governments. [SG]

4. An organization campaigning for the implementation
of the Tobin Tax on currency dealing, and in more
general terms, campaigning on issues raised by
globalization. Recently, this movement has attracted
widespread interest in France. [SG]

===="The world is the natural setting of and field for all my thoughts and all my explicit perceptions. Truth does not 'inhabit' only 'the inner man' or more accurately, there is no inner man, man is in the world and only in the world does he know himself."

— Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, 1945

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