After Jacques Derrida, what’s next for French philosophy? (Gallic thought fashions)

C C Offline
While there's hilarious incongruity to be derived in Macron blaming America for the offshoot theories of French postmodernism (the latter itself an outgrowth of Marxist analysis, along with Husserl's legacy)... This essay covers far more than what's mentioned in the intro. Including the history of that era and, as the title signals, where Gallic scholars are venturing today.
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INTRO: On 2 October 2020, the French president Emmanuel Macron gave a two-hour speech entitled ‘The Fight Against Separatism – The Republic in Action’ at Les Mureaux, a north-western suburb of Paris. In it, Macron described Islam as ‘a religion that is in crisis all over the world today’ due to ‘an extreme hardening of positions’. While acknowledging that France was partly responsible for the ‘ghettoisation’ of large numbers of Muslim residents (‘initially with the best intentions in the world’), and that it had failed to confront its colonial past including the Algerian war, Macron insisted that radical Islam was organising a counter-society that was ‘initially separatist, but whose ultimate goal is to take over completely.’

Against this, Macron proposed a ‘republican reawakening’, including legislation that would defend the values of laïcité, enshrined in Article 1 of the French Constitution, which separates Church and state, and mandates France’s neutrality on religion – ‘Secularism,’ stated Macron, ‘is the neutrality of the state.’ One is invited to join this neutrality – an individual’s adherence to ‘the Republic’s universal principles’ gives one claim to citizenship of France. ‘We are not,’ he said, ‘a society of individuals. We’re a nation of citizens. That changes everything.’

But it was not simply the ideas of Islamic extremism that Macron identified as a threat to the Republic’s universal principles. According to Macron, France has also been ‘undermined’ by ‘theories entirely imported from the United States’. These theories, such as postcolonialism, gender studies, deconstruction and critical race theory, represent to France – as The New York Times put it in the article ‘Will American Ideas Tear France Apart? Some of Its Leaders Think So’ (2021) – an existential threat, a threat that ‘fuels secessionism. Gnaws at national unity. Abets Islamism. Attacks France’s intellectual and cultural heritage.’

There was a certain irony to Macron’s statement, as many of the major thinkers on gender, race, postcolonialism and queer theory are in fact French, part of the miraculous blooming of intellectual talent in late-20th-century French thinking. Far from being a US import, ‘identity politics’ – and identity, and politics – are central to the French intellectual tradition up to the present day.

It is a tradition the French president should know well. The final book of one of the key thinkers in late-20th-century French philosophy, Paul Ricœur’s Memory, History, Forgetting (2004), carries a dedication to ‘Emmanuel Macron to whom I am indebted for a pertinent critique of the writing and the elaboration of the critical apparatus of this work.’ (MORE - details)
Magical Realist Offline
In the spirit of Derrida, French thinkers can devote their attention and profound observations to the many cultural literary and semiotic studies there are. Roland Barthes and Jacques Lacan and Jean Baudrillard are examples of this kind of philosophy--a critique and analysis of all the postmodern manifestations of Being.

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