FIGAROVOX / INTERVIEW - The philosopher * publishes a collection of chronicles in which he mixes reflections inspired by daily life on sex, religion, technique and work. Between Houellebecq and Chesterton, he gives us a tasty criticism of the time. And reminds us of the meaning of the mystery of Christmas.
LE FIGARO. - In your book, Latest News from Man (and Woman, too), you chronicle the future of our humanity, threatened by the growing influence of technology. Would you be technophobe, or worse "declinist"?
Fabrice HADJADJ. - In truth, I am absolutely technophile. The challenge, in my eyes, is to save the technique. Because the technique has never been so far back as today. A character of Houellebecq in Elementary Particles makes the confession: "My technical skills are much lower than that of a Neanderthal man." Until recently, the man had hands, very spiritual organs, receptivity rather than prehension, kinds of animated flowers capable of blooming the world, stars of flesh that can greet, build, offer, shine on things. But the technology and market organization has made us penguins. Technological progress is most often a technical regression. Instead of playing a musical instrument, you click on a playlist. Instead of doing things, we buy them, thanks to the salary earned from managing Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. Innovation does not need me to be criticized: it supposes the obsolescence of its wonders; to keep us in suspense in the oblivion of our hands, it is constantly destroying itself. Suppose I fully agree with the idea that the iPhone X is really the ultimate gadget, with its application Face ID, which can convert your face into a means of payment: Apple will forbid me to do so, because there will be the iPhone XI then the XII, and I have to put a cross on the X In short, a hammer has more future than any smartphone. I also have a hammer and a guitar that belonged to my father (he did not leave me his Blackberry 5790). It is thus the technological hegemony that tends to favor the decline of the human. Nothing is even more downward than the hopes of transhumanism: is not his project to disembody us, to replace the logos with software, and the know-how with the 3D printer? It is therefore less a question of drawing a line between good and bad technology than to understand that technology is good only if it is at the service of technology. It is good, for example, to watch a YouTube video to rediscover grandmother's kitchen, make a vegetable garden, sew a garment or make a piece of furniture ...
You advocate a return to a simple life, a taste for home and decline. What do you say to those who accuse you of wanting to go back to the candle or live as an Amish?
I like the Amish, I admit it. I am naive enough to think that farming, traveling on horseback and reading the Bible with your family is better than doing high frequency trading, taking the RER and consuming Netflix. However, I do not advocate any "return". I do not want to desert my job. If providence gave birth to me at this time, it is to do with it. Marx showed very well that the "robinsonnades" were complicit in the capitalist logic: they pretend to return to nature, to remake the world with some old tools on a desert island, but by this we do not know that man is by nature the Heir to a story, and we reinforce the fantasy of the self-made man. So the simple life, yes, of course, who would not want a simple life, basically? But we can not do it without drama. Neither without composition - without modus vivendi. My tone is also less prescriptive than descriptive. I do not shout, "Long live the decay!" I only observe that the consumption of goods has made us lose the practice of things. If I had to get closer to certain political currents, I would mention the Arts and Crafts movement of William Morris, and even more the distributionism of Chesterton (both admired by Houellebecq, of the rest). Equidistant from socialism and capitalism, and from their state or multinational monopolies, they advocated not a better distribution of income (which does not dispute monetary and commercial supremacy), but a fair distribution of the means of production, in a eulogy of the small family property. To tell you the truth, it's an old story. She is already in Genesis. When Laban offers Jacob a better salary, he answers: "And now, when am I going to work for my house?" (Gn, XXX, 30).
You are a big advocate of gender difference. At a time when desire is either criminalized by Puritan feminism or caricatured by the commercial world, what is your view of male-female relationships?
Again, I'm not a gender advocate, I just notice that I have one, pretty capricious, by the way, and who is not the other. If only we were still in the war of the sexes, like Lysistrata! But no, what is happening at this time is victim competition and contractual litigation. Let me explain. We must denounce harassment, rape, and justice, but the mode of denunciation that is underway has neo-liberal foundations, which have nothing to do with the sexes. We want to deny the darkness of desire, we claim that all relations should unfold as the contract between two rational agents whose intentions are perfectly transparent. To avoid possible charges, husbands will be cautious to obtain signed consent from their wives, and eventually to pay for their "emotional work". But it does not work that way. And even that never works. Sexual polarity can never be reduced to a contract between two contractors. Emmanuel Levinas said that it always contained a part of adoration and profanation. We must therefore fight - first in ourselves - against violence against women, but we must also admit that the desire that pushes a man towards a woman - and vice versa - has nothing to do with the fiction of rational agent as invented by modern economic theory.
In one of your chronicles, you make a link between terrorism and technocapitalism ... In your opinion, the spread of jihadist ideology finds a fertile ground in spectacular globalization and market?
The clash between consumerism and Islamism is only superficial: it is the same forma mentis; in both cases, it is a question of reaching paradise by pressing buttons. Daesh is not a return of so-called medieval darkness. It is a postmodern movement, consisting of uprooted individuals who are recruited via the Internet, who make selfies with Kalashnikovs and videos of throats in staged television series, and finally survive thanks to petrodollars. Their "God" did not become flesh. He is neither a carpenter nor a Talmudist - which would have given them, with the sense of the concrete, a certain sense of humor. Jihadism may be a reaction to Western emptiness, its lack of meaning or transcendence, but it is also an extension of this emptiness, a radical loss of land, culture, and history.
You end your collection with a "Christmas tale". At a time when consumption has taken precedence over the rite, what sense can this Christian holiday still have?
We come to the consumption of centuries. Our system is very fragile. Collapsology has become a very popular science. The turkey with chestnuts can grow until we block the view, the fact is there: the pink-bellied shrike disappears from the French territory. We are only at the beginning of the disappearance of species and huge migratory flows resulting from global warming. The blackout is not far that will extinguish all the illuminations of the commercial arteries: happy those who will still have candles! As for the cyborgs, who are presented to us as immortals, they will not find any more to recharge their prostheses or to change their parts, and they will break down. In fact, I am neither a decadent nor a progressive. I am very simply apocalyptic. We are the first generations to be assured not only that "civilizations are mortal", as Valery said, but that the human species is doomed to extinction - more or less long term. What is the meaning of this certainty? And why continue, then, with the human adventure? It will be necessary, once the screens will not turn on, that one poses for good the question. Then we will see perhaps the star above the stable of Bethlehem: this Jewish baby who appears in the middle of the night, between his mother, his father, the ox and the donkey, the adoration of the shepherds and kings, it is the Lord who tells us that it is good to be human, to have a body, to work with one's hands, to speak of heaven through the simple things of the earth, and that even If the world were to disappear tomorrow - the figure of this world passes, says Saint Paul - we should still hold our post, plant trees, raise children, transmit to them the poetry of praise and supplication. This mystery of the Incarnation will be the last bulwark against transhumanism, Islamism, animalism, spiritualism and all other contemporary forms of despair.
Director of Philantropos University. He publishes "Latest news of the man (and the woman too)", Taillandier, 352 p., 18,90 €.