Peter Dews

The Latest Revolution

Critique Janvier 1980, no. 392.

The Parisian Left Bank is accustomed to rapid changes in intellectual fashion. Shortly after the Liberation, Catholics and Communists found themselves allied in their denunciation of the existentialist doctrines which had enthralled the youth of the capital, while in the early 60s phenomenologists and existential Marxists were in turn obliged to denounce structuralism as a veiled apologetics for the new technocracy. Since about the middle of the 70s a fresh upheaval has been taking place in Paris, this time however with significant differences. For the latest revolution has consisted primarily not in the replacement of one set of philosophical premises by another, but in an invasion of the publishing houses, the press and – more importantly – the popular medium of television by a new substitute for philosophy, composed in roughly equal parts of metaphysics, political journalism, and sibylline imprecation.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,