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.
Follow Literary Review on Twitter
'We may not be able to shield ourselves from irrational passions such as hatred, anger, envy, mockery and pride, or from the buffetings of circumstance, but we can rise above them by obtaining insight into their nature and their causes.'
Sign up to our e-newsletter!
Get highlights from the new issue and selected archive articles, as well as exclusive competitions and subscription offers delivered straight to your inbox.
'Some Labour MPs who were shocked by Corbyn’s rise behaved appallingly ... Not only were they disloyal; they also had no coherent strategy for removing Corbyn or an alternative left-of-centre project.'