Tag Archives: Boulevard Voltaire

“Humanitarian” interventions generally make things worse – Benoist

Migrants: “Humanitarian” interventions generally make things worse

Interview with Alain de Benoist by Boulevard Voltaire

Translated from the French by Tom Sunic

 

Q: The photo of that Syrian child stranded on the beach is now in the process of turning a new page in European opinion. In our epoch of “storytelling” it evidently suggests that the migrant issue is a “human drama.”

Of course it is a “human drama.” One must have dry heart or be blinded by hatred if not recognizing it. Muslims threatened by jihadist Islamism, entire families fleeing the Middle East destabilized by Western policies — of course this is a “human drama.” But this is also a political issue and even an issue of geopolitics. Hence the need to figure out the relationship between the political sphere and the humanitarian sphere. Well, experience has shown that “humanitarian” interventions generally only aggravate matters further. The dominance of the legal categories over the political categories is one of the major causes of the impotence of the states.

The migratory tsunami which we are witnessing is adding up to a disaster. First, there was a calculation based on thousands of refugees, then tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands. As of now more than 350,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean over the recent months. Germany has agreed to accept 800,000 of them, far more than the entire registry of its own birth rates each year. We are way ahead of the interstitial immigration of thirty years ago! Faced with such an onslaught the European countries are asking themselves: “How are we going to welcome them?” Never do they ask themselves:  “How are we going to prevent them from coming in?” Even the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius considers “scandalous” the attitude of the countries wishing to close their borders. Will it be the same way when the number of migrants’ entries is counted by the millions? Will the politicians be then more concerned about countless “human dramas” happening in the world right now than about the common good of their fellow citizens? This is the heart of the matter.

Beyond the emotions triggered by the “shock of the photos”, which arguments are being offered by those who want to convince us of the merit of the migrations?

Those arguments are being displayed on the two levels; first the moral argument (“these are our brothers, we have a moral obligation to them“); and then the economic argument (judging by the words of William Lacy Swing, the Chief Executive of the International Organization for Migration;  “Migrations are necessary if we want a prosperous economy.” The first argument scrambles together private and personal morality with public and political morality, both of them having their origin in the belief in universalism. Those who use these arguments consider that before being a Frenchman, a German, a Syrian or a Chinese, individuals are “human beings” first, that is to say, they belong in an immediate fashion to humanity, whereas in fact they belong to humanity in a mediate fashion through specific culture in which they were born and which they have inherited. For them, the world is inhabited by abstract, rootless “persons” whose common trait is interchangeability. As for cultures — they see them only as epiphenomena. This is what Jacques Attali  said in the Cadmos magazine in 1981: “For me, European culture does not exist, nor has it ever existed.”

The Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations has recently released a report about the European countries which says that  in the absence of the replacement migrations the population decline is inevitable.” It also states that “for Europe, as a whole, what is needed is twice the level of immigration, as recorded in the 1990s” — barring which the retirement age will be pushed to 75. Europe is aging, immigration will save it; this is the perfect illustration of the idea that men are interchangeable, regardless of their origin. Therefore economic imperatives must prevail over all other imperatives. The ethics of “human rights” is only a cover-up for financial interests.

Q: Unquestionably there is also a demographic aspect to it. You know those words by the former Algerian President Houari Boumédiène), which the right-wing folks always like harping on: “Some day millions of men will leave the Southern Hemisphere and move to the Northern Hemisphere. They won’t go there as friends; they’ll go there in order to conquer it. And they will conquer it with their sons. The belly of our women will secure us victory.”  Is this the Big Replacement? 

According to some, Boumédiène must have uttered these remarks in February 1974 at the 2nd Islamic Summit in Lahore, Pakistan, According to others, he said those words on April 10, 1974, from the rostrum of the UN. This uncertainty is revealing, especially as the full text of this alleged speech of his has never been made public by anybody. Houari Boumédiène, who was not a fool, knew well that the Middle East is in the Northern Hemisphere, not in the Southern Hemisphere! So there is a good chance that this is an apocryphal text.

As far as this topic is concerned it is more prudent to listen to demographers. The population of the African continent has risen from 100 million in 1900 to over a billion today. In the 2050, or thirty-five years down the road, there will be between two and three billion Africans, with four billion by the end of the century.  Although demographic relationships cannot be reduced to a communicating vessels phenomenon, it would be naive to expect that such a prodigious population growth, which we ourselves have also fostered, will have no impact on the future migrations. As Bernard Lugan notes: “how can we hope that migrants will stop their rush into the European “paradise” if this “paradise” is undefended and inhabited by old men? “The Big Replacement? Well, personally, I prefer to speak about “the Great Transformation.” In my opinion the Big Replacement will occur with the replacement of the man by the machine, that is to say the substitution of artificial intelligence to human intelligence. A danger far closer than we can possibly imagine.

 

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De Benoist, Alain. “Migrants: ‘Humanitarian’ interventions generally make things worse.” Interview by Boulevard Voltaire. The Occidental Observer, 9 September 2015. < http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2015/09/migrants-humanitarian-interventions-make-generally-things-worse/ >.

 

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The Logic of Capitalism – Benoist

The logic of capitalism; the unemployed and the superfluous

By Alain de Benoist

Translated from the French by Tom Sunic

 

Below is the interview A. de Benoist gave recently to Boulevard Voltaire.

Q: Despite repeated promises of politicians, both from the right and the left, nothing seems to be stopping the rise in unemployment. Is it something inevitable?

A: Officially, there are 3.5 million unemployed in France, which means that the unemployment rate stands today at 10.3%. This figure, however, varies depending on how it is being computed. The official statistics take into account only the category “A”, i.e. those who are unemployed and who are actively looking for a job, while leaving out the categories “B”, “C”, “D” and “E”, i.e. those looking for a job although having had some reduced work activity as of lately; those who have stopped looking for a job but are still unemployed; those receiving training; those in traineeship; those working under “subsidized contracts”, etc. When adding together all these categories, one reaches the real unemployment rate of 21.1% (more than double the official figure). If we refer to the overall rate of the inactive population of working age, then we arrive at 35.8%. Moreover, if we were to take into account insecure, part-time, or short-term jobs, as well as the number of the “working poor”, etc., then this figure keeps getting higher.

Undoubtedly, changes in unemployment depend on the official policies—but only to some extent. Today’s unemployment is no longer of a cyclical nature, but primarily structural, something many have not fully understood yet. This means that work is becoming a scarce commodity. The jobs that have been lost are less and less being replaced by other job openings. Of course, the expansion of the service sector is real; yet the service sector does not generate capital. Moreover, twenty years down the road almost half of those service sector jobs will be replaced by networked machines. To imagine, therefore, that someday we shall return to full employment is an illusion.

Q: There are people who live in order to work and others who work in order to live. Aren’t those who refuse to lose their lives in order to earn it part and parcel of some ancestral wisdom? Is work really a value in itself?

A: What needs to be pointed out is that what we call “work” today has no relationship whatsoever with what used to be productive activity of the past centuries, namely a simple “metabolization” of the nature. Neither is work a synonym of activity, nor of employment. The near universal spreading of wage labor was already a revolution of sorts to which the masses remained hostile for a very long period of time. The reason for that is that they had been accustomed to the consumption of the assets of their own labor only and never viewed labor as means of acquiring the assets of others, or in other words, to work in order to purchase the results of the labor of others.

Labor has a dual dimension; it represents both concrete labor (its metabolizing purpose) and abstract labor (energy and time spent). In the capitalist system what counts is abstract labor only, because this kind of labor, being indifferent to its own content, being also equal for all goods for which it provides a basis of comparison, is the sole factor that transforms itself into money, thus acquiring a mediating role in a new form of social interdependence. This means that in a society where commodity is the basic structural category, labor ceases to be socially distributed by traditional power structures. Rather, it performs itself the function of those ancient relationships. In capitalism, labor constitutes itself the dominant form of social relationships. Its by-products (commodity, capital) represent simultaneously concrete labor products and the objectified forms of social mediation. Hence, labor ceases to be a means; it becomes an end in itself.

In capitalism value is made up of the time spent working and represents therefore the dominant form of wealth. Capital accumulation means accumulating the product of the time spent in human labor. This is why the enormous productivity gains generated by the capitalist system have not resulted in any significant decrease in working hours, as one might have expected. On the contrary, based on the trends of unlimited expansion, the system keeps imposing always more work. And it is right there that we can observe its fundamental contradictions. On the one hand capitalism seeks to extend working hours, since it is only by having people work more and more that it can achieve capital accumulation. On the other, productivity gains allow from now on the production of more and more goods with less and less men. This makes the production of material wealth more and more independent from the time spent on working. In this respect the unemployed have already become the superfluous people.

Q: You are known to be a workaholic. Do you ever miss watching the grass grow and fondle some of the cats in your household?

A: I work 80-90 hours a week simply because I like doing what I do. This does not make me an adept of the ideology of work. Quite the contrary. In the Genesis (3: 17-19) work is depicted as a consequence of the original sin. Saint Paul says: “He who does not work, neither shall he eat” (II Thessalonians 3:10).This moralistic and punitive view of the work is just as alien to me as the Protestant redemptive work ethic, or for that matter the exaltation of the value of work by totalitarian regimes. Yes, I am aware of the fact that the word “travail” (work) comes from the Latin tripalium, a word which originally used to designate an instrument of torture. Therefore, I try to sacrifice to the requirements of “free time,” which is “free” insofar as it is freed from work.

 

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De Benoist, Alain. “The logic of capitalism; the unemployed and the superfluous.” Interview by Boulevard Voltaire. The Occidental Observer, 25 July 2015. <http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2015/07/the-logic-of-capitalism-the-unemployed-and-the-superfluous/ >.

 

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