Arnon Grunberg



Here's the balanced view, sort of, Houellebecq on the US and Trump:

'Let’s go back all the way to the United States’s last morally unquestionable and militarily victorious intervention, namely its participation in World War II: What would have happened had the United States not entered the war (an unpleasant alternate history)? Without a doubt, the destiny of Asia would have been greatly altered. The destiny of Europe, too, but probably somewhat less. In any case, Hitler would have lost just the same. What’s most probable is that Stalin’s armies would have reached Cherbourg. Some European countries that were spared the ordeal of communism would have suffered it.

A disagreeable scenario, I admit, but a brief one. Forty years later, the Soviet Union would have collapsed all the same, simply because it rested on an ineffective and bogus ideology. Whatever the circumstances, whatever the culture in which communism has been established, it hasn’t managed to survive for so much as a century—not in any country in the world.

People’s memories aren’t very long. The Hungarians, the Poles, the Czechs of today—do they really remember that they used to be communists? Does the way they envision what’s at stake in Europe differ so much from the Western European viewpoint? It seems extremely unlikely. To adopt for a moment the language of the center-left, the “populist cancer” is not at all limited to the Visegrád Group. Above all, the arguments used in Austria, in Poland, in Italy, and in Sweden are exactly the same. One of the constants in Europe’s long history is the struggle against Islam; today, that struggle has simply returned to the foreground.

I’ve read about the CIA’s repulsive tactics in Nicaragua and Chile only in novels (almost exclusively American novels), so I can’t make any definite accusations on those scores. The first American military interventions I can really remember are those of the two Bushes, especially the son’s. France refused to join him in his war against Iraq—a war that was in equal parts immoral and stupid; France was right, and my pleasure in pointing this out is all the greater, because France has seldom been right since . . . let’s say, since the time of de Gaulle.'


'The Americans have stopped trying to spread democracy to the four corners of the globe. Besides, what democracy? Voting every four years to elect a head of state—is that democracy? In my view, there’s one country in the world (one country, not two) that enjoys partially democratic institutions, and that country isn’t the United States of America; it’s Switzerland. A country otherwise notable for its laudable policy of neutrality.

The Americans are no longer prepared to die for the freedom of the press. Besides, what freedom of the press? Ever since I was twelve years old, I’ve watched the range of opinions permissible in the press steadily shrinking (I write this shortly after a new hunting expedition has been launched in France against the notoriously anti-liberal writer Éric Zemmour).

The Americans are relying more and more on drones, which—if they knew how to use these weapons—could have allowed them to reduce the number of civilian casualties (but the fact is that Americans have always been incapable, practically since aviation began, of carrying out a proper bombing).

But what’s most remarkable about the new American policies is certainly the country’s position on trade, and there Trump has been like a healthy breath of fresh air; you’ve really done well to elect a president with origins in what is called “civil society.”

President Trump tears up treaties and trade agreements when he thinks it was wrong to sign them. He’s right about that; leaders must know how to use the cooling-off period and withdraw from bad deals.

Unlike free-market liberals (who are, in their way, as fanatical as communists), President Trump doesn’t consider global free trade the be-all and end-all of human progress. When free trade favors American interests, President Trump is in favor of free trade; in the contrary case, he finds old-fashioned protectionist measures entirely appropriate.

President Trump was elected to safeguard the interests of American workers; he’s safeguarding the interests of American workers. During the past fifty years in France, one would have wished to come upon this sort of attitude more often.

President Trump doesn’t like the European Union; he thinks we don’t have a lot in common, especially not “values”; and I call this fortunate, because, what values? “Human rights”? Seriously? He’d rather negotiate directly with individual countries, and I believe this would actually be preferable; I don’t think that strength necessarily proceeds from union. It’s my belief that we in Europe have neither a common language, nor common values, nor common interests, that, in a word, Europe doesn’t exist, and that it will never constitute a people or support a possible democracy (see the etymology of the term), simply because it doesn’t want to constitute a people. In short, Europe is just a dumb idea that has gradually turned into a bad dream, from which we shall eventually wake up. And in his hopes for a “United States of Europe,” an obvious reference to the United States, Victor Hugo only gave further proof of his grandiloquence and his stupidity; it always does me a bit of good to criticize Victor Hugo.

Logically enough, President Trump was pleased about Brexit. Logically enough, so was I; my sole regret was that the British had once again shown themselves to be more courageous than us in the face of empire. The British get on my nerves, but their courage cannot be denied.'

Read the article here.

Houellebecq is definitely a comedian, unfortunately he could have been more poignant, more intelligent, better informed. Many things can be said about Trump, but for example is he really safeguarding the interests of American workers? More so than other American presidents?

But the fact that Houellebecq is saying to Americans, in other words to most of us: you will be always welcome as tourists, is worthy of applause.
Instead of criticizing mass tourism, one of the more snobbiest and superficial contemporary endeavors, he is saying; the humans of the future will all be tourists.

There he is undoubtedly right, mankind wil turn out to be nothing but a metaphor for perpetual tourism.

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