03-03-2011 17:25:48

Rebellious old-timers spawn a literary phenomenon in France!

"Cry out against generalized public indifference!" In their works, Edgar Morin and Stéphane Hessel have kicked up a storm. Their books are a fly in the ointment of the prevailing omertà. A breath of fresh air and a success that make us feel good!

By Iris Sergent (Paris)

Translation by Odile Plettener and José Pietri

The beginning of the year was marked by the emergence of an unusual literary phenomenon... rebellious old-timers are making record-breaking sales in bookstores. Stéphane HESSEL has truly kicked up a storm with his little book Indignez-vous ! (Time for Outrage ! ), which has sold over 1.7 million copies since its release last December (for as much as he is in it appealing to enter into Resistance). Reflecting this LA VOIE, Pour l’avenir de l’humanité (THE WAY, For the future of humanity), a more substantial work by the wise old man or philosopher Edgar MORIN which was published last February and has already sold over 30,000 copies.

Indignez-vous ! For Stéphane HESSEL, "the grounds for resistance are outrage"

Stéphane HESSEL himself acknowledges that it is easy for an old man who lived through Nazism and the Vichy regime in France, to have been able during his misspent youth to find the reasons for a righteous outrage that led him to join the French Resistance side-by-side with General De Gaulle. In this small publication, Hessel, who was one of the co-authors of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, makes a plea that deserves to be heard: the reasons for a new Resistance Movement are present, it suffices to look for them in order to find them. As a matter fact just open your eyes and observe to find them: the increasingly glaring economic disparities; the hunting down of scapegoats, whether they be "illegal immigrants", gypsies or children of immigrants; the indecency of the rich flaunting their wealth, the same wealthy people who are selling off our social benefits by hiding behind the economic crisis... All these contradictions and absurdities that make up today's world should be enough to provoke the indignation that the rebel nonagenarian, 93-years-old, and nonetheless still a Gaullist, calls for. And the Resistance Movement would spring from indignation.

It is not because this book has snowballed that I recommend it, nor because it is the latest literary release that I have decided to deal with this topic ... To all those who have not yet bought this little booklet and feel in themselves the reasons for a righteous anger, indignation (or call it what you will), run out to buy it. This is neither about pointing out the beauty of the words, nor total support for the specific reasons for outrage from Mr. HESSEL. Buying this book is an act of resistance in itself for all lovers of freedom who have not forgotten that the term “equality” still belongs to the tripartite motto of France. In the end, it is a factor to increase the "Sarko-sancts" figures of this embryonic protest that says "No" to indifference towards ever more glaring injustice.

LA VOIE, a political platform???

And as for the true reasons for outrage, MORIN serves them up to us on a silver platter in LA VOIE. Was it because I was able to read both right and left, without making a nasty pun, that one could think this book was imbued with pessimism? Perhaps it is considered pessimistic to face the fact that Earth and its onboard humanity are climbing a slippery slope: being realistic, if not alarmist about the future of our common destiny. The continuing proliferation of nuclear weapons, the alarming degradation of the environment, the triumph of religious, economic and consumerist fanaticism, the standardization of individuality through unbridled globalization... nonetheless exist. If the philosopher had been content with this kind of statement, I would have been tempted to agree. But the wise old man concludes his introduction by saying, "It is not enough to denounce. We must now state the facts. It is not enough to convey urgency. We must start by defining the ways that could lead to The Way. The message laid out in The Way is being developed, that's what we try to contribute here. The beginning is ahead of us, said Heidegger. Metamorphosis would indeed be a new beginning.”

For once beyond the introduction, a composite wall of constructive challenges and positive initiatives rises in response on every continent. It is these that the philosopher attempts to systematize, to connect, to communicate, in a book full of thoughts and hopes centered around three main themes: the politics of humanity, the reforms of thought and education, the reforms of society and life.

What I remember, myself, from this blockbuster, for it is indeed a blockbuster (and a sensational blockbuster, at that) is that it could be the basis of a new political vision, which marked by humanism and universalism day also reminds us that we are the joint stewards of the diversity of humanity’s riches which it behooves us to watch over.

The old-timers show us The Way

If everything can be questioned then it should be discussed! It seems that the advocates of free thinking, reflection and political commitment have launched the first offensive against the ideological obscurantism which rules over us ... with a little over a year to go to the French presidential election. So, it is up to us to make these demands so that our representatives understand its impact. But the most important is the common message of these two former Resistance fighters to Nazi totalitarianism and in particular the statement made by Margaret Mead, quoted by Morin at the beginning of his book. Thus, "never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has".

"Indignez-vous!" (Time for Outrage!) 3 Euros - Translated into several languages. Launched in Berlin last February.



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