The Mediocracy: French Philosophy Since the Mid-1970s
Generating great controversy on its publication in France last year, "The Mediocracy argues that a veritable counter-revolution in intellectual life ... Show synopsis Generating great controversy on its publication in France last year, "The Mediocracy argues that a veritable counter-revolution in intellectual life has seen the period of the "master-thinkers" of the 1960s succeeded by an era of generalized mediocrity. Where Althusser or Lacan, Foucault or Derrida once held centre stage, today restorationist currents prevail in academia and on television sets. Fuelled by a complaisant media, contemporary French ideology seeks neither to interpret nor to change the world, but is instead content to legitimize a globally hegemonic neo-liberalism. Lecourt's story posits two key turning points in the career of the French intelligentsia. The first is the anti-Marxist turn of the mid-1970s, championed by the New Philosophers and prompted by disappointment in an imaginary Maoism as an alternative to official Communism. The second is the revulsion at the theoretical anti-humanism of an alleged "pensee '68," sponsored by Luc Ferry and Alain Renaut's 1985 polemic of that title. Lecourt defends the common critical project to which Althusser, Foucault and others were committed before and after 1968. Contrasting it with the philosophical impostures and political abdications of the present, he calls for a resumption of the traditions that made Paris the post-war intellectual capital of Europe."