Monday, June 11, 2018

French Thought Police and the Creeping Dictatorship of Virtue

One man I do revile get’s a special mention in the article posted at Consortium news- that is Bernard 
“I’m so full of myself “  Henri Levy. In fact I’d saved an article the other day regarding this blowhard:  Bernard Henri Levy: A False Prophet
Regarding Brexit. And Levy really, really wants Britain to stay in the EU.

Last week, the vainest man on the planet, Bernard-Henri Lévy, came to Sloane Square in Chelsea to perform a one-man show against Brexit in Cadogan Hall.

Mr. Lévy is often described as a “public intellectual” — though publicist extraordinaire might be a better title.
Bernard-Henri Lévy: No one proliferates more fact-free assertions

Enough ridiculing BHL- though actually one can never really ridicule a fool!  
Which is why I included the image from Consortium News: (right)
Truly no one proliferates more fact free assertions then BHL!

hattippin gallier2 for bringing this oped to my attention.
Hi Penny,
you light enjoy this article on the Belgian scientist Jean Bricmont. He wrote a book with Alan Sokal (not to confuse with Alain Soral :-), the guy who had written the paper that had exposed the peer review for the sham that it often is. He's quite vocal and one of rare people still defending Soral and Dieudonné.

A new French law to combat so-called “fake news” fits in all too well with the growing establishment campaign to censor dissident opinion by one means or another, argues Jean Bricmont.

Jean Bricmont

By Jean Bricmont

"The French government of Emmanuel Macron has introduced a new law to protect the French from “fake news” during election periods. This vaguely drafted amendment to existing press law seems to have been inspired by Macron’s resentment at rumors circulated against him during last year’s presidential election – which didn’t prevent him from winning. Widely opposed by opposition parties from left to right, and by most journalists, this amendment fits in all too well with the growing establishment campaign to censor dissident opinion by one means or another. The main pretext is the copycat Clintonite accusation of Russian “interference in Western elections.”
Applying initially only to election periods, to protect “our democracy”, this attempt to legislate the difference between true and false is a dangerous step in the door toward official censorship. Similar plans to ban “fake news” are brewing on the European level.
The law is superfluous to start with, since the existing 1881 French press law already sanctions insults, defamation and the artificial creation of panic, such as shouting fire in a crowded theater. But Macron’s government wants to go much farther, outlawing the spread of “false information”, obscurely defined as “alleging or lending credibility to a fact lacking verifiable elements of a nature to make it believable”. (…“une allégation ou imputation d’un fait dépourvue d’éléments vérifiables de nature à la rendre vraisemblable”.)

This definition is both unclear and potentially far-reaching.
To start with, a skeptic could ask what are the “verifiable elements” proving the existence of God, of life after death or of the effectiveness of prayer. There goes religion. How about the “verifiable elements” proving the effectiveness of astrology? There go some popular daily newspaper features. Numerous scientists have raised questions as to the “verifiable elements” justifying psychoanalysis without receiving satisfactory answers. Should psychobabble be banned in the name of combatting fake news?

And what should be done with post-modern French philosophy, whose most famous names take psychoanalysis very seriously and pride themselves on leaping to subjective conclusions? No one proliferates more fact-free assertions than Bernard-Henri Lévy, which so far has not interfered with his position on the board of major media from Le Monde to the cultural channel Arte.

But that’s only the beginning. What do we do with scientific theories that have been advanced without experimental confirmation? For example, string theory in physics and various hypotheses in cosmology.

In fact, many scientific discoveries begin with unproven hypotheses. Better not mention them!
And what about mainstream media? In one recent news report after another (Skripal poisoning, chemical weapons attacks in Syria, the falsified murder in Ukraine of an anti-Putin journalist, not to mention the responsibility for firing a missile that shot down a Malaysian airliner in July 2014), there is a big difference between the Western version of the facts and that which prevails in Russia, Malaysia, Syria and much of the non-Western world.

A Mental Border with Russia

Instead of Pascal’s “truth on this side of the Pyrenees, and error on the other side”, we would be establishing “truth on one side of the Mediterranean, error on the other”. Or rather, truth exists up to the Eastern border of NATO, with error on the other side. This is no way to advance toward universal understanding. The only way to resolve our differences with the rest of the world is free discussion. Inasmuch as the law against fake news seems to be designed mainly to counter what Western governments describe as Russian propaganda, there is a strong likelihood that it can only enforce the mental border between us and the Russians.

When the independent journalist André Bercoff simply raised a couple of questions concerning anomalies in reports of the amazing rescue by Mamoudou Gassama of a child hanging from a Paris balcony, his own colleagues instantly condemned him for “provoking doubts” and engaging in “conspiracy theories”. The official regulatory agency, the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel, hastened to open an investigation… of Bercoff. President Macron had invited Gassama to the Elysee Palace, offering him French citizenship and making the event an exemplary national legend. Thus sacred.

It is an odd sign of the times to reproach a journalist for asking questions. Leaving aside the rescue incident, raising questions used to be considered a primary function of journalism. If it is better to let ten guilty persons go free than to imprison one innocent man, in terms of rational scientific method, it is better to have ten extravagant doubts than one unchallengeable dogma.
It is true that what the dominant media call “conspiracy theories”, going everywhere from legitimate questioning of their own narratives and of official assertions to the wildest fantasies, do indeed proliferate on social media. But can anyone believe that describing Bercoff’s doubts as “conspiracy theorizing” will in any way stem that proliferation?
Françoise Nyssen: Public broadcasts must combat reactionary ideas.
The French Minister of culture, Françoise Nyssen, has decided that public radio and television, financed by taxpayers, should be devoted to combatting French people’s “highly reactionary” ideas, notably concerning “diversity”. Note that Macron’s ruling party, Republic in Movement, considers “reactionary” exactly what was considered progressive only a few decades ago: defense of public services and national sovereignty. Is it legitimate to oblige adults to pay for their own ideological re-education?

I by no means suggest that the current government is consciously intent on installing a totalitarian regime. The problem stems rather from the overwhelming subjectivism of contemporary culture in which talk of “values” leaves little space for concern for facts or objectivity. This is increasingly true even in discussions of scientific or technical progress. Of course, legislation cannot be fully objective, but since the Enlightenment reflection on freedom, the ideal has been to seek to establish reasonable rules to protect the individual from arbitrary power. This rule applies particularly to freedom of expression.

Those who speak endlessly of their values are merely trying to show off their own moral superiority. That is the basis of the corruption of the legal system in the matter of “fake news”, the reaction to Bercoff’s doubts, and the crusade of Madame Nyssen against what she considers “reactionary ideas”. Once a group of people convince themselves that they embody Virtue itself thanks to their “values”, they become unable to perceive any legitimate grounds for limiting their own power.
Very succinct.
"That could be called the totalitarianism of the naïve"
Could be called that, however, I think that Monsieur Bricmont is being too kind.

Related to: Have We Already Slid Into A Tyranny of Good Intentions? 

Interesting reads you may have missed!

From earlier today:

Oil Kingdom In Crisis: Saudi Royal Family Rift Turns Violent- Sadr couldn’t visit.

From the past week:



  1. Are you talking about the cheese-eating surrender monkeys? Sorry, that's how I think of France. I do love real champagne though. It doesn't make you drunk. And, apparently, the south of France is idyllic. I would live there. I might even learn the language, even though I hate the way it sounds.

    1. And I can't do without CHEESE! I love cheese.

  2. I may eat cheese but I am not a surrender monkey.

    1. Then again, I'm not French, am I? I'm American.

    2. tsisageya:

      You're stereotyping the French (France)people- tarring them with one brush and worse making yourself appear as the 'ugly american' stereotype.
      Is this what your going for?
      Cause if so, you've succeeded.
      Just an observation.

      How about talking the topic- the tyranny of good intentions- the totalitarianism of the naïve
      legislating censorship- there were a ton of options in the post to choose from
      pick one of those.

    3. Looks like you've gained a fan, the ubiquitous tsisageya who either is a Zionist plant or drinks too much while online.

  3. Yet another government that aspires to be God; another government of corrupted minds. Power corrupts and this is what it looks like.

    It starts by saying, "I know what is best for you so let me look after you". Then once they are 'looking after us' and you disagree with them, it becomes, "By going against us, you are going against what is best for the people. So we will have to kill you in the name of the people to preserve the interests of the people".

    It is perfectly logical (to the corrupted) and perfectly satanic.

    Exactly the same is happening in England - witness Tommy Robinson

  4. I think serious topics deserve serious conversations. You write better than 90 % of the mainstream media. I applaud your efforts to be "fair and Balanced" :-)

  5. To call BHL a narcissistic, pompous asshole would be too kind.
    But obviously the pay is fantastic if you assassinate your soul and become a pompous asshole!