Den franske filosofen Michel Onfray er ute med en ny bok, Cosmos, som føyer enda et verk til rekken av kulturpessimistiske utgivelser i Frankrike. Men der det hos en Michel Houellebecq finnes et slags håp bak håpløsheten i form av skånselløs oppriktighet, er det kun doom and gloom hos Onfray.
Onfray ascribes to the widely held view that France is declining in the face of such evils as the market economy and radical Islam. Where he begs to differ with other declinistes, as they are known, is in the search for a solution.
Onfray says there is no point looking for one, since the West is on the point of going the way of Ancient Rome.
“The cruel truth is that our civilisation is collapsing,” he told Le Figaro. “It’s lasted 1,500 years. That is a lot already. You can’t stop once you’ve fallen off a cliff.”
Asked what advice he would offer young people, he replied: “The boat is sinking, remain elegant. Die upright.”
Melancholy has long been part of the French psyche, but critics say it has rarely reached such depths amid a shared sentiment that French leaders, exemplified by François Hollande, are impotent to reverse the tide of history.
Onfray can offer nothing more hopeful than a look back to a pre-globalisation era marked by a dominate state apparatus and ethnic homogeneity.
Once seen as an arch left-winger, but now cherished by the right as well, he hankers after the days when French children grew up in villages before finding work on the land. Today, he says, pupils suffer from digitally induced “autism”.
He blames the demise of society upon “the neoliberalism which dictates its law”, and fires potshots at Islam for undermining intellectualism. Describing the Muslim religion as a counterweight to “reason, secularism, democracy and progress”, he said: “Reason disappears when faith makes the law.”
hos times, bak betalingsmur