Skip to content skip to sidebar Skip to footer
Portrait of the writer and philosopher Fabrice Hadjadj.

FIGAROVOX/INTERVIEW – The philosopher* publishes a collection of chronicles in which he mixes reflections inspired by everyday life on sex, religion, technology and work. Between Houellebecq and Chesterton, he gives us a tasty review of the time. And reminds us of the meaning of the mystery of Christmas.

LE FIGARO. – In your book, Latest news from men (and women too), you chronicle the future of our humanity, threatened by the growing hold of technology. Would you be a technophobe, or worse, a “declinist”?

Fabrice HADJADJ. – In truth, I am absolutely tech-savvy. The challenge, in my eyes, is even to save the technique. Because technology has never been so backward as it is today. A character of Houellebecq in Elementary Particles admits it: "My technical skills are far inferior to those of a Neanderthal man." Until recently, man had hands, very spiritual organs, of receptivity more than of prehension, sorts of animated flowers capable of making the world bloom, stars of flesh capable of greeting, building, offering, radiating on things. But the technological-market organization has made penguins of us. Technological progress is most often technical regression. Instead of playing a musical instrument, we click on a playlist. Instead of making things, we buy them, thanks to the salary earned from managing Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. Innovation does not need me to be criticized: it presupposes the obsolescence of its marvels; to better keep us in suspense in the oblivion of our hands, it does not stop destroying itself. Suppose I fully subscribe to the idea that the iPhone X really is the ultimate gadget, with its Face ID application, which converts your face into a means of payment: Apple will forbid me to do so, because there will be the iPhone XI then the XII, and I have to put a cross on the X In short, a hammer has more future than any smartphone. I also have a hammer and a guitar that belonged to my father (he didn't leave me his Blackberry 5790). It is therefore technological hegemony that tends to favor the decline of the human. Nothing is even more declinist than the hopes of transhumanism: isn't its project to disembodie us, to replace logos with software, and know-how with 3D printing? It is therefore less a question of drawing a line between good and bad technology than of understanding that technology is only good if it is at the service of technique. It is good, for example, to watch a YouTube video to rediscover grandma's kitchen, plant a vegetable garden, sew a garment or carpentry a piece of furniture...

“I am naive enough to think that cultivating the land, riding a horse and reading the Bible with the family is still better than doing high-frequency trading, taking the RER and consuming Netflix”

Fabrice Hadjadj

You advocate a return to a simple life, a taste for home and decline. How do you respond to those who accuse you of wanting to go back to candlelight or living like an Amish?

I like the Amish, I admit. I am naive enough to think that cultivating the land, riding on horseback and reading the Bible with the family is still better than doing high-frequency trading, taking the RER and consuming Netflix. However, I am not advocating any “return”. I don't want to quit my job. If providence gave birth to me at that time, it was to do with it. Marx showed very well that the "robinsonnades" were complicit in capitalist logic: they claim to return to nature, to remake the world with a few old tools on a desert island, but in doing so they ignore that man is by nature the heir to a story, and we reinforce the fantasy of the self-made-man. So the simple life, yes, of course, who wouldn't want a simple life, basically? But we don't get there without drama. Neither without composition – without modus vivendi. My tone is moreover less prescriptive than descriptive. I am not shouting: “Long live degrowth!” I only observe that the consumption of commodities has made us lose the practice of things. If I had to get closer to certain political currents, I would evoke the Arts and Crafts movement of William Morris, and even more the distributism of Chesterton (both admired by Houellebecq, for that matter). Equidistant from socialism and capitalism, and their state or multinational monopolies, they advocated not a better distribution of income (which does not challenge monetary and market supremacy), but a fair distribution of the means of production, in a eulogy of the small family property. To be honest, it's an old story. It is already in Genesis. When Laban offers Jacob a better salary, the latter replies: "And me, now, when am I going to work for my house?" (Gn, XXX, 30).

“Sexual polarity can never be reduced to a bargain between two contracting parties. Emmanuel Lévinas said that it always contained a part of adoration and profanation.

Fabrice Hadjadj

You are a great defender of gender difference. At a time when desire is either criminalized by a puritanical feminism or caricatured by the commercial universe, what is your view of the relationship between men and women?

Again, I'm not an advocate of the sexes, I just notice that I have one, quite capricious, by the way, and which is not the other. If only we were still in the war of the sexes, like Lysistrata! But no, what is at stake at this time is victim competition and contractual litigation. Let me explain. We must denounce harassment, rape and bring justice, but the way of denouncing which is in progress has neo-liberal underpinnings, which have nothing to do with the sexes. We want to deny the obscurity of desire, we claim that all relationships should unfold like a contract between two rational agents whose intentions are perfectly transparent. To avoid any possible accusations, husbands will be careful to obtain a signed consent from their wives, and possibly pay her for her "emotional work". But it doesn't work like that. And even that never works. Sexual polarity can never be reduced to a bargain between two contracting parties. Emmanuel Lévinas said that it always contained an element of adoration and profanation. We must therefore fight – first within ourselves – against violence against women, but we must also admit that the desire that drives a man towards a woman – and vice versa – has nothing to do with the fiction of violence against women. rational agent as invented by modern economic theory.

In one of your columns, you make a link between terrorism and techno-capitalism… In your opinion, the spread of jihadist ideology finds fertile ground in spectacular and commercial globalization?

The confrontation between consumerism and Islamism is only superficial: it is the same forma mentis; both are about reaching heaven by pushing buttons. Daesh has nothing to do with a return of the so-called medieval darkness. It is a postmodern movement, made up of uprooted individuals, who recruit themselves via the Internet, who take selfies with Kalashnikovs and videos of their throats cut in staged television series, finally who subsist thanks to petrodollars. Their "God" was not made flesh. He is neither a carpenter nor a Talmudist – which would have given them, along with the sense of the concrete, a certain sense of humor. Jihadism may be a reaction to the Western vacuum, to its lack of meaning or transcendence, but it is also an extension of this vacuum, a radical loss of land, culture and history.

“We are the first generations to be assured not only that “civilizations are mortal”, as Valéry said, but that the human species is doomed to extinction”

Fabrice Hadjadj

You end your collection with a “Christmas story”. At a time when consumption has taken precedence over ritual, what meaning can this Christian holiday still have?

We come to the consumption of centuries. Our system is very fragile. Collapsology has become a very fashionable science. The chestnut turkey can grow to the point of blocking our view, the fact is there: the pink-bellied shrike is disappearing from French territory. We are only at the beginning of the disappearance of species and the enormous migratory flows resulting from global warming. The blackout is not far off which will put out all the lights in the commercial streets: happy are those who still have candles! As for the cyborgs, who are presented to us as immortals, they will no longer be able to recharge their prostheses or change their parts, and they will break down. In fact, I am neither a declinist nor a progressive. I am very simply apocalyptic. We are the first generations to be assured not only that “civilizations are mortal”, as Valéry said, but that the human species is doomed to extinction – in the more or less long term. What is the meaning of this certainty? And why continue, therefore, with the human adventure? It will be necessary, once the screens no longer light up, that we ask ourselves the question for good. Then we will perhaps see the star above the stable of Bethlehem: this Jewish baby who appears in the middle of the night, between his mother, his father, the ox and the donkey, the adoration of the shepherds and of kings, it is the Eternal who tells us that it is good to be human, to have a body, to work with one's hands, to speak of heaven through the simple things of the earth, and that even if the world were to disappear tomorrow – the figure of this world passes, says Saint Paul – we would still have to hold our post, plant trees, raise children, transmit to them the poetry of praise and supplication. This mystery of the Incarnation will be the last bulwark against transhumanism, Islamism, animalism, spiritualism and all other contemporary forms of despair.

Director of Philantropos University. He publishes “Last news for men (and women too)”, Taillandier, 352 p., €18,90.

Leave a comment

CJFAI © 2023. All Rights Reserved.