Bernard-Henri Lévy is one of the most ardent intellectual self-promoters of this and even last Century. I still have a paperback copy of ‘Barbarism with a Human Face’ the pages are a dark brown and brittle. Mr. Lévy is part of a intellectual trend, from my American perspective, dating from Jean-François Revel’s ‘Without Marx or Jesus’, ‘The Totalitarian Temptation’, and ‘How Democracies Perish’, all these works dating from the the early 70’s to the early 80’s, remain what they are Cold War polemics. My recollection of ‘Temptation’: it could have benefited from some ruthless editing-an essay turned into a bestseller, ‘How Democracies Perish’ was a screeching maladroit polemic . Yet ‘How Democracies Perish’ published in ’83, acts as stark object lesson of Mr. Revel’s lack of prescience.
Mr. Lévy, with the Cassandra like powers demonstrated by Mr. Revel, instructs his readers on the dangers of Mr. Trump. For Americans, it’s like reporting a horrific accident to it’s victims. The takeover of the Republican Party by the political nihilists, as immediate precursors to Trump, remains in the category of the politically inconvenient for the Lévy thesis
But Mr. Lévy being a stolid Neo-Liberal and staunch ally of the Neo-Cons, or even being one. Then Mrs. Clinton’s favoring of Victoria Nuland as Secretary of State, and Lévy as ardent supporter/apologist for the Ukrainian Coup, Nuland was one of the primary foreign political actors directly involved in it’s perpetration, makes for a predictable coalescence of forces :
Ukraine: Thinking together Kyiv, 15-19 May 2014
‘Under the heading “Ukraine: Thinking together” an international group of intellectuals will gather in Kyiv to demonstrate solidarity, meet their Ukrainian counterparts, and carry out a broad public discussion about the meaning of Ukrainian pluralism for the future of Europe, Russia, and the world. The discussions, taking place from 15 to 19 May, will feature some of Europe’s, America’s, Russia’s and Ukraine’s most interesting opinion makers and intellectuals, including Bernard-Henri Lévy, Slavenka Drakulic, Timothy Snyder, Mustafa Nayem, Serhii Leshchenko, Agnieszka Holland, Adam Michnik, Serhii Zhadan, Ivan Krastev, Wolf Biermann, Karl Schlögel and Bernard Kouchner.’
What can one make of the Lévy political interventions? Another demonstration of his moral/intellectual status as self-appointed successor to the Camus/Sartre tradition of the Committed Public Intellectual? Aided by a penchant for heavy handed melodrama. It seems that the ‘as if’ of Mr. Lévy as thinker/political actor is anchored in a bleak nostalgia for a France and a World perpetually moored in 1945.