The Tyranny of Guilt

"Cain after Having Killed His Brother Abel" by Henri Vidal (photo of statue in the Tuileries Gardens by Oswaldo Bautista)

(Tyrannie de la pénitence) (Written by Pascal Bruckner) (Translated to English by Steven Rendall)

This mordant, elegant addendum to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, is as unscientific and intuitive as that fraudulent work of pseudo-science.  But Bruckner’s book is far more valuable, in that it spurns false jargon and history-moralizing, concentrating on simple empiricism, clothed in prose poetry.  Why are the fashionable elites of European progression so full of hate and contempt, so bent-out-of-shape by confected targets whilst missing real threats waving weapons in their faces?  They emblematize the classic joke-image of the liberal seeing the other guy’s point of view whilst being robbed, raped and murdered.  They also begin to take the shape of revanchists who lost the Cold War.

Here are some of Bruckner’s pungent observations at random:

The European Guilt Complex (a neurosis akin to that experienced by James Stewart, after he thought he let Kim Novak fall from a roof in Vertigo):

Indulgence toward foreign dictatorships, intransigence toward our democracies…Africa, Asia, the Near East, the whole world is knocking at the door of Europe, wants to gain a foothold in it at the time when it is wallowing in shame and self-loathing. (pp. 2, 4)

The intellectual caste, in our world, is the penitential class par excellence, continuing the role of the clergy under the Old Regime. (p. 21)

Remorse is a mixture of good will and bad faith…Nothing is more insidious than the idea of a collective sin that is supposed to be handed down from generation to generation and to permanently stain a people or a community. Contrition is not a policy. (pp 98, 99)

Europe has more or less vanquished its monsters, slavery has been abolished, colonialism has been abandoned, fascism defeated, communism brought to its knees…each time, a specific form of violence has been not only transcended but delegitimized. This is a double progress of civilization and law.  (p. 104)

Self-Selecting Villainy is no Occident:

Nothing is more Western than hatred of the West, that passion for cursing and lacerating ourselves…Like prayer, self-accusation is a way of acting symbolically at a distance when one can do nothing.  (pp. 33, 35)

Decolonization was a great process of democratic equality: the former slaves achieved within a few years the same level of bestiality as their former masters.


“We are not afraid of death,” the suicide bombers say to show their superiority to ordinary people. But they are afraid of life, constantly trampling on it, slandering it, destroying it, and training children still in their cradles for martyrdom…Cultural relativism commands us to see what we call our values as simple prejudices, the beliefs of a particular tribe called the West. The religion of the Prophet is thus draped in the mantle of the outcast in order to spare it the slightest attack. (p. 48)

[Quoting SBY, Indonesia’s best President, at a Muslim summit: “The world associates Islam with backwardness. This makes us angry, but the fact remains that we are backward. We are dependant on others for everything connected with our vital needs.”   (p. 52)]

 Palestine as the Warsaw Ghetto:

There still remains, to quench their thirst for the absolute, a final noble savage: the Palestinian….(that attracted folks like Jean Genet because, as Genet said, such a people) “most fully crystallizes hatred of the West” (p. 58).

People who support the Palestinians are not hoping to aid flesh-and-blood human beings but pure ideas…not so much engaged in inquiring into a specific antagonism-a real estate dispute involving two equally legitimate owners, as Amos Oz put it-as in settling accounts with Western culture. (p.60-61)

Hating the Jews:

People resent the Jews for having emerged from their immemorial weakness and fearlessly resorted to force…What is their main fault?  Without consulting us, the Jews rewrote the scenario to which we had confined them, and they have thus lost the right to demand compensation from us. (p. 66)

In their view, no horror committed by candidates for suicide, with their grotesque mythology of the seventy virgins awaiting them in Paradise, will ever make up for the ignominy of the Israelis. The victims of these explosions matter little, and still less the culture of death spread among the youth of the West Bank and Gaza. (p.76) 

Baiting the Yanks:

America is a double of Europe, perhaps, but in the sense in which the healthiest parents can give birth to abnormal children and dream about committing infanticide. (p. 81)

When America mobilizes and acts (often with a tragic lack of awareness), Europe stands by with its arms folded. A timorous colossus at risk of developing gigantism, losing in effectiveness what it gains in extension, Europe is in danger of becoming the Pontius Pilate of nations.  (p. 90)

Reverse Racism:

Progressive thought is blind when it suggests that there can be no antiwhite racism or an anti-Semitism among the formerly oppressed or the young people in the projects because they themselves have suffered from this evil. They are the victims; they are exempt from the prejudices that affect the majority of the population.  But the reverse is true: racism is multiplying at exponential rates among groups and communities, taboos are collapsing, and everything is explained in terms of physical characteristics, identity, purity, and difference.  And this is a racism that is all the more certain that it is right because it is regarded as a legitimate reaction on the part of the persecuted.  (p. 86)

Voltaire (after de la Tour)

Voltaire (after de la Tour)

Écrasons l’infâme!

(“Crush Fanaticism and Superstition”)


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