The left-wing political scientist Thomas Guénolé recently (18th March) rowed with the spokesperson of the Parti des Indigènes de la République, Houria Bouteldja on the French television (France 2) program, “Ce soir (ou jamais !)” sur France 2 (Atlantico). He took out a photo of her posing with the slogan, “Zionists to the Gulag” [« Sionistes au goulag »]. A note which then adds: “Peace, but gulag even so” [« Peace, mais goulag quand même »].
Some other choice quotations he pulled from Bouteldja are also worth noting. Regarding rapes that take place in the banlieue: “If a black women is raped by a black man, it’s right that she does not go to the police in order to protect the black community” [« si une femme noire se fait violer par un homme noire, il est légitime qu’elle ne porte pas plainte pour protéger la communauté noire »]. On gays: “Everybody knows that a poof is not completely a man, since the Arab who loses his potency is no longer a man” [« comme chacun sait, la tarlouze n’est pas tout à fait un homme. l’arabe qui perd sa puissance virile n’est plus un homme »].
Bouteldja’s reply was to state that she couldn’t give a toss what Guénolé thought, and that his basic accusation against her was that she was not white.
Now it is time to return to a critical examination of the ideas of this person and her group.
Houria Bouteldja, or rather “the excellent Houria Bouteldja” (as Richard Seymour calls her here), is the spokesperson for the Parti des Indigènes de la République [PIR]. She is known to the American left from the reprinting of their statements by the International Socialist Organization, and a star article with Malik Tahar Chaouch translated as “The Unity Trap” in the oddly-named journal Jacobin, which claims to be “reason in revolt.”
The PIR, which opposes “race-mixing” and attacks the supposed “philo-Semitism” of the French state, among many other criticisms of “Jews” and “Zionists” has also received a respectful audience in Britain, including a blog and billing at meetings of the Islamic Human Right Commission. Verso has published a translation criticizing French secularism by one of the Indigènes’ prominent “white” supporters, the former leftist and self-styled feminist Christine Delphy.
Rumors that an English version of Les Blancs, les Juifs, et nous is in preparation at Verso, with an introduction by Ian Donovan, have been strongly denied. A review of the book in French has already appeared written by the Tiqqun-affiliated author Ivan Segré, «Une indigène au visage pâle: Houria Bouteldja, Les Blancs, les Juifs et nous: Vers une politique de l’amour révolutionnaire». This is not a translation of Segré’s tonic review of Bouteldja but a discussion of some key points. The article begins with a summary of the authoress’ views which will perhaps explain that the prospect of a full account of the text — after all a honest attempt to make intelligible a picture of the world that bears comparison with such landmark thinkers as David Icke — would be hard to accomplish. But we salute comrade Sergé for having waded through this singular oeuvre. This is just to make known to an English speaking audience some of his main points
Sergé provides an outline of Bouteldja’s contribution to historical materialism. White imperialism since the key date of 1492 is structured by racial inequality. With this legacy imprinted across every “white” society, legislation for equality puts “whites” [blancs] first and relegates the indigènes (indigenous, that is, native American, African Blacks, Arabs from the Maghreb after 1830, and the peoples of Asia). As part of this process white women’s rights have been obtained through both their owns struggle and through the existence of imperialism.
The fault lines lie deep. The French declaration of Human Rights, at least the 1789 version, was inspired by the American Declaration of Independence of 1776, created on the basis of the massacre of the indigenous population as well as the transport and enslavement of black Africans. Indelibly marked by its murderous, oppressive colonial origins, the bourgeoisie invented the category of the white race so as to divide and conquer [divide et impera], and to prevent any alliance with its slaves. For those in the Third World today, everyone who lives in imperialist Europe (even if, like herself, that person is of immigrant descent) is “white.”
Among the many discoveries Bouteldja makes in her exploration of the history of “white” imperialism is the case of Sartre. He is the very incarnation of the French left, even of the revolutionary left. As such, in the allegory for the history of that left, he was both a fighter against French colonialism and a supporter of the creation of the state of Israel. The author of Réflexions sur la Question Juive was a “Zionist.” That affiliation cannot be tolerated: “Shoot Sartre!” [« Fusillez Sartre! »]. The thought could be developed… Sartre is an emblem, a symbol of the gauche Française. Should they also be shot?
It can be seen that Bouteldja has a keen interest in the “Jewish Question.” For her, anti-Zionism is the crucial issue: confrontation between the indigènes and the “whites,” a clash over the State of Israel, is the site of a historic battle between “us” (her side) and “you” — well, you. She reveals the Jewish task. “They have been chosen by the West for three cardinal missions: to settle the crisis of moral legitimacy for the white world — the result of the Nazi genocide — to sub-contract republican (that is, French) racism, and to act as the armed wing of Western imperialism in the Arab world.” [« Élus, par l’Occident », et cela « pour trois missions cardinales » : « résoudre la crise de légitimité morale du monde blanc, conséquence du génocide nazi, sous-traiter le racisme républicain et enfin être le bras armé de l’impérialisme occidental dans le monde arabe » (p. 51).
From the — reasonable — point that the Shoah was an extension of colonial barbarity into Europe itself, the zoological view of history as a struggle for mastery between “races” that would resort to extermination — to the other two “missions” is not a leap, but a change of topic. Bouteldja considers that the “Arab essence” and “Arab land” is colonized by the Jews — Israel — as a result of a conscious “white” decision, “they have offered Israel to you.”
It is without surprise that we learn that Bouteldja rejects “white rationality.” This is the leading Indigène’s alternative:
Allah Akbar! In Islam divine transcendence induces humility and a continuous awareness of transience. The wishes, the projects of the faithful are marked by cries of “in cha Allah.” We begin one day and we will end one day. Only the all-powerful is eternal. Nobody can rise up against Him. Only the proud believe that they can. From this pathology of pride are born the blasphemous theories of the superiority of Whites over non-Whites, of the superiority of men over women, of the superiority of the human race over animals and nature. One does not need to be a believer to interpret this philosophy and apply it to the mundane.
Allahou akbar! Et il ajoute : Il n’y a de Dieu que Dieu. En islam, la transcendance divine ordonne l’humilité et la conscience permanente de l’éphémère. Les vœux, les projets de ses fidèles ne sont-ils pas tous ponctués par « in cha Allah »? Nous commençons un jour et nous finissons un jour. Seul le Tout-Puissant est éternel. Personne ne peut lui disputer le pouvoir. Seuls les vaniteux le croient. De ce complexe de la vanité, sont nées les théories blasphématoires de la supériorité des Blancs sur les non-Blancs, de la supériorité des hommes sur les femmes, de la supériorité des hommes sur les animaux et la nature. Nul besoin d’être croyant pour interpréter cette philosophie d’un point de vue profane. (p. 132).
Followers of the Qu’ran have never been known to practice slavery, the subjugation of women, or religious/racial superiority….
The Charnel House has published an excellent translation of earlier critique of this group: Toward a materialist approach to the question of race: A response to the Indigènes de la République.