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Is Theory Good for the Jews?French Thought and the Challenge of the New Antisemitism$
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Bruno Chaouat

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781781383346

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781383346.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

The Moralistic Turn

The Moralistic Turn

Radical Social Critique, Literary Terror, and Antisemitism after Toulouse

(p.71) Chapter Two The Moralistic Turn
Is Theory Good for the Jews?

Bruno Chaouat

Liverpool University Press

Chapter 2 examines what I call the moralistic turn in French letters and social thought, and especially the inversions between victims and perpetrators that I attribute to the rise of radical social critique. French literary modernity extolled evil and anti-morality, and revered transgression and rebellion. By blurring the lines between victims and perpetrators, they awkwardly yet genuinely acknowledged our common inhumanity. By contrast, I argue that our own time has reinjected moralism into literature and social thought. French letters rehabilitate the transgressor in the name of a moralistic sociology that hides its fascination with evil behind a discourse of social justice and victimization. Recent years have seen the development of an ideology of outrage (or “indignation”). I argue that this ideology functions as a psychic shield meant to dispel the return of the repressed—namely, the human inclination to dehumanize the other, the herd mentality exemplified by the Nazi episode. Doomed to fail because it rests on a psychic structure of repetition instead of working through, the ideology of outrage not only hinders any analysis of current antisemitism; it has actually reignited that fading hatred.

Keywords:   Ideology of Outrage, Inversion of victims and perpetrators, Radical social critique, Transgression

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