Tuesday 21 October 2014


Michel Houllebecq, in an undated Paris Review interview conducted by Susannah Hunnewell :

I am persuaded that feminism is not at the root of political correctness. The actual source is much nastier and dares not speak its name, which is simply hatred for old people. The question of domination between men and women is relatively secondary -important but still secondary - compared to what I tried to capture in my novel, which is that we are now trapped in a world of kids. Old kids. The disappearance of patrimonial transmission means that an old guy today is just a useless ruin. The thing we value most of all is youth, which means that life automatically becomes depressing, because life consists, on the whole, of getting old.

Houellebecq is, as usual, being provocative and mischievous. Whoever said feminism was at the root of all things PC? But there's something in what he says about the disenfranchisement of older people. One of the ways in which an older generation are persuaded to feel despised and marginalised is that their beliefs and standards are invariably depicted as prejudiced, ignorant, out-of-step or simply obtuse, and such flaws disqualify them (obviously!) from having a voice in the debate. They are always part of the problem, in a world run by and for kids.

I am (and this is a line of thought borrowed from Martin Amis) objectively less racist than my grandparents and parents, but probably more racist than my son. Because racism in its many forms doesn't just stop, suddenly, however much we wish it would. 

My feelings about Germany and therefore - in that highly unreliable 'therefore' of bloggers everywhere - about Germans, for instance, are nuanced but on the whole essentially hostile, and I'm sorry to say my son regards my views as racist. Although (and in my defence) equivocal feelings about the Germans are based not so much on race (and least of all the Nazi's sinister balls about Aryan supremacy) as on the overwhelming and undeniable evidence of history. They started it.

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