8 September 2023

A Donald Trump supporter on April 27, 2023 in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Un little more than a year after the holding at the Sorbonne of a symposium chaired by Jean-Michel Blanquer entitled “After deconstruction: rebuilding science and culture”, the offensive against so-called “deconstruction” continues. On the occasion of the publication of the proceedings of this symposium in March, the organizers of this one are spreading on the airwaves and distilling the same message: “deconstruction” would undermine the foundations of Western civilization, would threaten the order social and family, etc. Once again, we multiply the amalgams and the misinterpretations, since those and those who jeer at “deconstruction” have obviously read, for the most part, neither the works of Jacques Derrida nor those of the thinkers and thinkers that we gather under this name.

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Once again, we resort to invectives. Thus a professor of comparative literature at the Sorbonne deals with “cretins” some of his distinguished colleagues at the same institution, whose work in Comparative Literature and English Studies is recognized nationally and internationally. This is because both introduce their students to these reviled works, as well as to the many issues elaborated or re-elaborated in the field of gender studies, with the intellectual rigor, patience and refinement in thought that characterize.

The attack on deconstruction is not new. It began at least thirty years ago, in the United States. Already, reactionary polemicists – in the wake of the American political scientist Samuel Huntington – accused deconstruction of being an agent of the foreigner. Today, it is Eric Zemmour, in France, and many others in his wake who accuse the “deconstructors” of representing the party from abroad. Ironically, the so-called defenders of “French rationality” thus take up an antiphon developed in American conservative circles. What is new today is the association of deconstruction, on the one hand, with wokism, on the other hand, with a field of teaching and research, gender studies, of which deconstruction would constitute the intellectual matrix.

Our democracies under threat

However, it is important to note that the attack on deconstruction in the United States was not a response to wokism. Sign of a reactionary turning point and instrument of a political agenda which have their own logic, it began long before the revival of the anti-racist or anti-sexist struggles that are designated today under this name to public vindictiveness.

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