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'Submission': Ambiguity, hypocrisy and misanthropy in Michel Houellebecq's imaginary politics

Publikation: Forskning - fagfællebedømtTidsskriftartikel

On 7 January 2015, the day of the deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo, the Parisian satirical magazine, French author Michel Houellebecq published Soumission (Submission), his already contested novel. Charlie Hebdo had a satirical feature on the cover that day ridiculing Houellebecq’s novel, which was accused of Islamophobia. In the novel, Houellebecq writes about how France in 2022 elects a Muslim president, Mohammed Ben Abbes, who wins the election against Marine Le Pen from the National Front and how the new president ‘Islamisizes’ the French state and society. Except for Islamism and nationalism, other political ideologies have failed to articulate political visions capable of generating support and stability in the citizenry.

The aim of the paper is to read Michel Houellebecq’s Submission as a diagnosis of a current ideological crisis in European democratic culture and the passionate reactions to Houellebecq’s book as contesting the political thought-practices mapping the ideological landscape in contemporary Europe from below. The paper pays special attention to the ambiguity in Houellebecq’s criticism of Islamism and nationalism, his portrayal of the hypocrisy of liberal democrats and his misanthropy as regards the role of democratic citizens in future politics. The paper also questions whether the satirical point of view that Houellebecq adopts constitutes an adequate point of departure for invigorating democratic imaginations. The argument is that the kind of negative ideological diagnosis that Houellebecq depicts could include potentials for how one could otherwise imagine political life. The question is simply whether this is the case in Houellebecq’s Submission. How does a literary representation of democratic imaginations produce meaning, reflection and points of orientation, and how does it work in Houellebecq’s imaginary politics?
OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummer2
TidsskriftJournal of Political Ideologies
Vol/bind22
Tidsskriftsnummer2
Sider (fra-til)131-146
Antal sider16
ISSN1356-9317
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 10 maj 2017

ID: 167813201