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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Modern times: fast forward to the past

Modern politics and economics – being one and the same – are moving rapidly towards neo-feudalism, not as a far-out conspiracy theory but more and more in terms of main-stream commentary. One such example is given in Der Spiegel in an article on Romania’s current problems. A so-called renowned political commentator by the name of Alina Mungiu-Pippidi is quoted as saying that in the current crisis Romania’s ‘real’ political structure is exposed, whereby ‘various cliques conduct a life and death battle to conquer the state in order to plunder it. The political parties are like medieval armies whose recruits are not paid, making a living only by conquest and plunder’. This analogy seems to me to apply to the rest of the world as well: be it by all-out war as in Syria or as media manipulation for the so-called hearts and minds of the American electorate. Winners take all and distribute the spoils amongst the faithful. The losers die or else suffer degradation and humiliation. It is becoming increasingly impossible to simply sit on the fence and watch the tragicomedy unfold, for ‘if you are not with us you are against us’.

The French race towards neo-feudalism is of course laced with a heavy dose of deviant sexuality, be it the Strauss-Kahn escapade or now the Dehar scandal. The Guardian tells us the story from the British point of view as a sort of neo-feudal sex romp that could equally apply to Prince Harry: the under-aged Dehar (of Algerian ethnicity) was flown to Munich to have paid sex with a French soccer star (playing for Bayern Munich) by the name of Franck Ribéry who, according to the Guardian is a ‘good dad and an observant convert to Islam’. The case is now before a French court. Dehar is now a celebrity sponsored by the bizarre German fashion icon named Karl Lagerfeld. Not surprisingly she models underwear for his label.  Lagerfeld is quoted as saying that Dehar ‘is so fascinating precisely because she is a reminder of France's 18th-century courtesans, the paid mistresses of the rich and powerful, a purely French tradition that the whole world admired and copied’. Welcome to the past! What is even more amazing is the ease with which we are retreating to the quintessential feudal notion of serfdom. For to make a living as a courtesan – or artisan – you have to abandon any notion of self, i.e. giving yourself – your body and mind – without reservation to your feudal lord and master. The Guardian makes this point very succinctly by reporting that Dehar was asked by a French journalist ‘if she was irritated by always being reduced to sex, to being a sex symbol. Dehar replied: "Me, I don't know what I am, in fact. It's other people who know …"

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