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“The one thing that everybody wants is to be free…not to be managed, threatened, directed, restrained, obliged, fearful, administered, they want none of these things they all want to feel free, the word discipline, and forbidden and investigated and imprisoned brings horror and fear into all hearts, they do not want to be afraid not more than is necessary in the ordinary business of living where one has to earn one’s living and has to fear want and disease and death….The only thing that any one wants now is to be free, to be let alone, to live their life as they can, but not to be watched, controlled and scared, no no, not.”

― Gertrude Stein, in September, 1943, on Vichy France

quoted in James R. Mellow, Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein and Company

“The one thing that everybody wants is to be free.” But this seems to be true only in conditions of the most egregious oppression, the most heinous un-freedom. What does ‘everybody’ in the United States want now, today? What is ‘everybody’ doing for the sake of freedom? Even if only their own freedom, even if freedom in some restricted and unimaginative sense, even if only part-time? What does ‘everybody’ want before it’s too late?

Photograph: Petain’s Vichy cabinet. Reasonable-looking men.

Thanks to the Asia-Pacific Journal and Timothy Brooks for access to this photograph: http://www.japanfocus.org/-Timothy-Brook/2802

So, here’s a link to The Coming Insurrection, by The Invisible Committee. This text featured heavily as evidence in a French anti-terrorist sabotage trial. 22 people were arrested in connection with producing the manifesto. And that, childrens, should be reason enough to take a peek.

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A French minister, from a “grand Socialist family” (the Mitterrands, perhaps you’ve heard of them…) writes about how much he enjoys buying sex from young Thai boys. It’s part of his autobiography, published to little outcry in 2005. It took the arrest of Roman Polanski to get anyone angry.

Now, it’s not the paying-for-sex that I object to; it’s not the young-boys, it’s not (exactly) the imperialist-sex-tourism-in-Thailand. It’s the bald statement, “The slave market excite[s] me enormously.”

Forgive my tendency to extrapolate an axiom from a single case for a moment. I know, I know, nationalismAmericanhegemonyetc etc etc. But it’s just so FRENCH: the willingness to abstract and legitimate the suffering of others in deference to one’s own aesthetics and appetites. ‘Sure, sure, slavery is horrible…but it’s just so HOT.’

Of course, “One could judge this abominable spectacle from a moral standpoint….” Um, yes. ‘One’ certainly could. But? “But it pleases me beyond the reasonable.” Oh, well, in THAT case, why would one judge it at all? I mean, one’s personal sexual pleasure certainly takes precedence over the evil of an inescapable social structure that systematically degrades and dehumanizes whole segments of the population. You go right ahead and dip your dick in it, Frederic. We understand. [Shrug.] It’s erotic; who can blame you?

And it’s not primarily that the boys are young, or Thai, or paid, that appeals to Mitterrand. It’s the FACT that he is participating in a “slave market.”

Why was this man not symbolically (or actually…?) pilloried in 2005 when this book came out? Come to think of it, why didn’t any of his editors or political handlers or FRIENDS stop him from making the statement in the first place? Well, you could say that it goes back to my first assertion: that his is an especially French malaise. (By this I emphatically do NOT mean an ‘exclusively’ or even ‘particularly’ French malaise.) Sure, there are some objections now, but his breed of erotic cruelty does not meet with overwhelming opposition among his French allies and constituents. Recall, please, that we are not discussing the personal habits of a private citizen, but the published statements of a public figure holding a governmental office. At risk of sounding over-patriotic: I sincerely doubt that any American politician could write a book that associated slavery with his sexual predilections and then go on to win national office. Sure, my country is FAR too concerned with the sexual habits of its politicians. And of course, what is done privately between consenting parties should not be policed. However, I do wish that those who proclaim Socialist and Republican values would show just a little smidge of DISCIPLINE and refrain from bragging about their exploitive habits. Really.

Thank you, Milos, for calling attention to the Telegraph article.

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