Del Estado moderno / Cantórbery Cuevas

Regarding the Modern State

I welcomed the year 2000 with grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the hospitable apartment of Mireille Fanon Mendès-France, in the Lycée Henry IV, behind the Pantheon, in Paris. It turns out that her current husband is a resident-teacher at that prestigious institution, and when they found out about our presence in the City of Light, they were cordial enough to invite us, a cordiality that we the Cuevas family, being rambunctious when it comes down to it, didn’t have the shame to refuse (after all, there were only seven of us). The emblematic easy chair in the place of honor, facing the Eiffel tower in the distance, was assigned to me – I presume in respect of my advanced age (almost straddling three centuries) and as someone presumed to be a valetudinarian –, and my legs were bundled under a Scotch pattern blanket, as I drank Scotch.

While the young people danced to Arab and Caribbean rhythms – corresponding to the hostess’s heritage – and ingenious artificial pyrotechnics illustrated the night, Mireille and I (it had been years since we’d seen each other) remembered Franz Fanon, her father, and we deliberately omitted her defunct ex-father-in-law, the last Prime Minister of the Fourth Republic and the odious proponent of that effort to force the citizens of France to drink milk, of whom I don’t think I’ve missed anything by not meeting.

I then recalled and told her about an afternoon decades ago that I shared in Les Deux Maggots, on the shores of substantial armagnacs, with André Gorz and Claude Lanzmann, of Les Temps Modernes, Mireille’s father and Joris Ivens. The oldest of the Semprún Maura (Jorgito), who lives a block away from the café, had threatened to join us but in the end he desisted.

While my grandchildren – their children had launched themselves into the illuminated and festive city well before midnight – and a group of veterans of an already-phantasmagoric network of clandestine solidarity with the Algerian war danced around us, I summarized for Mireille the substance of that conversation: the nature of the modern State. And I immediately fell into a long silence: I had realized that Fanon’s interventions weren’t too relevant on that splendid afternoon, and out of modesty I didn’t want to mention them to her.

On the other hand, Gorz said something that perforated me deeply and which I transcribe from memory to conclude: “No social class, no popular front of classes, once power has been assumed, will resist the test of the modern State, which is reactionary by nature: depersonalized, hierarchical, baroque, a concentrator of power, police-like; in sum, omnipresent (“Le Grand frere te regard”).”

{ Cantórbery Cuevas, TalCual, 4 May 2000 }

No comments: