The little red book that swept France

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Online ~Souza~

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The little red book that swept France

  • on: January 07, 2011, 11:42:36 PM

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/the-little-red-book-that-swept-france-2174676.htmlThe little red book that swept France

The latest call to (non-violent) arms has turned a 93-year-old war hero into a publishing phenomenon. John Lichfield reports

Monday, 3 January 2011


Stéphane Hessel, centre, at a rally in Paris with the singer Jane Birkin and the writer Dan Franck.

Take a book of just 13 pages, written by a relatively obscure 93-year-old man, which contains no sex, no jokes, no fine writing and no startlingly original message. A publishing disaster? No, a publishing phenomenon.

Indignez vous! (Cry out!), a slim pamphlet by a wartime French resistance hero, Stéphane Hessel, is smashing all publishing records in France. The book urges the French, and everyone else, to recapture the wartime spirit of resistance to the Nazis by rejecting the "insolent, selfish" power of money and markets and by defending the social "values of modern democracy".

The book, which costs €3, has sold 600,000 copies in three months and another 200,000 have just been printed. Its original print run was 8,000. In the run-up to Christmas, Mr Hessel's call for a "peaceful insurrection" not only topped the French bestsellers list, it sold eight times more copies than the second most popular book, a Goncourt prize-winning novel by Michel Houellebecq.

The extraordinary success of the book can be interpreted in several ways. Its low price and slender size – 29 pages including blurbs and notes but just 13 pages of text – has made it a popular stocking-filler among left-wing members of the French chattering classes. Bookshops report many instances of people buying a dozen copies for family and friends.

But Mr Hessel and his small left-wing publisher (which is used to print runs in the hundreds) say that he has evidently struck a national, and international nerve, at a time of market tyranny, bankers' bonuses and budget threats to the survival of the post-war welfare state. They also suggest that the success of the book could be an important straw in the wind as France enters a political cycle leading to the presidential elections of May 2012.

In a New Year message Mr Hessel, who survived Nazi concentration camps to become a French diplomat, said he was "profoundly touched" by the success of his book. Just as he "cried out" against Nazism in the 1940s, he said, young people today should "cry out against the complicity between politicians and economic and financial powers" and "defend our democratic rights acquired over two centuries".

In a party-political aside which might or might not undermine his new status as political prophet, Mr Hessel went on to imply that "resistance" should begin with a rejection of President Nicolas Sarkozy and a vote for the Parti Socialiste.

The book has not pleased everyone. It also contains a lengthy denunciation of Israeli government policies, especially in the Gaza Strip. Although the final chapter calls vaguely for a "non-violent" solution to the world's problems, the book also suggests that "non-violence" is not "sufficient" in the Middle East. Mr Hessel, whose father was a German jew who emigrated to France, has been accused by French jewish organisations of "anti-semitism".

Mr Hessel was born in Berlin in 1917. He emigrated to France with his family when he was seven. He joined General Charles de Gaulle in London in 1941 and was sent back to France to help organise the resistance. He was captured, tortured and sent to concentration camps in Germany. After the war, he helped to draft the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Jean-Pierre Barou, the joint head of the small Montpellier-based publishing house Indigène, which commissioned the book, said Mr Hessel had revealed a "deep sense of indignation in France".

As a political tract, the book contains no especially original analysis of the world's problems.

"They dare to tell us that the State can no longer afford policies to support its citizens," Mr Hessel says. "But how can money be lacking ... when the production of wealth has enormously increased since the Liberation (of France), at a time when Europe was ruined? The only explanation is that the power of money ... has never been so great or so insolent or so selfish and that its servants are placed in the highest reaches of the State."

The originality of the book is the suggestion that an organised "Resistance" is now called for, just like in 1940. "We, veterans of the resistance ... call on young people to revive and pass on the heritage and ideals of the Resistance," the book says.

How people should resist the power of money and the markets – by peaceful means, the book insists – is not made entirely clear.

A message of resistance

* "I would like everyone – everyone of us – to find his or her own reason to cry out. That is a precious gift. When something makes you want to cry out, as I cried out against Nazism, you become a militant, tough and committed. You become part of the great stream of history ... and this stream leads us towards more justice and more freedom but not the uncontrolled freedom of the fox in the hen-house."

* "It's true that reasons to cry out can seem less obvious today. The world appears too complex. But in this world, there are things we should not tolerate... I say to the young, look around you a little and you will find them. The worst of all attitudes is indifference..."

* "The productivist obsession of the West has plunged the world into a crisis which can only be resolved by a radical shift away from the 'ever more', in the world of finance but also in science and technology. It is high time that ethics, justice and a sustainable balance prevailed..."
« Last Edit: September 17, 2011, 06:09:13 PM by PureLove »

Online Andrea

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Re: The little red book that swept France

  • on: January 08, 2011, 12:02:10 AM
Quote from: "~Souza~"
A message of resistance

* "I would like everyone – everyone of us – to find his or her own reason to cry out. That is a precious gift. When something makes you want to cry out, as I cried out against Nazism, you become a militant, tough and committed. You become part of the great stream of history ... and this stream leads us towards more justice and more freedom but not the uncontrolled freedom of the fox in the hen-house."

My favourite part.

This article is great.  Maybe something for michaelsarmyoflove.com too?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline mjssoulmate

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Re: The little red book that swept France

  • on: January 08, 2011, 12:26:28 AM
* "It's true that reasons to cry out can seem less obvious today. The world appears too complex. But in this world, there are things we should not tolerate... I say to the young, look around you a little and you will find them. The worst of all attitudes is indifference..."

Love this part.  I have this displayed on my classroom wall.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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Offline MJonmind

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Re: The little red book that swept France

  • on: January 08, 2011, 01:11:43 AM
Sounds good. I'm just wondering though, what were the messages cried out in the street before every revolution? The Communist R., the French R. the American R., and others. Were they not all for freedom from control of some tyranny. The Germans were living in extreme hardship and poverty when Nazism promised to bring back jobs, their pride, money, etc., something my friend said her parents had thought prior in Germany.  The very ones who lead the revolt can often be the new controllers. Makes me leery to jump on to any new bandwagon, although it's good to hear of people that want to make positive changes. :?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline suspicious mind

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Re: The little red book that swept France

  • on: January 08, 2011, 11:41:24 AM
Quote from: "MJonmind"
Sounds good. I'm just wondering though, what were the messages cried out in the street before every revolution? The Communist R., the French R. the American R., and others. Were they not all for freedom from control of some tyranny. The Germans were living in extreme hardship and poverty when Nazism promised to bring back jobs, their pride, money, etc., something my friend said her parents had thought prior in Germany.  The very ones who lead the revolt can often be the new controllers. Makes me leery to jump on to any new bandwagon, although it's good to hear of people that want to make positive changes. :?

agreed. who wants to go from the frying pan to the fire?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves."  




Why not just tell people I'm an alien from Mars? Tell them I eat live chickens and do a voodoo dance at midnight. They'll believe anything you say, because you're a reporter. But if I, Michael Jackson, were to say, "I'm an alien from Mars and I eat live chickens and do a voodoo dance at midnight," people would say, "Oh, man, that Michael Jackson is nuts. He's cracked up. You can't believe a single word that comes out of his mouth."

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Re: The little red book that swept France

  • on: February 01, 2011, 02:40:23 PM
I am a Socialist, but not the socialism that they speak the politicians, we understand that this is a single and unique planet and ensure that it is in excess of our profits, because addition is all, not a single country or social sector, is to accept and recognise the rest of the human species and of all species, that are in an ecosystem where all we need, not to sell or buy goods, but to live, to preserve and reproduce life, be aware is love, is wanting, is preserved, is share, thrive together, we believe in peace.
Now, as you have conscience?, thinking of brother and sister, thought, seeing ourselves, asking that you do for your country and the planet. Socialist consciousness is be aware of ourselves, is think, think and Act, be consistent, we think, feel and act as one only, and not leaving is lead by the unconsciousness of capitalism, the garbage that instills the television and all above ideological structure of the capitalist system.
Capitalism believes in love but which sells merchandise the day of love, believes in the maternal love but which sells goods mother's day, believes in the love children but sells goods children's day, capitalism believes in peace as you profit, but invents a war and the capitalist "respects" to the planet and wing life, meanwhile playable his wealth.

Offline NightOwl

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Re: The little red book that swept France

  • on: February 01, 2011, 05:35:23 PM
"The productivist obsession of the West has plunged the world into a crisis which can only be resolved by a radical shift away from the 'ever more', in the world of finance but also in science and technology. It is high time that ethics, justice and a sustainable balance prevailed..."

This resonated with me most.
It's often us people, or "consumers" that get the blame for wanting more and more. "Ever more". Is it really us to blame? Sure, advertising makes us want stuff we don't really need. They use very clever psychology and subliminal suggestion in advertising.
But how much of consuming is based on the fact that stuff is being built that way that it just doesn't last? And when it breaks down, it's cheaper to buy a new one than to get it fixed? They used to make household machines that lasted decades, like a laundry machine or tv. Now they say the life expentancy is of a laundy machine is, what, 5-10 years? TV a bit less.  :roll:

Capitalism and socialism. We seem to get the "best" of both worlds these days: when things go up and profits are made, it's the capitalism way - huge salaries and bonuses to the CEO's and shareholders. The workers might still get fired in the name of "sustaing the competitiveness" (read: greediness of the shareholders) and their jobs are moved to China and other less paid countries.  
When crisis somes, it turns into socialism - all the average people are required to chip in to save the  bankrupt banks, countries -  in the form of rising taxes or cuts from the basic services.

"How people should resist the power of money and the markets – by peaceful means, the  book insists – is not made entirely clear."

How about not consuming? One small person can only do so much, but rivers can start with a drop of rain. They warn us that it would cause unemployment (Fear, fear, fear  ;) ), but people were fired even when times were good.
"Things do not change; we do". -Henry David Thoreau-
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »