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Sociologist Nathalie Heinich seeks to stimulate a “left antiwokism”


To make heard a “left antiwokism”, such was the intention of the sociologist Nathalie Heinich during the last session of the seminar “Violence and dogma” of political scientist Gilles Kepel at the Ecole Normale Supérieure. According to her, there is an urgent need to “to recover the antiwoke fight, for the moment monopolized by the right and the extreme right”.

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The event was held on May 31 in an end-of-school atmosphere, yet met with some success. A hundred people were gathered in a crowded room, with an audience gathering rather grizzled heads, as well as a few students.

The holder of the Middle East – Mediterranean chair was abandoning Muslim societies for the occasion and had invited Nathalie Heinich to come and present her new essay, Is wokism a totalitarianism? (Albin Michel, 198 pages, 16.90 euros), This session represented, as Gilles Kepel explained in his few introductory sentences, a way of “mix idea and action”.

“Totalitarianism of atmosphere”

This intention was reflected in the choice of guests, the main discussant being Laurent Joffrin, former director of Release and New Observernow director of the online daily The newspaper, a site that hears “give a compass back to the left”. Bernard Rougier, professor at the Sorbonne-Nouvelle University, author of The Conquered Territories of Islamism (PUF, 2021) was also invited to participate in the discussions.

Nathalie Heinich began her intervention by affirming her desire to “to defend the values ​​of the republican, universalist, secular, rationalist left”. This base would be weakened today by the attacks of a wokist camp, very present at the university, in particular in gender and postcolonial studies, but also within society – the #metoo movement would be an incarnation of this. This left, carrying out legitimate combats, would nevertheless seek to silence the adversary by maneuvers of intimidation, what has been called the “cancel culture”.

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The phenomenon would have taken such a scale that wokism would have installed a “atmospheric totalitarianism”according to Nathalie Heinich, a formula inspired by “atmospheric jihadism” that Gilles Kepel uses to describe a diffuse Islamism not based on any organization. The totalitarian dimension of the woke movement comes from a propensity for censorship, a primacy of ideology over truth and an identity that assigns everyone a community of belonging.

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