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Journal Articles Rethinking Marxism Year : 2023

Moi, la Révolution —Revolutionary Poetics in the Storm of Counterrevolutionary Times

Abstract

Moi la révolution is a strange text. It portrays a female figure, rather like a song by Moustaki entitled without naming her, in which the “living girl” is none other than the “Permanent Revolution”. But here, the Revolution speaks of “I”, “me, I” — and the subtitle speaks of “remembrances of an unworthy bicentenary”, much as René Allio had told the story of The Unworthy Old Lady on the cinema screen back in 1965. In this movie, upon becoming a widow, an old lady discovered her love of life — raising the hackles of those who would have liked to see her plunge into sadness. In Moi la Révolution there is a dialectic of the dead and the living-dead, of spectres and bodies, of joy and pain. It is a whirlwind. Time is off its hinges and the reader moves between past and present, memories and afterthoughts, lived history and a history that is represented and recounted. It is about remembrances — an out-of-fashion word that Daniel Bensaïd prefers to “recollection” or “memory” or “commemoration”. Literally, “remembrance” means giving back limbs, a body — so, to an old lady. It means to give back “human flesh”, as Marc Bloch might have said. It means to give back body to the Revolution, to re-embody it, unlike a bicentenary in the masculine — and thus contemporary society and its rituals — that instead made her, the Revolution, disappear. It means to bring out living memories, as against the abusive embalming of the Revolution by the official, state-orchestrated commemoration. The word “remembrance” itself takes a stand against such embalming. By giving body to the Revolution, we give it voice. We also bring out the things that make a person and make a dialogue: emotions, anger, joy, sadness, disappointment, pride, and thus — in the spectrum of all these colours of thought — the lived contradictions, where the simple story of a magnificent 1789 and a 1793 to make us blush leaves Daniel Bensaïd with doubts. But it is also a question of restoring the feminine, that is to say, perhaps the “limitless”. So, we head back to the Permanent Revolution.
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hal-04365920 , version 1 (28-12-2023)

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Sophie Wahnich. Moi, la Révolution —Revolutionary Poetics in the Storm of Counterrevolutionary Times. Rethinking Marxism, 2023, 35 (3), pp.363-377. ⟨10.1080/08935696.2023.2215145⟩. ⟨hal-04365920⟩
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