The expression “culture of the enemy” is ambiguous – so I have to make clear from the outset what I mean by this: it is not a culture of a particular enemy or a generic enemy, but rather an operation that consists in making the production of one’s own identity inseparable from that of an enemy. The fabrication of the enemy and the reproduction of the collective existence of a given set are part of this continuous, dynamic process. It is a loop, a matrix, a structure all at once.

This figure is infinitely familiar to us Europeans. It is in fact the one that presided over the formation of the system of nation-states, a system that has never strictly speaking stabilized – insofar as it was perhaps caught up in the very movement of this operation. The construction of European nation-states is consubstantial with the establishment of a culture and policy of the enemy. Under the clash of empires another figure pierces through, which is that of the struggle to the death (at least it is conceived as such, it is a discursive figure) between hereditary enemies – French and Germans, Poles and Russians, Hungarians and Romanians, Austrians and Serbs or Italians…

European nationalisms thrive on this notion: the condition for the life or survival of the nation is the neutralization of the other nation which represents for it a perpetual existential threat, or the rejection of the deadly tutelage exercised by an imperial power over an enslaved nation. Certainly, the modern figure of the hereditary enemy comes from the remobilization and reinstatement of an immemorial choir – that of the war of the races and the philosophy that goes with it and whose genealogy Foucault reconstructs in Il faut défendre la société. But where politics is essentially placed under the regime of nation-states, a whole modern “grammar” and “syntax” of the enemy’s culture is elaborated, the proper one being to still haunt entire areas of the planet.

This, precisely, at a time when what constitutes the specific feature (and which we would expect to present a prognostic character) of West European history, is the passage to the post-era, in the matter, the passage to the age that would be designated as the post-culture of the enemy -with all the ambiguities of the thing: every figure of the post- is born and lives on under the sign of ambivalence and ambiguity.

 

Here, the paradigm is distinctly Franco-German. After three Franco-German wars, since the mid-nineteenth century, the two nations (and, since the disappearance of the GDR, the two nation-states, to which Austria may have been added) have entered the era of post-nationalism, beyond the culture of the hereditary enemy. Neither in France nor in Germany is the identity factory (seized up, in crisis, but that’s another problem) “turning” today to the designation of the great neighbor as the elective enemy and the perpetual threat. Conversely, the structuring enmity has become a structuring political friendship, in what is abusively referred to as “European Community” – the Brussels thing, quite sinister in so many aspects but, nonetheless, a convincing manifestation of the advent of the post-war era.

To sum things up a bit crudely, one could say that the European construction has failed on just about everything, that the European Community is everything but a political entity or even a sovereignty in the making, capable of keeping up with powers such as the United States and China; one could say that it is essentially the guardian of neo-liberal orthodoxy in the European space – and, for the rest, the sum of the dissensions which undermine it, whether in international politics or in matters of domestic politics.

But in its own way, this failure in European construction, in the promotion of a culturally and politically integrated Europe, only serves to highlight what is epoch-making in the evolution that has taken place in this space since the end of the Second World War: the disconnection, in the space of the great European nations, particularly in Western Europe, of the mechanism destined to produce the culture of the enemy. In the context of the successive crises that have affected Europe since the turn of the century, there is no lack of reasons for tension between the great West European nation-states (the Brexit is the latest reincarnation), but the fact remains that in this space, with all these dissensions, the culture of the enemy, understood as a regime of hostility placed under the sign of the nationalisms born in the nineteenth century, no longer works.[1]

 

Neither States nor populations feel, in this topography, the existence of a close stranger, at the borders, as a perpetual and vital threat. On the contrary, borders have been eliminated, border towns such as Strasbourg and Menton are “invaded” by cross-border commuters from the other side who come as neighbors on weekends, vacations and festivals, without these transient migrations being perceived as dangerous or even inconvenient – quite the contrary, they make trade work, as does intra-European tourism which, since the Second World War, has contributed more than anything else (school exchanges and European cultural programs, in particular), at the level of populations, to the deactivation of the enemy’s culture.

This in no way means that an “active culture of the friend(s)” has substituted itself for that of the enemy – the tired motif of Franco-German friendship, for example, is a motive for chancellery, European diplomacy, transactions between elites, especially political ones: it does not correspond to anything massive and deep, organic, at the level of populations. The French as a whole care very little about German domestic policy, do not speak German, read little German literature, see few German films, hardly go on vacation in Germany. But this distance and this relative indifference that is maintained, on a general scale, only serves to underline, in one more stroke, the turning point in civilization that means the neutralization of the negative affects that, for nearly a century, in the time of nationalist fevers, poisoned Franco-German relations. The Franco-German axis, which is supposed to be the backbone of communitarian Europe, is in pretty bad shape, but for all that, the efforts of a few old-fashioned, win-lose, unpopular politicians to awaken the old anti-German rhetoric have never found a wide resonance among the population. The spontaneous regime that has imposed itself in this matter is that of “enough is enough (three wars with Germany…), we are done with it!”[2]

 

The pacified and “civilized” Franco-German relationship is here the expression of Western Europe’s entry into an era that is not so much an era of forgetting the disputes and wrongs accumulated throughout the history of the construction of nation-states and their confrontations, in Western Europe, but rather of their de-intensification. The Spaniards have certainly not lost the memory of the Napoleonic campaigns that ravaged their country, the Italians are not unaware that France has long behaved on conquered ground in their country and has hardly favored the unification of the Italian nation, the Belgians are well aware that Germany violated the neutrality of their country in August 1914, the British are also aware of the Blitz on London and the bombing of Conventry. The Germans, conversely, have not forgotten anything about the destruction of Dresden and Hamburg at the end of the Second World War, etc. But they are no longer casus belli of any kind, they are no longer motives that one “awakens” (except in the rarest of cases) to do politics today, to try to gain ascendancy over one’s neighbor or to put him in his place.

For all that, the memory of the wrongs suffered by each other is now as if untied from a traditional culture of the enemy. We cannot analyze this untiedness in pure and simple terms of cause and effect – as an effect of “never again!” inspired by the horrors of the Second World War, or simply by the passage of time.

More generally, it is a change of epoch, a change in the regime of neighbourliness between West European nation-states – the effect of which is that it will include, as well, relations between France or Germany and Spain or Portugal – countries that remained outside the Second World War. Other factors play a role in this change in the neighborhood regime – intra-European migration and, as mentioned above, tourism.

 

 

The advent of a new era of neighbourliness in Western Europe has resulted in an essential change in the regime of discourse – in public and political discourse, in the press; vituperations and invectives against the neighbor, words of poisonous propaganda, pejorative and insulting designations of the “other” as an enemy have become incongruous, unfortunate, from another time. The characteristic of a change of epoch is not so much the going beyond, the overcoming of past forms as their forgetting, the fact that they fall into disuse, that they become ridiculous, pitiful, out of time, for what remains of them as a waste or aftermath of the past. It is not so much that it would henceforth be prohibited, resulting reprehensible to relaunch all the rich slang vocabulary and the insulting denomination of the other national: it is that this is no longer done, it has gone out of morals and has become a problem of public decency, such as the banning of jokes about Jews, concentration camps and homosexuals.

That is why, in general, it is necessary to avoid giving these changes a moral content in the first place. A certain form or stake of morality certainly enters into these processes, but it is certainly not the good moral dispositions of one or the other, nor moral imperatives enunciated by some unknown authority that command them.

The same applies to the whole vast field of iconography, caricature in particular – one can caricature Merkel in the French press, the newspapers do not deprive themselves of this – but it would be better to avoid doing so in a way that is too close to the traditional stereotypes of the Teutons and Teutonnes of the anti-Boche propaganda of the beginning of the twentieth century.

 

Unfortunately, it is not that this register of discourse on the culture of the enemy has disappeared in this space. It is more precise to say that it has moved and that, now out of the way in the treatment of the close foreigner, it no longer stops, on the contrary, intensifying in the treatment of this figure of the interior enemy, the parasite, the dangerous undesirable that is the “Islamist” and, more generally, the real or imaginary “immigrant”, the bad post-colonial subject. The change of epoch is not the disappearance of the enemy’s culture, it is its reprocessing, its reconditioning.

This is, of course, a major restriction. For all that, the formation on the scale of Western Europe of an area of integration whose main characteristic is not that it functions like a single market, with a single currency, placed under the sign of supranational institutions, but that this code of pacified neighbourliness, untied from the culture of the enemy, now prevails. As we have seen, the migratory crisis, followed by that of Covid-19, led Western European states to re-establish border controls of varying intensity – yet this return of borders has not brought the enemy’s rhetoric back to our doorstep on a massive scale in its wake. The one who is now placed under this (discursive) regime of enmity is, on the one hand, the migrant, on the other, the Islamist assimilated to a terrorist, and finally, increasingly, the Chinese – not (yet?) the boss of the local Chinese restaurant we are used to, no: the Chinese assimilated to the rising Chinese power and the Chinese state[3].

 

 

These mutations affecting the code of hostility and neighborhood relations are now an integral part of the state of mind and behavior of the vast majority of people in Western European countries. When French people go to Germany or Italy, they do not feel in any way that they are on enemy soil or in a hostile country – as people of colonial origin, recent immigrants or not, can feel in France today.

The effect of this is that when Western Europeans travel to East Asia and stay there for a long time, they cannot but be deeply affected, shocked to find that these countries live under a regime of hostility and the culture of the enemy that painfully reminds them of something – this sort of tyranny of enmity between neighbors which expiration they feel, in their own latitudes, as a relief.

This experience is particularly trying for a Western European living in Taiwan. The hold exerted there by the culture of the enemy, first and foremost directed against mainland China, especially among the political, media and academic elites, appears to any observer from this old European world whose mind is not clouded by partisan fevers as being properly confusing. He/she cannot help being struck by the blatant kinship maintained between this regime (form, kind) of animosity and the regime (forms, kind) of hostility we Europeans have managed to dismiss at the highest price. The feeling of déjà vu invades us as soon as we open those newspapers, hear those speeches, see those billboards (those where hate propaganda usurping John Lennon’s name used to be displayed) where, obsessively, the rulers of mainland China are insulted, vilified, caricatured as disgusting or ferocious beasts, bloody monsters, called Nazis, executioners, exterminators, enemies of the human race – it’s all so familiar to us![4]

But this familiarity, precisely, has for us the taste and smell of a nightmare – that of those times when, for our hyperbolic propaganda, the neighbor designated as the hereditary enemy could only be a barbarian with decadent or retarded morals, a monster thirsty for conquest and blood, speaking uncivilized jargon, a “people” of morons with dubious origins… And what is just as familiar to us, because our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents have experienced it first-hand, is the rigorous association of these hate speeches, this ideology of criminalizing the neighbor with the mass graves and ruins that have constellated Europe throughout the second half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth.

We have, because of this shared historical experience, that of extreme violence in the 20th century in particular, the strong intuition that the tyranny of the enemy’s culture is what leads to war; that it is, much more than a policy or a strategy, a collect[5]ive disease, a curse that weighs on the peoples on whom it falls, a sleepwalking factory.

 

Of course, it is not a calamity that falls from the sky, the culture of the enemy, it is manufactured, maintained, renewed and intensified on purpose – it does not exist without machines and discursive factories – you only have to open Taipei Times and other equivalent sheets every day to be convinced of this. The fabrication of the enemy’s culture is a form of political criminality like any other, the crime has its name(s) and address(es) – this is obvious when one reconstructs, for example, the genealogy of the First World War in Europe: in the background of the chain of events, as it accelerated from the beginning of the summer of 1914, until it completely escaped the control of the chancelleries, is the untiring agitation of the discursive factories bent on keeping the enemy’s culture alive[6].

It’s like a spiral, and when the moment arrives, when the peoples themselves (and not just certain elites or interest groups) are on board, nothing can stop the infernal machine. It is therefore no exaggeration at all to say that those who have specialized in promoting the enemy’s culture and day after day provide the fuel for it, are not only irresponsible agitators or purveyors of tension, but also war-makers. What they aspire to is a good war that puts the enemy “in its place” – the turbulent Serbia for Austria-Hungary in August 1914, Communist China today in the hate propaganda of the agitators in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

It cannot be overemphasized that the culture of the enemy is like an oil slick: when it has fallen upon a people, engulfed it, enveloped it, infiltrated its historical and political subjectivity, polluted its language, then it takes a great deal of hardship and pain for this people to emancipate itself from this subjugation. The culture of the enemy becomes, in the long run, an ethos that sticks to the skin of the people, not only to their language, that opens up breaches into which all the leaks in the imagination, all the passages to the act, are likely to be engulfed.

 

All this is what historical experience has taught us Western Europeans. This collective experience is too recent for it to present itself to us, all generations combined, as antiquarian history, pure school subject – inert knowledge as such. On the contrary, it is what triggers alarm signals and aversion reflexes in all of us as soon as we witness any manifestation that could be likened to the return of the enemy’s rhetoric proper to the era of wars between European nation-states. This is why the caricatures of the Chinese leaders, the imagery intended to designate “China” as a land of barbarism and bloody tyranny, do not only appear to us to be out of place, out of date, but are in fact repulsive. We feel painfully and with constant anxiety, seeing them, that the disparity of the regimes of hostility is what prevails on the scale of the planet; and, more particularly, it appears to us that East Asia is a kind of conservatory of forms that we would so much like to say belong to the past. All this is for many of us Europeans living in East Asia a perpetual factor of disorientation and disarray.

The decline of Europe (economic and political, in particular) is, for us, a very familiar topos, and it is not necessarily something that we as Europeans should necessarily feel sorry for – if Eurocentrism and, more generally, Western-centrism (and all the presumptions that go with it) were to lose a few feathers, we might see it as a good thing rather than a bad thing. But if there is one thing whose return we cannot imagine without dismay, it is, for us French, the time of Barrès and Déroulède, that age when the swill of patriotic and chauvinistic imbecility saturated the sewers of public life – that time, therefore, when the German only represented himself well under the species of the spiked-hatted, predatory, semi-Asian barbarian Boche.

Now, when we read the editorials of the Taipei Times and discover the accompanying sketches, this is what we see. And we wonder not only what the feeble-minded are playing at, but also what kind of time they live in.

To be perfectly fair, it would not be reasonable to forget that these fools are under influence, that their bellicose ardor and culture of the enemy is relentlessly fueled by those who blow on the embers across the Pacific Ocean… What is characteristic of East Asia today is that the culture of the enemy is constantly being rekindled by the interference of the United States, which since the end of the Second World War has considered the entire Pacific as its Mare Nostrum and has included East and Southeast Asia in its “great space”.

The culture of the enemy thrives on the tyranny of the inexpiable – the maintenance of a figure of the enemy understood as the perpetrator of crimes that cannot be forgiven. It is interesting to note that the motif of the inexpiable was heated up in Europe at the end of the nineteenth century and in the first part of the twentieth century by nationalist and chauvinistic discourses in a context where all nationalisms resembled each other and practiced, each for its own account, similar outbidding, looking at and insulting each other in the mirror. It was only with the rise of fascism in southern Europe and, above all, of Nazism in Germany, that the motif of the inexpiable became inseparable from that of the systemic – the crimes of Nazism (understood as the pure antagonism of democracy) not appearing to its enemies as soluble in German nationalism, presenting, in comparison with it, an irreducible surplus to Prussianism, to the spirit of Grossdeutsch conquest, to the presumptions of Pangermanism, etc. – and the crimes of Nazism were not considered to be the same.

It was indeed classical nationalisms that inscribed in the order of discourses of hostility between European peoples and states the motif of the inexpiable and nourished it with the memory of wars, invasions, occupations, spoliations – the whole stock of supposedly traumatic images, from the bombing of the cathedral of Rheims with heavy artillery to the occupation of the Ruhr and the rape of Belgian women by the Prussian occupier…

The motive of the imprescriptible attached to the memory of the collective crimes committed by the Nazi state as a totalitarian state outweighed that of the inexpiable, forged in the crucible of white-hot nationalisms.

 

Here again, the emancipation from the tyranny exercised by the culture of the enemy is achieved by de-intensification on the one hand, and de-linking on the other: on the one hand, the peoples once pitted against each other by nationalist passions stop throwing in each other’s faces the crimes committed by each other during the hostilities that opposed them, and one does not make politics, in the present, with these memories; on the other hand, if there is no question of de-intensifying the memory of crimes against humanity, and even less so that of the genocide committed during the Second World War, this memory of imprescriptible crimes is not intended to perpetuate the notion of a guilty people, a criminal people – the condition for this operation of de-linking being, of course, that the Germans themselves have been released from the crimes committed by the Nazis by condemning them unequivocally[7].

 

Under the regime of enmity that persisted in East Asia, the opposite was done: the inexpiable, indistinguishable from the imprescriptible, flourished there more than ever, understood as a machine, a mechanism intended to put “the other” in his place as criminal, guilty, intrinsic enemy. This instrumental use of the memory of historical crimes, committed in times of war as in times of peace, is omnipresent: Sexual slavery of women in colonized or occupied countries, organized by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War, mass exterminations during the occupation of Nanking (November 1937), US bombing of North Korea during the Korean War, the Great Famine in China following the “Great Leap Forward”, violence and abuses committed during the Cultural Revolution, the Tiananmen Square massacre, re-education camps for Uighurs, White Terror under martial law in Taiwan, etc. These are all memories associated with state criminality, war crimes attributable to each other… and which are the grain to grind in the mills that are busy restarting, endlessly recycling mutual accusations.

It’s like a form of spell cast on relations between peoples, but of which, of course, those who make sure that the resentment machine never stops – what could be called a discursive industry, with its foremen, workers… – make the most of it. You only have to read the Taipei Times to understand how it works, and the ascendancy of the fixed idea (the enemy as a fixed idea) over those who practice this sad profession full time.

 

One does not need to be an assiduous reader of Carl Schmitt to understand that, in modern societies, the maintenance of the culture of the enemy goes hand in hand with the criminalization of the enemy, with its disqualification as an honorable enemy – the one with whom peace can be made, once the quarrel that leads to armed confrontation has been emptied. The criminalization of the enemy targets both states (political regimes) and peoples. This is why racism is the inevitable accompaniment, in the neo-imperial wars led by the United States, in hegemonic propaganda, as in the agitation against mainland China led in Taiwan.

If we needed a striking manifestation of the fact that racism, in modern societies, is not the permanence or the return of the archaic, ancestral disputes between peoples and races that everything opposes but, above all, a discursive production of states and elites, it is in Taiwan that we find it today. This country, therefore, this State whose association with the term “nation” remains more than hypothetical, populated, for the immense majority, by ethnic Chinese and Sinophones, where the fund of Chinese culture and traditional customs remains deeply rooted in the people – and thus this de facto sovereignty whose political and media elites succeed in this tour de force to produce ad usum populi et mundi, an anti-Chinese racism as virulent as it is vulgar and entirely destined to cut the cultural and historical link that unites the island to the continent.

The fabrication of this synthetic racism is obviously inseparable from the criminalization of the regime in place on the mainland, designated as the enemy of humanity, but the rhetoric that supports it does not frequently back away from the depreciative characterization of the Chinese on the mainland, a people of slaves prostrated before the despot – converging in this, very often, with the xenophobic propaganda (anti-Han or North Chinese) of the Hong Kong movements of the past[8].

 

Let us simply recall for the record that the criminalization of the enemy is what is intended to justify the use of all means, not so much to defeat him in an armed confrontation or otherwise, but his pure and simple destruction. In Taiwan, the culture of the enemy and anti-Chinese racism convey one message and one message only: Cartago delendam est, liquidate the Chinese regime, work to precipitate its downfall by all means, destroy the Chinese Communist Party, dismantle the state it has built, erase all traces of the Chinese Revolution – the victory of the Chinese Communists over the Kuomintang. The characteristic of the enemy’s culture is to freeze historical situations on constantly reactivated disputes and, in so doing, to harden antagonisms and turn oppositions into all-or-nothing questions. It is to ignore diplomacy understood as a means of fluidifying incompatibilities between a priori incompatible “modes of existence” (Bruno Latour).

 

Transposed in Western European terms, the Sinophobic anti-politics that the Taiwanese leaders are leading today vis-à-vis continental China would be Madame Merkel and the CDU-CSU united behind her as a single man, bringing together the entire policy of the FRG around the single motive of the return to Germany of the “stolen” provinces of Alsace, Lorraine, the eastern territories and the rest, up to Königsberg (Kaliningrad) [9]. Anyone in Germany who did not align himself with this agitation would immediately be awarded the title of member of the Fifth Column and agent of the enemy. A nightmare image for any Western European in possession of his mental faculties – and the reason why we (who live in this minority part of the Chinese world and cannot resolve ourselves to have Taiwan become a permanent American excrement floating in the China Sea) are so repelled when we witness here these grotesque re-enactments of the worst of our modern history[10].

 

Our historical experience is that armed borders, the Maginot lines, the Berlin walls and the Iron Curtains, all these symbols of repeated wars between nation-states and cold wars, are all destined to crumble into dust and dissolve in the course of time; that the frontiers formerly or once again drawn in the blood and flesh of peoples are made to crumble and become sufficiently “white”, transparent for the Germans of Freiburg (Freiburg-in-Breisgau) to have their Sunday habits in the Vosges farmhouses across the Rhine, that thousands of French border crossers pass every day “on the other side”, on the Saarbrücken side, to go to work in Germany, that I preferably do my shopping on the Italian side (where food products are cheaper) when I stay in Menton…

The Taiwanese entrepreneurial class is well aware of these processes and dynamics, which at the turn of the century took full advantage of the opening up of the Chinese productive apparatus and market to its expertise and capital to invest and do business there – business and the circulation of capital playing here the same role in blurring or attenuating the enemy’s culture as tourism did in post-war Western Europe. And then, with the changing economic data and political conditions, with the premises of the new Cold War and the arrival in business in Taiwan of the separatists clients of the US Administration, these entrepreneurs, having unscrupulously extorted all possible surplus value from the proletariat of mainland China, repatriated their capital and profits and, often, rallied to the anti-Chinese party. This is a striking example of the sacred egoism of the capitalist class, which only does business and “no politics”: it turns out in retrospect that the breakthrough of Taiwanese entrepreneurs on the mainland, which could have been part of a dynamic of pacification, lowering of tensions and de-intensification of the culture of the enemy, was only an economic raid, with no lasting impact on the state of relations between the two China(s). Today, the Taiwanese business sector is actively taking advantage of the new context – the Sino-“American” Cold War – by investing in other markets, developing trade relations and industrial partnerships in other directions – in the United States, India, Australia… No, the capitalists are definitely “not making policy”…

 

The culture of the enemy is also a whole device of chains of associations: from the hypostasized enemy (who, as in schizophrenic delirium, becomes the object associated with unbearable stridencies and intensities), to the figure of the criminal, the enemy of humanity, and then, in the next stage, to the production of an alternate reality, a reality of synthesis of which propaganda, the discursive delirium tremens, is the expression. The criminalization of the enemy is what opens the floodgates to what a little more than a century ago, during the First World War, were called lies and today are called fake news – the imaginary crimes committed by the Germanic soldiers in the occupied regions in one case; the hundreds of disappeared, the torture chambers in Hong Kong during the movement of 2019-2020, in the other.

In other words, the peculiarity of the culture of the enemy is that it is a powerful factor (assistant) of emancipation from reality (more soberly: from the present understood as real, from the past as woven of unquestionable facts…). Under the regime of expression instituted by the culture of the enemy, one can profess literally anything and do it with impunity, as long as the public, the receivers of the discourse bend to the rules of this regime. It can be said that Germany’s invasion of Belgium in August 1914 was a preventive measure against an imminent attack on Germany by Belgium (or France, ready to violate Belgian neutrality); it can be said that today the ships of the US 7th Fleet patrol the Taiwan Strait in the China Sea to enforce the freedom of the seas. We can say that the health diplomacy practiced by China towards African or Latin American countries on the occasion of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the cheap sale of vaccines and the construction of hospitals, is pure and simple expansionism – another (sneaky) way of waging war. One can say anything, because the culture of the enemy is a huge paranoid machine whose purpose, like a paranoid’s speech, is to always get back on its feet and never run out of “reasons” and arguments.

 

The culture of the enemy is a disease of politics, just as paranoia is a psychosis. When paranoia takes hold of the ruling elites of a country, of a state, it results in what was known as McCarthyism in the United States, indiscriminate witch hunts, public life placed under conditions of widespread policing, surveillance and distrust – and this remains, rightly, in the annals of the country, as a dark period. It is not for nothing that McCarthyism entered the language (and not only English) as a kind of repulsive concept for such a regime or practice of widespread suspicion and policing; it is not for nothing that it has become a natural part of the conversation when it comes to characterizing the infringements of liberties in Taiwan today in the name of the struggle against the “infiltration” of the communist and continental enemy into the island. In the United States, the collective memory of the McCarthyist period is that of years when the great stupidity of the state and its servants obsessed with a fixed idea (communism) imposed its conditions on public life, where intellectual life, culture and the arts suffered from censorship and the most stifling conformism.

 

The way in which the stranglehold of immemorial hatred pitting neighbor against neighbor, pitting nation-states against each other, has been loosened in Western Europe shows that historical fatalities do not exist[11]. The flame that burns under the Arc de Triomphe has a vocation (fairly de-intensified) of national gathering, even patriotism (but what remains of patriotism in a country like France?), in any case, it is not intended to maintain the hatred of Germany, it is not the flame of hatred of the wrong neighbor. When one erects a monument or produces a work that fosters hatred of the enemy – exterior or interior or both – one does so knowingly and one takes responsibility for this gesture in the present and before the human community – this is what Detention, a Taiwanese film (2019) [12], for example, a mediocre work of fiction inspired by the spirit of faction, hatred of the intimate enemy, does, and blow its breath into the embers of civil war; a typical gesture of a slave of memory, as Nietzsche would say, locked in the repetition of the past and crushed by the burden of resentment – of the immemorial.

 

A collected and striking image of the plurality of worlds and the omnipresent unifying culture of the enemy in different latitudes: I bump my forehead here against the anti-Chinese cartoons published in the Taipei Times as I do against the Islamophobic cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo when I am in France. I find the same abjection, the same symptom, the same disease of the present – and this depressing image of the finitude of our world – wherever one runs away, nihilism is always at one’s door…

[1] This is the reason why the European elites and the Eurocrats resolutely opposed in 2017 the independence tendencies in Catalonia whose promoters were surfing an anti-Spanish nationalism perceived by them as totally untimely.

[2] Many were the precursors of this period change, especially in the interwar period. See for example on this subject the political writings of Klaus Mann, son of Thomas Mann and in particular the text entitled “Is Franco-German friendship possible?”, in Today and Tomorrow – The European Spirit, 1925-1949, translated from German by Corina Gepner and Dominique Laure Miermont, Phébus, 2011.

[3] Well, in the United States, that’s where we are at: “’Dirty’ cuisine? – Racism targets Asian food business during Covid 19 pandemic”, Taipei Times (AP), 12/22/2020.

[4] The embarkation of university elites in these enemy making processes is certainly one of the most distressing and worrying aspects of this phenomenon. Recently, the president of one of Taiwan’s most reputable universities, the National SunYat-Sen University (Kaoshung), advocated in an op-ed published in the Taipei Times (16/12/2020) the establishment of a reserve officer corps, aimed at young people with a university education, so that during their periods there, “would enable university students to change track and join the armed forces”. His text is entitled: “Universities can do their part to boost our defense”.

[5] We must make the difference here between sharing the experience or the attempt to travel a collective experience and administer history lessons from a determined point of view – Eurocentric in this case. Europeans are not the only ones to have experienced historic disasters in the 20th century – but what can be shared, as a food for thought, and not exported as a “lesson”, is how the European disasters of the 1930s and 1940s led to the disenchantment of the culture of the enemy.

[6] On this point: Christopher Clark: The Somnambulists, Flammarion, 2015.

[7] See on this point the fundamental work of Karl Jaspers: Die deutsche Schuldfrage, poorly rendered in French under the title La culpabilité Allemand, Editions de Minuit, 1990 (1948), translated from the German by Jeanne Hersch.

[8] During the brief period when mainland Chinese tourists flocked in compact groups to the island, this racism was abounding in the sidewalk press and on commercial television, stigmatizing “bad education”, boisterous mores and the conquering ways of these “invaders” – a godsend for the tourism sector and commerce…

[9] What I have in view here is the stopping on the image of a wrong suffered, real or imaginary, the effect of which is to perpetuate the face of the enemy and to preserve all its intensities. For the rest, it is true that in appearance, Taiwan is more the Alsace-Lorraine of mainland China. But things are not that simple: according to its current Constitution, Taiwan (Republic of China) still claims sovereignty over mainland China, Tibet and Xinjiang included.

[10] It goes without saying that in Taiwan the culture of the enemy has a long history and that it was in particular institutionalized in a way during the time of the Chiang Kai-shek dictatorship – as such, the separatists who are in business today are perfect heirs rather than the embodiment of a radical historical bifurcation. It is, curiously, under the presidency of Ma Ying-jeou, elected in 2008 and again in 2012, a perfect apparatchik from the bosom of the Kuomintang, that the only attempt to loosen the grip of the culture of the enemy was produced. A reorientation crowned by the meeting between Ma Ying-jeou and Xi Jinping in November 2015, in Singapore – reorientation promptly cancelled as soon as the DDP separatists came to power in 2016, with the victory of Tsai Ing-wen.

[11] To introduce here a brief counter-point: from the perspective defended by this article, one can only feel sorry for the way in which the Chinese and Vietnamese states remain today still captive to the culture of the enemy and to alleged historical fatalities to the point that the Vietnamese leaders are led to offer military facilities to the U.S. Navy in the hope of protecting themselves from China’s encroachment into what it considers to be its sovereign space.

[12] Film by John Hsu which, under the pretext of paying homage to the victims of the white terror exerted by the Kuomintang under the regime of Martial Law, aims to criminalize the main opposition party while serving soup to the government elites. An opportunist cinema at the service of agitation and hate propaganda.

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