Interview. Sophie Bessis of French Tunisia gave a lecture to the philosopher Hannah Arendt on a common theme in her essay “I am writing to you from the other side”.
«Je write to you from the other side.This is a text message to a philosopher Hannah Arendt Published by Tunisian historian Sophie Bessis. A long meditation book written in the course of thought, pen, and history was written to a philosopher who knew how to think about human history precisely to avoid its tragedy.
Sophie Bessis and Hannah Arendt have things in common and areas of disagreement. Both were born in Jewish families: Ashkenazi who speaks German, then Arendt’s English; Sephardic and Sophie Bessis’s various languages (French, Italian, Jewish Arabic) Language, Arabic). According to Marx’s formula, they are all intellectuals. They all like to think that this story was made by men, but they don’t know how to do it. Everyone strives to prevent its inevitability in order to discover the great driving force, the stubborn line, a part of humanity, and his will in the hustle and bustle of the world.
But Sophie Bessis and Hannah Arendt also have different views, because they were born in the sea that crossed Europe and Africa. This is very important. For Arentt’s obsessive Europeans, Sophie Bessis opposed the experience of eccentricity. It depends on whether to refocus elsewhere. Born and grew up in an environment where Jews, Arabs, French, Italians, Africans and Mediterraneans lived at the same time during decolonization, instead of being born and raised in an environment where Jews, Europeans, and Germans lived and knew European philosophical thinking is far better than that of totalitarian and barbaric Europe.
Sophie Bessis asked questions from this list of experiences. The global health crisis we are experiencing has caused people to reflect on the state of the world, nationalism, human finitude, and the outcome of civilization in the crisis of modernity, while other aspects are the core issues of politics. She questioned herself as much as she questioned Arendt. She never assumed any responsibility, but emphasized that the European stubbornness of the German philosopher made her miss the history of Arab Jews, and the almost disgusting identity of Arab Jews plagued many stories. It also emphasizes the shining points of philosophers, the precise analysis of totalitarianism, and the rejection of identity restrictions. Although she was full of optimism in everything, she finally saw an opportunity for revival, if not a chance for revival. At the end of this long letter, an Initium with “Aurora” is over. Interview.
Africa point: Why did you choose this letter form? What do you want to process in this format? This may be more helpful for introspection than for political issues…
Sophie Beth: This letter to Hannah Arendt is also a literary event. Most of my writings are essays or academic works. But politics still exists because it is the central dimension of my thinking, no matter which way I use it. Moreover, if I choose a more personal tone in this article, it is because I think that at some point in your life, it is advisable to use your personal experience to illustrate politics. If I want to talk to Hannah Arendt, and I’m not an expert, I’ve read a lot of things, it’s because in her most direct political writings, especially in the 1940s and 1960s, I discovered the vision of nationalism and the vision of nationalism. Then call it the Israeli-Arab conflict corresponding to my question. These works inspired my desire to explore these basic issues through dialogue with her. First of all, it is the issue of nationalism, more precisely the issue of two nationalisms, namely Zionism and Arab nationalism, which influence each other to some extent. Then there are other issues, which are very important in my speech. This echoes the characteristics of nationalism, which are characterized by absolute rejection of the opposite sex. Finally, the last question is about the Jews in the East. This is completely concealed by Arendt. I emphasized European centrism.
Tunisia-Sophie Bethes: “Political modernity also plays a role in the Arab world”
Your letter is in twilight, but despair has little meaning. Rather, it is uncertain in a Gramsian sense. As Arendt knows, are we still in the middle of uncertainty?
Arendt experienced the prevalence of European fascism, the rise of Nazism, the extinction of European Jews, and totalitarianism. Therefore, this is the core of what Gramsci calls “morbid phenomenon” or “monster”. The current period is not like Arendt’s, but her writings, especially on destruction, help us understand our own experiences. Among other things, she perfectly analyzed the logic of totalitarianism, especially the crazy logic at the root of this genocide process. She described it as “unprecedented”, not because of the scale of the massacre committed and the uselessness of the killer. His works can help us understand some contemporary terrorist events, such as the Syrian war.
If Arendt understands this kind of European totalitarianism, does it also apply to colonialism? For example, she found that she was normal. By the way, the authorization of the League of Nations imposed by European countries on other nations…
Arendt is an anti-colonialist, because her colonialism is an oppression of other nations. She is very clear on this point. But beyond that, she still believes that there is a hierarchy among civilizations, and the West is at the highest level. This is one of the reasons why she dismissed the Jews in eastern Israel, and found her in Israel when she went to report on the Eichmann trial in Israel. She was a child of Europe and turned the eyes of European Jews to Eastern Jews.
Julien Cohen-Lacassagne: “Beyond the Jewish Berbers…”
Did Arendt fail to grasp the east side of Judaism in order to better understand certain phenomena of his time?