Café POMO

BY DOMINIC WIGHTMAN

As the weather cools here in England, let yourself be transported to the 6th arrondissement. It’s hot, sticky July and you’re walking down the Rue Saint-Benoît in Paris with your French lover – her Bichon Frise called Léon in tow. You’re sweating a bit in the afternoon sun having walked all the way from Le Jardin du Luxembourg where Léon spent deux cents a short while ago.

The Café de Flore is one of the oldest coffeehouses in Paris, celebrated for its famous clientele, which in the past included high-profile writers and philosophers. It is located just on the corner of Boulevard Saint-Germain and Rue Saint-Benoît. Outside the café on the pavement are tables and chairs shaded by large umbrellas. Today iced limonade is the most popular order of the day. You see a free table and two chairs, so you grab them with a quick nod to the waitress who nods a bonjour in return.

You have taken two chairs which happen to belong to a table where an old man sits drinking a citron pressé. But he doesn’t mind. Your lover apologises to him in French and the old man is polite and obliging in return. He offers you a cigarette. He stares at you and then gives your lover the up and down several times before leaning over the side of his chair to stroke Léon.

You spend a while outside that café. Waiting for the sun to go down some more. Listening to the old man, who – as is the custom for the café philosophique – delivers his ideas from a head full of thoughts. He seems somewhat certain and yet he’s somewhat oblique, as though his ideas are always changing, formed on melting ice. You just sit there and listen to him – out of respect you do not interrupt – like listening to someone playing the guitar. His ideas are innocent enough. These ideas do not hurt anyone. He talks of freedom and rights and being.

After the third lemonade, you are becoming friends with the old man but you look at your watch. What’s for dinner? Léon will need the park again soon. You look at your lover but she is ensconced in the old man’s words. The French – they love to think too much.

Then the old man starts talking about sex.

At first, he talks about discipline and punishment in sex and your eyes widen. Then he discusses pornography and morality. Then the fluidity of gender, which makes you revisit your watch. And then he says it – the age of consent should be brought down to 12.

Do you walk away? Do you politely wind up the conversation? Do you take the old man’s telephone number and email address because you love this fellow’s way of thinking?

French intellectuals Jacques Derrida, Jean-François Lyotard and Michel Foucault first developed the cunning twist on classic Marxism which became called Postmodern neo-Marxism. They created Identity Politics by defining that groups are oppressed by the existing (western) societal structures which are dominated by white, male capitalists. Their ideas swiftly moved to American universities, like Yale and John Hopkins. In the ‘80s these ideas came back to Britain; notably through David Harvey, an English neo-Marxist professor of geography, who taught at John Hopkins with Lyotard & wrote his own book on postmodernism in 1989 while a visiting lecturer at Oxford. John McDonnell shared top billing with Harvey at a Labour Conference in Brighton in September 2017 and quotes Frederic Jameson (an American postmodernist whose works are translated into Chinese and Greek).

In 1977, a petition was addressed to the French parliament calling for the abrogation of several articles of the age of consent law and the decriminalisation of all consensual relations between adults and minors below the age of fifteen (the age of consent in France). A number of French intellectuals at the time – including Foucault, Derrida and Lyotard – signed the petition. In 1979 two open letters were published in French newspapers defending the release of individuals arrested under charges of statutory rape, in the context of abolition of age of consent laws. They believed that the penal system was replacing the punishment of criminal acts by the creation of the figure of the individual dangerous to society (regardless of any actual crime) and predicted that a “society of dangers” would come. They also defined the idea of legal consent as a contractual notion and a ‘trap’, since “no one makes a contract before making love”. “French law recognises in 12- and 13-year-olds a capacity for discernment that it can judge and punish,” said the petition. Foucault was a paedophile many believe.

I’d quickly get the bill. Then get the hell out.

You?

The next time you hear Lammy, Abbott, McDonnell, Corbyn, Williamson or any of the other unmentionables who currently lead Labour going about the business of Foucault, Derrida and Lyotard, remind them where their ideas came from – from the heads of moral relativist, perverted Parisian Marxists embittered by the failures of Marxism which were becoming so apparent in the 1970’s when they created the Frankenstein these politicians now promote.

He falls into the pit who leads another to it.

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