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Paris: Seuil. Necheles, Ruth. Harold Pagliaro. Cleveland: Case Western Reserve University.

Dark Side of the Light

Paxton, Robert. New York: Knopf. Popkin, Richard. Racevskis, Karlis. Sala-Molins, Louis. Le Code noir ou le calvaire de Canaan. Paris: PUF. Les Miseres des Lumieres: Sous la raison, I'outrage. Paris: Laffont. Schechter, Ronald. New York and London: Routledge.


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Dale Van Kley. Sloan, Philip. Harold Pagliaro, Sollors, Werner. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Sutcliffe, Adam. Judaism and Enlightenment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Vittori, Jean-Pierre Vittori. On a torture en Algerie. Paris: Ramsey. Williams, David. Bern and New York: Peter Lang. The Enlightenment.

Dark Side of the Light — University of Minnesota Press

London: Cambridge University Press. Republican and socialist France provided Duvalier with an imperial retirement.

How do you, a Haitian, react to this paradox? It was December , a week before the transfer to the Pantheon of the remains of Monge, Condorcet, and Abbe Gregoire. I was on my way to the Caribbean to attend a colloquium on the meaning of the French Revolution in that region at the time, notably in Haiti. Next to me, during one leg of the journey, was a Haitian journalist.

Was it coincidence or providence?

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The answer depends on the Enlightenment, which did not believe in providence, or on "prejudice," "this science" of theologians that lives by it and blesses it. So it was coincidence. The Haitian journalist and I talk about one thing and another. I am burning to ask him the question.

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What's the sense of resisting? I go ahead and ask it. His reply is immediate: "Where then is the paradox? France has always done us so much harm. The Haitian journalist had struck me as thoughtful in our conversation up to that point. He remained so even after we had drifted to other subjects. Am I right to conclude from this that it was quite simply his way of reacting to my somewhat tasteless reference in the same breath to Toussaint the giant and Duvalier the bandit?

My fellow passenger lost no time in softening his reply by invoking various grounds deriving from the imperatives of history to explain the scandal of the imprisonment and death of Toussaint, or aspects of international law to justify the scandal of Duvalier's gilded exile. And it did not occur to me, not even remotely, to suggest to him, even with a hesitant "come on," that this was mere whitewashing.

Such a suggestion, to my mind, would have seemed rude, indecent, and obscene. The Haitian, for me, was a dramatic reminder of the existence of a right that, like some other rights, defines the humanity of man: the right to memory, even, and especially when the essence of such a right takes the form of resentment or revolt. But my short-term neighbor was "all over black, and with such a flat nose" that I ought to have felt "mercy" and "pity" for him. This is what is generally done.

Arguments are laid out, issues are weighed, analyzed, and "put in perspective. In short, the black man is taught, taught to cast on his history by whatever style deemed appropriate bullying, mockery, encouragementthe dispassionate look that it deserves: that of the white man.

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He is begged not to let himself be carried away by hasty generalizations born of. Blacks enjoy that: learning from whites the art of dispassionate and rigorous judgment, the consummate one of making History carry the weight of their histories. Blacks, we had suspected all along, but are now confirmed in our belief by Hegel and Hugo,2 have no history.

How then can they exhibit the consciousness of a history they have not had? No one died of hunger and cold in Fort-de-Joux. No one lives in gilded retirement under our gentle skies, as we said in our conversation. When you have no history, could you, from the ocean of bestiality, have truly beached one day on the shores of humanity? It is difficult to imagine this, even more to affirm it. But what if blacks still run up against a denial of their humanity even among those who would be extremely irritated to be thought of as harboring the slightest racist tendencies?

Their right to memory, if they have it, is not acknowledged. They are constantly reminded that the right to resentment, if they think they have it, they stole, but that it was not granted them. As for their right to revolt, we would like to impose a time frame for its exercise. To pose the issue of the poverty of the Enlightenment right away, let us consider the example of the most cold-hearted form of genocide by Modernity: that which accompanied Modernity from its dawn, remained with it throughout its course and well beyond it, getting bogged down in nothingness only in the twilight years of the nineteenth century and well into the contemporary period; a form of genocide that did not take place on the sly but in full view of everyone; one whose efficiency did not derive from the madness of bandits or from coded messages decipherable only by initiates but from very Christian members of royalty, solemn decrees and privileges, and from a legal code drawn up in clear language, publicized everywhere and readable by all; a form of genocide that did not cross out from humanityon the basis of some.

Who, except in a moment of unbridled and corrupt revisionism, will have the effrontery to ask a Jew, a Gypsy, a homosexual the homosexual, it is true, will be asked to keep quiet, always out of decency or respect for the memory of Jews, rarely of Gypsies to forego his resentment, to forget? Who will ask them to control their passion and talk of their situation only with the restraint befitting reason? No one. Who will question the capacity of Jews to keep a cool head, whatever their emotions, knowing full well that describing the "final solution" with all the words expressive of its monstrosity, grotesque excesses, and absolute horror is already to keep a cool head?

An expression in the form of a question that would become famous is: How is thinking possible after Auschwitz? And yet people have continued to think. They have thought Auschwitz even at the risk of rambling off into madness by getting too close to the gas chambers. Human beings have done all that to fellow humans. Whites have done it to other whites.

The Christian district of the European continent did that to the Jews who had been living there for centuries. Whites, through other whites, sent their fellow whitesa certain "species" of white to reason for a moment like evildoers whose only crime was to existto their death. This tragedy lasted a good many years, and everyone swore never to forget it.