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French Intellectuals Against the Left

The Antitotalitarian Moment of the 1970s

Michael Scott Christofferson

306 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-57181-428-9 $120.00/£85.00 Hb Published (June 2004)

ISBN  978-1-57181-427-2 $34.95/£24.00 Pb Published (June 2004)

eISBN 978-1-78238-974-3 eBook

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“pathbreaking book…Persuasively arguing his overall case through meticulous research and analysis.”  ·  French Politics, Culture, and Society

“…an exceptionally fine text – one that could only have been written by an author mercifully free, for whatever reason of the phobias and philias about French intellectual life of previous generations.”  · New Left Review

“This book is clearly an indispensable resource for historians of twentieth-century France and French intellectual life, and a fine resource for anyone interested in a political sociology of the intellectual. Its fundamental thesis concerning the political sources of the antitotalitarian moment in the discourse of direct democracy and the electoral opposition to the PCF is largely persuasive—and a welcome antidote to the many distortions that obscure this key reactive shift.”  · Radical Philosophy

“I learned an enormous amount from your first-rate contribution. It is a very exciting and intelligent piece of work ... very impressive.”   ·  Michael Seidman

"The cooling of their love affair with revolution by many French intellectuals was a signal development in the late 20th century French public life. Michael Christofferson's fresh study, based on an immense and scrupulously handled research base, finds that the impact of Solzenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago (1974) was only the last step in a developing French critique of Marxist totalitarianism going back to the 1950s. This is essential reading for understanding the French left of today."  · Robert O. Paxton, Columbia University

In the latter half of the 1970s, the French intellectual Left denounced communism, Marxism, and revolutionary politics through a critique of left-wing totalitarianism that paved the way for today's postmodern, liberal, and moderate republican political options. Contrary to the dominant understanding of the critique of totalitarianism as an abrupt rupture induced by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago, Christofferson argues that French anti-totalitarianism was the culmination of direct-democratic critiques of communism and revisions of the revolutionary project after 1956. The author's focus on the direct-democratic politics of French intellectuals offers an important alternative to recent histories that seek to explain the course of French intellectual politics by France's apparent lack of a liberal tradition.

Michael Scott Christofferson was educated at Carleton College and Columbia University. He currently is Assistant Professor of History at the Pennsylvania State University, Erie and lives in the Cleveland, Ohio.

Series: Volume 2, Berghahn Monographs in French Studies
Subject: Postwar History
Area: France

LC: JC574.2.F8 C47 2004

BL: YC.2005.a.11973

BISAC: POL000000 POLITICAL SCIENCE/General; HIS013000 HISTORY/Europe/France; HIS037070 HISTORY/Modern/20th Century

BIC: JP Politics & government; HBLW3 Postwar 20th century history, from c 1945 to c 2000




Chapter 1. From Fellow-Traveling to Revisionism: The Fate of the Revolutionary Project, 1944-1974
Chapter 2. The Gulag as a Metaphor: The Politics of Reactions to Solzhenitsyn and The Gulag Archipelago
Chapter 3. Intellectuals and the Politics of the Union of the Left: The Birth of Antitotalitarianism
Chapter 4. Dissidence Celebrated: Intellectuals and Repression in Eastern Europe
Chapter 5. Antitotalitarianism Triumphant: The New Philosophers and Their Interlocutors
Chapter 6. Antitotalitarianism Against the Revolutionary Tradition: François Furet’s Revisionist History of the French Revolution

Epilogue and Conclusion

Selected Bibliography of Secondary Sources

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