Many men take an interest in politics and war, but these diversions never appealed to me.  The elections could not have been less interesting; the mediocrity of the ‘political offerings’ was almost surprising.  A centre-left candidate would be elected, serve either one or two terms, depending how charismatic he was, then for obscure reasons he would fail to complete a third.  When people got tired of that candidate, and the centre-left in general, we’d witness the phenomenon of democratic change, and the voters would install a candidate of the centre-right, also for one or two terms, depending on his personal appeal.  Western nations took a strange pride in this system, though it amounted to little more than a power-sharing deal between two rival gangs, and they would even go to war to imose it on nations that failed to share their enthusiasm.


The idea that political history could play any part in my own life was still disconcerting, and slightly repellent.  All the same, I realised – I’d known for years – that the widening gap, now a chasm, between the people and those who claimed to speak for them, the politicians and journalists, would necessarily lead to something chaotic, violent and unpredictable.  For a long time France, like all the other countries of Western Europe, had been drifting towards civil war.  That much was obvious.  But until a few days before, I was still convinced that the vast majority of French people would always be resigned and apathetic – no doubt because I was more or less resigned and apathetic myself.  I’d been wrong.

Michel Houellebecq, Submission.

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