Frankfurter Gemeine Zeitung

Claude Lefort: ein Nachruf von Ulrich Rödel

Von Ulrich Rödel, am 16. Dezember im Mampf von ihm persönlich zum Tode von Claude Lefort vorgetragen


Ladies and Gentlemen, let us dedicate this session to Claude Lefort who died at the beginning of October this year. Claude was my intellectual mentor. From him I learned the passion to argue cogently, sardonically, aggressively and often to the utmost polemically – as when, for instance, he called Sartre, that icon of French postwar intellectual life and all these maoist starlets “les bien pensants avec une lange de bois”. Claude was mon maitre. Although we never met personally and he was not able to read German I hope that he would have appreciated with an ironic smile what I have contributed in my translations of and my own contributions to his work, the political philosophy of libertarian democracy which is always endangered by totalitarian tendencies, although the two of us could not be more different: He the cultivated well educated and homme de lettres and me the rough proletarian with an untempered temperament, often depressive and self-destructive and often unnecessarily injuring towards other people. But was our common cause: Both of us were uncompromising intellectual warriors in the jungle of the shop-floors and cities of the modern world. Claude, the militant, was together with Cornelius Castoriadis – the cofounder of socialisme ou barbarie in 1949, for the next two and half decades the most influential group in France on the Left, culminating in the pamphlet “1968: la brèche”. I made my itinerary among various trotskyist groups and concentrated on agitating trade union militants. So both of us tried to make our contribution to uphold humanitarian and libertarian democracy in this age of the Bloodlands.

Allow me at this point a short anecdotal remark: Claude and Cornelius sometimes after night-long fierce, merciless and often self-serving discussions at the redaction conference of socialisme ou barbarie forgot about next days’ obligations and together they went to the Hot Club de France to change inviting smiles and enticing glances, to share strong drinks and slowly and dreamy dances with the white, brown, or black and – oh! – so knowing beauties you could meet there in the mood of jazz. So let us pay homage to Claude, this great man, on we go folks!

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