Michel Houellebecq, arguably the greatest French intellectual of our age, has just come out as a Trumpist, of sorts. In a deeply sardonic though sincere article in the latest issue of Harper’s, Houellebecq describes Trump as ‘one of the best American presidents.’
Houellebecq is a longstanding opponent of America’s liberal internationalism and military adventurism. He also dislikes multilateralism, and therefore cheers Trump’s criticism of the EU and NATO. He writes that he admired President Obama for ‘not adding Syria to the long list (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and others I’m no doubt forgetting) of Muslim lands where the West has committed atrocities.’
‘Trump is pursuing and amplifying the policy of disengagement initiated by Obama; this is very good news for the rest of the world.
‘The Americans are getting off our backs. The Americans are letting us exist.’
As a side note on Trump’s diplomacy with Kim Jong-un, he notes: ‘it seems that President Trump has even managed to tame the North Korean madman; I found this feat positively classy.’
Houellebecq also admires Trump’s trade policies, which he calls a ‘healthy breath of fresh air’. ‘President Trump was elected to safeguard the interests of American workers,’ he says. ‘He’s safeguarding the interests of American workers. During the past fifty years in France, one would have wished to come upon this sort of attitude more often.’
He further praises Trump’s off-handedness with the European Union: ‘He’d rather negotiate directly with individual countries, and I believe this would actually be preferable.
‘Logically enough, President Trump was pleased about Brexit. Logically enough, so was I; my sole regret was that the British had once again shown themselves to be more courageous than us in the face of empire.’
He then argues that, unlikes free-market liberal (‘who are, in their way, as fanatical as communists’) Trump does not treat trade as the sine qua non of human affairs, and that is good. Trump may be ‘repulsive’, he adds, but that doesn’t stop him being a great President. Zut alors!