Recommended reading: Michel Houellebecq’s new novel “Submission”

4484229_3_eede_michel-houellebecq-a-paris-le-3-septembre_deaaeb90ef5f0a783d398036e1b7995cWhat is the difference between “Charlie Hebdo” and “Michel Houellebecq”? “Charlie Hebdo” produces useless provocations, while Houellebecq produces literature.

It is true that Houellebecq’s books may produce in the reader the same sentiments of disgust and nausea as the drawings published by “Charlie Hebdo” – but in his case the disgust is cathartic and leads to deeper insight.

Houellebecq, whose novels are to a large extent autobiographic, is often portrayed as an agent provocateur. But in actual fact, he describes our society as it is. There is no demagoguery, no misrepresentation, no mean-spirited caricature or mockery – but simply a faithful depiction of the nihilistic and sex-obsessed post-1968 culture that we have accepted to be ours. Houellebecq does not judge, he just describes what is before our eyes. His books are like a mirror for Europe to discover itself – and what can be seen in that mirror should be taken seriously.

Reportedly, the next issue of “Charlie Hebdo” (which was to be discussed yesterday at the redaction conference that was disrupted by the terrorist attack) was to deal with Houellebecq’s newest novel, in which he describes France in 2022: in a last-ditch effort to prevent the right-wing party Front National led by Marine Le Pen from taking power, the political mainstream and the mass media join forces to support the election of a Muslim as the new President of the Republic. However, once the new President is elected, he does not live up to his promises of protecting “democracy” and “pluralism”, but instead starts to systematically transform France into a Muslim countries where non-Muslims are second-class citizens…

Unrealistic? In the very short term, maybe. In the long term this is exactly how Islam expanded in the Middle East and North Africa. In addition, the novel provides a very realistic picture of how Europe’s own cultural decadence contributes both to the rise of the political Right and to the rise of Islamism…

This book should give us all some food for thought.