Rethinking the History with Annie Lacroix-Riz (1)

Rethinking the History with Annie Lacroix-Riz (1)

“Les élites françaises entre 1940 et 1944”,

“de la collaboration avec l’Allemagne à l’alliance américaine” , Paris, Armand Colin, 496 pages, available on April 26, 2016


“The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relation relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas ; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance…Insofar, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch, it is self-evident that they do this in its whole range, hence among other things rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age : thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch

I’m sorry for this long quotation extract from Karl Marx’s “The German ideology”, that I consider as the main principle that we must keep in mind for answering the question :  why reading the new book of  Annie Lacroix-Riz ” les élites françaises entre 1940 et 1944, de la collaboration avec l’Allemagne à l’allianace américaine”  ” To be entirely clear,  this Marx’s famous assertion must be usefully completed by an intrinsically and  logically one,  that if it is true , the dominant ideas in every epoch is the ideas of the ruling class, it is also true that these dominant ideas of the ruling class had through the history and still today have their challengers, their swashbucklers, their overthrower and their grave-digger. Through the intellectual history, we can witness numerous cases of those heretics and refractors who firmly and courageously challenged the dominant ideas of their epoch and even they risked their own skin. The intellectual history provide us with several cases demonstrating the challenge opposed by Freethinkers to the dominant ideas of their epoch. I will pick out two names of freethinkers. The Italian Dominican friar , Giordano Bruno(1548-1600) had been considered as heretic by the Roman Inquisition and tried  for his cosmological theories offending the dominant Catholic tenet. Being found guilty, Bruno was burned in 1600 at the stake in Rome’s Campo de Fiori.  After his death, his cosmological theory on the infinity of the universe and the lack of celestial body at its centre has been confirmed. Marx was another example in the history of free thought. Karl Marx is another example of Free thinker who challenged the dominant ideas of his epoch and paved the way for rethinking otherwise the bourgeois society, its political economy and the history made by and through the class struggle. the high price paid for his free thinking was permanent persecution and exile from Brussels, to Paris and to London where he lived thank to financial aid of his friend Friedrich Engels and where he dead in the extreme need. We Know how Marxist thought became the driving force for all revolutionary and nationalist movements in their struggle against the Western imperialism all over the world and how it found its full achievement in the Russian revolution of 1917 and in the foundation of the first state in the history appealing to Marx and Lenin learning as ideological and political canvas of the newly Soviet regime.

At these two names choose among the free thinkers in the past, I would to add two other names who are my contemporaries too, that I consider as heroic resisters to the sirens and the trumpet of dominant ideas and the ambient intellectual conformism : The Italian philosopher Domenico Losurdo and the French historian, Annie Lacroix-Riz. Of course, only a careful and patient  reading of their abundant production could convince you of the relevance of my choose Here,, my focus concerns the historian Annie Lacroix-Riz at the occasion of his new book, ” Les élites françaises de 1940 à 1944, de la collaboration avec l’Allemagne à l’alliance américaine” whose review will be made in three parts and in reference to a precedent book ” Industriels et banquiers français sous l’occupation, 2013, first edition 1999) ,  which could help understanding the author’s core thesis.