Didier Eribon ° How and When Can We Say “We”? A Few Remarks on Social Protest and Political Dissent

Taking a starting point with Simone de Beauvoirs iconic book „The Third Sex,” philosopher and sociologist Didier Eribon reflects on the construction of a „We“ that wants to be the subject and no longer just the objects of political discourses. But it is a heterogeneous “We” and its internal differences cannot be neglected. The working class used to be such a „We“ before intellectuals and politicians from different political backgrounds started denying its existence in order to dismantle large arts of the social welfare system. Pushed into despair and anger many workers who formerly voted for the communists turned to right wing parties. The capitalist as the enemy of the working class was replaced by migrants and anybody considered foreign or different. To believe that they also represented the working class was one of the shortcomings of movements like Occupy Wall Street. They did not represent “The 99%”.

Didier Eribon harshly critizises recent French police violence and insists on the unsurpassable plurality of movements like the gilets jaunes in France, or more recently, the massive strikes and protests against the demolition of the public sector, as well as the demonstrations against racism etc. And he believes that it necessary to understand our times as a new 1968 – with the need to build new framework of multiple forms of resistance. 


Didier Eribon is a French sociologist and philosopher. He was professor of sociology in Amiens and visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, at the universities of Harvard and Yale, at New York University (NYU) and at Columbia University. His socio-autobiography Returning to Reims (2009) in which he reveals the break-up of French society attracted international attention. His work Insult and the Making of the Gay Self (1999) has become a classic and a founding document of Queer Studies. Among his most recent publications are La société comme verdict(2013) and Principes d’une pensée critique (2016).