Sociologist Luc Boltanski (co-author of recently translated important books such as On Justification and The New Spirit of Capitalism) says of Nicolas Sarkozy:

“In the previous model of political representation, institutions play a semantic role. They do not primarily serve the purpose of coordination, administration or police. What they really do is that they state what is. Nobody can state what is for others because individual persons have a body, are situated, have libido, have interests. It is thus an entity without a body that shall speak about what is. That is what we call an institution. Of course, this being without a body has spokespersons that do have bodies. Hence, the fear expressed by Rousseau in Le Contrat Social of these beings with bodies not really representing the being without a body — even if they try hard, for instance wearing fancy hats and nice costumes, making their voices sound graver and, in short, keeping aside their libidinal body. But what our new President does is, precisely, to reduce dramatically this gap. He pops up into the institution with his body and his libido, his interests and his wealthy friends. Of course, this is a violent shock.” (from Sylvain Bourmeau’s interview with Luc Boltanski, “Nicolas Sarkozy s’inscrit dans la continuité de Valéry Giscard d’Estaing”, MediaPart, February 14 2008)

It’s true. Which unfortunately means that Sarkozy’s body becomes a most legitimate political topic — and hard to follow.


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