The far right is upwind: A race-obsessed wokist has entered the office at 110 rue de Grenelle! The continuous news outlets are getting ready: Ndiaye would be the antithesis of Blanquer! On this, the left wonders what were the reasons that could have moved M Ndiaye to accept this post in an anything but progressive government.
And indeed, the contrast that we continue to emphasize on all the ether waves is very real. Pap Ndiaye is a respected historian known for his work and his anti-racist commitment, all of which allows him to be classified among progressive intellectuals. However, it is likely that neither the quinquennium just ended nor the one to come will go down in history decked out with such an adjective. Yet neoliberal brutality somehow seems incompatible with M Ndiaye’s anti-racism.
But the reality of this contrast should not exempt us from questioning the relevance of this alleged incompatibility between an anti-racist historian and his position as Minister of National Education. To do this, we would have to distinguish between several things that seem to be intertwined.
Let us try to see the real nature of this difference of opinion between the old and the new minister. It is about the so-called wokism that the two men seem to have a big disagreement. M Ndiaye indeed seems to be the composite portrait of the evil wokist intellectual who has not let M Blanquer stop blanquer for all evil. However, this disagreement I will dare to qualify as secondary in the event that arises before us. Let me explain…
First of all, if Mr Ndiaye had been appointed Minister of the Interior at the time, his positioning as a committed historian on the front of racism would have acquired great political significance and this thread would not be appropriate. He would then have come into direct contact with racial discrimination and the associated violence on the part of the police. Systemic violence and racism would then have been called into question and the decisions the minister should have made would be crucial. But since this hypothesis itself is politically incompatible with Macron’s ideology, it must certainly remain within the realm of imagination and mind games.
Mr Ndiaye is therefore “just” the Minister of Education. And the evil that the National Education suffers from is not of the same nature as that which the police suffer from (even if certain evils are shared). The main problem of the National Education is its dismantling, the establishment of a school with different speeds, the abandonment of emancipatory goals and the allocation of social housing for students from the poorest classes. All this due to the autonomy of branches, increased hierarchy and the end of objective rules related to personnel management (transfers, promotions, etc.). I’m not going to go into the details of these neoliberal recipes here because this has been done elsewhere. M Macron explained on March 17 how he plans to achieve all this during his second five-year term. (1)
Mr. Ndiaye was clearly aware of the presidential project when he took up this position. And if he accepted it, it’s because he sees no major incompatibility between his own principles and the presidential project. Moreover, the first words of the new minister leave no doubt. This is what he said during the handover at 110 rue de Grenelle:
“I am a pure product of the Republican meritocracy of which the school is the pillar.”
Knowing the role occupied by the meritocratic fable and its corollary, namely equal opportunities (which was also mentioned by Mr Ndiaye during his short speech) in the arguments of neoliberal society, we will no longer be surprised by this nomination.
Meritocracy has long been emphasized and has been the subject of massive investment, especially through the system of success lines. But behind these exaggerated numbers lies a much more brutal reality. The millions invested give us the impression that the government is doing more for these young people from working-class neighborhoods than for others. That they really do everything they can to give them a chance to climb the social ladder.
But what is the real effect of this policy? What about all the others who will not be among the elect? We’ll be told, and if we’re not careful, we’ll end up holding on even to this view, that they’re the only ones responsible for it. That the State cannot do everything, that it is already doing more than it should… A feeling of guilt can (and must!) arise among those involved. The main purpose of this financial investment is to make a very unequal policy acceptable.
So Mr. Ndiaye can be quite progressive in his field, appreciated for it and in tune with the harshest and most enigmatic neoliberal policies. Presenting yourself as an example of meritocracy doesn’t bode well. Doing exemplary work in history, being racially aware and having no class consciousness is entirely possible. So is it enough to be progressive in some area to qualify as a left-wing thinker? Is it even possible to be considered leftist without ever participating in the class struggle?
One thing is certain: the media is turning it into a left-wing guarantee, an anti-Blanquer, trying to build tension and create a distraction in this election period in a completely artificial way. This post therefore tries to demonstrate the emptiness of it all.
In my opinion, therefore, Mr Ndiaye is yet another proof that for Mr Macron and capitalism in general, racism and anti-racism are just toys, instruments of distraction, screens that hide the class struggle that is going on. society, especially within National Education. I am not at all saying that these are not essential topics. Let’s be clear: I’m saying that capital takes them into consideration and uses them as vulgar variables to adjust public opinion.
The best we true leftists can do is walk on our own two feet, at the crossroads of all struggles, be it class, race, gender, environmental or educational. The dominant class does not stop and will not stop trying to break the links between all these struggles by pretending to give alms to one or the other from time to time. As today, these will only be decoys. It is up to us to be vigilant, clear and determined to fight them.
1 – For more details:
About the announcements for the second five-year term: