Tl;dr of Submission, by Michel Houellebecq

Living briefly in Paris in 2002-2003 I learned about Houellebecq, a loudmouth badboy intellectual novelist whom I decided never to read.

A friend exhorted me to read his novel Submission, though, and I eventually yielded.

You should probably read it too.

What was once just cultural pessimism/euro-fatalism is now fact, a prescient account of the future upon us.

What happens:

It’s a tight election and the scary Far Right is ahead. Two parties ally together, the Left and a new third party in France: the Muslim Brotherhood. And – holy shit – the Muslims win and the people are relieved, at least it isn’t the wingnut Right.

They are completely reasonable, humane, interested in values and family and tradition and…education.

It is refreshing to a Europe that has gutted it’s social fabric and replaced it with the state.

But these guys are *really* interested in education. All the teachers have to convert, Islamic University of Paris – Sorbonne, Arthur Rimbaud’s biography ends with his conversion to Islam, etc.

And the crazy thing that slowly seeps through the novel is everyone submits. Four wives, teenage brides, rewritten history, a new European Empire spanning Morocco, Tunisia and Lebanon, etc.

Timely of course because we have just had close and surprising elections everywhere, and in the years ahead we face the prospect of normalization — that it is normal to grab women or threaten China or start arms races or deport children or make religious lists or or or…

So the American fatalism here is to read an account of submission, and prepare to resist.

Submission: A Novel
by Picador

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