Patrice Riemens on Tue, 14 Oct 1997 23:48:18 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Gabriel Matzneff: "Kind-hearted Kirillov" (I.M. Andreas Baader, c.s.)

Twenty years ago, Gudrun Esslin, Ulrike Meinhoff, and Andreas Baader died,
from their own or someone else's hands, in the Stammheim high security
prison in Germany.  On that occasion, the french writer Gabriel Matzneff
wrote the following article in Le Monde, dated October 22, 1977.


'Kind-hearted Kirillov'

I think there are many of us, who, upon hearing of Andreas Baader’s death,
and of his friends, must have thought of the letter Stavrogine wrote to
Dacha in _The Damned_, and where, a few hours before his own suicide, he
comments on that of Kirillov: 'Kind-hearted Kirillov could not bear the
thought, and so he shot his brain out...'.  Baader could not bear the
thought either...Why, my God, why is there so much talk about Marx, and so
little about Dostoievsky?  It is Dostoievsky, not Marx, who is the true
prophet of the twentieth century.  We are not the children of Marx and
Coca-Cola, we are the children of Nietszche and Dostoievsky, the necessary
issue of European nihilism.  We are prodigal sons and castaway children,
we are father-murderers and orphans.

It is not by accident that the very first European novel about the
nihilist revolution has _Father and Son_  for a title.  Dostoievsky would,
ten years after Tourgueniev, and with far more genius, also make the fight
of the sons against their father one of the central themes of _The
Damned_.  And would make that old liberal hack, that progressivisst guy
with advanced ideas, that parasite of humanism by the name of Stephan
Verkhovensky, the harassed genitor of Piotr Verkhovensky, a glacial
fanatic ready to cut of hundred million of heads for the triumph of

Our time's crisis is a crisis of paternity.  God the Father is dead, and
the fathers have died with him.  'I kneel before the Father, from whom
every paternity, in Heaven and Earth, derives' writes St Paul.  We are no
longer able to make such a genuflexion to-day.  The Luciferian rebellion
fills the air we inhale; she is our daily spectacle.  Churches are
emptying, but new, massive, fenced-off and obscene bank buildings are
rising at every street corner.  The run after wordly goods has replaced
the quest for spiritual gratification.  Money, Sex and Power are the
godheads of our century.  'Blessed are the poor, the pures, and the meek'
is a statement that moves no-one any more, and Agar's tears, as he is
driven from the desert, no longer disturb anyone's sleep.

A run-away boy to whom I once gave shelter told me: 'The worst that can
happen at home is the television-set breaking down, because suddenly we
have to face each other's company, my parents and I.'  Adults don't have a
Graal to transmit to their children anymore; they have nothing to teach,
or even to tell them.  What does a kind-hearted and sensitive adolescent
see around him nowadays?  Injustice's triumph, the cynicism of the
mighty, and the dire spectacle of bewildered, brain-dead masses, clapping
on command.

Confronted with this violence of deceit, the violence of the state, of the
law, of the institutions, the only, and inadequate, defenses in hands of
the recalcitrants are break-out, revolt, and at the end of the road,
suicide, that act 'that purifies all' as Cato says in _The Civil War_  a
fantastic play, probably the most autobiographical ever written by
Montherlant, but which carries an universal truth, and like _The Damned_,
is of a terifying contemporariness.  A play on the fathers and the sons, a
play about the ferocity and ruthlessness of ambition, a play about the
State and the lie that is the State, a play about a world that ceased to
believe in its gods, a play about despair and nihilism.

'After so many failures, my power of discernement has withered” sobs
Pompeius.  This statement for sure also applies to the die-heards of the
Palestinian Resistance, and also to the Red Army Fraction led by Andreas
Baader and Gudrun Esslin.  Unhapiness renders one blind, and despair
renders one mad.  But it is a horrendous deed to drive people into despair
first, and then to blame them because they are using the weapons of

Suicide or murder disguised as suicide?  At that outer limit of tragedy
where we all find ourselves in, this is of little bearing.  Tacitus'
_Annales_ are full of alleged suicides - Thrasea, Seneca, Petronius - all
victims of the State's despotism and lack of humanity.  To-day, Baader and
his friends have reunited with Cato and 'kind-hearted Kirillov' in the
cotonnous non-being of the lost causes.  For them, the civil war has come
to an end, at last.

(Oct 22, 1977)

translated by Patrice Riemens
770 w

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