From one crisis to another. An interview with Helen Arnold and Daniel Blanchard


This text is a translation of an article originally published in French in September 2021 on the website A contretemps :

Helen Arnold and Daniel Blanchard introduced Murray Bookchin’s thinking to France in 1976. In
2019 they participated in the publication of a collection of that author’s texts, Pouvoir de détruire,
pouvoir de créer
, along with Renaud Garcia and Vincent Gerber. The work of this libertarian thinker has
attracted increasing attention in France recently.

However, I did not want to limit the interview with these friends to that subject, but to exchange on
their trajectory in general, with their commitments over the years. Social criticism and the desire for
emancipation have remained central concerns in their lives. In the 1950s and 60s, they were members of
the group and journal Socialisme ou Barbarie, and in 2007, along with other former members, they
produced an anthology of the writings from the journal.

Although we will also discuss current affairs, such as the Yellow Vests movement and the
management of the Covid crisis, I felt it worthwhile to explore their significant personal and collective
experiences. Not only out of curiosity for the past, but also in the hope that, given the high stakes
involved, this will elicit relevant questions about our present crisis.
Further, we must remember that Daniel Blanchard is a prolific writer, whose literary work includes
poetry and narrative fiction, as well as explicitly social and political thought. It includes essays such as
Crise de mots and Debord dans le bruit de la cataracte du temps, as well as texts on Castoriadis and
May 68. The tone of these writings is characteristically personal, associating general ideas with his own
contingent, subjective experience, in which his doubts and anxieties are never hidden, which helps to put
the reader on an equal footing with the author.

Although I was well aware that this vast panorama would not allow us to delve deeply into each of
the subjects discussed, I wished to have Helen Arnold and Daniel Blanchard reflect on their trajectory in
connection with their thinking on the present situation. In the hopes that this will encourage each of us to
think about our future – and, you never know – maybe even contribute to our determination to take
repossession of it collectively.

Fabien Delmotte

Submitted by FabienD on February 2, 2023