A philosopher and activist, eager to live according to ideals forged in study and discussion, Daniel Bensaïd was a man deeply entrenched in both the French and the international left. Raised in a staunchly red neighbourhood of Toulouse, where his family owned a bistro, he grew to be France’s leading Marxist public intellectual, much in demand on talk shows and in the press. A lyrical essayist and powerful public speaker, at his best expounding large ideas to crowds of students and workers, he was a founder member of the Ligue Communiste and thrived at the heart of a resurgent far left in the 1960s, which nurtured many of the leading figures of today’s French establishment.
The path from the joyous explosion of May 1968, through the painful experience of defeat in Latin America and the world-shaking collapse of the USSR, to the neoliberal world of today, dominated as it is by global finance, is narrated in An Impatient Life with Bensaïd’s characteristic elegance of phrase and clarity of vision. His memoir relates a life of ideological and practical struggle, a never-resting endeavour to comprehend the workings of capitalism in the pursuit of revolution.
Bensaïd Daniel (1946-2010) was a founder member of the Ligue Communiste and a leader for many years of the Fourth International as well as one of the most well-known Marxist philosophers in France. His many books include Walter Benjamin, sentinelle messianique, Jeanne de guerre lasse, Eloge de la politique profane ; and Marx for Our Times.
‘France’s leading Marxist public intellectual.’
‘Daniel’s death is like a wound, not a sadness. A loss which leaves us heavier. However, this weight is the opposite of a burden ; it is a message composed, not with words, but with decisions and acts and injuries.’
‘Daniel Bensaïd was my “distant companion”…
With his disappearance, the intellectual, activist, political, and what we might call – even though the adjective is today obscure in meaning – “revolutionary” world has changed.’