Show Trial

Simon Leys ends his review of Francis Deron’s book The Trial of the Khmer Rouge (‘The Cambodian Genocide’, September) with an apparently unmotivated and irrelevant assault on the prominent French philosopher Alain Badiou. What is most striking about this conclusion is that although Leys professes never to read Badiou’s work, he nonetheless seems to know – from this position of ignorance – just what the truth of that work is. In fact, Leys runs a brief show trial, relying on hearsay, heavy-handed sarcasm and pure assertion;  it culminates in him literally putting words into his victim’s mouth: “The name of Pol Pot has been omitted from Badiou’s little pantheon. He fully deserves a place there … ” This little trial makes me suspect that violence doesn’t simply happen as a result of mad ideologies imposed on a hapless populace from above, as Leys seems to imply throughout his review, but also because despots aggressively license the realisation of the petty resentments we all harbour.

Justin Clemens
Thornbury, VIC