Review of “Platform” by Michel Houellebecq

We [in the west] have become cold, rational, acutely conscious of our individual existence and our rights; more than anything, we want to avoid alienation and dependence . . . These are hardly ideal conditions in which to make love. The way things stand, the commercialization of sexuality in the east has become inevitable. . . .

In short, all the rich or moderately wealthy world was here [in Thailand], all answering ‘Present!’ to the gentle and constant roll call of Asian pussy.

This book is about the decline of the west – not the economic or the moral decline but the sexual decline.

The book is about Michel, a French bureaucrat. Michel’s dad is killed by Muslims, leaving Michel with a nice (but not huge) inheritance. Michel uses this money to take a vacation to Thailand, were he enjoys the local offerings, so to speak. On his trip, he meets Valerie. They later move in together. Valerie is everything that the average western woman is not (mostly this means that she is seems to enjoy pleasing Michel).

Valerie has a high-powered job for a travel company. On Michel’s suggestion, the company starts a new line of resorts staffed by people who have sex with the resort-goers (African resorts for female patrons and Asian resorts for male patrons, naturally). The resorts are very successful. Michel is at his most happy when one of the resorts is suddenly attacked by Muslims and Valerie is killed. Michel kills himself soon afterwards. In the middle of the action, there are a few more brutal attacks on Europeans by Muslims (e.g. gang rapes in the subway).

Of course, since Houellebecq’s book does include Muslim violence, most critics can’t see anything but bigotry and the book is generally seen as anti-Muslim. These reviews miss the point.

Houellebecq is certainly anti-Muslim, but Houellebecq’s so generally unimpressed with the west that one gets the impression that he disrespects Muslims mostly for attacking such a weak civilization. Here’s a sample of Houellebecq’s take on European civilization:

I [i.e. Michel] was living in a country distinguished by a placid socialism . . . All in all, I needn’t really worry anymore. In fact, I never really had. . . .

What had I produced in forty years of my existence? To tell the truth, not very much. . . .

Those qualities of intelligence and determination shown by my ancestors, I had manifestly lost. As a wealthy European, I could obtain food and the services of women more cheaply in other countries; as a decadent European, conscious of my approaching death, and given over entirely to selfishness, I could see no reason to deprive myself of such things. I was aware, however, that such a situation was barely tenable, that people like me were incapable of ensuring the survival of a society. Perhaps, more simply, we were unworthy of life. . . .

To the end, I will remain a child of Europe, of worry and of shame. I have no message of hope to deliver. For the west, I do not feel hatred. At most I feel a great contempt. I know only that every single one of us reeks of selfishness, masochism, and death. We have created a system in which it has simply become impossible to live, and what’s more, we continue to export it. . . . Nothing of me will survive, and I do not deserve for anything of me to survive. I will have been a mediocre individual in every possible sense.

Muslim violence is just another symptom of the decline of the west. These Muslim attacks just happen every now and then. The people in the book react to the violence the same way they’d react to a hurricane or an earthquake. If anything, they’re more laid back about Muslim violence. They’d demand assistance for hurricane victims, whereas violent Muslim attacks are just facts of life.

Yet for every page Houellebecq devotes to Muslim violence, he devotes fifteen to complaining about the fact that western women are really bad at sex. They’re so bad that, sex tourism to Asia is the future. As one character puts it:

You won’t find a white woman with a soft, submissive, supple, muscular pussy anymore. That’s all gone now.

And with it western civilization?

He goes on and on cataloging the problems with western women, including divorce and S&M.

In the end, Michel eventually opens his eyes to the decayed civilization around him – best exemplified by the totally crappy sex that everyone is having. As a result, he can’t think of a reason to stay in the west.

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45 Responses to Review of “Platform” by Michel Houellebecq

  1. AC says:

    Sounds more like he’s constitutively pessimistic rather than any sort of coherent argument. European women suck yet he and his countrymen have no problem finding buckets of women abroad. if this is decay, it’s certainly decay without any consequences to the actual people involved.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “it’s certainly decay without any consequences to the actual people involved.”

    The decay is in the soul. It is the next generation and society itself that suffers. See the line:
    ” I was aware, however, that such a situation was barely tenable, that people like me were incapable of ensuring the survival of a society. Perhaps, more simply, we were unworthy of life.”

    Note: I have not read the book.

    • AC says:

      Meh. That *feels* good in my hindbrain to believe, but I don’t see any objective sign of that. Vice is not always punished in real life. I just see a bunch of privileged folks getting away with acting like fools, year after year.

  3. asdf says:

    Foseti,

    Is there any way you could review That Hideous Strength. I recentely finished it and its helped keep me sane working in a bearacracy and just having had to report my boss for corruption. He talks exactely like the Deputy Director.

    • Foseti says:

      I’ll add it to the list. Always happy to take recommendations.

      • asdf says:

        Thanks. I recommend The Screwtape Letters and The Abolition of Man first, or I’m not sure it will make as much sense as it should.

        It is also the third of a trilogy in Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra, but in all honesty those are less critical then the two above.

      • josh says:

        I just read an old moldbug recommendation. The Tribes and the States by WJ Sidis. A very strange book by an apparently very strange guy. I recommend it from the second half, a frankly Jacobin take on early American history.

      • Samson J. says:

        Not to dissuade you (really, not at all!) but That Hideous Strength is by far, by far the worst Lewis book I’ve read, in my opinion – the only one, in fact, that I would call “not very good”. It’s worthwhile as an illustration of how modern Satanic bureaucracy works, but other than that it’s a pretty weak story, in my view. Just warning you.

      • Foseti says:

        Thanks. I’m intrigued by the bureaucracy bit.

    • James says:

      Did you report him for sh*tting in the woods?

  4. Fake Herzog says:

    Foseti,

    If “Platform” correctly diagnoses the Western disease, what is the cure? From my Christian perspective, the answer is obvious: a return to the church, or more generally a return to God (specifically the triune God of orthodox Christianity).

    By the way, your blog has been great lately — keep up the excellent work. I’ve been quiet at my blog (I’m jealous of your output), but you can check me out at my alternative location: http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net

    I’m adding you and your family to my prayers.

    P.S. I’d like to read you review a novel with a Christian sensibility. Probably one of the best written in the past 25 years or so has to be Gilead. I’d like to read your thoughts on Robinson’s spare, exquisite prose.

    • Foseti says:

      I’ll check out Gilead.

      I’m skeptical that Christianity is the answer. Partly, because – regardless of how you believe we got to where we are now – we got here despite/due to a more robust Christianity. Therefore, I doubt Christianity can beat progressivism. In addition, although I believe things used to better, I’m skeptical of suggestions that we turn back the clock. A 21st Century non-progressive society won’t look like a 19th Century non-progressive society.

      • asdf says:

        Christianity can save individual Christians, but not “Christianity”. True Christianity is really tough, I doubt the vast majority of people calling themselves Christian are making an honest effort at any point in history. And I don’t mean that in the secular puritan universalist sense.

        The material world belongs to our father down below. Wouldn’t look for salvation there.

      • josh says:

        Obviously, if Christianity is true it *is* the answer.

      • jim says:

        If Christianity is true, it still unlikely to save society rather than the individual, for in the west all major churches have become muppets for progressivism. A guy takes his family at church on Christmas, and hears that salvation comes from voting for more taxes, regulation, and welfare, and that he is sinning if he commands his wife and children. If any true churches remain, they are small as a mustard seed.

    • jim says:

      Christianity in the west is dead. See Dalrock’s analysis from a Christian point of view, and my analysis from a Darwinian point of view.

      A remnant remain, as small as a mustard seed, but, barring some fairly spectacular divine intervention, which seems improbable, our solution is not Christianity.

      Bruce Charlton thinks that he thinks that his church lives, but what he actually thinks is that his church has a chance of furtively sneaking back towards Christianity when no one is looking.

  5. James says:

    You won’t find a white woman with a soft, submissive, supple, muscular pussy anymore. That’s all gone now.

    First world problems?

    • Foseti says:

      Maybe. Unless, of course, such a thing motivates men to get married, raise children, and create.

      • Jehu says:

        I really do have a lot of sympathy for guys in their late teens/early 20s today.
        Back in the late 80s, your 50th percentile woman—that is, the kind of girl you could get if you were right in the center of the status distribution, was pretty hot by today’s standards—probably the equivalent of the 75th percentile now. Mostly this is due to obesity, but an extra 20 year of cultural marxism hasn’t helped either.

      • Foseti says:

        Obviously, obesity is a big problem (pun intended). However, Houellebecq has a deeper point. If someone invented a pill that would keep people skinny, western women (according to Houellebecq) would still lack a certain desire to please – a soft and gentle submissiveness, to put it another way.

      • Handle says:

        Jehu makes a good point. Check out the following study at voxeu. I might add, however, that most people would pay a fortune to go back to the “glory days” of 1986 obesity levels if you look at the CDC’s animated map.

        I’d guess that 50 years ago, the fraction the population consisting of women in their prime and with attractive BMI’s was over an order of magnitude higher than it is today.

  6. PA says:

    Cultural exhaustion in the West is an all-around cliche. But a newborn Dutch or Norwegian or French baby doesn’t know that he is culturally exhausted or that he’s supposed to have lost his vigor due to WWI.

    What gets exhausted is institutions, not people. It is interesting to speculate on what form will a vigorous 21 century West assume. I suspect that non-liberal Christianity will be a bipary of it.

  7. PA says:

    “we got here despite/due to a more robust Christianity”

    Of encourage you to question parts of the Moldbug theory. Not its overall soundness but aspects of it.

    Modern Christianity has been infiltrated by cultural marxism, which it did not create.

    • Steve Johnson says:

      Regardless of whether or not cultural marxism / progressivism is the child of Christianity or not we’ve already seen what happens when Christianity and progressivism battle – Christianity gets co-opted and loses. That’s when Christianity starts strong and in control of organs of thought transmission – a huge edge in a battle for minds.

      Progressivism now has all of the advantages Christianity had and it won without them last time. Expecting a different outcome in another battle is impossible barring divine intervention.

      Personally I can’t get behind any plan that requires divine intervention to succeed.

      • baduin says:

        By definition, Christianity does require divine intervention. Without it, it should not win – there would be no point.

        Because of that, the Church is organized in such a way that without continuous divine intervention it will immediately became wholly corrupt and will decay.

    • Foseti says:

      I think it was Hoppe that said that Catholicism and capitalism have the best track record of resisting progressivism.

      I don’t suspect that either will beat progressivism on their own, but I do suspect that if any movement does defeat progressivism, Catholics and capitalists will be over-represented in said movement.

      On the other hand, many (if not all) of the early communistic societies were very Christian. The direction of causality is tough to disentangle.

      • Handle says:

        It’s ok to theorize, but I think it’s more useful to look at some less-progressive contemporary communities that one assesses seem to work well and try to identify the essential elements of what makes them tick. I don’t think there’s any one recipe for it, (perhaps “multiple equilibrium” is apt), and I’m a particularist who thinks these potential solutions depend on culture and heritage, but it’s a good way to start an analysis without leaping into fantasy and staying grounded in reality.

        I’ve said before that, though it isn’t for me, I admire the Mormons for creating and preserving a kind of pre-boomer American patriotic, religious society, and their ability to interact successfully with the general modern marketplace while retaining a certain critical “apartness”. Their social metrics are top notch, and that kind of success is worthy of study and imitation.

        And you’ve mentioned Singapore as an alternative possible (non-progressive) social-political model for managing a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural population.

      • Foseti says:

        Agreed. The Mormons are on to something. So is Singapore, and perhaps, other parts of Asia.

      • asdf says:

        The biggest difference is the Mormon’s breed while Singaporeans don’t.

      • josh says:

        Have you read, “History of American Socialisms” by John Humphrey Noyes (1870)? Its kind of a page turner. Certainly not all the early societies were explicitly Christian. Some were explicitly anti-Chrisian, such as the Owenite communities. You may still consider them cladistically Christian, but I’m not sure that’s very useful.

      • Foseti says:

        I’ll check it out.

  8. Toddy cat says:

    It’s almost certainly true that capitalism and the Catholic Church have done the best job of resisting progressivism, but when you look at the actual track record of these institutions with regard to progressivism, it’s kind of frightening (Vatican II, pacifist bishops, sex scandals, corporate “diversity” officers, commercialized porn, etc.). At least they have fought back against some aspects of progressivism, as oppose to just rolling over, but even in these areas, the triumph of progressivism has been significant.

    By the way, I would question exactly how “hard” it is to be a true Christian. Yes, it’s really hard to be a perfect Christian ( the numbers of these are pretty small, and the number MAY be zero) but that’s why the Atonement was necessary. Thank God for forgiveness – literally! As an old bumper sticker from the 70’s put it, “Christians aren’t perfect – just forgiven…”

    • Felipe says:

      The Catholic Church might resist progressivism in many countries, but absolutely not in all of them. In Brazil the Catholic church was infiltrated by a radical left-wing group which created the “Liberation Theology”. They organize armed peasants to invade rural properties and claim them as their own (The land-less workers movement). The leaders of the catholic youth openly say that the bible is a repugnant book filled of hate-speech. They support completely the entire leftist agenda and are a support group of the socialist government. In Brazil the evangelicals are the ones more resistent to progressivism, but unfortunately evangelicals do nothing to stop the radical marxists from dominating our government: We do little more then complain. And worse: There are no conservative political parties in Brazil at the moment (really, zero).

      But yes, it is true that Catholicism is really carrying the banner of anti-progressivism high and loud in some places, like Poland. But then, here in Poland, the majority of the population are nominal Catholic centrist, and those simply reject the arguments of the conservative Catholics as radicalism. The conservative propaganda largely just keeps a 33% of the population as hardcore conservatives, while the rest of the society remains completely unconvinced by us. It is hard to fight with just some newspapers and radio stations against a massive invasion of progressivist propaganda in the form of hollywood films, american series, american music, Madonna, Lady Gaga, etc.

      My wife was recently watching an american series, “Desperate Housewifes” or something like that and one of the wifes in the show said to a man: “Oh no, please don’t tell me that you are an homophobe!”. This is the most disgusting act of leftist indoctrination. They really use their media dominance wide and loud to brain-wash people into beliaving in their leftist agenda. Of course that we, hard-core conservatives are immune to that, but how can we have any hope of convincing the rest of the population of our cause against this massive propaganda?

      That’s why I am convinced that any solution must include making all leftist propaganda illegal.

      • josh says:

        The Catholic church in the US was also infiltrated. Parish communities were broken up by urban planners, parochial schools killed, ethnic enclaves were chased to the suburbs for Americanization. The Cathedral funded extra-heirarchical organizations, such as the Catholic interracial council, and corrupted Notre Dame, Georgetown, Villa Nova and all of the other “Catholic” Universities with their giant funding apparatus.

  9. SOBL1 says:

    Anyone commenting read the book? I read it years ago and enjoyed it more than the Elementary Particles, which I loved. Platform allowed Houellebecq to really sink his teeth into ripping on Western decadence as well as the Muslim inferiority complex that they still use as a crutch to say they are superior. It’s one of the best anti-globalization novels ever as it focuses on both the terrible assimilation of Muslims into the West and then the insertion of libertine Western things into the East.

    Houellebecq has been writing on the decline in passion and sensual contact between Western men and women in his books. In Elementary Particles, which rips the post-68 worldview, his 2 leads eventually find loves that connect and are wonderful French lovers. In Platform, Houellebecq expands on that, taps into the sex tourism idea, and shreds the oddity of Islam and France’s lack of a spine when dealing with Islam entirely. At the end of the book, the negative actions of a Muslim terrorist are not the focus of the media obsession but the resorts that cater to sexual desire by the company become the negative that the media trumpets.

    An interesting point in the book is how Valerie gives Michel crap for his Asian sex tourism, as well as challenges the standard BS the white woman gives for having a black boyfriend. I wouldnt sell the entire idea short on the stereotype of Asia for men and Africa for women as Valerie’s boss comments how the women on the come to Africa ads are a bit too blatant in their advertising. I found Valerie’s boss a fantastic commentary on the modern corporate male. His high powered wife is the model for what Roissy warns against marrying. Even when Valerie’s boss is enjoying a sexual reawakening and living, he still has to remind Valeri and Michel how each promotion gives them more stock and more money.

    I loved the small touches that Houellebecq inserts into his books. He had a great line where he contrasted the wimpy euros like himself to the masculine Americans and Aussies looking with fresh faces as they were to take over the world, but that all of them answer to the siren call of Asian pussy. He writes a slightly utopian relationship with a western woman, but it’s the passionate touches she puts that Western men want Western women to exhibit or enjoy. There’s a specific passage where Valerie performs wonderfully on Michel and he expects a negative reaction to an ending that most Western women would say is degrading or a feminist would say is a power move, but instead he is rewarded with a more passionate connection. There is submission + tradition, contrasted wodnerfully witht he awful S&M club passage. Within those traditionally sexual bits, they find great love in it.

    Sorry for rambling but this book is awesome.

    • Foseti says:

      That’s a pretty good review on its own.

      • SOBL1 says:

        If you read the NY Times review of Elementary particles, they slap Houellebecq for his page 1 assertion that France was sinking in decline. He saw 10 years ago what was wrong with France and how it, as well as the West, was decaying from the inside out. The NY Times is too devoted to the current epoch being a peak that it couldnt even comprehend his POV. The NYT is eager to praise a Margaret Atwood book, which never has a 3 dimensional male character, but will chastise Houellebecq.

        The brou-haha over the Muslim portions was not just that he portrayed Muslims in France as violent and incompatible with the West, but that his view is in line with much of the peasantry. The metaphor of his father’s death, which is murder, by a Muslim not ending up in an arrest and long sentence for the killer is wonderful for how the “Cathedral” in France is weak willed towards Muslims. It would be dangerous for a smart, praised author to give life to the anti-Muslim thoughts that LePen voters have that the press labels extreme. I noticed in no reviews did any writer even comment on the short bit where the Arab criticizes Islam for it’s strict monotheism while describing Catholicism as polytheistic due to it’s use of the Trinity, the Virgin Mary and saints. That’s a slight slap to the face of Catholicism, but reviewers passed it by.

        Besides passionate contact, Houellebecq has even commented on the decay of Western’s women’s physiques and the damage that does to relationships. One of the leads in EP gets divorced when his wife gets fatter + her breasts sag, and the lead in Platform definitely focuses on the youthful and thin look of the Thai women. Decay and bloat vs. youth and vitality. It’s all part of his decay of the West theme. Men don’t have anything to pass down to sons, people seek material goods and materialistic pleasure from sex without meaning or passion, and to even seek the old pleasures of POV is an act of rebellion. Houellebecq is fantastic, and I highly recommend The Elementary Particles as it eviscerates the Boomer ’60s and the broken + empty promises it left in its wake.

  10. spandrell says:

    The book is crap because Valerie, which is pretty much the whole book, doesn’t exist, has never existed and can never exist. It’s the equivalent of the Twilight vampire.

  11. […] Foseti: Review of “Platform” by Michel Houellebecq […]

  12. Anon. says:

    Foseti,

    I recommend The First Circle by Solzhenitsyn. Take it from someone in the bowels of the USG that the description of the Soviet research organization is going to be hauntingly familiar to you.

  13. […] up for rutting. Even Lotharios bemoan the lack of female virtue, and women are disagreeable with men of every social level. Draconian age-of-consent laws and taboos replace discretion. Unremarkable men struggle to attract […]

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