Nicolas Sarkozy brought up the name of André Malraux in a recent interview with Le Parisien. Malraux was a well-known name in the 1960's in America. Novelist, art critic, adventurer, he became Charles de Gaulle's first minister of culture and it was in that capacity that he met President John F. Kennedy and Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy when they visited France in 1961, and later in 1963 in Washington, when Malraux arranged for the Mona Lisa to be brought to America for a special exhibit. Read the details of those "Camelot" days here.
President Sarkozy was careful not to quote another famous passage by Malraux on Islam that has made the rounds of the French websites many times over. It is posted in French at Armées (along with a picture of Malraux on the cover of Time):
The outstanding event of our time is the violence of the advance of Islam. Underestimated by most of our contemporaries, the ascendancy of Islam is analogically comparable to the beginnings of communism at the time of Lenin.
The consequences of this phenomenon are still unpredictable. At the outset of the Marxist revolution, people thought they could stem its tide through partial solutions. Neither Christianity nor organizations such as corporations or labor unions found a solution.
Likewise today the Western world is hardly prepared to confront the problem of Islam. In theory, the solution does indeed seem extremely difficult. Perhaps it would be possible in practice, if, limiting ourselves to the French aspect of this question, the solution were thought out and applied by a genuine statesman.
The current known facts of the problem lead one to believe that the various forms of Muslim dictatorship are soon to be established successively throughout the Arab world. When I say "Muslim", I'm thinking less of religious structures than of the temporal structures that flow from Mahomet's doctrine. As of now, the sultan of Morocco is out-dated and Bourguiba will only stay in power by becoming a dictator of sorts. Perhaps partial solutions would have been sufficient to stem the tide of Islam, if they had been applied in time...Now it is too late! The "wretched ones" have nothing to lose. They would rather preserve their wretchedness within the Muslim community. Their fate will probably not change. We have a vision of them that is too Western. To the benefits we claim to be able to bring them, they prefer the future of their race. Black Africa will not remain much longer untouched by this process. All that we can do is to become conscious of the gravity of the phenomenon and to try to slow down its progression.
André Malraux, June 3, 1956
Note: Bourguiba was president of Tunisia until 1987.
Notice that he points to the need for a "genuine statesman". One can only imagine what he would think of Sarkozy. He also limits the spread of Muslim dictatorships to the "Arab world." Possibly in 1956 he did not envisage the spread of Islam into Europe and America (it was almost unthinkable back then). Or possibly he did somehow foresee that the spread of violent Islam in the Arab countries would eventually spill over into France. Which is why he warns of the need to stop its progress.
Malraux was no angel. He led a tumultuous and tragic life, engaged in left-wing politics, but eventually denounced communism. His first marriage ended in divorce, his second wife was killed in an accident as were his two sons, his third marriage also ended. He became addicted to drugs towards the end of his life. But he established a reputation as a man of many talents, a kind of Renaissance figure who did not indulge in false hope or Utopian fantasies. His most famous novel is Man's Fate (La Condition Humaine).