One thing is certain: the way humanity has organized itself – “capitalism,” “competition,” “empire,” “globalization” – not only does the number of losers increase every day, but as in any large group, fragmentation soon sets in. In a chaotic, unfathomable process, the cohorts of the inferior, the defeated, the victims separate out. The loser may accept his fate and resign himself; the victim may demand satisfaction; the defeated may begin preparing for the next round. But the radical loser isolates himself, becomes invisible, guards his delusion, saves his energy, and waits for his hour to come.

☛ HansMagnus Enzensberger “The Radical Looser,” tr. Nicholas Grindell, Der Spiegel, Dec. 20, 2006; originally published as “Der radikale Verlierer” Nov. 6, 2005. French translation: Le perdant radical. Essai sur les hommes de la terreur, tr. Daniel Mirsky, Paris: Gallimard, 2006.

French version:

La seule chose qui est sûre, c’est que de la manière dont s’est organisé l’humanité – «capitalisme», «concurrence», «empire», «mondialisation» – le nombre de perdants ne se contente pas d’augmenter chaque jour; comme dans toute masse considérable, un fractionnement ne tarde pas à se produire; au cours d’un processus chaotique et obscur, les cohortes de déclassés, de vaincus, de victimes se séparent. Le raté peut se résigner à son sort, la victime peut demander compensation, le vaincu peut toujours se préparer au prochain round. Le perdant radical, en revanche, prend un chemin distinct, il devient invisible, cultive ses obsessions, accumule ses énergies et attend son heure. (pp. 11-12).

A portrait of Hans Magnus Enzensberger
Portrait of Hans Magnus Enzensberger.

Subscribe to our newsletter

This newsletter serves one purpose only: it sends a single email notification whenever a new post is published on, never more than once a day. Upon subscribing, you will receive a confirmation email (if you don’t, check your spam folder). You can unsubscribe at any time.