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Born in 1936 in the heart of the Parisian Jewish quarter “le Marais”, Claude Berger is a multi-faceted personality. Former dentist, restaurateur and Yiddish singer, he was first a committed writer, breaking for decades with a Left he considers to be dying and one of the first theorists of the end of wage labor.
Claude Berger was born in 1936 in the heart of the Marais.
His mother died early, he wore the yellow star, his father, who ran a brothel, abandoned him; the child was an example of precocity in adversity, coercion and persecution: he hid for two years in a hovel in the Parisian suburbs and escaped to support the thirteen people who constituted “the tribe”.
Angry young man, in search of humanity and revolution, become a dentist, he was in black Africa then in Algeria, entangled with the events of independences.
In the seventies, he was involved in political reflection and writing. He wrote articles in the magazine Politique aujourd’hui, then in Libération, Les Temps Modernes, or Le Nouvel Observateur.
Revisiting Marx, he denounced Leninism and state capitalism and therefore the state wage-earning dear to social-democrats, Marxist-Leninists, Trotskyists, in short to this conservative Left of the wage-earning, incapable of inventing other social forms.
The crisis, for Claude Berger, is not that of capitalism, but that of wage labor, which he calls for abolition. A crisis identical to those experienced by slavery and serfdom. His book “Marx, the association, anti-Lenin, towards the abolition of wage labor” (1974), became a reference for the Portuguese colonels of the Carnation Revolution.
The debates following the publication of his book led to the publication of a brochure at Spartacus entitled “For the abolition of wage labor”. This publication, published in 1976, prefigures Claude Berger’s work “To put an end to wage labor” in 2014. That same year, he published “Route of a Jew of the Century”.
In 1976, he denounced the totalitarianism of Maoism with an article published in Libération when Mao died “Follow the guide, he is dead.”
In 1978, he sparked a hot debate by signing in Le Matin a virulent article against Georges Marchais, which he accuses of duplicity in matters of anti-Semitism. This paper will earn him an answer in the headlines of L’Humanité.
In 1997, a few months before Papon’s trial, Claude Berger signed an essay entitled “Blanchir Vichy?” a think about the essence of anti-Semitism.
At the beginning of the new millennium, he opened an Ashkenazi restaurant in the Marais, The Train of Life. The cellar was welcoming writers, musicians and debates on the philosophy of Judaism, until 2003.
In 2003, he published at Éditions Caractères “Jerusalem, pushed to the wall “, a collection of poems imbued with mystic, illustrated by the photographs of his young son, David.
In 2005, he published “The Blind Centuries of the Lost Left – Rome, Mecca or Jerusalem” an essay in which he dismantles the effects of the secularization of the Christian cultural matrix on a Left both anti-Zionist and conservative of wage labor. In line with his thinking, he opposes the urban kibbutz and he hails its birth in a study published by the magazine The best of worlds in 2008. On July 16, 2016, he founded the association “Kibbutz urban”.
From 2007 to 2011, he opened a new Train of life in the Marais, which will be the meeting place for Klezmer and Gypsy musicians with whom Claude Berger sings in Yiddish, Hebrew or Roma to project this tradition towards to come up.
In 2013, he published “Why Antisemitism? » at the Editions de Paris / Max Chaleil.
Claude Berger also published a novel “The Heretics” (renamed “Place des Juifs” in a second edition), in which he told of his journey between two confinements: that of the child and that of the adult in a military psychiatric hospital by refusing torture during the war in Algeria, second imprisonment in the company of torturers who went mad with guilt.