Nicolas Wadimoff's portrait of his old teacher, the Swiss intellectual and revolutionary Jean Ziegler, attempts to test convictions against realities.
Nina Trige Andersen
Nina Trige Andersen is a historian and freelance journalist. She is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: December 15, 2017
Jean Ziegler, the optimism of willpower
Country: Switzerland | France, 2017

Are the bad guys of today the same as the bad guys of yesterday? And how about the good guys – didn’t they turn out to be bad guys too? These are questions asked in the documentary about the Swiss intellectual, politician, revolutionary, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Right to Food and currently vice-president of the Advisory Committee to the UN Human Rights Council, Jean Ziegler.

Ziegler himself asks few questions it seems, he is the kind of man who provides answers. Or at least he keeps to himself the doubts he harbours about how the world functions in general, and in particular how revolutions progress, or regress.

The Optimism of Willpower is the title of Nicolas Wadimoff’s portrait of his old teacher. It might also have been titled The Power of Vanity. Ziegler’s and Wadimoff’s. They both seem to be acutely aware of the vanity of the other, but less of their own.

[ntsu_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_WXRUW-j8o

Against the visuals of archival footage from Ziegler’s days at University of Geneva in the 1960s and 1970s and to the sound of dramatic background music we learn that it was as a 20-year old political science student that Wadimoff met Ziegler ”the first time”. It was at one of Ziegler’s tutorials about national liberation movements during times when the university was a battleground against ”imperialism, fascism and capitalism”.

”That was yesterday,” Wadimoff’s speak says, ”but for Jean Ziegler it is still …


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