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outubro 29, 2004

Niall Ferguson - The End of Europe?

The End of Europe?
By Niall Ferguson
Posted: Thursday, March 4, 2004

AEI Bradley Lecture (Washington)
Publication Date: March 1, 2004

Well, thank you very much indeed, Chris, and thank you also to Lynde and Harry Bradley, whose generosity makes this series of lectures possible. And thank you also for turning off your cell phones.

I want to speak this evening about what may seem a rather dramatic subject--the end of Europe, by which I don't mean its disappearance from the map, but a fundamental transformation in the political and economic institutions of the European Union.

In order to illustrate my argument, I want to take you back very far in time. In fact, I want to take you back to the year 732. In Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, in Chapter 52, Part 2, he describes what might have happened if the Muslim that had invaded across the Straits of Gibraltar and invaded Spain and then France in the year 711 had won what became known in the West as the Battle of Poitiers. So let me quote Gibbon, that much greater Oxford historian.

"A victorious line of march had been prolonged above a thousand miles from the Rock of Gibraltar to the banks of the Loire; the repetition of an equal space would have carried the Saracens to the confines of Poland and the Highlands of Scotland; the Rhine is not more impassable than the Nile or Euphrates, and the Arabian fleet might have sailed without a naval combat into the mouth of the Thames. Perhaps"--and here is the quintessential Gibbon--"perhaps the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mahomet."

Some of you who know my work on empire may have anticipated that this evening I would talk about empire. Indeed, American empire is the subject of my forthcoming book. But I thought we'd done American empire last year in this very room. And so what I want to talk about instead is a different notion. It's a little neologism of my own. It's "impire," with an "i". It's about what happens when a political entity, instead of expanding outwards towards its periphery, exporting power, implodes--when the energies come from outside into that entity.

And I want to try and suggest to you that the face of Europe today and in the coming decades was unwittingly, or perhaps presciently, foreseen by Gibbon in that characteristically ironical passage. I want to try to suggest to you that the end of Europe is not merely an economic phenomenon but will in fact prove to be a cultural phenomenon. Europe will turn out to be not an empire in the sense that I think the United States is today--that is to say, an expansive geopolitical entity--not a rival or a competitor or a counterweight to the United States, but almost its antithesis, something that is drawing political energies into it, that is perhaps even being colonized by exogenous forces.

So that's my argument.

I think it's fair to say that Americans, if I dare to generalize, regard the European Union as a relatively serious institution. I think they see it as economically comparable, at least in scale, with the United States, with, after all, a combined gross domestic product that, by some measures at least, is very nearly equal to that of the United States. Indeed, given exchange rate movements at the moment, I suspect that when they work out the combined GDP of the EU for 2004 and compare it with that of the United States, it may come out slightly higher, even in current dollar terms. Americans see a strong European currency, belying the predictions of "Cassandras" that the euro would fail. They see, if they look closely, evidence that, at least by some measures, West European productivity is not far behind that of the United States. They see, perhaps above all, an equal in trade negotiations.

Nor is it only as an economic counterweight that Americans take Europe seriously. In simple demographic terms, the European Union is a larger entity than the United States and will be larger still with the accession of May the 1st of this year of 10 new countries. With its population of 450 million people, the Europe of 25 will be one and a half times larger than the United States.

Americans also detect in Europe a cultural challenge, perhaps even a cultural rival. It's not just that, like my sparring partner from last year, Robert Kagan, they detect in Europeans a kind of Venusian aversion to the exercise of military power as compared with the Martian--or martial--American preference for the use of force. They also see profoundly different attitudes towards, for example, the welfare state. And they detect--and I think with some reason--a certain hostility to the United States that has perhaps become more overt in the last few years than it was before.

Americans also see a political process, a constitutional process going on in Europe, which, at least for a time last year, seemed to suggest the emergence of a genuine federal United States of Europe. And although that constitution has been put on the back burner, the draft treaty for a European constitution--to give it its proper name--is not, ladies and gentlemen, by any means a dead letter. Those who look closely at the way the European Union works will recognize that, at least in legal terms, it already is a federal system in the American sense; that the European Court is in every sense the equal of the Supreme Court in the United States. It is the highest legal instance in Europe.

And then, if one looks at the small print of the draft constitution, one sees ways in which the federal or quasi-federal institutions of the EU are gaining in power. Were that draft treaty to be implemented, then the rules of qualified majority voting, which allow countries to have rules imposed upon them by a majority, would be extended to cover many more areas of European policy.

Viewed from Washington, Europe seems strong in diplomatic terms, too. Who could mistake the reality that at least some European powers are currently able to exercise at least a kind of disruptive influence on American power? The world is not really unipolar so long as the European Union enjoys the unique distinction of having two permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

There are other respects in which I think Americans should take Europe seriously in the international sphere, and they're often underestimated. In recent years Europeans have contributed a great deal more in official aid to developing countries. They've contributed substantially more to peacekeeping missions organized by the United Nations. My future colleague Joseph Nye at Harvard talks about soft power, and detects a certain decline in the soft power of the United States. He might equally well, it seems to me, argue that the soft power of the European Union has been growing steadily and that as the world--if the Pew Global Attitude Survey is anything to go by--becomes more hostile to the United States, so, subtly and implicitly, it becomes more friendly to the European Union.

So whether you read Robert Kagan or the very different work that's been produced by scholars like Sam Huntington, John Mearsheimer, Charles Kupchan, it's clear that American thinkers take the European Union very seriously indeed. But what I want to do this evening is to suggest to you that they should not take it so seriously; that in fact the European Union--in all of these respects that I have just listed--is much less impressive on close inspection than it appears through a transatlantic telescope.

When we look closely at the way in which the European Union is evolving and try to set its evolution in some kind of historical perspective, I believe it becomes apparent that, far from approaching a kind of parity with the United States, whether in economic and cultural and political or in international terms, in reality the European Union is an entity on the brink of decline and perhaps ultimately even of dissolution.

Now, for the avoidance of doubt, I'm not saying that the European Union will disappear as an institution in our lifetimes. Institutions, in Europe particularly, tend not to disappear. They just decline in their power. Like, for example, today's Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development--once the prototype of a far larger post-Marshall Aid European union, today a harmless agency for gathering data and producing economic reports. And ladies and gentlemen, Europe is littered with such agencies, which once embodied grandiose plans--think, for example, of the Bank for International Settlements or the International Labor Organization. There's scarcely a European capital without the relic of some past plan for great greater European integration.

My suggestion is not that the European Union will vanish, but simply that its institutions are in danger of atrophying and that it, too, may one day be no more than a humble data-gathering agency with expensive but impotent offices in the city of Brussels and elsewhere.

Let me try to illustrate to you why I think this is. There are really three parts to my argument, one of which is quite obvious and I will deal with as swiftly as possible. And that is, essentially, to point out why so many of these signs of rapid integration and of approaching parity with the United States are false signs.

The second and more interesting part of the argument has to do with a fundamental historical insight into the way that the European Union or, to be precise, the process of European integration, has always functioned from its very inception until the present. I want to draw on the work of recent scholars, not all of which will be known to you, to suggest that there is a key to understanding the process of European integration, and that key can be summed up in a single phrase: German gravy.

Finally, having bored you near to unconsciousness with economics, I will soar away from such dry matter and offer a third cultural argument to the effect that Europe may not only experience a kind of institutional decline, but that its very culture is in itself authentically, and in the true sense of the word, decadent. So my conclusion will be as much cultural as economic.

First, the economics. In every year of the last decade but one--that was 2001--the economy of the United States has grown in real terms faster than that of the European Union. In every year but two out of the last nine years, productivity has grown faster in the United States than in Europe. If you look at the average of unemployment--and these are the standardized measures of unemployment that the OECD uses--you can see that on average over the last decade unemployment in the European Union has been double what it has been in the United States.

Why is this? I think there are two ways of explaining European economic under-performance in the past decade. One of them is that the labor market and indeed markets generally are less flexible than those of the United States. The other is simply that the monetary policy of the European Central Bank has been somewhat inept, or at least somewhat unbalanced, in the way that it has treated the different members of the euro zone.

The key point about economic under-performance in Europe is that it is principally, or at least predominantly, a German story. It is richly ironic that only 20 years ago scholars were warning that Germany--along, of course, with Japan--was going to surpass the United States among the world’s biggest economies. In truth, those of us who were living in Germany in the 1980s could see an impending economic crisis in that country, a crisis that German reunification temporarily postponed in an orgy of deficit finance and subsidized consumption.

Now we see the reality. There is a profound problem in the German economy that would be there whether the Bundesbank was still in charge of monetary policy in that country or not. The problem is worsened by the fact that, under the ECB, interest rates in Germany are probably around 100 basis points higher than they should be. And given that the German economy is roughly a third of the economy of the euro zone, an unhealthy Germany is an unhealthy European economy.

I want to add a little footnote to this story. If you look closely at man-hour statistics-comparing the productivity of, say, a Frenchman in a single hour with that of his American counterpart--there is in fact nothing to choose between them. As a worker, a Frenchman is just as efficient as an American. It's less true in the case of a German worker, but the difference is not huge. One of the biggest differences in economic terms between Western Europe and the United States has been an astonishing divergence in working hours. In the past decade or so, Americans have steadily worked more hours per year. In fact, according to figures from the OECD, the average American in employment works nearly 2,000 hours a year--and hours a year are a good measure of just how much work people are doing. The average German, ladies and gentlemen, works fully 22 percent less of the year.

Between 1979 and the present, the length of the working year grew in the United States. Or, if you want to put it in more conventional terms, the vacation shrank. Precisely the opposite happened in Europe. In Europe, working hours diminished, vacations grew. Labor participation also diminished. Fewer and fewer of the population actually entered the labor market altogether. And that in many ways explains that differential in GDP growth rates as well as anything I could suggest to you. It's a little hint of what I'm going to say in a minute, that this, I think, is more than just an economic phenomenon. In some ways it is a symptom of that cultural malaise in Europe that I want to see as a critical part of the end of Europe.

To put it very crudely, it is the work ethic itself that has declined and fallen. And it is, I think, noteworthy that the decline in working hours is most pronounced in what were once distinctly Protestant countries of northwestern Europe. Once.

I would, if time permitted, talk some more about the economic and political implications of European enlargement. I would, if time permitted, like to suggest to you that the acquisition of 10 new states, most of them in Central and Central Eastern Europe, does not necessarily portend great advantages either for those new member states or for the older member states of Western Europe. Let me merely point out that one respect in which Central European economies have coped with their relatively lower productivity compared with Western Europe since the ending of communist rule in those countries nearly 15 years ago has been by working longer hours. In fact, the Czechs are among the very few people in the world today who work more hours per year than the Americans.

My question, and it is a rhetorical one, though it may invite further comment--not least from my good friend Radek Sikorski, a greater expert in these matters than I can ever claim to be--but my question is, really, whether East Europeans who have discovered the benefits of economic liberty since the fall of the Berlin Wall may not find that liberty circumscribed by the mass of regulations and rules that emanates daily from Brussels.

I could also talk about the extent to which, despite the appearance of a greater European cultural identity, in reality, a certain fragmentation of European culture is still very evident in the many euro-barometer polls that have been conducted over the past years. It's clear that a sense of Europeanness, far from growing at the expense of national identity, has, if anything, suffered something of a decline in recent years.

I could, if time permitted, dwell on why it is that the draft constitution for a European treaty has been grounded, or beached, perhaps even sunk by recent political events in Europe. Some of you will be familiar with these stories; others will be indifferent to them. I would rather proceed at speed to the second part of my argument.

In other words, the conventional points that suggest an approaching European parity with the United States, be they economic, cultural, or political, are points which are at best arguable and, in my view, largely false.

But now let me broaden my argument. Let me introduce a certain historical perspective. I'm not, as anybody who has read the book Virtual History will know, an economic determinist or any kind of determinist. I do not, in fact, regard economics as in some sense the driving force of human history. But there are exceptions to that rule. There are certain processes that are primarily economic in their character. And I think it's true to say that European integration is one of those processes.

There's been some very good work on the history of European integration done recently. It hasn't been, I think, widely enough understood or received. Perhaps the most interesting work has been produced by the venerable British economic historian Alan Milward, but it's also been complemented by the young Harvard historian Andrew Moravcsik. Between them, working independently, they've arrived at a new interpretation--and I think it deserves to be called a new interpretation--of why European integration happened at all after the Second World War.

Instead of the conventional view that a few saintly figures, like Jean Monnet, realized a vision of European integration to prevent the recurrence of war in Europe and generally make everybody happier and better off, they argue that, beginning with the negotiations that produced the European Coal and Steel Community, the nation states of Western Europe made very limited concessions of sovereignty in the pursuit of the national economic interest---or, to be quite specific, in pursuit of the interests of well represented economic groups within their societies, principally heavy industry and small agriculture.

If one understands the process of European integration in these terms--essentially an economically driven set of deals between still largely sovereign nation states--one thing becomes abundantly clear. And that is, ladies and gentlemen, that from the very outset this process relied on what I rather crudely called a moment ago "German gravy." It was the Germans who, from the very word go, were prepared to subsidize the other parties in the process of European integration.

To give you just one example: The fundamental bottom line of the coal and steel community was that German taxpayers would prop up the inefficient coal mines of Belgium at the cost of hundreds of thousands of marks. In the same way, it was German taxpayers who paid the development aid to the French colonial empire, aid that was an integral part of the Treaty of Rome.

It's often forgotten that where the British saw a choice between empire and Europe, and dithered and hesitated about that choice, the French did what I always do whenever I see a choice. They said, "We'll have both, please." Not only did the French seek to retain their African empire and what was left of their Asian empire within the structures of the emerging European community, but, with a brilliant stroke of diplomacy, they insisted that the other five members that signed the Treaty of Rome should subsidize their colonies. And so it was that, in an extraordinary deal, Konrad Adenauer agreed to payments to French colonies that came very largely from German taxpayers. Likewise, the Common Agricultural Policy, which became the single largest item in the budget of the European community, was from its very inception underwritten by net contributions from German taxpayers. That was how it worked.

If you add up all the--to use the technical term--unrequited transfers that Germany has paid through the European budget since its inception, one of the most striking facts that I can offer you is that the total exceeds the amount that Germany was asked to pay in reparations after the First World War. It is more than 132 billion marks, the sum that the Germans in the 1920s insisted would bankrupt them if they paid it. Well, they finally did pay it. They paid it not as reparations, but as net contributions to the European budget.

And that, I think, explains one of the more striking findings of recent European survey data. Euro-barometer surveys show that there's a real discrepancy between what people think about the European Union relative, as it were, to the general good and what they think about the European Union relative to their own national good. And it's an almost perfect correlation. Countries that are net gainers, net recipients from the European budget, think that the European Union is quite good, but they think it's even better for their own country. Countries that are net donors to the European budget--and that principally means Germany, but also in some measure Britain--think that the European Union is okay for their country but is very good generally.

And this, it seems to me, takes us to the very heart of the political economy of European integration Let me tell you some simple percentages about the way the European Union works, to illuminate the fundamental imbalance between representation and taxation which is at the heart of the story of European integration.

Today, Germany accounts for around a quarter, a little under a quarter, of the combined gross domestic product of the entire European Union. It accounts for just over a fifth, 22 percent, of its population. It accounts for 16 percent of the seats in the European Parliament, and around about 11 percent of votes on the Council of Ministers, though that process of voting is, of course, under a process of reform. (In fact, if the draft treaty isn't enacted after enlargement, Germany's share of votes in the Council of Ministers will fall to 8 percent.) But if you look at net contributions to the European budget in the years 1995 to 2001, Germany contributed 67 percent.

So the Germans get between 8 and 11 percent of the decisive votes in the Council of Ministers, that is, the key decision making body of the European Union, but they contribute two-thirds towards the combined budget.

Now, that's all very well, ladies and gentlemen, if Germany is the fastest growing economy in Europe. But as I've already pointed out to you, it is today the slowest growing economy in Europe. It is, in fact, the sick man of Europe. And although the German economy is very large, it is far from clear why, when it has not grown at all in the past six quarters, that economy should continue to subsidize the economies of the smaller, poorer countries of Southern and now also Central Europe.

My estimation, ladies and gentlemen, is that the train is still running, but there ain't no gravy anymore. And as that reality gradually dawns, the process of European integration, which I believe has depended from its very inception on German gravy, is bound to come to a halt. Who, after all--who is going to pay for those, and I quote, "maximum enlargement-related commitments," to the 10 new member states which have been capped at 40 billion euros? The general assumption appears still to be that the German taxpayer will pay that money. I see no reason whatsoever why that should be the case. Indeed, the very smallness of the sum that has been agreed illustrates the way the German purse-strings are tightening.

But ladies and gentlemen, I didn't come here this evening to make a purely economic argument. What I've said I think is in fact a sufficient argument to explain the end of the process of European integration as we have known it up until this point. But I have one last argument to make that is not, in the end, an economic argument at all.

The fundamental problem that Europe faces, more serious than anything I've mentioned so far, is senescence. It's a problem that we all face as individuals to varying degrees, but from society to society the problem of senescence, of growing old, varies hugely. In the year 2050, which is less remote than it may at first sound, current projections by the United Nations suggest that the median age of the European Union countries, the EU 15, will rise from 38 to 49. The median age will rise in the United States, too, though less sharply. (I wish I had time to tell you about the problems that you are going to face, because then it would stop you feeling the complacency that you may have begun to feel this evening.)

The situation in the United States is not great at all in this respect, but it is--and I believe this is the most one can say--better than the situation of the European Union. The German population is projected to decline absolutely from 82 to 67 million between now and 2050. Falling populations will be a characteristic feature of the once globally dominant societies of Western Europe. An increase in retirement ages would help only slightly, but it is not an adequate answer to the problems that already beset the social security systems of Western Europe. The implicit liabilities of the German social security system at the moment are currently around about 270 percent of German GDP. There are problems with the social security and Medicare systems in this country--very serious problems indeed. But the problems in Europe are much worse, and they will bite politically much sooner.

There is only one way out for this continent, and that is immigration. There is an obvious source of youthful workers who aspire to a better standard of living. All around Europe there are countries whose birth rate is more than twice the European average, indeed, significantly more than twice. The trouble is that nearly all these countries are predominantly Muslim. Not only that, but there is, right next door to the European Union, in fact between the European Union and Iraq, a country that now has a very plausible claim to European Union membership. And that country is Turkey.

Turkey's per capita income is in fact, by some measures, higher than that of Hungary, Latvia, and Lithuania, all of which are about to enter the European Union--certainly higher than those Balkan economies that hope to be in the next, or next but one, wave. The arguments against Turkish membership--and the Turks have been pressing for some form of membership since the 1980s--are getting weaker and weaker. And you know the only one that is left? It's one most often heard among German conservatives, but occasionally it slips out of a French mouth, too. That argument is a cultural argument. It is the argument that Europe is fundamentally a Christian entity; that the European Union is a kind of latter day secular version of Christendom.

Ladies and gentlemen, I only wish that were true. The reality is--and it is perhaps the most striking cultural phenomenon of our times--that Western and Eastern Europe are no longer in any meaningful sense Christian societies. They are quite clearly post-Christian--indeed, in many respects, post-religious--societies. In the Netherlands, Britain, Germany, Sweden, and Denmark, less than 1 in 10 of the population attends church even once a month. A clear majority do not attend church at all. There are now more Muslims in England than Anglican communicants. More Muslims attend mosque on a weekly basis than Anglicans attend church. In the recent Gallup Millennium Survey of Religious Attitudes conducted just a couple of years ago, more than half of all Scandinavians said that God did not matter to them at all. This, it seems to me, makes the claim to a fundamental Christian inheritance not only implausible but also downright bogus in Europe. The reality is that Europeans inhabit a post-Christian society that is economically, demographically, but, in my view, above all culturally a decadent society.

They cannot, though they will try, resist forever the migration that must inevitably occur from south and from east. They will try. Indeed, they try even now to resist the migration that really ought legally to be permissible from the new member states to the old member states after May the 1st. Even that has become contentious. Increasingly, European politics is dominated by a kind of dance of death as politicians and voters try desperately and vainly to prop up the moribund welfare states of the post-Second World War era, but above all to prop up what little remains of their traditional cultures.

I understand Samuel Huntington is worried that Mexican culture is taking a firm root in this country and shows no sign of being dissolved into the traditional American melting pot. I read an alarmist article by him in Foreign Policy this week. Well, I have good news for him. Long before the mariachis play in Harvard Yard, long before that, there will be minarets, as Gibbon foretold, in Oxford. Indeed, ladies and gentlemen, there already is one. The Center for Islamic Studies is currently building in my old university a new center for Islamic studies. I quote: "Along the lines of a traditional Oxford college around a central cloistered quadrangle, the building will feature a prayer hall with traditional dome and minaret tower." It will open next year. I wonder what Gibbon would have said.

Thank you very much.

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 06:22 PM | Comentários (0)

The Fight for the Future of Drug Research and Development

By James K. Glassman Published 10/28/2004

BARCELONA -- At the same time an article in the Financial Times was saying that "pharmaceutical companies could scarcely be more unpopular," a conference of global drug-company leaders opened here yesterday.

The industry is under ferocious assault. Radical antagonists are plotting to take drug research out of the hands of pharmaceutical companies, tax them, and give the money and the responsibility to a new international organization.

Meanwhile, Michael Moore, the skilled propagandist whose movie "Fahrenheit 911" is on the short list for an Academy Award for best picture, is making his next ideological documentary about the drug industry. It's tentatively called "Sicko" -- which should give you an idea of its point of view.

Here at the 22nd Assembly of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations, in this beautiful city on the northeast coast of Spain, participants are wrestling with two big problems at once -- the threat of radicals, supported by foundations and government funding, that want to dismantle and restructure their industry, and continuing difficulties in fighting terrible epidemics like AIDS and malaria.

The luncheon speaker today, Richard Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, urged the drug companies to "increase research and development in malaria and AIDS vaccines… Bring them on!"

But bringing new vaccines and other drugs to market -- even with the possibility that the Global Fund will purchase them in bulk -- is by no means assured. And the obstacles are not merely scientific. They involve a vigorous movement to transform the process of inventing and distributing pharmaceuticals from a largely free-market model to a largely collectivist one.

At the heart of the new model is a disdain for rights to intellectual property, which, in the old model, provides the main incentive for spending the vast amounts -- an average of $800 million -- to develop a single drug and bring it to market.

The current climate of animosity toward drug companies, many analysts believe, can only discourage research and development.

For example, a study by Roger Bate of the American Enterprise Institute found that the number of companies working on anti-retroviral research to stop HIV from developing into AIDS dropped by 27 percent between 1997 and 2003, "with fewer compounds in the development phase."

It is not hard to understand why. Firms that develop such drugs are vilified by radicals and run the risk that their products will simply be ripped off by copycats in India, Thailand and other developing countries -- with the encouragement of groups like the Clinton Foundation, Oxfam and even the World Health Organization.

At the International AIDS Conference in Bangkok in 2004, I watched crowds of radicals boo and ridicule Hank McKinnell of Pfizer, whose company has developed life-saving AIDS drugs and donates them to Africans, and Randall Tobias, who heads the President's Emergency Plan for HIV/AIDS, a U.S. program that will spend 15 billion dollars over the next five years.

Pfizer has funded construction of an AIDS clinic and training institute in Uganda. Merck is spending $50 million (with a matching amount from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) to fight the disease in Botswana. Other companies are involved in similar charitable projects, but the attack on their property rights continues.

It is remarkable, in fact, that as many HIV/AIDS drugs are in the works at a time when the industry's opponents want to get governments to enact a treaty to take drug research out of the hands of the companies.

Such a project would have been unthinkable only a few years ago, but drug companies today are broadly unpopular -- thanks in large measure to campaigns by anti-globalists and others to discredit them.

The Financial Times reported Wednesday, "For an industry whose raison d'etre is supposedly to improve people's health, U.S. pharmaceutical companies could scarcely be more unpopular. Public opinion has come to view 'Big Pharma' with almost as much hostility as it does perennial villains such as the tobacco industry."

One focus of this conference is developing new partnerships -- like the one among Merck, the Gates Foundation and Botswana -- to fight AIDS and other diseases. These partnerships are impressive and effective and deserve to be extended. But the work is not widely appreciated by a public that doesn't know about them, or by international agencies, which, in some cases, are simply envious.

The big question here is how seriously the companies take the threat posed by their enemies in non-governmental organizations, global health agencies, government bureaucracies and the press.

Copyright © 2004 Tech Central Station - www.techcentralstation.com

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 05:53 PM | Comentários (0)


Publicado por maria teresa monica às 05:33 PM | Comentários (0)

of Philosophy

What's New

Simplicity (Alan Baker) [NEW: October 29, 2004]
Isaiah Berlin (Joshua Cherniss and Henry Hardy) [REVISED: October 28, 2004]
Changes to: Internet resources
First published: October 26, 2004

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 05:28 PM | Comentários (0)

Horne - Algeria - Spectator

Roots of terror

On the night of All Saints, 1954, a young honeymooning couple of French school teachers, dedicated to their work among underprivileged children, were dragged off a bus in the Aurès Mountains of Algeria and shot down. Their murder by the newly created FLN (National Liberation Front) marked the beginning of organised revolt against the French colonial ‘occupiers’. The eight-year-long Algerian war was to bring down six French prime ministers, open the door to de Gaulle — and come close to destroying him too.

The war was the last of the grand-style colonial struggles, but, perhaps more to the point, it was also the first campaign in which poorly equipped Muslim mujahedin licked one of the top Western armies. The echoes of la guerre d’Algérie still reverberate across the Islamic world, especially in Iraq.

As in Iraq today, the struggle in Algeria was hydra-headed. In fact, there were several wars going on at the same time: the counter-insurgency; a civil war between Algerians; the external battle fought for public opinion in metropolitan France, and on the platforms of the UN; the struggle between the pieds noirs and Paris, culminating in army revolt, followed by open, white terrorism under the aegis of the brutal killers of the OAS (Organisation Armée Secrète).

The first year of the Algerian war ended in stalemate, with France’s forces, trained for war in Europe, unable to eradicate the FLN, and the FLN too weak to inflict serious damage on the French. Then, in a deadly move, the FLN switched to attacking the government’s Algerian auxiliaries: local caids or magistrates, administrators, and above all, the police and their families. This strategy paid off handsomely. The Muslim police suffered many casualties; they were demoralised by fear, and remained paralysed in their stations. They had to be protected by French army units that should have been deployed on offensive missions.

Next the FLN targeted villages friendly to the French, and outlying pied noir settlements. Using the bestial technique favoured by Islamicists to express contempt for the the infidel, they slit the throats of women and children. Result: on the one hand the French steadily lost support to the FLN for failing to protect the loyal, or uncommitted population; on the other, a terrorised civilian workforce left in droves.

In 1955 Premier Guy Mollet sent in French conscripts. Even against 500,000 troops, the FLN continued to prove elusive — but the conscripts brought back to France ugly stories of torture. These were snapped up by anti-war celebs like the Sartres, and journals like Servan-Schreiber’s L’Express. In 1958 General Massu’s tough paras broke the FLN hold on Algiers — through widespread use of torture. They won the Battle of Algiers; but they were to lose the war through the revulsion of French and foreign public opinion.

It got worse. In 1961 the army in Algeria revolted. The revolt was led by the elite paras under four dissident generals. In response General de Gaulle made one of his most impassioned speeches, heard by conscripts all over Algeria. The revolt collapsed; but the unreliability of the army now made it plain that France would have to negotiate an exit strategy from her proudest colony — once an integral part of France.

The end came in 1962 when de Gaulle surrendered unconditionally to the insurgents. All French oil assets in the Sahara went, and one million pieds noirs, families who had lived in Algeria for three generations, fled to France. An estimated one (out of ten) million Muslim Algerians had died, most killed by their own people.

A huge price had been paid but, as de Gaulle put it, France was now free, ‘to marry her age’, and she prospered. Independent Algeria, rich in oil reserves, should have prospered too. Instead — a typical Muslim failed state — she stagnated under one-party control (the old warlords of the FLN), rampant corruption and abysmal inefficiency.

In the late 1980s a new revolt broke out, this time led by the fundamentalist FIS (Islamic Salvation Front). Many of its leaders were the kind of young Algerians who joined the struggle against the French occupiers in the 1950s. Their grievances were similar — unemployment and overpopulation, and no say in politics. Elections were cancelled, and the FIS disfranchised. It took to the hills and the streets in much the same way as the FLN had in 1954. As in 1954, the principal victims were local policemen and regional administrators. An appalling civil war ensued, with the Algiers government proving as incapable of crushing the revolt as the French army had been in 1954–62.

The FIS was in turn thrust aside by a far more extreme and ruthless band of revolutionaries, the GIA (Armed Islamic Group). Its aim seemed to be a complete destruction of the existing order. Some of its killers had served with the Taleban in Afghanistan. The economy was targeted, and so at one point were foreigners: businessmen and journalists were massacred with the intent of driving out foreign capital. Even nuns were murdered, and fundamentalists threw acid in the faces of female students who refused the veil. Whole villages — including women and children — were slaughtered by unknown guerrillas, for unknown motives. In Algiers huge car bombs killed far more civilians than the combined terrorist acts had in the war against the French.

Beheading of victims became common, their heads stuck on road signs as a kind of gruesome sport. Algerians themselves spoke of the ‘blind war’, but in its prolonged, random senselessness it came almost more to resemble Europe’s Thirty Years War of the 17th century.

By the end of 2001, between 100,000 to 150,000 Algerians had died in the civil war, as well as 120 foreigners. The cost to the economy ran into billions of dollars. And all this in spite of a tough, 120,000-strong army backed by 80,000 police.

Following 9/11, intelligence indicated numerous links between al-Qa’eda and Algeria. It began to look as though the roots of jihad could be traced back to the war in Algeria that began 50 years ago.

This week in Iraq, on top of stepped-up killings of Iraqi police, we have the appalling massacre of 49 unarmed army recruits. (How could they have been left unprotected? It all points to the gross underdeployment of the US army, which has only 130,000 men as opposed to the 500,000 Guy Mollet had — and Colin Powell wanted.) This is just the kind of ruthless ferocity displayed during the Algerian war and its aftermath.

In many ways the horrors suffered in Algeria over the past 50 years read like a paradigm, a microcosm of Islam’s frustrated inability to meet the challenges of the modern world, which leads it to lash out against the rich, successful West. In the context of Iraq, Algeria’s ‘war of liberation’ acquires a new, sharper relevance.

If there is one glimmer of hope, it is that with the Americans having established a (very discreet) footprint in Algeria to help the Bouteflika regime combat terrorism, there does seem to have been a marked fall in the level of the atrocities there over the past three years. One small success for Bush’s war on terror? Or have all the Algerian killers just moved to Baghdad?

Alistair Horne’s Friend or Foe; an Anglo-Saxon History of France, is published by Orion this month, £25, and he is the author of Savage War of Peace (Papermac).

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 01:55 PM | Comentários (0)

Wolfowitz - New Yorker

Paul Wolfowitz defends his war.
Issue of 2004-11-01
Posted 2004-10-25
On the night of October 5th, a group of Polish students, professors, military officers, and state officials crowded into a small auditorium at Warsaw University to hear Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, give a talk on the subject of the war in Iraq. It was an unusually warm evening for October, and every seat was filled; the room seemed nearly airless. Wolfowitz began by joking that his father, a noted mathematician, would have been proud to see him in this academic setting, even as he was saddened that the younger Wolfowitz had pursued the political, rather than the “real,” sciences. After a few minutes, Wolfowitz’s voice, which normally has a soft tremble, grew even more faint, and his aspect became wan. For an instant, he seemed actually to wobble.

It had been a tiring day, preceded by an overnight flight from Washington. This was to have been a routine official trip for Wolfowitz—a visit with soldiers in Germany and some bucking up of Iraq-war allies in Warsaw and London. The bucking up, however, was made a bit more complicated by developments within the Administration. The previous afternoon, as Wolfowitz was preparing to board his plane at Andrews Air Force Base, an aide had handed him a report containing some vexing news. Wolfowitz’s boss, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, had just delivered a speech in New York and, in a question-and-answer exchange afterward, had declared that he had not seen any “strong, hard evidence” linking Al Qaeda with Saddam Hussein’s regime. Rumsfeld’s unexpected remark—undercutting one of the Administration’s principal arguments for going to war—had already prompted press inquiries at the Pentagon, suggesting a bad news cycle ahead. Meanwhile, the Washington Post was preparing to report that L. Paul Bremer, the former administrator of the American-led occupation of Iraq, had faulted the U.S. postwar plan for lacking sufficient troops to provide security—affirming a principal contention of the Administration’s critics. In addition, the government’s Iraq Survey Group, headed by Charles Duelfer, was about to release a final report on the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; already the report’s substance was being summed up in headlines as “report discounts iraqi arms threat.” And the Times had learned of a new C.I.A. assessment casting doubt on links between the Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Saddam’s regime—undermining yet another of the Administration’s rationales for the war.

Wolfowitz has been a major architect of President Bush’s Iraq policy and, within the Administration, its most passionate and compelling advocate. His long career as a diplomat, strategist, and policymaker will be measured by this policy, and, more immediately, the President he serves may not be returned to office because of it. The Administration had been divided over Iraq from the start, and new fissures seemed to be appearing. The Poles sitting in the Warsaw audience, “new” Europeans who had cast their lot with America, might understandably have been concerned. The government in Poland, where public opinion has shifted against the war, faces elections next year, and will probably reduce its forces in Iraq in the coming months.

After his faltering start, Wolfowitz, nearing the midpoint of his speech, began to find his voice. He recounted the events of Poland’s darkest days, and the civilized world’s acquiescence to Hitler’s ambitions which preceded them. When Hitler began to rearm Germany, Wolfowitz said, “the world’s hollow warnings formed weak defenses.” When Hitler annexed Austria, “the world sat by.” When German troops marched into Czechoslovakia before the war, “the world sat still once again.” When Britain and France warned Hitler to stay out of Poland, the Führer had little reason to pay heed.

“Poles understand perhaps better than anyone the consequences of making toothless warnings to brutal tyrants and terrorist regimes,” Wolfowitz said. “And, yes, I do include Saddam Hussein.” He then laid out the case against Saddam, reciting once again the dictator’s numberless crimes against his own people. He spoke of severed hands and videotaped torture sessions. He told of the time, on a trip to Iraq, he’d been shown a “torture tree,” the bark of which had been worn away by ropes used to bind Saddam’s victims, both men and women. He said that field commanders recently told him that workers had come across a new mass grave, and had stopped excavation when they encountered the remains of several dozen women and children, “some still with little dresses and toys.”

Wolfowitz observed that some people—meaning the “realists” in the foreignpolicy community, including Secretary of State Colin Powell—believed that the Cold War balance of power had brought a measure of stability to the Persian Gulf. But, Wolfowitz continued, “Poland had a phrase that correctly characterized that as ‘the stability of the graveyard.’ The so-called stability that Saddam Hussein provided was something even worse.”

Finally, Wolfowitz thanked the Poles for joining in a war that much of Europe had repudiated, and continues to oppose. His message was clear: history, especially Europe’s in the last century, has proved that it is smarter to side with the U.S. than against it. “We will not forget Poland’s commitment,” he promised. “Just as you have stood with us, we will stand with you.”

Wolfowitz, who is sixty, has served in the Administrations of six Presidents, yet he is still regarded by many in Washington with a considerable measure of puzzlement. This is due partly to the fact that, although his intelligence is conceded by all, and his quiet bearing and manner suggest the academic that he used to be—at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies—he has consistently argued positions that place him squarely in the category of war hawk. He began his life in public policy by marshalling arguments, in 1969, on behalf of a U.S. anti-ballistic-missile defense system. Like his mentor at the University of Chicago, the late political strategist Albert Wohlstetter, Wolfowitz was skeptical of a U.S.-Soviet convergence, embraced a national missile-defense system, and argued for the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.

But most puzzling to some, perhaps, is the communion that Wolfowitz seems to have with George W. Bush. How can someone so smart, so knowing, speak—and even apparently think—so much like George Bush? Except for their manner of delivery—Wolfowitz speaks in coherent paragraphs and Bush employs an idiom that is particular to himself—the language used by the two men when discussing Iraq is almost indistinguishable. It is the stark tone of evangelical conviction: evil versus good, the “worship of death” and “philosophy of despair” versus our “love of life and democracy.” Alongside Bush himself, Wolfowitz is, even now, among the last of the true believers.

Earlier on the day of his speech, Wolfowitz had toured the old city of Warsaw. In ceremonies attended by a Polish military honor guard, he laid wreaths at a memorial commemorating the Warsaw uprising and the monument to the Warsaw ghetto heroes. He laid a wreath, too, at the Umschlagplatz Memorial—the point of departure for some three hundred thousand Warsaw Jews who were transported to the Nazi death camp at Treblinka. Wolfowitz had pillaged the Pentagon library for a copy of “Courier from Warsaw,” the memoir of Jan Nowak, a Catholic who was among the first Warsaw-uprising witnesses to reach the West and testify to the Nazi horrors. In Warsaw, Wolfowitz asked to meet with Nowak, who is ninety. They spoke about the scale of the Holocaust, and about “how terrible it was for the Poles during the sixty-three days of the uprising. Three thousand Poles were killed every day—a World Trade Center every day.”

Wolfowitz told me that he had never before visited the memorials, and that, other than a quick stopover, this was his first trip to Poland, even though his father, Jacob Wolfowitz, had been born in Warsaw. He managed to emigrate during Poland’s brief interwar independence, unlike many other family members, who did not survive the Holocaust. It is probable that some of Wolfowitz’s relatives made their way through the Umschlagplatz, although not much is known. Wolfowitz said that he had learned little about Warsaw life, or the fate of his lost relatives, from his father. “He hated to talk about his childhood,” Wolfowitz said. As a boy, Wolfowitz devoured books (“probably too many”) about the Holocaust and Hiroshima—what he calls “the polar horrors.”

After his meeting with Jan Nowak, Wolfowitz’s conversation in the following days kept returning to what he had heard. “He told about how the ghetto was walled off from the rest of the city, but there was one streetcar that had to cross it,” Wolfowitz said. “And every day he would see bodies laid out, covered with newspaper, because that was all they had to cover them with, and people who’d starved to death and died of typhoid.” Nowak told Wolfowitz that in secret wartime meetings with Britain’s top officials, including Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, he had reported the plight of the Warsaw Jews; yet, when he later examined the minutes from these meetings in the British archives, he found no mention of the Jews. “Nowak said it was wartime inconvenience.” Wolfowitz paused, then added, “There are some parallels to Iraq. One is that people don’t believe these things. First, they don’t know it, because the world doesn’t talk about them. It may be for different reasons, although some of it is ‘wartime inconvenience.’”

Wolfowitz said that he was astonished by the argument of some war critics that, with no imminent threat from Iraq, the overturning of Saddam was unwarranted—an argument that he believes implicitly accepts Saddam’s brutality. A corollary phenomenon is the relative lack of opprobrium directed by the international community and the press toward the insurgents in Iraq, whom the Administration brands as terrorists. “It’s amazing,” he said. “If you said the insurgents were terrible, then you couldn’t go on and on about all the mistakes that Bush has made.”

Perhaps, but the other side of that coin is the Administration’s shift in rhetorical emphasis after Baghdad was taken. Given the lack of weapons of mass destruction or proven ties between Iraq and the terror attacks of September 11th, the liberation rationale acquired a primary importance that it had not had in the Administration’s public argument for war.

In turn, the developing insurgency, which eclipsed the parades and the cheering throngs, prompted renewed focus on the Administration’s geopolitical strategy—the transformation of the region—as a war rationale. This grand idea of liberalizing the Middle East one country at a time, beginning with Iraq, was associated particularly with Wolfowitz. The State Department was, and is, skeptical, and it is said that Rumsfeld harbored doubts as well.

Wolfowitz’s critics accuse him of naïveté, of setting out a vision that fails to consider fully the complex and unpredictable regional dynamics of tribal loyalties, honor, revenge, and Arab pride in Iraq and in the region generally. They argue that the invasion and the subsequent insurgency have undermined American authority throughout the world and have led to more, not fewer, jihad-minded terrorists. Wolfowitz often responds to critics by drawing an analogy to Asia, where skeptics once argued that Confucian tradition was a barrier to the development of democracy. He has said, “This is the same Confucian tradition that more recently has been given a substantial share of the credit for the success of the Korean economy and many others in Asia.”

En route to Poland, Wolfowitz made a brief stop in Munich, where he met with two men who had helped to shape his view of Islam. One was Anwar Ibrahim, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, who was in Germany for medical treatment. Ibrahim had been a nineteen-seventies-era student activist who entered politics and became, in the eyes of Wolfowitz and other Westerners, the embodiment of the moderate Muslim ideal—at once devoutly religious and tolerant, and eager to move his country into the modern world. He was widely expected to succeed his mentor, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, but in 1998 Mohamad had Ibrahim arrested, on charges of corruption and sodomy (a crime in Malaysia), and he was sentenced to a nine-year jail term. Three years later, just after the September 11th attacks, Ibrahim, still in a Malaysian jail, wrote an impassioned essay condemning the attacks as an abomination and lamenting the Muslim world’s failure to address “the suffering inflicted on the Muslim masses in Iraq by its dictator as well as by sanctions.” He was freed in September.

Wolfowitz also met with Abdurrahman Wahid, the former President of Indonesia. Toward the end of the second Reagan Administration, Wolfowitz, who was then Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia, was offered the Ambassadorship to Indonesia. Wolfowitz had spent more than a dozen years in the policy grind of Washington, and he and his wife, Clare, were eager to get away. Clare Wolfowitz had a particular interest in Indonesia—she’d been an exchange student there in high school, spoke the language, and had made Indonesia her academic specialty; she holds a Ph.D. in social anthropology. (The couple are now separated.) People who have spent much time with Wolfowitz eventually notice that Indonesia is the one subject guaranteed to brighten his mood. “I really didn’t expect to fall in love with this place, but I did,” he told me earlier this year. “I mean, I don’t think I made the mistake of forgetting which country I represented, or overlooking their flaws, but there was so much that was just enormously appealing to me.”

Wolfowitz’s appointment to Indonesia was not an immediately obvious match. He was a Jew representing America in the largest Muslim republic in the world, an advocate of democracy in Suharto’s dictatorship. But Wolfowitz’s tenure as Ambassador was a notable success, largely owing to the fact that, in essence, he went native. With tutoring help from his driver, he learned the language, and hurled himself into the culture. He attended academic seminars, climbed volcanoes, and toured the neighborhoods of Jakarta.

At the time, Wahid was the leader of Indonesia’s largest Muslim group, which eventually morphed into a political party and brought Wahid to the Presidency, the nation’s first in a free election. (Not long after, however, he was impeached by the Indonesian parliament.) Wolfowitz found Wahid to be urbane, witty (his translation of a book of Soviet black humor became a best-seller in the Suharto era), and broadminded. Islam arrived late in Indonesia, and is less deeply rooted there than it is in many Arab states. The constitution protects other religious faiths, and Wahid, who is deeply devout, took that tolerance a step further, advocating total separation of mosque and state. “He’s a remarkable human being,” Wolfowitz said. “I mean, there’s the leader of the largest Muslim organization, and he’s an apostle of tolerance. How can you not admire him?”

Wolfowitz and Wahid became lasting friends, and, inevitably, one of their shared interests was the subject of Iraq. Wolfowitz told me that Wahid had studied in Baghdad, and that he was an early witness to the Baath Party’s atrocities. Wahid had described how Saddam’s regime “left the bodies hanging so long, the necks stretched,” Wolfowitz said. “It was in the main square in Baghdad, to send a message, to say, ‘This is who you’re dealing with from now on.’ And he said his teacher was taken away, the body was brought back in a sealed coffin, and they were told not to open it. They went ahead and opened it, and they found he’d been horribly tortured.”

At the reunion in Munich, Wahid, who is nearly blind and has been enfeebled by strokes, made his way slowly down a hotel corridor and embraced his old friend. Wahid is an acquaintance of the Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most influential Shiite cleric, upon whom the future direction of Iraq may largely depend. Sistani, who does not openly engage with Americans, is believed to oppose the creation of an Iranian-style theocracy in Iraq, and his influence has been instrumental in reining in the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Wahid indicated that he might visit Iraq soon, and, as a Sunni who knows Sistani, he’d like to help improve relations between Sunnis and Shiites.

Another influence on Wolfowitz’s thinking is an Arab feminist named Shaha Ali Riza, with whom he has become close. Riza, who was born in Tunisia and reared in Saudi Arabia, studied international relations at Oxford and subsequently became a determined advocate of democracy and women’s rights in the Islamic world. She is now a senior official at the World Bank, where she works on Middle Eastern and North African affairs.

Wolfowitz says that his hopes for a democratic Iraq now are modest. He claims that he never expected a Jefferso-nian democracy, as some of his critics have derisively asserted. What he wishes to see is something stable, and more liberal than what came before. “It is something of a test,” he told me one day this summer, regarding the Iraqis. “We can’t be sure they’ll pass. And they’re not going to pass with an A-plus. I mean, if they do Romanian democracy and the country doesn’t break up that’ll be pretty good.”

The morning after his speech at Warsaw University, Wolfowitz flew to London, for meetings at 10 Downing Street and at the Ministry of Defence. That evening, he hosted a gathering of British writers at Annabel’s, in Mayfair, and their questions quickly turned to the subject of Rumsfeld’s remark earlier in the week that he’d seen no hard evidence of an Al Qaeda-Iraqi connection. This had prompted hurried defensive strategizing at the Pentagon, and Rumsfeld put out a clarification of his statement. Still, the issue lingered. The C.I.A.’s latest assessment, based on information gathered since the end of major combat, cast further doubt on the connection, and was now in circulation.

Wolfowitz often prefaces his response to questions about this issue, as he did at Annabel’s and at the Aspen Institute earlier this year, by posing a question of his own. It’s a sort of parlor game that he plays. He asks, in a professorial whisper, “How many people here have heard of Abdul Rahman Yassin, if you’d raise your hand?” In a room of two dozen people, no more than two or three will raise their hands.

Wolfowitz notes the meagre tally, allows himself a slight smile, and then explains that Abdul Rahman Yassin was one of the men indicted for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, which killed six people and injured a thousand others. He remains a fugitive, the only one of the indicted perpetrators of that attack still at large.

Then Wolfowitz turns to the September 11th attacks. They were planned, he reminds his audience, by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing, Ramzi Yousef, was a nephew and close associate of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. “These are not separate events. They were the same target. They were the same people.” And Abdul Rahman Yassin, the fugitive from the first event? He fled to Iraq. “It would seem significant that one major figure in that event is still at large,” Wolfowitz says. “It would seem significant that he was harbored in Iraq by Iraqi intelligence for ten years.”

Many intelligence analysts believe that the presence of Yassin in Iraq was not particularly meaningful. Not long after his arrival there, Yassin, who grew up in Baghdad, was detained by the Saddam regime, and in 2002 he was even interviewed by “60 Minutes” in an Iraqi holding cell; if he was being “harbored,” the argument goes, it was only as a detainee that Saddam hoped to use as a bargaining chip with the United States. Furthermore, during the run-up to the war the Administration didn’t make Yassin a major issue.

Neither Wolfowitz nor the other intelligence analysts can say unequivocally what Yassin was doing in Iraq. Wolfowitz’s purpose in raising the issue is to illustrate the uncertain nature of intelligence analysis. He believes that there is important unexamined evidence regarding Yassin, yet, he says, when he broaches the matter with members of Congress his arguments are often met with resistance. “Every time you try to raise it, people say, ‘But there’s no proof Saddam was involved in 9/11.’”

The issue illustrates Wolfowitz’s own deep and abiding suspicions about the inviolability of the intelligence community’s culture and processes, a skepticism that dates back to his earliest days in government service. In 1973, Wolfowitz was a young new hire at the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, his first foray into the national-security side of government. It was the era of the salt talks with the Soviets, and one of the first reports that Wolfowitz saw was the “big prize” itself—the National Intelligence Estimate of Soviet capabilities. Wolfowitz read the estimate, but he was struck, he says, more by a cover letter that accompanied it. The letter said that it was a credit to the report that, on such an important subject, it contained hardly any footnotes. In that world, footnotes were the means by which differing opinions were indicated. Wolfowitz was amazed, and appalled, that the C.I.A. boasted about not presenting dissenting views.

Some years ago, after Wolfowitz had left Washington for Jakarta, he consented to an interview with the C.I.A., which was reassessing its analysis processes. “The idea that somehow you are saving work for the policymaker by eliminating serious debate is wrong,” Wolfowitz told his interviewer. “Why not aim, instead, at a document that actually says there are two strongly argued positions on the issue? Here are the facts and evidence supporting one position, and here are the facts and evidence supporting the other, even though that might leave the poor policymakers to make a judgment as to which one they think is correct.”

Wolfowitz wanted to reëxamine national-security intelligence, and to avoid what he considered the groupthink inclinations of the intelligence professionals (“the priesthood,” he calls them). Eventually, he came to be known for his ability to recognize threatening patterns and capabilities that others had been unable to see. When the common wisdom held that the Soviets would slow the development and deployment of their intermediate-range missiles, Wolfowitz predicted, correctly, that the Soviets meant to modernize and enhance them. When the conventional view held that Saddam Hussein would not invade another Arab nation, Wolfowitz said that we shouldn’t rule out the possibility that he might cross the border into Kuwait—and a decade later Saddam did just that.

In 2001, the Defense Department set up a small in-house operation called the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, whose purpose, according to its creators, was not, as its critics have charged, to cherry-pick raw intelligence in order to justify the invasion of Iraq but to connect the dots between terrorist groups and countries that harbored them. Wolfowitz had his aides run a software program called Analyst Notebook, which, like a wiring diagram, could show links between disparate pieces of information. As a result, all manner of putative links were made, in much the same way that Wolfowitz connects the dots in his little parlor game. This is one way in which the connection between terrorism and Iraq became a fixed idea.

After the session at Annabel’s, Wolfowitz flew back to Germany. The next morning, he began the day by visiting Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, near Ramstein Air Base, which serves as the American military’s hub hospital for an area stretching from Europe to Southwest Asia. As Wolfowitz walked down the facility’s long corridors, he was accompanied by its commander, Colonel Rhonda Cornum. She is a physician, and a pilot—in the Gulf War, she was captured and briefly held by the Iraqis—and she had an agenda. The hospital was running at a high capacity, with some sections—orthopedics, the psych ward—completely full. Since the start of the global war on terror, nineteen thousand people had been admitted, many of them within twelve hours of being wounded in Iraq. But because the Administration continues to categorize the war as a “contingency” operation, she said, she was not able to add permanent staff. This meant having temporary medical staff who were rotated in and out of the facility from other military hospitals around the world, and it added stress to an inherently stressful operation. Wolfowitz accepted her neatly prepared PowerPoint report, and handed it to an aide.

Then he stepped into the room of a young sergeant named Jeron Johnson, from Bowman, South Carolina. Johnson was connected to several I.V.s and monitors, but he was awake, and alert. Wolfowitz walked to his bedside, leaned in, and asked, “What happened?” In a quiet, raspy voice, Johnson, who had just reënlisted before being wounded, told him that he had been on a mission with his unit in Baghdad, when his convoy got hit. “It was a V.B.I.E.D.,” Johnson explained. An I.E.D., or improvised explosive device, is the military’s term for a roadside bomb, a favored weapon of the insurgents. Car bombs are called vehicle-borne I.E.D.s.

“I saw this big burst,” Johnson calmly recounted. “I said, O.K., I got hit. . . . I called the guys over—I said, ‘My leg’s broke.’” Johnson suffered two broken legs, and several lesser injuries.

Another soldier entered the room and approached Johnson’s bedside. “I wanted to stop by,” he said. The soldier, slight and wiry, was dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt. A long scar zigzagged down the right side of his neck, and much of his left arm was missing, replaced by a prosthesis that ended in two curved steel hooks. He was Adam Replogle, a twenty-four-year-old sergeant from Denver. He addressed Johnson directly: “I got hit with an R.P.G. in the chest. I stopped by here on the way through. I wasn’t conscious like you, but I know what you’re going through.” Replogle had been a gunner on an Abrams tank, and his unit came under attack by insurgents in Karbala in May. He was evacuated to a field hospital, then to Landstuhl, where he was stabilized before being sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in Washington. Wolfowitz, who regularly visits the hospital, came to know him there. (When Wolfowitz is asked if he ever wonders about the war’s costs, he answers, “Every time I visit Walter Reed.”) The Army flew Replogle back to Germany for a reunion with his unit, which had recently returned from Iraq, and he wanted to stop by Landstuhl to offer encouragement.

Replogle said, “You hear about Karbala? That’s where I got hit. Where were you hit?”


“Sadr City?”

“No. Five South.”

“We ran into some smack back in Sadr City a while ago,” Replogle said. “They got a lotta radicals out there. Al-Sadr keeps them around.”

This aroused Sergeant Johnson. “It’s amazing,” he said. “You see these kids around you, ‘Mister, mister, give me water! Give me food!’ And you dig around, tryin’ to give it to ’em, and you give it to ’em. And then, when you’re done, they throw rocks at you. You think, Hey, you little bastard!”

“They don’t know how to act, man,” Replogle replied. “They got their freedom, they don’t know how to act. You can’t really blame ’em for it. It’s frustrating over there. I’ll tell you one thing, man. Just maintain. You can feel a couple of different ways about Iraq. You can feel bad. But when people ask you questions, man, you just tell ’em. They gotta know about the good things we did. We’re not down there smackin’ people around.”

Johnson said that he’d sometimes had difficulty convincing his own soldiers of the utility of their mission. “There’s this long street, we clean it up. Couple of weeks later, it’s trashed up again. I get a lotta guys that go, ‘What are we doing out here?’ I say to ’em, ‘We’ll come back here, let ’em see our work.’‘Sarge, they’ll tear it up again.’‘Well, that’s our job. Get the trash outta the street, clear the street, make this place a little better.’ But they don’t understand.”

Wolfowitz stood by Johnson’s bed, listening. An aide handed him a copy of Time, the issue that featured the American soldier as Person of the Year. Wolfowitz signed it to a “true American hero,” and then leaned over the hospital bed and looked Johnson in the eye. “I’ll tell you, no matter what people think about the war, ninety-eight per cent of them love our soldiers,” he said. “Period. It’s really the truth. So don’t confuse the fight about the policy for the people. I’m sure we’re going to win, and one day people will feel about you guys the way we feel about the guys who won World War Two. The world didn’t look so great in 1945-46. It took a little while to get it done. You’re getting it done.’’

And so it went, room by room, unit by unit. In one darkened room, a soldier with the build of an offensive lineman lay unconscious, his bare feet extending from the sheet covering his gurney. His wife stood at his side. When Wolfowitz entered the room, she smiled and reported the latest update from the doctors. Then she began to talk about her husband’s long deployment, growing more emotional as she spoke. “Six months is one thing,” she said, “but a year, which usually becomes thirteen or fourteen months, is just too much.” As she began to cry, an aide closed the door, and Wolfowitz spent several minutes with her privately.

Later that day, Wolfowitz flew by helicopter to Wiesbaden, for a ceremony marking the return of the 1st Armored Division. It was a large and clamorous event, attended by, among others, the American Ambassador to Germany, Daniel Coats; the Army Chief of Staff, General Peter Schoomaker; and the V Corps commander, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez. Such homecomings are always cause for celebration, but the return of the 1st Armored Division bore special significance. Old Ironsides, as the division calls itself, is perhaps the most put-upon unit in the war. It had rolled into Iraq just after the end of major combat operations, and was assigned the tough sectors of Baghdad, among them Sadr City. When the division’s yearlong deployment ended, last spring, some of its units were packed and were waiting at the airfield for the flight back to Germany. Then the division’s commander, Major General Martin E. Dempsey, broke the bad news: the sudden upsurge in fighting required more force, and the division’s deployment had been extended. Everyone knew what that meant: some of the men who had made it through a year in Iraq now stood a chance of not returning home whole, or at all. Adam Replogle was one of those soldiers.

Wolfowitz made one other stop that day. It was in Würzburg, at the headquarters of the 1st Infantry Division (the Big Red One). The division’s commander, Major General John R. S. Batiste, had been Wolfowitz’s military adviser at the Pentagon, and is currently deployed in Iraq. Wolfowitz had visited Batiste in January, before the division moved out, and the atmosphere had been pointedly gung ho. Batiste had adopted as the division’s motto a quote from F.D.R., which he felt captured the Big Red One’s attitude toward its coming mission in Iraq: “When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until it has struck before you crush him.”

“The Secretary will love that quote,” Wolfowitz had told Batiste.

Wolfowitz had seen Batiste again in June, this time in Iraq, at the division’s forward post, near Tikrit. The mood was more subdued then, and Batiste had adopted a new motto, this one, as it happens, from Gerald Ford: “There is no way we can go forward except together, and no way anybody can win except by serving the people’s urgent needs. We cannot stand still or slip backwards. We must go forward now together.’’ The words reflected the then emerging exit strategy, which was to set up an Iraqi government and an Iraqi security force to fight the insurgency, allowing the Americans to pull back and, eventually, to withdraw.

Now, in Würzburg, the headquarters staff was reduced to a skeletal rear detachment. Still, at a luncheon given in Wolfowitz’s honor, the large ballroom was packed, filled with the spouses and family members left behind. Following the custom of their tightly insular culture, the women betrayed no indication of anxiety over their men “down-range,” as they refer to the battlefield of Iraq. They chatted gaily about the food, catered by a favorite local restaurant, and talked about their children. Wolfowitz showed them a video recorded by the First Lady, and they reacted with a standing ovation. Then he took questions. One woman asked whether anything could be done about the long deployments. The Pentagon is working on it, Wolfowitz assured her. Finally, someone asked, How will this war be won? What will victory look like?

Wolfowitz responded that in January Iraq will hold elections. The resulting transitional government will write a permanent constitution. That government will run Iraq for a year, until elections at the end of 2005 produce a permanent, fully independent government. By then, he said, American forces will have trained several Iraqi Army divisions and, equally important, fifty or more battalions of the Iraqi National Guard, the domestic stability force. Reaching down to the table and knocking wood, Wolfowitz mentioned recent progress in regard to the National Guard, noting the Iraqis’ participation in the wresting of Samarra from the insurgents’ control.

While the retaking of Samarra was indeed a welcome event, it may not be a wholly accurate measure of the progress being made by Iraqi forces. The key Iraqi unit in Samarra, the 36th Battalion, was the same one that in August prevailed in Najaf, and it was the only Iraqi unit that did not flee during the Falluja uprising last spring. The 36th Battalion, however, is exceptional. It is composed of fighting forces loyal to various political factions, mostly Kurdish, and it was American policy for much of the first year of the occupation to discourage the development of such units, for fear of losing control of them.

Wolfowitz spoke of the September visit to Washington by the interim Iraqi Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi. He quoted at length from Allawi’s optimistic speech to a joint session of Congress, which Wolfowitz said had been characterized by some members of Congress as one of the best speeches ever delivered on the floor of the House.

Wolfowitz did not discuss a meeting between Allawi and President Bush during that visit, in which the Iraqi Prime Minister had been less optimistic. Allawi had spoken to the President about the conundrum facing him and the coalition: the insurgency required forceful action, but any forceful action by coalition troops would underline the negative impression of an occupation, thus fuelling the insurgency. Allawi asked the President to provide more training of Iraqi troops and more equipment.

The day after Wolfowitz left Washington on this trip, Allawi had sent, via the American Embassy, a letter to Bush. In it, he again spoke insistently about the situation in Iraq on the ground. The American training program, he said, was fine, but it was proceeding too slowly; the bulk of trained and equipped Iraqi forces would not be ready until well after the January elections, Allawi said, “which is simply too late.” Allawi said that he and the coalition needed an expanded plan for Iraqi forces, “to be implemented now.” He said that Iraq had to make a visible and effective show of force, and reminded Bush of what he had told him in Washington—that Iraq needed at least two trained and equipped Iraqi mechanized divisions. It was a huge request.

American commanders have been hesitant to provide Iraqis with tanks, arguing that the Iraqis are not yet ready for them. Wolfowitz, noting that American forces are glad to have the armored-tank protection for themselves, has said that he thinks the Iraqis will get at least a mechanized brigade fairly soon.

In his letter, Allawi asked Bush to convene a summit this month in Baghdad, with an American delegation headed by Wolfowitz. Such a high-profile meeting just weeks before the American election was unlikely, and the proposal may simply have been Allawi’s way of prodding the Administration. In any case, he was visited in Baghdad the following week by Donald Rumsfeld, who was in the region for a meeting with his commanders.

After leaving Iraq, Rumsfeld travelled to Romania for a NATO meeting. Discussing Allawi’s request for tanks, he proposed a characteristically Rumsfeldian solution. The new members of nato—those countries which Rumsfeld once called the “new Europe”—had been members of the old Warsaw Pact, which had a surplus of Soviet weapons. One way they could help, Rumsfeld suggested, was by supplying their Soviet-era tanks to the fledgling Iraqi Army.

The big miscalculation underlying the American-led intervention in Iraq was that the enemy would recognize defeat, and submit. When the Administration was faced with an insurgency, a new calculation—one that was advocated by Wolfowitz—was made: putting an Iraqi imprimatur on the mission would defuse the insurgency. The first step was the hastened transfer of sovereignty, last June. Yet the insurgency rages on, and Allawi worries about appearing to be an American puppet. Although he assured President Bush in his letter that he had “absolutely no intention” of changing his convictions or policies, he warned, “I am concerned by the concerted effort by some Iraqis and foreigners to paint my government as too close to the US and her allies.” He went on, “This is likely to get worse as elections approach, and makes it harder to rebuild political unity and to isolate the insurgents.” Now the Bush war policy depends upon a final calculation—that an Iraqi security force can be made strong enough, soon enough, to allow the mostly American multinational force to recede.

Wolfowitz seems more confident about this prospect than Allawi does. Speaking in Germany to the spouses of the 1st Infantry Division’s soldiers, Wolfowitz said, “I think you’re going to see a major change over the course of the next six months or a year.” He said he hoped that progress with the Iraqi force might go even faster than expected. “At the moment, we’re just planning for the worst,” he said. Then he added, “But a lot of good should happen this coming year.”

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 01:44 PM | Comentários (0)

Caplan - Hitler - Stalin - TLS

Hitler and Stalin together
Jane Caplan
21 October 2004

Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia
Richard Overy

848pp. | Allen Lane The Penguin Press. £25. US: Norton. $35. 0 393 02030 4 | 0 713 99309 X

The age of the bourgeoisie has come to an end”, said Hitler in January 1945, “never to return.” What was coming to a humiliating end in January 1945 was, of course, Hitler’s own age, which he had managed to keep going for just over 1 per cent of its promised duration. “Bourgeois” Europe had survived its crisis, if only just: chastened, transfigured, but recognizable. Meanwhile, Stalin was reaching the apogee of his political career. He was the victorious leader of a wounded but triumphant Communist nation and the acknowledged ally of the two remaining world powers. Despite the regrettable persistence of the capitalist West, he was poised to establish in Eastern Europe a regional placeholder for the international socialist revolution that had failed to materialize after 1917. It was to take another decade before Stalin’s pedestal began to crumble in its turn: not with the kind of cataclysmic blow that had brought Hitler’s life and his Reich to their crushing end, but through the cautious posthumous chiselling of the next
generation of Soviet leaders. Richard Overy sees the First World War as the proximate cause (though he might not use such a stark word) of the two dictatorships, in his gripping new study. In the dictators’ eyes, the War and its outcome – revolution for Russia, defeat for Germany – signed the death warrant of the nineteenth-century Western European social and political order, bourgeois, liberal and individualist: a death warrant that Hitler and Stalin were equally eager to execute.

That Communism survived Stalin, as it also preceded him, poses something of a challenge to those who wish to compare Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany. Hitler’s Germany had no Lenin, no Khrushchev, and for that matter no Gorbachev either. National Socialism and Hitler were exactly coterminous, bestriding
the epoch from war to war that gave them their violent logic. They were born, flourished (if that is the right word) and imploded together in a twenty-five-year political history that transformed movement into regime, leader into dictator, and both into disaster. The cliché “meteoric” might be apt here, if not for its
unfortunate connotations of cyclical return. Chronologically and in person Hitler embodied National Socialism in Germany to an extent that was never the case for Stalin and Bolshevism in Russia, far less for a Communist movement that enjoyed an international dimension quite absent from Nazism. Stalin had emerged from a revolutionary project that was launched well before he seized control of it, and which, some would say, he grossly perverted. After
his death, his heirs tried to redirect their dishonoured inheritance with mixed degrees of energy and success, but the denouement of 1989 was neither predicted nor inevitable, much as it may have been wished for.

Nevertheless, the impulse to compare the two dictators and the two political systems has long proved irresistible. Most durable and most contentious has been the claim that Nazi Germany and Bolshevik Russia were comparably “totalitarian” – a term aptly characterized by the Soviet scholar Iuri Igritski in 1993 as “a tennis ball” that everyone has tried “to hit harder into their opponent’s court”. The American historian Abbott Gleason has traced the trajectory of the concept since it was first put into play in 1923 by the anti-Fascist opposition in Italy, only to see their denunciation adopted by
Mussolini as a banner for his regime. It then went through a series of fascinating and complex intellectual transmutations and political applications in the 1930s and early 40s, notably in the hands of German exiles such as Franz Neumann and, most famously, Hannah Arendt. Thereafter followed a plunge into polemicism during the Cold War: the theorists of totalitarianism lined up against those of comparative fascism in a struggle for intellectual primacy, which mirrored the political battles between Left and Right that had been fought in the streets of Europe during the 1920s and 30s.

The demise of the Soviet system inaugurated a precipitate reassessment of totalitarianism at both ends of the political spectrum, though it hardly saw the end of the polemics. One thinks of the storm aroused by Stéphane Courtois’s
protest in the Black Book of Communism (1997) that the fate of Communism’s 100 million victims had been shamefully eclipsed by an exclusive scholarly and political concern for Nazism’s 25 million. Related to this is the fundamental and unremitting dispute about whether Soviet terror was primordial and systemic rather than a post-lapsarian deviation – whether there was or wasn’t, in Jeffrey Herf’s words, a “golden era of Lenin followed by the dark night of Stalinism”.

Still, since the 1990s we have also seen a more generous scholarly engagement with the comparative history of the Nazi and Stalinist dictatorships. This has been enriched by the accumulating publication of historical research into their respective social structures and the dynamics, however repressed, of civil society. The great deficiency of totalitarianism theory in the classic form proposed by Friedrich and Brzezinski in the 1950s was that it concentrated so exclusively on ideological and political structures, indeed one-sidedly on “the ‘output side’ of politics” (Jerry Hough), the process of decision-making by the leadership. This narrow focus did not make it easier to understand how either Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia actually worked. It gave too much credence to the regimes’ claims to total ideological and political control, and it posed its questions about the methods and efficacy of their operations in zero-sum terms of command and compliance.

The historiography of totalitarianism is not reviewed at any great length by Professor Overy. Nevertheless, his book stands at the intersection of two comparative impulses in the interpretation of German history, which have prompted historians to look either to the West or to the East for their models. The older of these paradigms, the idea of a German Sonderweg (special path), contrasted late nineteenth-century Germany’s political “backwardness” with a normative Anglo-American model of combined economic and political modernization. It claimed that industrializing Germany lay trapped in a peculiarly unadaptive and ultimately fatal authoritarianism. Overy turns this image of German aberrancy on its head by taking the other tack, and suggesting that inter-war Germany resembled Russia in actively repudiating the Western model of development, with its heritage of individualism, liberalism and diversity. It was this that linked the Nazi and Soviet regimes; yet for all their monstrosity, he argues, it makes no sense to see them as historical aberrations. Rather, it was the First World War, another product of European history, that provided the conditions for these two deeply polarized societies to embark on their radical but explicable socio-political experiments.

These interpretative debates shadow Overy’s text and will be visible to the attentive reader. More obviously, his book – and this is one of its great strengths – reflects in abundant detail the most recent and innovatory research into the
texture of social relations and the interactions between society and politics in each regime. Although he disclaims any ambition to present a narrative history of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, he packs an astonishing amount of vividly told information into this volume, including much that will be new to non-specialists. It is instructive to consider how his account of the dictatorships compares with that offered by Alan Bullock twenty-three years ago. Not only is Bullock’s Hitler and Stalin: Parallel lives (1991) essentially a double biography that, as Overy points out, doesn’t need to be written again, but the earlier book is also a largely political narrative focusing on men, states and wars. You don’t even need to plough through the lengthy texts to see how profoundly Overy’s approach differs from this. Just look at their illustrations – Bullock’s statesmen in a variety of public and private poses, versus the panorama of social milieu depicted in Overy’s photographs. Or even their cartography: against Bullock’s eighteen political and military maps, Overy offers just six, but of these no fewer than three are devoted to the Nazi and Soviet camp networks.

It is not that Overy ignores the political and military history of the two dictatorships, the dimensions in which, after all, they confronted each other most directly. But the bulk of his attention is drawn to the domestic policies that attempted to realize the utopian transformation of society, the environment and individual men and women that lay at their core. These were simultaneously programmes of massive construction and massive destruction which, it hardly needs pointing out, were utterly dismissive of the value of individual lives and even exulted in some of the human costs they entailed. But if some of the means were similar, the ends were different. The Soviet historical literature is strewn with questions about the “necessity” of Stalin as Russia’s indispensable modernizer, the man who forced through an essential project of industrialization at enormous cost. Isaac Deutscher put the same question with a slightly different inflection: did Stalinism create Stalin, rather than vice versa? It is less clear that we can even begin to ask the same questions about Hitler. He appears as a monstrous superfluity, a historical excess – which does not mean, however, that we cannot explain the historical and political conditions that bred his movement, eased his path to power and enabled the destructive energy of his regime. Arguments about Stalin’s necessity derive some of their force from Communism’s own claim to be powered by the very motions of historical reason itself: the illusion that was Communism’s “daily bread”, as François Furet has put it, nourishing its addiction to absolute certainty. Overy reminds us that Hitler claimed a much more personal identification with “History”. Albert Speer described his “unshakeable faith”, his “pathological” belief that his entire career was “predestined by providence”. Hitler himself marvelled in one of his speeches at the “miracle” that he and Germany had “found” one another “among so many millions”, with all the puppyish bathos of teenagers staring into each other’s eyes on a date.

Not only did the dictators believe in their projects, but we should take their beliefs seriously, argues Overy. Exactly at the midpoint of his book lies one of its most original chapters, on “the moral universe of the dictatorships”. Here Overy attempts to answer the question, “Why did they think they were right?”. This is a challenging question about the motivations and moral practices of the leaders and their representatives which has not often been posed in quite this way. Its virtue is that it enables a more flexible analysis of belief and action than the more usual discussion of ideology alone. Perhaps it is symptomatic of a wider historical turn away from grand theory to the messier terrain of consensus and complicity. The American historian Claudia Koonz has recently attempted much the same thing in her book The Nazi Conscience (2003). And this chapter accords with Overy’s overarching argument that we cannot understand the character and operations of the two regimes unless we also grasp the extent to which their ordinary citizens willingly identified themselves with their rulers’ projects, and why they did so. Again we need to examine how the regimes were embedded in their societies, not just imposed on top of them.

Relying on a moral as well as a chronological dynamic, the book The Dictators culminates in a discussion of the most heinous projects of the two regimes, in two final chapters on “Nations and Races” and “Empire of the Camps”. It was
Hannah Arendt who proposed in 1951 that the camps constituted the essential centre and meaning of totalitarianism, and her claim has been given historical ballast with the intervening accumulation of descriptive and statistical evidence that now allows us to reconstruct these “empires” in remorseless detail. The numbers and detail remain excruciating, yet Overy is uncomfortably correct in reminding us that most Soviet and German citizens could live through the 1930s and 40s without feeling endangered by the terrible fates that engulfed
so many of their fellows. It was the War, not the camps, that brought a levelling experience of trauma and loss.

One risk of a dual study like this is that it may become a balance sheet, a kind of historical accountancy that is all the more irresistible because of the degree to which the regimes themselves traded in colossal, improbable magnitudes. I confess I was struck by the emblematic disparity between the two gigantic congress halls planned by Stalin and Hitler to be the centrepieces for their reconstructed capital cities. Where Stalin aspired to provide space for 21,000 potential “delegates of international socialism”, Hitler’s megalomania conjured up a People’s Hall capable of holding ten times this number. Another risk is that the comparative strategy will conceal what isn’t readily comparable. Thus, possibly as an effect of his decision to counterpose Stalin’s victimization of nationalities with Nazi racial genocide, Overy devotes virtually no attention to agricultural collectivization. Yet this was the policy most closely associated with Stalin and one which arguably had the widest and most destructive impact on ordinary lives.

Just as Bullock pointed out that parallels never meet, so Overy reminds us that comparison does not mean equivalence, and far less identity (though the Oxford bookseller from whom I bought my second-hand copy of Bullock’s book had no hesitation in assuming equivalence. “Here you are”, he said as I handed over my £5, “£2.50 a dictator”). The test of a comparison is not whether it “works”: it can almost always be made persuasive by the historian’s selection and direction of the evidence. The ultimate test is whether comparison enables a better understanding of the historical events and processes it describes than a monographic study would. Overy does not aim to provide an ideal type or a theory of dictatorship. He is resolutely resistant to theorization; he is an interpreter – and a superb one – rather than an analyst. His skills lie in the fluent telling of a complex story, in the sharp flash of insight, in his patient commitment to the rational explanation of events that sometimes seem to defy all reason. Only at the very end does a different register of explanation intrude, when Overy refers to a “popular fascination with unrestricted power” and cites the “profound fear of loss that prompted the savage regime\[s\] of discrimination”: the fear that German culture and the promise of the Bolshevik Revolution were at absolute risk unless absolutely protected.

Richard Overy does not pursue the mechanics of these twin fantasies much further, though I think this might have helped him work out why regimes that came to power because they promised stabilization were then able to remain in power by pursuing utopian revolutions. Presiding over his study is the principle that – pace the dictators’ own sense of their historical exceptionality – nothing lies beyond history, that the dictators and their regimes were part of the history of the modern world and explicable as such. Metaphorically, this yields an image of the dictatorships shadowing Western culture as its murderous alter ego, realizing the worst of a potential that has otherwise been better contained in Europe and even in Europe’s empires, though there a good deal less successfully. Karl Deutsch once characterized totalitarian power as “the ability to afford not to learn”. If fear of loss and fascination with power are also bound into our modern world, let us hope that we can at least learn from the dictatorships.

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 01:06 PM | Comentários (0)

Zagha - Buster Keaton - TLS

Buster Keaton's great stone face
Muriel Zagha
28 October 2004

Tempest in a flat hat
Edward McPherson

288pp. | Faber. 20. | 0 571 21612 9

Most families treasure the memory of the day when a child first smiles or takes a step. In the case of Buster Keaton’s parents, it was the day of his first pratfall, when he was eighteen months old. A bystander (who may or may not have been Harry Houdini, a family friend) watching the child’s spectacular collapse down a flight of stairs and exclaiming, “My, what a buster!”, inadvertently gave Joseph Frank Keaton his performer’s name, “buster” being show-business slang for a fall.

Edward McPherson’s informative new biography, Buster Keaton: Tempest in a flat hat, coincides with a Keaton season at the Barbican Centre and traces the progress of the “intuitive slapstick theorist” from the world of variety theatre, in which he grew up, to the sublimity of his mature Hollywood triumphs. The author’s infectious enthusiasm also succeeds in evoking the distinctive pleasure afforded by Keaton’s films. One particularly enjoyable part of McPherson’s narrative is his vivid, often hilarious evocation of Keaton’s early years, spent travelling the vaudeville circuit of the 1890s with his parents, Joe (an “eccentric dancer” famous for his high kicks) and Myra (“a 4’11”, ninety-pound whisky-drinking bull-fiddle saxophone player”). Keaton joined them on stage in a family roughhouse act entitled, somewhat worryingly, “The Little Boy Who Couldn’t Be Damaged”. The action consisted mainly of Keaton’s father picking him up by a hidden suitcase handle strapped to his back and throwing him about the stage – and occasionally at offending critics in the audience. This hands-on tuition turned Keaton into a wonderful and fearless acrobat, something he would later put to good use in his many film stunts. Moreover, by repeatedly hissing “Face! Face!” under his breath to stop Keaton from smiling when the audience laughed at his antics, Joe Keaton also helped to develop the impassive demeanour that would become his son’s trademark: the Great Stone Face.

On this subject, McPherson distances himself from other biographers and film scholars who have variously interpreted Keaton’s impassivity as the tragic mask of an abused child, a sad clown or an anguished existentialist. In fact, what you see is what you get: Keaton remained expressionless purely for comic effect. Audiences laughed hardest, Keaton noticed, if his character appeared not to react – with the exception of the odd puzzled blink – to the mishaps that befell him. Although he experienced setbacks in later life – alcoholism, the break-ups of his first two marriages – the actor never considered himself a victim of his early training. The violence of the Keatons’ vaudeville act and of later Keaton films simply made the most of its polite audiences’ enjoyment of watching “a good beaning”.

Fittingly, Keaton’s transition from stage to film-set happened under the tutelage of another vaudevillean, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, whose Comique (pronounced Cumeeky) film-making unit Keaton joined in 1917 before setting up on his own in 1920. During this period Keaton evolved his preferred method of “composition”. Shunning anything as predetermined as a script, it relied on the sketching-out of gags during collaborative sessions of comic improvisation. When inspiration eluded them, the whole crew would break off to play baseball. Keaton also worked out gags by shuffling pennies (stand-ins for people) to music on the radio, which helped set up the tempo. Indeed, much of the appeal of Keaton’s 1920s work lies in its infectious sense of pace, the fruit of practical experimentation. The number of frames per second was not standardized in the days of silent movies (this would only become necessary with the advent of soundtracks) and speed was a matter of stylistic choice. The cameraman cranked the film through the camera by hand, shifting speeds according to the action unfolding before him and, when necessary, under- or over-cranking the film to give the illusion of speeding up or slowing down. The exuberant rhythm of the comedy is perhaps best experienced when – as was the case at the Barbican – it is heightened by a live accompaniment. The semi-improvised piano scores by Neil Brand, Phil Carli, Stephen Horne and Andrew Youdell (who have each interpreted the films many times before, and who rely both on favourite musical themes and on spur-of-the-moment inspiration) add another sympathetic layer to Keaton’s aesthetics.

Keaton’s best work combines the actor’s sense of timing with his remarkable physical training to produce dreamlike anti-gravitational feats. In Steamboat Bill, Jr (1928), Keaton battles a cyclone (provided by aircraft engines), leaning against it at a 45-degree angle, crawling, sliding and jumping wildly while a town collapses around him. In a daring one-take stunt, the façade of a house falls on top of him, leaving Keaton standing in the second floor’s open window. (The front of the house, solidly built so as to fall flat and straight, swung on a hinge, giving Keaton a scant two inches’ clearance within the window frame.) In Cops (1921), Keaton escapes the hundreds of police officers chasing him by calmly putting his arm out as a car crosses the frame and being carried away by it.

American vaudeville also shaped the varied talents of Charlie Chaplin, W. C. Fields and the Three Stooges. What is remarkable about Keaton is how his cinematic sensibility allowed that vaudeville heritage to blossom into such technical marvels as the underwater sequence in The Navigator (1924). Clad in a deep-sea diving suit, Keaton is mending the hull of a boat when he is disturbed by a passing lobster nipping at his trouser leg. With perfectly surreal (if not quite Surrealist) presence of mind, he uses the crustacean as a pair of clippers before releasing it, and then fights a swordfish with another swordfish. The five-minute sequence, shot in the crystalline waters of Lake Tahoe, took more than a month to get right.

Most groundbreaking of all is The Playhouse (1921), which features a one-man vaudeville revue, in which up to nine Buster Keatons appear on screen at once. Keaton is the orchestra and conductor, the nine minstrels performing on stage and the members of the audience, one of whom declares, “This fellow Keaton seems to be the whole show”. The innovative effect was obtained by fitting the camera with a lightproof casing whose shutters could be opened one after the other. The cameraman shot through each aperture and rewound the film between takes, meticulously cranking each exposure at exactly the same speed. When projected, the end result – a splintered screen containing different exposures of Keaton – looks like a seamless single frame.

Keaton’s delight in the creative possibilities of film-making is also apparent in his flair for parody (The Three Ages is a spoof of D. W. Griffith’s Intolerance, and he also lampooned Theda Bara and Erich von Stroheim in The Frozen North), and especially in those works that chose film-making itself as their subject matter. When Keaton’s rookie newsreel cameraman produces his first inexpert documentary effort in The Cameraman (1928), it turns out to be a ghostly double-exposed wonderland in which battleships cruise down the streets of midtown New York. Keaton had gone further in 1924 with the astonishing film-within-the-film section of Sherlock, Junior (which became the inspiration for Woody Allen’s Purple Rose of Cairo). Keaton plays a projectionist who falls asleep in his booth and, in the ensuing dream sequence, jumps straight into the film he is screening. (In this scene, the “movie screen” is actually a raised, recessed and furnished stage, lit brightly enough to resemble a projected image in the darkened theatre: Keaton simply hops onto the stage and into the room.) His pioneering special effects are exhilarating because, unlike many of today’s spectacular digital illusions, they retain the tang of the real thing. The fluidity of the film-within-a-film in which a dreaming Keaton cuts from one setting to another (a busy street, the edge of a cliff, a jungle) in Sherlock, Junior was achieved through painstaking measurements of the actor’s exact position before each cut and the careful fades and dissolves produced by Keaton’s cameraman slowly closing or opening the camera’s aperture. The acrobatic Keaton worked without stunt doubles and often incorporated unplanned elements or indeed accidents along the way, such as a missed rooftop-to-rooftop leap in The Three Ages, which he claimed got the biggest laugh when the film was screened.

Keaton wanted to produce a vision so true it “hurt”. This is literally the case with the fight scenes in Battling Butler (1926) – which inspired the realistic style of Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull – where Keaton plays an upper-class fop who passes himself off as his boxer namesake in order to impress a girl. It also reflects, more obliquely, Keaton’s keen desire for historical authenticity, in particular when recreating scenes from the American past. His copy of a primitive bicycle (the “Gentleman’s Hobby-Horse”) ridden at the start of Our Hospitality (1923), set in the antebellum South, was so precise that the Smithsonian Institution asked to have it after the film was released.

The pursuit of realism was an integral part of Keaton’s comedy from the plotless slapstick of the Comique shorts to his most famous film, The General (1926). Based on a true Civil War story (the hijacking of a passenger train in Georgia by Union spies who ended up being captured and hanged), The General casts Keaton as the engine driver whose train is stolen (and sweetheart kidnapped) and who sets off in hot pursuit aboard another engine. Although it would be hailed as a masterpiece in the 1950s, when Keaton was first “rediscovered” as an original film-maker, the film was a dismal failure at the box office of its day. Audiences were baffled by this new form of comedy, which was so much more ambitious than a mere series of physical gags. Keaton took pains to recreate the Civil War in the outdoors, using period locomotives and building sets copied from engravings of the time. He was also inventing a new genre – action comedy – where the gags were often subordinated to the geometry of the narrative in which the pursuer becomes pursued, and vice-versa, across the epic panorama of the American landscape.

“Railways”, according to Keaton, “are a great prop.” Apart from the sheer fun (very apparent in The General) of driving an engine, the truth of this statement is perhaps reflected in the many uses of trains as the vehicle of realistic representation in early cinema. The General came in the wake of the 1903 one-reeler The Great Train Robbery (advertised as “a faithful duplication of the genuine ‘hold-ups’ made famous by various outlaw bands in the Far West”). Moreover, the terrified reactions of onlookers (and later spectators) to Keaton’s most expensive stunt, the collapse of a bridge under a passing locomotive that falls into the river below, echo the reception of Louis Lumière’s short film L’Arrivée du train en gare de La Ciotat, which caused spectators to flee the auditorium in a panic in 1895.

McPherson makes a case of sorts for Keaton’s later work, but it is widely acknowledged that his golden age as a film-maker ended in the 1930s. He appeared briefly as one of Norma Desmond’s desiccated bridge partners in Sunset Boulevard (1951), but Keaton’s career, unlike like that of the fictional Desmond, was not destroyed by sound. He had a good voice and continued to make films until his death in 1966. But new technology creates new skills and one of the consequences of the arrival of the talkies was the emergence of a dramatic new use of language in film. While still making silent movies, Keaton, who once said that “a good comedy story can be written on a penny postcard”, had a friendly competition with Charlie Chaplin to see who could make the film with the fewest intertitles. But the talkies created a new genre, screwball comedy, which came with dialogue akin to verbal acrobatics, one dazzling example of which was the 1934 railway comedy Twentieth Century by Howard Hawks, starring the “fast-talking dame”, Carole Lombard. Talents other than Keaton’s were required.

Regardless of what may have been gained or lost with the advent of sound, a longer perspective appears to have increased the seductive appeal of the Great Stone Face. James Agee compared it to the expression worn by Abraham Lincoln, and it captivated Samuel Beckett, whose 1964 Film, which stars Keaton, works relentlessly towards the final appearance of his famous face. Perhaps there is also, as McPherson suggests, something about Keaton that holds the key to a freer and more imaginative way of experiencing the cinema, more akin to reading (or dreaming) than seeing – a way, too, of silently projecting ourselves, like Sherlock, Junior, onto the screen.

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 01:04 PM | Comentários (0)

Cobb - primates - TLS

Into the minds of primates
Matthew Cobb
28 October 2004

Unlocking the mystery of who we are
David Premack and Ann Premack

275pp. | McGraw-Hill. £18.99 (US $24.95). | 0 07 138422 2

If you watch a gorilla, it is very difficult to escape the impression that it is really a human in a hairy costume. Its manipulation of objects, interactions with others and the deep brown pools of its eyes leave a profound impression on the human watcher. But what – if anything – is it thinking? And, how can we tell? These fascinating questions, which straddle philosophy, linguistics, psychology and neuroscience, have become the centre of a whole research field over the last three decades. They provide a comparative and evolutionary counterpoint to the more general studies of consciousness that have become so fashionable. Finding answers to them tests the intelligence and thought of the scientists who devise appropriate experiments as much as those experiments test the intelligence and thought of their primate subjects.

In the 1970s, David Premack and Ann Premack pioneered studies of the difficulties encountered by chimpanzees in trying to learn language. They were seen to be in the opposite camp to scientists like Allan and Beatrice Gardner, who famously claimed that their chimpanzee, Washoe, could use sign language in a human-like fashion. In 1978, David Premack co-authored an article entitled “Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind?”, which set out the ground rules for most subsequent research in the field of non-human primate intelligence and consciousness. Original Intelligence summarizes the Premacks’ work, including many comparative studies on the intellectual and linguistic abilities of children.

The Premacks’ studies, and those of the substantial research community that they have helped to create, generally agree on what might seem obvious. There are qualitative differences between humans and other apes, and those differences revolve around the key issues of language and consciousness, and the ability to use these characteristics to understand and manipulate the world. But, in many instances, the gap between ourselves and apes is extremely narrow. Not only can the chimp Sarah place eyes, nose and mouth in the right place on an empty “face”, but when she repeatedly puts a banana skin on the top of her head, the Premacks realize that she is apparently trying to represent a hat that she had been playing with earlier in the day. This was not supposed to be part of the experiment, but Sarah decided that it should be. Sarah was also able to learn a new “word” (in fact a plastic symbol) for “brown”, when she was given the sentence “brown colour of chocolate”. After being shown the sentence (she already knew the two nouns), she was shown four objects, one of which was brown. On being asked to “take brown”, she did so.

Original Intelligence provides genuine insights into the minds of apes, but its overall quality is uneven. The opening chapters affirm the existence of “modules” – hypothetical mental structures that are located in specific parts of the brain and are employed in post hoc explanations in the modish subdiscipline of evolutionary psychology. However, with the partial exception of language, there is no evidence that such “modules” exist, and even less that they have a genetic basis and have been subject to strong selection. Furthermore, it is not clear from the Premacks’ text how their experimental findings would be weakened were Occam’s razor to be wielded and “modules” replaced by a simpler, less hypothetical explanation of the differences between humans and other apes, based on general learning abilities.

The concluding chapter is similarly weak, revealing the classic problem of a specialist venturing outside his area of competence. In this section, the Premacks discuss a series of proposals for improving educational programmes, based on the idea of tailoring teaching to the needs of the mythical modules. Though this might seem unconnected to the main theme, it coincides with one of the authors’ main interests: the unique role of pedagogy in human societies compared to other animals. This brief conclusion contrasts with the rest of the book: its roots in the primary literature are extremely shallow and what could have been an interesting attempt to marry educational and behavioural research tends toward a series of unsupported assertions.

Peter Gärdenfors, who teaches cognitive science at Lund University in Sweden, is interested in the more general problem of thinking and its evolution. How Homo Became Sapiens presents his vision of the evolution of thinking, starting with the change that took place around six million years ago when Homo split off
from the Pan lineage, giving rise to two modern chimpanzee species – the “classic” PG Tips style Pan troglodytes and the delightfully sensual and promiscuous Bonobos – as well as Homo sapiens, which Jared Diamond so memorably described as “the third chimpanzee”. Gärdenfors provides a thorough account of the various approaches used by behavioural scientists to measure the abilities of non-human primates, starting with perception, but rapidly moving on to the really difficult stuff – planning, theories of mind, self-consciousness, language and speech. The experiments and their conclusions are succinctly and vividly described, and the non-specialist will find this an accessible glimpse into a difficult topic. Unfortunately, Peter Gärdenfors had the dubious idea of enlivening his account with an anthropomorphic rhesus monkey named Egon, who provides a regular commentary. This device is presumably supposed to be amusing and informative. The reader may instead find it irritating to the point of rendering the book unreadable.

A general problem that afflicts most studies of ape intelligence and communication is that the sample size is often very small. Sometimes, as is often the case in the Premacks’ book, important conclusions are drawn from the behaviour of one animal. This is primarily due to the intensive procedures that are required to get apes to produce reliable responses in a behavioural experiment. As any behavioural scientist knows, all animals, given half a chance, will find something else to do, apart from providing the “correct” answer. This is especially true of apes, which require a great deal of training over many years, especially in studies of language. But even if we understand the reasons that lie behind the small sample size, that does not mean that we should ignore the real difficulties that arise. Very little of substance can be drawn from such studies, for the simple reason that behaviour is probably the most variable phenotype, and that the first step to overcoming response variability is to measure it. That means making many observations of many different animals. Thankfully, some studies have been able to do this, which, for example, enables David and Ann Premack to make a definitive statement about whether chimpanzee mothers teach their children to crack nuts (they don’t).

As this last example indicates, there are limits to the abilities of chimps, such as the fact that they do not point, nor can they successfully throw objects at a target. These simple examples are very revealing: the problem does not seem to lie in the relevant hand–eye coordination (any animal that can shin up a tree as quickly as a chimp clearly has no difficulty here), but rather in something more intangible and magical: the mind. Both these books show how far we have come in understanding these alien minds, and how far we have yet to go before we really understand what other apes think.

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 01:02 PM | Comentários (0)

Theo Tait - V S Naipaul - London Review of Books

Vicious Poke in the Eye
Theo Tait
Magic Seeds by V.S. Naipaul
Picador, 294 pp, £16.99

'Willie Chandran asked his father one day: "Why is my middle name Somerset?"' So begins Half a Life, the strange and chilling novel that V.S. Naipaul published in 2001 - thirty years or so after he first pronounced the novel a dying form. The story begins in the 1930s, in a South Indian princely state, where Willie's father embarks on a half-hearted and dubious rebellion against the 'servility' he sees all around him: against the false security of the maharajah's little state, against the pieties of his Brahmin family - 'foolish, foreign-ruled starveling priests'. He resolves 'to follow the mahatma's call', but chooses some unorthodox varieties of Gandhian sacrifice and civil disobedience. He decides to strike a blow against the evils of the caste system by taking 'the lowest person he could find' as his wife: a young woman from a 'backward' caste whose dark skin, 'coarse tribal features' and 'terrible rough voice' both repel and fascinate him. Meanwhile, he wages a low-level campaign of civil disobedience in the tax office where he works, destroying evidence of fraud - more, it seems, out of bloody-minded laziness than idealism. And so he finds himself not only miserable in his marriage and reviled by his family, but also facing prosecution for corruption. His reaction is to fall, 'as if by instinct, into the old ways': he walks barefooted and barebacked to the temple, and declares himself a mendicant.

Enter Somerset Maugham, in India to research The Razor's Edge, his proto-hippie novel about the search for spirituality. Maugham is shown round the temple by one of Willie's father's enemies, a man who knows what a scoundrel Willie's father is. Still, 'a good servant of the maharajah's tourist department', he tells Maugham what he wants to hear: a story about 'a man of high caste, high in the maharajah's revenue service, from a line of people who had performed sacred rituals for the ruler, turning his back on a glittering career, and living as a mendicant on the alms of the poorest of the poor'. Maugham writes admiringly about Willie's father in his travel book. He comes to be seen as the spiritual source of The Razor's Edge. Respect from abroad changes everything; everyone in the state pretends to see him as the English writer had seen him, as a holy man; the persecution stops. Willie's father sets up an ashram, which attracts many visitors from the West. Like Gandhi, he takes a vow of sexual abstinence; unlike Gandhi, he fails. The result is Willie - named in Maugham's honour - and his younger sister, Sarojini. Having told the story, Willie's father asks for his son's reaction. Willie says: 'I despise you.'

This brief tale constitutes, as it were, the founding myth of Willie Chandran - whose adventures are the subject of Half a Life and Magic Seeds, the novel which follows it. Like most of the first smart, sardonic novel, the story appears to have been thrown out with contemptuous ease. It proceeds at a pace - at the speed of an Evelyn Waugh satire, without a laugh in sight - while conveying in compressed form various of Naipaul's long-standing themes or obsessions. The sense, for instance, of ideas and beliefs being passed between different cultures, becoming meaningless or worse and demeaning both cultures in the process. The sense that India's spirituality is a con: a form of institutionalised poverty, institutionalised servility - 'a religious response to worldly defeat', as he put it in India: A Wounded Civilisation (1977). The characteristic mixture of tough-minded materialist analysis and atavistic horror: Willie's father's distaste for his low-caste wife is shudderingly well-evoked. It all expresses a complex form of rage (key Naipaulian term) towards India and Hindu culture: its disorder, its squalor, its indifference, its numbing rituals, its aping of foreign ways, the contradictions and confusions of its political movements. This rage sustained his two famous travel books about India: A Wounded Civilisation and An Area of Darkness (1964) - whose undoubted brilliance is matched only by their capacity to provoke and offend. The rage is still there in Magic Seeds when Willie joins his own Indian mutiny - son following father, falling back, in a complicated sense, into the old ways.

In the meantime, Willie has travelled the paradigmatic journey of Naipaul's later books: flight from home, the father, the family world - colonial, circumscribed, insecure - to London, moving from the margin to the centre of the imperial world. Like many of his heroes, he experiences the immigrant's dislocated life, he studies, he publishes essays and stories, and he endures the traditional Naipaulian tussles with prostitutes and loose women. He also has a love affair with a Portuguese-African woman named Ana; and returns with her to her country, which is clearly Mozambique. Then, after 18 years, Willie suddenly decides to leave; it's not his life, he tells her. Ana replies: 'Perhaps it wasn't really my life either.' Thus, abruptly and obliquely, the first book ends. Half a life, lived in 'half-and-half' worlds - and probably half a novel, too.

'How terrible it would have been,' the narrator of A House for Mr Biswas (1961) says, 'to have lived without even attempting to lay claim to one's portion of the earth; to have lived as one had been born, unnecessary and unaccommodated.' More terrible still is the same idea, stripped of any sympathy, which opens A Bend in the River (1979): 'The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.' Willie threatens to become just such an un-person: a 'casualty of freedom', to use Naipaul's fine ironic phrase from In a Free State (1971). When we catch up with him at the beginning of Magic Seeds, he has left Africa and is living in Cold War Berlin with his sister Sarojini, 'in a temporary, half-and-half way'. His search for a place in the world, for wholeness, starts again as if from scratch. Sarojini, like her brother, has also made an 'international marriage', to Wolf, a radical-chic German documentary-maker. She talks glibly about Lenin, Mao, 'the Pol Pot position' and the 'the Lin-Piao line' - 'the words of someone still mimicking adulthood' - and encourages him to take up a violent revolutionary cause. Willie listens 'in his blank way' and says nothing; but eventually shame and resolution grow in him, and he agrees to join a movement in India.

Naipaul explained the genesis of the first half of Magic Seeds in a recent interview. 'I went to India and met some people who had been involved in this guerrilla business, middle-class people who were rather vain and foolish. There was no revolutionary grandeur to it. Nothing. And I put the whole thing out of my head. And then, as is often the case, I found a way of using that material as it should be used.' The reference is to the Bengali Communists that he interviewed for India: A Million Mutinies Now (1990). These two men, a science professor and a company executive, went from Calcutta to the villages of Bengal as part of the Naxalite movement: a Maoist peasant rebellion that started in 1967 and spread across India, feeding off the discontents and earlier rebellions of the poorer, lower castes. Their story follows the trajectory of much of Naipaul's political writing: the movement goes, 'stage by abstract stage, from a raw, humiliated concern with the poor and India, to cultural and economic suicide, new compulsions and violations, and a cause far removed from the peasant's hunger'. Soon the party line sanctions individual killing of 'class enemies'; generally, the easy targets - lone policemen, the smaller landlords who don't have much protection.

By the time Willie becomes a guerrilla - roughly at the end of the 1970s - the rot has set in long ago. He goes with the intention of joining Kandapalli (probably a reference to Kondapalli Seetaramaiah, founder of the People's War Group, which conducted an armed uprising in the forests of Andhra Pradesh). Eventually, after a tortuous recruitment process, he arrives at the rebel training camp in a teak forest; he realises immediately that he has 'fallen among the wrong people', come to 'the wrong revolution'. These people are dropouts from the towns and cities, playing at guerrillas, playing at killing. This is soon confirmed by a letter from Sarojini. There has been a mistake: 'The movement, as you know, has split, and what has happened is that you are among psychopaths . . . The comfort is that you are all serving the same cause in the end, and the time may come one day when you may be able to cross over and join Kandapalli's people.'

Willie spends seven years among the psychopaths. He lives a boring, occasionally violent and, above all, pointless life. The guerrillas haunt the forests, railway towns, and filthy tanneries, recruiting, carrying messages or arms, or waiting for orders that never come. They push deeper into the forest 'to extend the liberated areas', to 'occupy and re-educate'. They fail: the peasants do not want to be liberated. These people are desperately poor: they are outcasts, 'half-tribals', 'cricket people, matchstick people', their bodies flimsy and their 'minds gone' after 'centuries of slavery and abuse and bad food'. (As always with Naipaul, the line between hating oppression and hating the oppressed is hazy.) Among the revolutionaries, frustration with the recalcitrance of the cricket people begins to build up. At their many meetings, they debate their lack of progress, and complain about the 'poor human material' they have to work with. The 'pastoral vision' of the oppressed peasant, Willie thinks, fails to acknowledge that the villages are 'full of criminals, as limited and vicious and as brutal as the setting'. Another guerrilla says: 'These people will begin to understand the revolution only when we start killing people.' So they start to kill.

'When jargon turns living issues into abstractions,' Naipaul wrote in The Return of Eva Peron (1980), 'and where jargon ends by competing with jargon, people don't have causes. They only have enemies; only the enemies are real.' This section follows the Naipaul line very closely: a dreamed-of utopia becomes a living hell. He creates a bad-dream atmosphere, a phantasmagoria of boredom, futile journeys, wasted lives and endless, incantatory meetings - punctuated by episodes of sickening violence. It is highly effective, and highly unpleasant. The Conradian theme - the corruption of causes - is complemented by Conradian grotesques, men driven by rage and shame to nihilism, now visible in their faces: 'He had small, hard, mad eyes. He fingered his gun with his bony fingers every time he spoke.' Willie consoles himself by concentrating on 'the yoga of his hour-to-hour life, looking on each hour, each action, as challenging and important'. But eventually even Willie, naive and unanchored as he is, realises that he must leave. This, too, is bungled: he confuses surrender with amnesty, and is surprised to find himself imprisoned when he hands himself in. After the yoga of the movement comes the yoga of the prison. Until, with one of the abrupt, semi-comic changes of scene and mood that characterise these two novels, he is saved: one of his English literary friends, Roger, a lawyer, persuades the authorities to release him, on the grounds that a long-forgotten book of stories established Willie as 'a pioneer of modern Indian writing'.

So Willie finds himself again en route to what Naipaul in The Mimic Men (1967) calls 'the greater disorder, the final emptiness: London and the Home Counties'. Willie is awarded a sinecure at a 'high-class public relations' magazine by 'the banker', a powerful friend of Roger's with a taste for strays. The third act of Magic Seeds is a very strange comedy of manners, with brief observational detours into 'the great churning' of postwar immigration, the fanaticism and servility of 'the Arab faith', the dreariness of modern urban Britain. (Of Cricklewood, Willie says: 'I wouldn't want to live here. Imagine coming back here day after day. What would be the point of anything?') But the last hundred pages are dominated by sex, and Naipaul's obsession with sex between races, between castes. The subject is submerged through most of the novel. This is surprising, since Half a Life is, to a large extent, concerned with sex: after his bad experiences in London, Willie finds sensual fulfilment in Africa at the local brothels, and in an intense affair with the wife of an estate overseer - until he discovers, belatedly and alarmingly, that she is 'a simple person', half-mad.

A similarly intense affair forms the centre-piece of the English section of Magic Seeds: Roger's account of his relationship with Marian, 'a council-estate woman', who first enchants him when he sees her 'black, coarse elasticated pants slipping low' as she gets out of a car. Roger's story begins with a broad-brush right-wing history of the failures of socialism in England, and proceeds with a hilariously prurient and unidiomatic account of the sexual mores of the lower classes: 'It was all part of the sex game, part of the weekend clubbing . . . At the end there was sex for everyone, however fat, however plain.' Much of this section is so weird it defies paraphrase:

She said, in her cool way, looking down at me: 'Aren't you going to bugger me?'

I didn't know what to say.

She said: 'I thought that was where you were going.'

I still didn't know what to say.

She said: 'Did you go to Oxford or Cambridge?' And with a gesture of irritation reached across the bed for her bag. Easily, as though she knew where it was, she took out a tube of lip salve.

I hesitated. She passed the lip salve to me, saying: 'I am not doing this for you. You do it.'

I hadn't thought it possible for a naked, exposed woman to be so imperious.

She commanded. I obeyed. How well I did I didn't know. She didn't tell me.

It is an astounding amalgam of smut and snobbery, distaste and slavering fascination, which ends with an elegantly disgusted account of an interracial marriage. Willie's aimless life has earlier been contrasted with that of Marcus, a West African diplomat, who has happily fixated on 'one ambition': 'to have sex only with white women and then one day to have a white grandchild'. That happy day has come, and now Marcus's son Lyndhurst, 'big-chested, thuggish-looking, with Africa more than half scrubbed off him', is to marry a pale aristocrat, the mother of his children. Their two children, one dark, one 'as white as white can be', are beside them as they tie the knot. One of the two children farts during the ceremony. 'But the guests,' we are told, 'lined up correctly on this matter: the dark people thought the dark child had farted; the fair people thought it was the fair child.' Soon after the contested fart, Roger develops a migraine; he and Willie return home, with the 'slave music' of the Dutch Antillean wedding band still ringing in their ears. Naipaul is often painted as a fearless critic of lazy left-liberal nostrums, a disillusioned scourge of mumbo-jumbo ancient and modern. He's offering something much simpler here: a calculated affront to the egalitarian and multicultural values of modern Britain. But it's also far stranger, more personal, and more excessive than that: the term 'politically incorrect' doesn't begin to cover it - 'politically obscene' is nearer the mark.

Magic Seeds, even more than its predecessor, is a horrible novel - icy, misanthropic, pitiless, purposefully pinched in both its style and its sympathies. If The Enigma of Arrival (1987), a sad and wonderful book, belongs to Naipaul's 'autumnal stage', this is bleak midwinter: the cold fury before the end. You could say Naipaul was just playing up to his reactionary reputation, as he does in interviews, railing against multiculturalism ('a racket'), New Labour (a 'socialist revolution' producing an 'aggressively plebeian culture' that 'celebrates itself') or Saudi Arabia and Iran ('they probably should be destroyed, actually'). The great diagnostician of societies, as V.S. Pritchett described him, seems to have given up on the job - he now just jabs the patient playfully in the liver, or pokes him viciously in the eye.

But Magic Seeds is not just a book-length piece of bufferish provocation. Though difficult and often physically disturbing to read, it has resonant images, an insidious intelligence, and the distant cousin of a sense of humour. 'These random, unresolved pieces of terror or disquiet or anxiety,' a reviewer of Willie's book says in Half a Life, 'seem in the most unsettling way to come out of no settled view of the world.' This goes some way to explaining the effect of Magic Seeds. Like much of Naipaul's work, it's a saga of authenticity lost, of wholeness destroyed. But as always, this coexists with a rage for order, a need to analyse, to simplify, to compress. Naipaul still has what, in The Mimic Men, he calls 'the gift of the phrase', of 'letting simple words harden into settled judgments and attitudes'. Like voices in a chorus, character after character offers judgments that are too simple and generalisations that are too subjective. This, like a dark parody of the Olympian pronouncements of Naipaul's travel books, is Willie's India: 'the terrible India of Indian family life - the soft physiques, the way of eating, the ways of speech, the idea of the father, the idea of the mother, the crinkled, much-used plastic shop bags (sometimes with a long irrelevant printed name)'. This is Roger: 'The servant class has vanished. No one knows what they have metamorphosed into.' This is one of the guerrillas: 'No revolution can be a movement of love. If you ask me, I will tell you that the peasants ought to be kept in pens.' The overall effect is a nightmarish chaos of opinion and association, within a punishing, abstracted form - creating, as Willie puts it, 'a child's vision of the world spinning in darkness, with everyone on it lost'.

Magic Seeds confirms the forbidding drift of Naipaul's talent: since A House for Mr Biswas, doomed to be more admired than loved, and since A Bend in the River, probably more respected than read. As Thackeray said of Swift, Naipaul leaves the reader with conflicting desires: wanting both to damn him - 'filthy in word, filthy in thought, furious, raging, obscene' - for having, as it were, given up on being human; but also to acknowledge a gloomy genius: 'So great a man he seems to me, that thinking of him is like thinking of an empire falling.'

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 12:14 PM | Comentários (0)

Buttler - Derrida - London Review of Books

Jacques Derrida
Judith Butler
'How do you finally respond to your life and your name?' Derrida raised this question in his final interview with Le Monde, published on 18 August this year. If he could apprehend his life, he remarked, he would also be obliged to apprehend his death as singular and absolute, without resurrection and without redemption. At this revealing moment, it is interesting that Derrida the philosopher should find in Socrates his proper precursor: that he should turn to Socrates to understand that, at the age of 74, he still did not quite know how best to live. One cannot, he remarks, come to terms with one's life without trying to apprehend one's death, asking, in effect, how a human learns to live and to die. Much of Derrida's later work is dedicated to mourning, and he offers his acts of public mourning as posthumous gifts. In The Work of Mourning (2001), he tries to come to terms with the deaths of other writers and thinkers through reckoning his debt to their words, indeed, their texts; his own writing constitutes an act of mourning, one that he is perhaps, avant la lettre, recommending to us as a way to begin to mourn this thinker, who not only taught us how to read, but gave the act of reading a new significance and a new promise. In that book, he openly mourns Roland Barthes, who died in 1980, Paul de Man, who died in 1983, Michel Foucault, who died in 1984, and a host of others, including Edmund Jabès (1991), Louis Marin (1992), Sarah Kofman (1994), Emmanuel Levinas (1995) and Jean-François Lyotard (1998). In the last of these essays, for Lyotard, it is not his own death that preoccupies him, but rather his 'debts'. These are authors that he could not do without, ones with and through whom he thinks. He writes only because he reads, and he reads only because there are these authors to read time and again. He 'owes' them something or, perhaps, everything, if only because he could not write without them: their writing exists as the precondition of his own; their writing constitutes the means through which his own writing voice is animated and secured, a voice that emerges, importantly, as an address.

In October 1993, when I shared a stage with Derrida at New York University, I had a brief, private conversation with him that touched on these issues. I could see in him a certain urgency to acknowledge those many people who had translated him, those who had read him, those who had defended him in public debate, and those who had made good use of his thinking and his words. I leaned over and asked whether he felt that he had many debts to pay. I was hoping to suggest to him that he need not feel so indebted, thinking as I did in a perhaps naively Nietzschean way that the debt was a form of enslavement: did he not see that what others offered him, they offered freely? He seemed not to be able to hear me in English. And so when I said 'your debts', he said: 'My death?' 'No,' I reiterated, 'your debts!' and he said: 'My death!?' At this point I could see that there was a link between the two, one that my efforts at clear pronunciation could not quite pierce, but it was not until I read his later work that I came to understand how important that link really was. 'There come moments,' he writes, 'when, as mourning demands [deuil oblige], one feels obligated to declare one's debts. We feel it our duty to say what we owe to friends.' He cautions against 'saying' the debt and imagining that one might then be done with it. He acknowledges instead the 'incalculable debt' that one does not want to pay: 'I am conscious of this and want it thus.' He ends his essay on Lyotard with a direct address: 'There it is, Jean-François, this is what, I tell myself, I today would have wanted to try and tell you.' There is in that attempt, that essai, a longing that cannot reach the one to whom it is addressed, but does not for that reason forfeit itself as longing. The act of mourning thus becomes a continued way of 'speaking to' the other who is gone, even though the other is gone, in spite of the fact that the other is gone, precisely because that other is gone. We now must say 'Jacques' to name the one we have lost, and in that sense 'Jacques Derrida' becomes the name of our loss. Yet we must continue to say his name, not only to mark his passing, but because he is the one we continue to address in what we write; because it is, for many of us, impossible to write without relying on him, without thinking with and through him. 'Jacques Derrida', then, as the name for the future of what we write.

It is surely uncontroversial to say that Jacques Derrida was one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century; his international reputation far exceeds that of any other French intellectual of his generation. More than that, his work fundamentally changed the way in which we think about language, philosophy, aesthetics, painting, literature, communication, ethics and politics. His early work criticised the structuralist presumption that language could be described as a static set of rules, and he showed how those rules admitted of contingency and were dependent on a temporality that could undermine their efficacy. He wrote against philosophical positions that uncritically subscribed to 'totality' or 'systematicity' as values, without first considering the alternatives that were ruled out by that pre-emptive valorisation. He insisted that the act of reading extends from literary texts to films, to works of art, to popular culture, to political scenarios, and to philosophy itself. This notion of 'reading' insists that our ability to understand relies on our capacity to interpret signs. It also presupposes that signs come to signify in ways that no particular author or speaker can constrain in advance through intention. This does not mean that language always confounds our intentions, but only that our intentions do not fully govern everything we end up meaning by what we say and write.

Derrida's work moved from a criticism of philosophical presumptions in groundbreaking books such as Of Grammatology (1967), Writing and Difference (1967), Dissemination (1972), Spurs (1978) and The Post Card (1980), to the question of how to theorise the problem of 'difference'. This term he wrote as 'différance', not only to mark the way that signification works - one term referring to another, always relying on a deferral of meaning between signifier and signified - but also to characterise an ethical relation, the relation of sexual difference, and the relation to the Other. If some readers thought that Derrida was a linguistic constructivist, they missed the fact that the name we have for something, for ourselves, for an other, is precisely what fails to capture the referent (as opposed to making or constructing it).

He drew critically on the work of Emmanuel Levinas in order to insist on the Other as one to whom an incalculable responsibility is owed, one who could never fully be 'captured' through social categories or designative names, one to whom a certain response is owed. This conception became the basis of his strenuous critique of apartheid in South Africa, his vigilant opposition to totalitarian regimes and forms of intellectual censorship, his theorisation of the nation-state beyond the hold of territoriality, his opposition to European racism, and his criticism of the discourse of 'terror' as it worked to increase governmental powers that undermine basic human rights. This political ethic can be seen at work in his defence of animal rights, in his opposition to the death penalty, and even in his queries about 'being' Jewish and what it means to offer hospitality to those of differing origins and language.

Derrida made clear in his short book on Walter Benjamin, The Force of Law (1994), that justice was a concept that was yet to come. This does not mean that we cannot expect instances of justice in this life, and it does not mean that justice will arrive for us only in another life. He was clear that there was no other life. It means only that, as an ideal, it is that towards which we strive, without end. Not to strive for justice because it cannot be fully realised would be as mistaken as believing that one has already arrived at justice and that the only task is to arm oneself adequately to fortify its regime. The first is a form of nihilism (which he opposed) and the second is dogmatism (which he opposed). Derrida kept us alive to the practice of criticism, understanding that social and political transformation was an incessant project, one that could not be relinquished, one that was coextensive with the becoming of life and the encounter with the Other, one that required a reading of the rules by means of which a polity constitutes itself through exclusion or effacement. How is justice done? What justice do we owe others? And what does it mean to act in the name of justice? These were questions that had to be asked regardless of the consequences, and this meant that they were often questions asked when established authorities wished that they were not.

If his critics worried that, with Derrida, there are no foundations on which one could rely, they doubtless were mistaken. Derrida relies perhaps most assiduously on Socrates, on a mode of philosophical inquiry that took the question as the most honest and arduous form of thought. 'How do you finally respond to your life and to your name?' This question is posed by him to himself, and yet he is, in this interview, a 'tu' for himself, as if he were a proximate friend, but not quite a 'moi'. He has taken himself as the other, modelling a form of reflexivity, asking whether an account can be given of this life, and of this death. Is there justice to be done to a life? That he asks the question is exemplary, perhaps even foundational, since it keeps the final meaning of that life and that name open. It prescribes a ceaseless task of honouring what cannot be possessed through knowledge, what in a life exceeds our grasp. Indeed, now that Derrida, the person, has died, his writing makes a demand on us. We must address him as he addressed himself, asking what it means to know and approach another, to apprehend a life and a death, to give an account of its meaning, to acknowledge its binding ties with others, and to do that justly. In this way, Derrida has always been offering us a way to interrogate the meaning of our lives, singly and plurally, returning to the question as the beginning of philosophy, but surely also, in his own way, and with several unpayable debts, beginning philosophy again and anew.

Judith Butler teaches at the University of California, Berkeley. Precarious Life: Powers of Mourning and Violence and Undoing Gender have both been published this year.

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 12:12 PM | Comentários (0)

Suicide Bombing - London Review of Books

Deadly Embrace
Jacqueline Rose
My Life Is a Weapon: A Modern History of Suicide Bombing by Christoph Reuter trans. Helena Ragg-Kirkby
Princeton, 246 pp, £15.95

Army of Roses: Inside the World of Palestinian Women Suicide Bombers by Barbara Victor
Robinson, 321 pp, £8.99

All suicides kill other people. However isolated the moment, suicide is also always an act of cruelty. Anyone left behind after someone close to them commits, or even attempts, suicide is likely to spend much of the rest of their life wondering whether they themselves have, or should have, survived. Suicide is rarely the singular, definitive act it appears to be. The ego, Freud tells us, turns onto itself the hatred it feels towards the object. But the object is never spared. No one commits suicide, the psychoanalyst Karl Menninger wrote in 1933, unless they experience at once 'the wish to die, the wish to kill, the wish to be killed'. You can die, but you can't commit suicide, on your own.

At the end of Anna Karenina, Vronsky, Anna's lover, responds to her suicide by joining the thousands of volunteers leaving Russia for Serbia to protect the Slavs against the Turks. He had already tried to kill himself when, much earlier in the novel, Anna was assumed to be at death's door after the birth of their illegitimate child. Tolstoy's novel is riddled with suicidal moments. But this final one - since it is clear that Vronsky wishes only to die - is different. These men are sacrificing themselves for a noble cause, as Anna's brother, on his way to the war, insists when he converges both with Vronsky and with Levin - the inspired man of the countryside - on the same train. 'But it's not just to sacrifice themselves,' Levin responds, 'it's to kill Turks.' Levin will not accept that the 'fine-talking' volunteers and the newspapers reporting them truly speak for 'the will and thought' of the people - 'a thought that expressed itself in revenge and murder'. Sacrifice, even in a noble cause, is an ugly affair. Today in Britain there is outrage, especially among their parents, that soldiers have been sent to Iraq for a lie. We can also see the injustice of the tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths, especially civilians'. But that war is murder, whatever the cause, as Levin insists, is not something that any of us is encouraged to contemplate.

By sending Vronsky off to fight in Serbia, Tolstoy brings suicide into the public domain. The last suicide in the novel is not Anna's: it is that of a man, already being fêted as a hero by many, who wants to kill and die in the same breath. Suicide bombing is a recent phenomenon, but it's an illusion to believe that it's only in the mind of Islam that a link has been made between war and suicide, murder and martyrdom, killing the enemy and killing yourself.

Suicide bombing is most often considered a peculiarly monstrous, indeed inhuman aberration that cannot - or must not - be understood. When the Lib Dem MP Jenny Tonge observed, 'If I had to live in that situation - and I say that advisedly - I might just consider becoming one myself,' the Israeli Embassy responded with this statement: 'We would not expect any human being - and surely not a British MP - to express an understanding of such atrocities.' Tonge was sacked from her party's front bench. We can be fairly sure that had she expressed similar understanding of the policy of targeted assassination, or extra-judicial killing, in response to suicide bombings, she would not today be out of a job. The wording she used - 'If I had to' - is crucial. She was not sympathising: she was trying to imagine what it was like to be a Palestinian in the Occupied Territories. (She condemned the bombings.) When Cherie Blair said in June 2002, 'As long as young people feel they have got no hope but to blow themselves up you are never going to make progress,' Downing Street apologised. What need never be apologised for is the violence of state power. But perhaps there is a logic here. If the case for war is weak - or non-existent - then the ugliness and guilt of war rise perilously close to the surface of the public mind: war, in Levin's words, as murder and revenge. In which case, it helps to be able to point to something far worse, preferably from another culture or world, with which no reasonable human being could possibly identify. But apart from being evasive, this is inept. In the film The Fog of War, Robert McNamara presents the first of his 11 rules of war: 'Empathise with the enemy.'

Suicide bombing kills far fewer people than conventional warfare; the reactions it provokes must, therefore, reside somewhere other than in the number of the dead. It is, of course, feared as a weapon against which there appears to be no protection, and to which there is no viable response: targeted assassinations simply provoke further retaliation (and Israel's security wall is already proving incapable of deterring attacks). The horror it inspires cannot, however, be explained in terms of the deliberate targeting of civilians: according to McNamara, 100,000 people were burnt to death at the end of the war in the Allied attack on Tokyo, and in On the Natural History of Destruction, W.G. Sebald describes the ten thousand tons of high explosive and incendiary bombs dropped on the densely populated residential areas of Hamburg in the summer of 1943.

The horror would appear to be associated with the fact that the attacker also dies. Dropping cluster bombs from the air is not only less repugnant: it is somehow deemed, by Western leaders at least, to be morally superior. Why dying with your victim should be seen as a greater sin than saving yourself is unclear. Perhaps, then, the revulsion stems partly from the unbearable intimacy shared in their final moments by the suicide bomber and her or his victims. Suicide bombing is an act of passionate identification - you take the enemy with you in a deadly embrace. As Israel becomes a fortress state and the Palestinians are shut into their enclaves, and there is less and less possibility of contact between the two sides, suicide bombing might be the closest they can get.

There is a historical aspect to that proximity. By fostering Shia resistance, Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982 created a space for Hizbollah, who carried out the first suicide bombings in the early 1980s. Israel began supporting Hamas in the late 1980s after the decision was taken to strengthen Islamic groups in order to weaken Arafat and divide the Palestinians among themselves. The Islamic University of Gaza was created, with the approval of the Defence Ministry; when cinemas in Gaza were stormed by Islamic groups and restaurants set on fire for selling alcohol, Israeli soldiers stood by and watched. All this is described by Christoph Reuter in My Life Is a Weapon. Hizbollah in turn would gain a permanent foothold inside Israel when it offered vital support to the 415 leading cadres of Hamas and Islamic Jihad expelled into Southern Lebanon by Yitzhak Rabin following the abduction and murder of an Israeli soldier in December 1992. It has always been a paradox for Western observers that Hizbollah, which promotes an Iranian-style Islamic revolution for the whole of the Middle East (the organisation was created following the arrival in Lebanon of a thousand Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the early 1980s), is also the most efficient provider of welfare and support for displaced Palestinians in Lebanon and the Occupied Territories.

That Israeli policy engendered suicide bombing was acknowledged by Rabin. Having originally promoted indiscriminate bombing of South Lebanon 'until there's nobody left there' - he was defence minister at the time - he finally came to the view that 'terror cannot be finished by one war; it's total nonsense.' By replacing 'PLO terrorism' with 'Shia terrorism', he acknowledged, Israel had done 'the worst thing' in the struggle against terrorism: 'Not one PLO terrorist,' he said, 'has ever made himself into a live bomb.'

According to Eyad El-Sarraj, the founder and director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, today's suicide attackers are, for the most part, children of the first intifada. Studies show that during the first uprising, 55 per cent of children saw their fathers being humiliated or beaten by Israeli soldiers. Martyrdom - sacrificing oneself for God - increases its appeal when the image of the earthly father bites the dust. 'It's despair,' El-Sarraj states baldly, 'a despair where living becomes no different from dying.' When life is constant degradation, death is the only source of pride. 'In 1996, practically all of us were against the martyr operations,' Kamal Aqeel, the acting mayor of Khan Yunis in Gaza, explains. 'Not any longer . . . We all feel that we can no longer bear the situation as it is; we feel that we'd simply explode under all this pressure of humiliation.'

That life begins after death is a widespread religious belief, by no means exclusive to Islam. For those wishing to denigrate suicide bombers and their culture, which is not the same thing as condemning the act, it is easy to degrade that belief. Most often we are told of the 72 virgins proffering their favours in the skies. In fact the virgins reputedly awaiting the martyr in Paradise are symbols of purity and innocence: this is a sacred utopia, a late exalted compensation for the wretched of the earth, not a second shot at worldly pleasures. 'Thoughts of Paradise,' the Haaretz journalist Amira Hass writes, 'embody the evaporation of the dream of a Palestinian state.' Or, in the words of the psychologist Shafiq Masalha, interviewed by Barbara Victor in Army of Roses, 'to be tempted to go to Paradise means that life on earth is hell.'lllll

On the one hand, suicide bombers are beyond any understanding. On the other, the mind of Islam can be uncovered in its most intimate detail. Reuter opens his book by asking: what motivates a suicide bomber? Or rather: what 'kind of people' are they? He knows there is no answer. Suicide bombers are not a species. He also knows that his question is loaded. If suicide attacks are political, they call for a political response. If they stem from 'perversity', then the perpetrators can be treated as a 'criminal sect', to be isolated, arrested, suppressed. Behind the argument that suicide bombers should not, or cannot, be understood lies a subtext of dehumanisation. When El-Sarraj is asked if it is true that Palestinians do not care about human life, even that of their own 'flesh and blood', he replies: 'How can you believe in your own humanity if you don't believe in the humanity of the enemy?'

How, then, should you write about suicide bombing? It is not just, as Avishai Margalit puts it, that every statement about it is liable to be contested. Nor is it just that the vocabulary is disputed (describing these attacks as 'suicide bombing', as the term appears in the title of each of these books, is already to beg the question). What is at issue is something more like an ethics of form. Reuter has chosen to write a history, or perhaps a geography, that traces the beginnings of today's attacks to Khomeini's child battalions, cannon fodder who went into battle with a key to Paradise around their necks, through Syria to Lebanon and Israel-Palestine. This allows Reuter to present the Palestinians not as freaks of nature (or culture), but instead as heirs of a contemporary realpolitik, for which the West bears more than a share of responsibility (Britain supported Saddam Hussein in the war against Khomeini). As Reuter also points out, the PLO were originally secular, but by now, the Palestinians are strangely in step with many of their Zionist counterparts in aligning nationalism with religious fervour. For both sides in the conflict, the struggle over Palestine constitutes a holy war.

What is unique about the suicide attacks of the second intifada is that they come 'from the people for the people', as Reuter puts it, unlike the more sect-based cults of the Tamil Tigers or the Kurdistan Workers' Party. This makes them almost impossible to defeat militarily. If suicide attacks come from below, as the reaction to an occupying army, the simple conclusion is that they will cease when the armies pull out. Enthusiasm for suicide attacks has dramatically declined since the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon. Sheikh Fadlallah, spiritus rector of the most radical Lebanese Shias, was one of the first high-ranking Islamic scholars to condemn the attacks of 11 September 2001. In Iran today, the idea of killing oneself in order to enter Paradise has all but disappeared. There is a lesson here. What made the difference is not military intervention but Iran's internal development, the growing desire for democracy after two decades of theocratic experiment. Against the violent Manichean rhetoric of the times, and its brute interventionism, Reuter offers a counter-narrative: suicide attacks in Israel-Palestine will stop when Israel withdraws from the Occupied Territories; more generally across the region, the West should keep out.

Reuter has written a history, but Barbara Victor, a novelist and journalist, has produced something more like a novel or short story collection. As the subtitle of Army of Roses suggests, she sets herself the task of entering the world of the women suicide bombers, to tell their stories. Empathy here is in no short supply ('she tries to understand, even to feel,' as Christopher Dickey puts it in his foreword). For many in the West, the female suicide bomber is the most inhuman, since she violates women's perceived role in life. Victor's aim is to redeem her: 'This book tells the story of the women who died for reasons that go beyond the liberation of Palestine.'

Above all she narrates, uncovering the most private, indeed frequently humiliating details of these women's lives - six of them at the time of writing, more since. On 4 October 2003, as Victor was finishing Army of Roses, Hanadi Jaradat blew herself up at Maxim's restaurant in Haifa on the eve of Yom Kippur, killing 21 Israelis and injuring many others. From a privileged Palestinian family, on the verge of opening her own law practice in Jenin, Jaradat had witnessed the killing by the Israeli army of her cousin Salah and her brother Fahdi when they were sitting together in a café the previous May. Without preamble, the soldiers drew up and shot them. According to Victor, a bomb-laden car that Fahdi was to drive into Haifa the next day was parked only a few feet away. Jaradat fled but 'ran directly into the arms of Yasser Obeidi, one of the most wanted men in the West Bank', a 29-year-old married man and the military commander of Islamic Jihad in Jenin. (Literally into his arms? Was he standing on the street corner?) A very different account by Kevin Toolis in the Observer states that she was, in fact, in Jordan shopping for Fahdi's wedding when he was killed, but returned to Jenin to identify him in the morgue. Victor's story - as may already be clear - is a story of romance, passion and cynical intrigue. In her version, Jaradat is cruelly manipulated by Obeidi, who persuades her to become a martyr: 'He became her lover, mentor and one-way ticket to Paradise,' where they would find 'eternal happiness as man and wife'. The source for this narrative is not given. In fact, as it emerges, there are several conflicting stories as to how and why Jaradat ended her life. For the Palestinians, it was to avenge the deaths of her cousin and brother. For the Israelis, she was a 29-year-old woman depressed at her lack of marriage prospects: 'Allegedly she intimidated men because of her good looks and education.'

The Israeli reading of Jaradat's motives should warn us that, whether or not what they attribute to her is accurate, personalising the female martyr can be a way of denying the abuses of the army - the killing of her brother and cousin, the denying her sick father permission to attend a hospital in Haifa - and of silencing the Palestinian political case. Here the distinction between suicide and martyrdom is crucial. According to Islam, it is a sin to commit suicide. Your life belongs to God and is only his to dispose of. Martyrdom, however, is something else. 'If a martyr wants to kill himself because he's sick of being alive, that's suicide. But if he wants to sacrifice his soul in order to defeat the enemy and for God's sake - well, then he's a martyr,' the late Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi explained in 2001. In Victor's analysis, the only possible explanation of a woman's decision to become a suicide bomber is that she is sick of life (the back cover refers to the women's 'blighted inner lives').

Wafa Idris, the first female suicide bomber, was in despair after being divorced on grounds of her infertility; Darine Abu Aisha was determined to avoid marriage; Zina, the accomplice of Izzedine Masri, who detonated himself in Sbarro's Pizzeria in Jerusalem in August 2002, had had her illegitimate child taken away: 'Without exception, every woman and young girl who attempted to or succeeded in blowing herself up had been marginalised by Palestinian society.' Victor is protesting the place of women in the Muslim world. She also sees herself as fighting a 'misguided feminist movement': 'We die in equal numbers to the men.' The problem is that the more she tries to apply her analysis to all women in the culture, the more its power to explain individual cases declines: if life is unbearable for women under Islam, then why this particular woman? Slowly and painstakingly, Victor has turned these women from martyrs into suicides. Some, such as Ayat al-Akhras, are described as taking their destiny into their own hands - she acted in order to redeem her father, who had been accused of collaborating with the Israelis, and to save her family from disgrace. But the overall message is clear. Not one of these women is truly the political agent of her own life.

In this form, empathy can start to look like a cover for prejudice. The Palestinian Zina - anonymous by family request - 'has a history of problems', whereas the Israeli Malki Roth, killed by the Sbarro bomb that Zina played her part in planting, was a 'well-balanced, wholesome teenager'; Rachel Levy, killed in March 2002 by Ayat al-Akhras in a grocery store in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Kiryat Yovel, was finally adjusting to the 'rhythms of teenage life'. In fact these young Israeli women are living in, and acutely suffering from, a society that encourages them to be blind. In a letter addressed to God on the occasion of the Jewish New Year, Malki Roth ended with the hope 'that I'll be alive and that the Messiah should come'. (Is this wholesome?) Rachel Levy's mother never discussed the political situation with her children: it was too frightening. Rachel would come home and turn off the television: 'She just didn't want to know.'

Although Palestinian suffering under the occupation has a central place in Army of Roses, at moments such as these Victor comes close to an idealisation of Israel not far from the myth that Israel continues to promote about itself. Put simply, the Israelis are better people. Faced with loss, they do not commit suicide, or kill, but care for their families, carry on with the business of living. The violence of the state is pushed aside. Life continues. Suicide bombing, on the other hand, involves abandoning limits 'as we understand them with the democratic mind'. Is it finally empathy at all if you enter a person's - a whole culture's - mind, only to make such a clean and confident exit?

One way of underscoring the precarious nature of such distinctions is to look back in time. Towards the end of Galoot (Exile), a remarkable documentary by the Israeli film-maker Asher Tlalim, Ariella Atzmon, a former lecturer in philosophy and education, recalls her life as the daughter of militant Jewish nationalists who arrived in Palestine in the late 1930s. She was named after Arie Itzhaki, who made bombs in his cellar. On the day she was born, he blew himself up, crying: 'Death to the British'. He was about to be arrested. As a child she sang songs to Shlomo Ben Yosef, who had lobbed a grenade onto an Arab bus, killing women and children: 'She will sit and weep, this woman who mourns for her son, so dear, so great.' We did not want peace, she says. The Palestinians will want peace when they have a country.

For years, Israeli secret service analysts and social scientists have been trying to build up a typical profile of the suicide 'assassin', only to conclude that there isn't one. It may indeed be that your desire to solve the problem is creating it, that burrowing into the psyche of the enemy, far from being an attempt to dignify them with understanding, is a form of evasion that blinds you to your responsibility for the state they are in. There is one thing that nobody will disagree with: the story of suicide bombing is a story of people driven to extremes. 'Children who have seen so much inhumanity,' El-Sarraj states, 'inevitably come out with inhuman responses.' We need to find a language that will allow us to recognise why, in a world of inequality and injustice, people are driven to do things that we hate. Without claiming to know too much. Without condescension.

Jacqueline Rose's next book, The Question of Zion, will be out in the spring

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 12:11 PM | Comentários (0)

Lewontin - Science - NY Review of Books

Dishonesty in Science
By Richard C. Lewontin
Scientific Integrity in Policymaking: An Investigation into the Bush Administration's Misuse of Science
a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists
February 2004, 42 pp.

The Great Betrayal: Fraud in Science
by Horace Freeland Judson
Harcourt, 463 pp., $28.00

The founders of the American state understood that the proper functioning of a democracy required an educated electorate. It is this understanding that justifies a system of public education and that led slaveholders to resist the spread of literacy among thier chattels. But the meaning of "educated" has changed beyond recognition in two hundred years. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are no longer sufficient to decide on public policy. Now we need quantum mechanics and molecular biology. The knowledge required for political rationality, once available to the masses, is now in the possession of a specially educated elite, a situation that creates a series of tensions and contradictions in the operation of representative democracy.

The problem of the role of elite knowledge in a democracy is an old one. A version of a story in the Babylonian Talmud tells of four rabbis walking in a field, engaged in a dispute over whether an oven of a particular design can be purified. Three hold one opinion, while the fourth has the opposite view. The lone holdout appeals to God, asking that He send first thunder, then lightning, and then that the lightning strike a lone tree in the field. Although each request is granted, the others are not convinced. After all, thunder and lightning are usual natural phenomena and in a lightning storm what is more natural than that a tree standing in the middle of a field should be struck? In desperation the dissenter calls on God to speak directly to them. Sure enough, a voice from above is heard proclaiming "IT IS AS HE SAYS." "So," asks the dissenter, "what do you three have to say now?" "All right," they answer, "that makes it three to two."

Science has replaced Jehovah as the source of privileged knowledge, but the problems remain. How is the knowledge in the possession of the scientific elites to be factored into a process of decision in which considerations of economy, ideology, and political power also enter? Is elite knowledge to be given absolute priority? Why should we trust scientists, who, after all, have their own political and economic agendas? On the other hand how can we decide by vote when the voters and their representatives have no understanding of the facts of nature?
The American government, like others, has attempted to solve the problem by co-opting scientists into the apparatus of the state in three ways. Most directly it has built an executive apparatus including the president's science adviser, the Office of Science and Technology, and regulatory bodies like the Environmental Protection Agency. Second, it has created quasi-governmental bodies made up of senior scientists, like the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council, that are obliged to provide expert scientific advice and evaluation on request from any government agency. Finally, after the Second World War, the state became the chief patron of science, currently committing about $35 billion annually directly to basic and applied research.

Because of fears that federal support of research would result in political interference with the research process, the pattern established by Congress for the funding of research gave the representatives of the scientific community itself the day-to-day power to decide what research is to be done. Even in funding from the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy (formerly the Atomic Energy Commission), decisions about grants are made by a peer review system in which the reviewers and agency administrators are drawn from the research community and share in its general culture.

As a consequence, instead of producing a mass of grateful recipients of state patronage, public research support has created a large and prospering community of independent investigators—most of them affiliated with universities—with immense public prestige and with effective control over the distribution of funds for research. It is no surprise that attempts by various administrations to make science serve political and economic policy have been met by public opposition from prestigious scientists speaking in the name of disinterested objectivity. The most recent example is the report issued in February 2004 by the Union of Concerned Scientists, whose signers include twenty Nobel Prize winners and, ironically, nineteen recipients of the American government's version of a knighthood, the National Medal of Science.

Scientific Integrity in Policymaking accuses the Bush administration, first, of deliberately suppressing scientific findings in the interest of its own ideological and political ends and, second, of packing various regulatory and review boards with unqualified members who can be counted on to favor industrial profits or conservative ideologies over public health and safety. Manipulation, distortion, and suppression of scientific findings in the interest of industries, the report shows, have affected research results on climate change, on mercury emissions and other pollutants, on airborne bacteria, on endangered species and forest management. The government's evidence about Iraq's famous aluminum tubes is said to have been misrepresented in the interests of building a case for war.

Three examples are given of the way in which education and information about scientific findings have been manipulated to support a conservative religious ideology. In order to demonstrate that abstinence-only programs were effective, the Bush administration instructed the Centers for Disease Control not to follow the actual birth rate for participants in an abstinence-only test program, but only their attendance and attitudes toward the program. In order to hide the effectiveness of condom use in preventing HIV infection, the CDC was directed to emphasize condom failure rates in its educational material. Finally, the National Cancer Institute was directed to post a claim on its Web site that abortion promotes breast cancer although a large study had shown no connection between them.

The report also discusses a number of cases in which government regulatory and review panels were packed with members favorable to the administration. Moreover, it is reported that many potential nominees for federal scientific advisory posts were questioned about their political views and even whether they had voted for Bush. The most transparent manipulation occurred in 2002 when the Center for Disease Control Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning was to consider narrowing the criterion of lead poisoning, so that sources of poisoning that were formerly banned became permissible. A panel of new nominees for the Advisory Committee was proposed by the CDC and, for the first time in the history of the committee, nominees were rejected by the direct intervention of the secretary of health and human services, Tommy Thompson, who replaced them with five persons who were previously known to oppose tightening the standard. Two of the five had financial ties with the lead industry.

In April the President's science adviser, John Marburger, issued a reply to the Union of Concerned Scientists, providing an explanation for each of the claimed abuses, including the defense that reports were not suppressed but held up pending more complete studies.[1] In the case of the abstinence-only program, Marburger says that it was never designed as a scientific study, but as preliminary to long-range evaluation of sexual abstinence. The accusation that seems least easily dismissed is that judgments about political commitment rather than about scientific competence were applied when people were appointed to advisory panels. Obviously each claimed abuse can be explained away, but whether the explanations are convincing or whether a pattern of politicizing scientific policy makes itself manifest will depend on what the reader is inclined to believe in the first place.

In July yet another case of political prejudice was reported.[2] When Torsten Wiesel, a Nobel laureate in physiology and medicine, was rejected by Tommy Thompson's office as a candidate for the advisory board of the Fogarty Center at the NIH, the director of the center was told by an official from the Department of Health and Human Services that Wiesel had "signed too many full-page letters in The New York Times critical of President Bush." Indeed, the government makes no apology for the use of criteria other than scientific competence in its appointment policy. According to the report in Nature, a spokesman for the DHHS has asserted that, in addition to competence, a diversity of gender, race, geography, and political opinion is a valid goal of appointments to scientific advisory boards.

This assertion brings us back to the original problem of the relation of elite knowledge to the political process. Studies of climate change, endangered species, acceptable pollution levels, or the effect of sexual practices have not been called forth by pure scientific curiosity. Like all processes that are of direct relevance to human physical and psychic welfare, the costs and benefits of decisions will fall differently on different people. Any amount of lead is bad for your health. So what should be the minimum acceptable level of lead in the bloodstream? Whose bloodstream? Acceptable to whom? The worker in a lead refinery who lives in a badly polluted neighborhood near the plant whose family will bear the cost to their health and longevity of too much lead? The owner of shares in the refinery who winters in Sedona and summers on Cape Cod, whose health is not at issue but who will bear an economic cost of pollution control? A popular bumper sticker in Vermont reads "Another Vermonter for Global Warming." (That, of course, may be a scientific mistake, since general global warming may make Vermont colder.)

My friends who are lawyers insist that the only general rule for deciding legal disputes is "It depends on the jurisdiction," and that rule applies equally to decisions about scientific questions of public import. It is disingenuous to claim that scientists come to their scientific work without prior ethical, economic, and social values and motivations. Everyone I know who studies endangered species cares about saving them. One never hears that the malarial parasite is "endangered." To do science is to be political if only because it is a political decision to spend some amount of limited human energy and social resources on a particular question. Most scientists are, at a minimum, liberals, although it is by no means obvious why this should be so. Despite the fact that all of the molecular biologists of my acquaintance are shareholders in or advisers to biotechnology firms, the chief political controversy in the scientific community seems to be whether it is wise to vote for Ralph Nader this time. We might expect, then, that the actions of an administration strongly protective of the interests of the owners of capital and identifying itself culturally with religious fundamentalism should be the cause of protest.

If knowledge about the natural world is to rationally influence the decisions of an informed electorate, then people must believe that scientists tell the truth about nature insofar as they know it. While we might agree that prior political commitment could lead us to ask one question rather than another, or to put more weight on the result of a study that conforms to our prejudice rather than one that refutes it, every scientist must agree that outright fraud is beyond the pale. Putting aside the issue of morality, scientific investigation would be destroyed as a useful human endeavor and scientists would lose any claim on social resources if deliberate falsifications were not exposed. So scientists must be on the alert, ready to detect lies arising from within their institution. But this leads to a contradiction. To survive, science must expose dishonesty, but every such public exposure produces cynicism about the purity and disinterestedness of the institution and provides fuel for ideological anti-rationalism. The revelation that the paradoxical Piltdown Man fossil skull was, in fact, a hoax was a great relief to perplexed paleontologists but a cause of great exultation in Texas tabernacles.

Horace Freeland Judson, a science journalist who had previously written a narrative of the development of molecular biology, has now produced a nuanced and sophisticated yet accessible view of scientific fraud.[3] The Great Betrayal is not simply a narrative of scandals, but places var-ious instances of scientific bad behavior in the context of general social pressures and their manifestation in the scientific community. He reminds us that the drive for economic suc-cess, personal power, and the gratification of one's ego has led over and over to dishonesty, fraud, and wickedness in business, the church, and the state. Why do we think that the devotees of Newton's laws will be more saintly than those ruled by Cardinal Law?

Judson discusses fraud of three sorts: fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism. Fabrication is the creation of claimed observations and facts out of whole cloth. These are just plain lies. Falsification is the trimming and adjustment of the results of genuine experiments so that they come to be in agreement with a desired conclusion. Numbers may be "adjusted"; there may be a conscious dishonesty or, more subtly, observations that are not in sufficient agreement with the theory may be discounted, often on the basis of ad hoc criteria which the investigator comes to believe are perfectly valid after the fact. There are, after all, many experimental observations that are flawed for one reason or another and ought to be discounted. The problem of how to cull observations honestly is a constant preoccupation of statisticians and methodologists. Judson includes in the category of plagiarism not simply the copying of others' written texts without attribution, but the appropriation of experimental design or data or experimental material or credit for work that belongs to others. An acquaintance of mine once was refused a strain of virus possessed by a prominent investigator, so he cleverly soaked the letter of refusal in an appropriate liquid and recovered enough virus to start his own cultures.

Judson begins his excursion through the history of frauds with those committed by both acknowledged heroes and villains of science: Isaac Newton, Gregor Mendel, Louis Pasteur, Robert Millikan, Sigmund Freud, and Cyril Burt. Some, like Burt and Freud, simply made up observations out of their heads to justify their theories. Burt's fabricated results on the heredity of IQ were so transparent (he even invented fictitious collaborators) as to suggest real pathology. Millikan's measurements of the electrostatic charge on the electron were a classic case of discounting as aberrant the observations that did not fit well with his theory.

Mendel's is a more interesting case, although we have only speculation about his behavior. His reported numbers of different types of offspring from various experimental crosses were too close to his expected genetic ratios of 3:1 and 1:1 to be the outcome of counting a relatively small number of seeds or plants in a real sample. The toss of a real coin one hundred times is very unlikely to give exactly 50:50, 51:49, or 49:51 heads to tails every time we do it. Mendel was probably not dishonest but an unconscious innocent victim of "optional stopping." If you are counting objects of different types without a determination to count a total of exactly, say, five hundred, then eventually you get tired of the whole thing and decide that you have done enough. But if you have a prior theory about how the results should look and are keeping a run-ning tally of the counts there is a tendency, which must be consciously resisted, to say "Enough!" when the results look good. That is not fraud, just bad experimental practice, easy enough to fall into at a time when neither statistics nor psychology was well developed.

A large part of The Great Betrayal is taken up with famous modern cases of fraud, among them the so-called "Baltimore Affair." An assistant professor at MIT, Thereza Imanishi-Kari, was engaged in a collaboration with the laboratory of one of the most prominent scientists of the day, David Baltimore, a Nobel Prize winner, director of a large research institute, and soon to be president of Rockefeller University. The actual work of the collaboration involved some postdoctoral fellows and research associates and one result was a paper, coauthored by several of these dependent investigators together with Imanishi-Kari and Baltimore, which made an interesting general claim about the nature of immune systems. A postdoctoral fellow in Imanishi-Kari's laboratory, Margot O'Toole, discovered one day while looking at some notebooks that Imanishi-Kari had made some observations that contradicted the claims of the paper. O'Toole herself had made similar observations but these had been angrily dismissed by Imanishi-Kari.

O'Toole took her findings to authorities at MIT and at Tufts University, where Imanishi-Kari had just been appointed, and this resulted in a meeting with her, Baltimore, Imanishi-Kari, and administrators of the universities. O'Toole's request that the pub- lished paper be retracted or changed was refused and that seemed the unsatisfactory end of the affair. Then the story reached the public press and the affair escalated with an investigation by NIH committees, a congressional hearing, and more attention in the scientific and popular press. During the investigations and appeals Imanishi-Kari introduced new documentary evidence of research records intended to support her claims. A Secret Service examination, undertaken at the request of a congressional committee, declared these documents to be fraudulent constructions, thus adding the accusation of deliberate fabrication to the original suspicion of data suppression. However, a highly qualified forensic expert engaged by Imanishi-Kari's attorney examined the documents and concluded that the Secret Service's analysis was "erroneous" and did not support the accusation of fabrication.

As a consequence of the uproar, O'Toole was not reappointed to her postdoctoral position, Imanishi-Kari was suspended from her job at Tufts, and Baltimore was forced to resign as president of Rockefeller University. Finally, after ten years of dispute, the affair ended with the Solomonic judgment of an NIH appeals committee that the charges against Imanishi-Kari had not been proven "by a preponderance of the evidence." In the end, O'Toole got a research position at a research institute, Imanishi-Kari was reinstated at Tufts, and David Baltimore was made president of California Institute of Technology.[4]

The Baltimore Affair and a few others are notorious examples of more numerous cases of scientific dishonesty, most of which do not reach the attention of the public. We do not know how often scientific fraud of various degrees of conscious dishonesty occurs, nor can we ever know. Some scientific work is of sufficient general relevance that false claims will eventually be contradicted by other observations and in the end, after a certain amount of stumbling around, the truth about nature will emerge. Moreover, some falsification is in support of what turn out to be true theories, as in the cases of Pasteur and Millikan.

Most of science, however, is immune to future verification or refutation because the link between the reported findings and other active branches of investigation are too weak to allow for contradiction or because the reported results are in support of an already verified phenomenon, or because the subject is so esoteric and narrow that no one else cares to work on it. Judson gives the data from a few sociological surveys in which respondents were asked if they knew of cases of falsification or fabrication, but the results cannot be used to estimate the frequency of such events among all published scientific reports. The claim by a former editor of Science, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, that "we must recognize that 99.9999 percent of reports are accurate and truthful" is either a fabrication or a falsification, depending on whether he invented it on the spur of the moment or was misrepresenting some actual data by throwing in some extra 9's.[5]

Despite the sophistication of Judson's analysis he has missed a pervasive dishonesty in the practice of science that makes a certain level of intellectual corruption characteristic of the institution. The dishonesty consists in the way credit for scientific research is falsely ascribed to some of the authors of jointly signed scientific papers. He brushes by this practice by referring to "gift authorship," but, far from a willing gift, it is an exaction that the powerful impose on the weak. Science is carried out for the most part in a collection of cottage industries, work groups called "laboratories," but that is a synecdoche. The group is headed by a senior scientist, sometimes accompanied by a more junior but established colleague, and includes postdoctoral fellows, research associates, graduate students, visiting scientists, and technical assistants all working in offices and laboratory rooms clustered around the laboratory director's own space.

It is almost always the case that the laboratory director performs no actual experimental work. There is considerable variation from laboratory to laboratory and from project to project within the laboratory in the degree to which the senior scientist participates in the conception, planning, supervision, and eventual writing-up of the work. In many cases the entire project from conception to publication is without any significant input from the director. Much of what is done, however, is supported by funds from various grants and contracts obtained by the director as the euphemistically named "principal investigator."

Regardless of the actual involvement of the laboratory director in the intellectual and physical work of a research project, he or she has unchallenged intellectual property rights in the project, much as a lord had unchallenged property rights in the product of serfs or peasants occupying dependent lands. The chief product of a laboratory is in the form of published papers and the chief manifestation of the director's intellectual property rights is that he or she will be coauthor on every publication from the laboratory, sometimes including even general review papers and book chapters written by subordinate group members.

Such property rights explain how, for example, Professor Eugene Braunwald of the Harvard Medical School came to be an author, at the age of fifty, of over six hundred publications.[6] Unfortunately for Braunwald, one of his protégés and coauthors, John Darsee, turned out to be a detected fabricator. One wonders how many sleepless nights Braunwald spent worrying about those other publications. But if laboratory directors as a matter of course claim authorship of work to which they have made no intellectual contribution or only a trivial one then they are, year in and year out, committing an intellectual fraud from which they reap immense rewards of ego, prestige, income, and social power. Moreover, by an unconscious affirmation on the part of the scientific community as a whole, these rewards grow autocatalytic. Robert Merton, the founder of modern social studies of science, called attention to a phenomenon he named the "Matthew Effect" after Matthew 25:29:

For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
Irrespective of the order of authors on a paper, it is referred to informally and sometimes formally by the name of the best-known author. In laboratory libraries papers are filed under the name of the "senior" author and remembered and discussed under his or her name. I was an indignant witness to an extreme case of the Matthew Effect. A graduate student in my laboratory had published a seminal paper, without my name on it, on an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase that everyone agrees has revolutionized the experimental study of population genetics. Shortly afterward I gave a lecture on a different subject, at the end of which a colleague came up from the audience and said, "That was very interesting but what I really admire is your paper on alcohol dehydrogenase." There is some justice in the world, however, and the misappropriation of intellectual property occasionally means that one may try to pass a bad check. The Matthew Effect then does its work. The fraud attributed to Imanishi-Kari becomes known as the "Baltimore Affair." To them that hath it shall be given.

Scientists in training are conscious of the appropriation of credit for their work by senior scientists and they resent it but feel that they cannot protest. It is not that they place no value on the details of authorship. They will fight bitterly with colleagues of their own rank about who should be first author on jointly authored publications. Yet when they too become seniors they will engage in the same fabrications of intellectual credit. The fabrications and falsifications of scientific results that we condemn as fraud are carried out from the desire for fame, status, and economic reward. But the misappropriation of credit by senior scientists arises from the same motives. How can we expect scientists to hold literal truth about nature as an inviolable standard, when they participate, en masse, in a conscious everyday falsification about the production of that truth? That is an aspect of what Judson calls "the culture of fraud" that is far more relevant to scientific honesty than the behavior of the executives of Enron on whom most scientists claim to look with disdain.

[1] A report of Marburger's reply is given in Nature, April 8, 2004, p. 589.

[2] Nature, July 15, 2004, p. 281.

[3] The book on molecular biology is The Eighth Day of Creation (Simon and Schuster, 1979).

[4] For a much more detailed history of the case, see David Hull's essay in The New York Review, December 3, 1998, and the book by Daniel Kevles that he was reviewing, The Baltimore Case (Norton, 1998).

[5] Daniel E. Koshland Jr., editorial, Science, January 9, 1987.

[6] See Judson's account on p. 113.

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 12:06 PM | Comentários (0)

Wills - War - Michael Walzer - NYReview of Books

What Is a Just War?
By Garry Wills
Arguing About War
by Michael Walzer
Yale University Press, 208 pp., $25.00

Jus in Bello
The traditional theory of the just war covers three main topics—the cause of war, the conduct of war, and the consequences of war. Or, in the Scholastic tags: jus ad bellum, jus in bello, and jus post bellum. But most attention is given now to the middle term, the conduct of war. That is where clear offenses are most easily identified, though only occasionally reported and even more rarely punished. The two main rules of jus in bello have to do with discrimination between combatants and noncombatants, the latter to be spared as far as possible, and proportionality, so that violence is calibrated to its need for attaining the war's end. The claims of morality here are recognized with difficulty in actual combat, and disputed when recognized. Why should that be?

In Tolstoy's War and Peace, Prince Andrey is an enlightened, humane, reforming, disciplined man. He has had experience in war without becoming embittered—he was badly (almost mortally) wounded at the Battle of Aus- terlitz—and has tried to improve the military system. But by the Battle of Borodino, even this estimable man has snapped. After riding past his destroyed estate, he ruminates:

I wouldn't take prisoners. What sense is there in taking prisoners? That's chivalry. The French have destroyed my home and are coming to destroy Moscow; they have outraged and are outraging me at every second. They are my enemies, they are all criminals to my way of thinking.... Playing at war, that's what's vile; and playing at magnanimity and all the rest of it.... They plunder other people's homes, issue false money, and, worse than all, kill my children, my father, and then talk of the laws of warfare.... If there were none of this playing at generosity in warfare, we should never go to war, except for something worth facing certain death for.... The object of warfare is murder.[1]
Andrey has attained the state Clausewitz says is necessary to war—Hass, hatred for the foe. There is in all sane people a hesitation to kill, whether from timidity, disorientation, or scruple. That is why so many bullets are fired in war but not at the target, why so many bombs are dropped but not where they were supposed to be. It is the task of those in charge of war to override these hesitations, and the only sure way of doing that is to demonize the enemy, so that hating him is not only condonable but commendable.

Clausewitz says that war is fueled by emotion (Gefühl), which always outruns intent (Absicht). And once this begins there is a constant ratcheting-up (Wechselwirkung) of hatred. Hate produces atrocities, which provoke answering atrocities from the other side, and so on in a reciprocal upward spiral. This means, says Clausewitz, that war by its basic nature drives onward to extremes. Shakespeare was almost scientifically accurate when he had his Antony "let slip the dogs of war"—to outrun expectations and control.

Other students of war have their own versions of Clausewitz's Wechselwirkung. Here is Thucydides:

War, depriving people of their expected resources, is a tutor of violence, hardening men to match the conditions they face.... Suspicion of prior atrocities drives men to surpass report in their own cruel innovations, either by subtlety of assault or extravagance of reprisal.
Abraham Lincoln's version (predicting, in 1854, what would happen if the North and South went to war): "One side will provoke; the other resent. The one will taunt, the other defy; one aggresses, the other retaliates."[2]

In war, the raping and robbing of civilians, the brutalizing and killing of prisoners, are not anomalies. War propaganda excites such extremes, with its emphasis on the vileness of the foe. That is why President Bush presents his war as a battle against evil itself. Hate is too valuable to be renounced. Often it is the only antidote to other emotions like cowardice or humanitarianism. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were, like Claude Rains in Casablanca, "shocked, shocked" at the idea that Americans could commit atrocities. But governments usually look the other way when their own provocations produce their natural result. When I was a high school student in the ROTC, the veteran sergeant instructing us, a man who had fought at the Battle of the Bulge, remembered being told by superiors to get rid of prisoners if they inconvenienced his own activity ("just pull the pin of a hand grenade and tell them to split it up among themselves"). In this atmosphere, what chance do reflections on justice have of prevailing?

Abraham Lincoln would not have been shocked to hear that Americans commit atrocities. He described, in the year of Gettysburg, the immoralities of the very war he was directing:

Thought is forced from old channels into confusion. Deception breeds and thrives. Confidence dies, and universal suspicion reigns. Each man feels an impulse to kill his neighbor, lest he be first killed by him. Revenge and retaliation follow. And all this, as before said, may be among honest men only. But this is not all. Every foul bird comes abroad, and every dirty reptile rises up. These add crime to confusion. Strong measures, deemed indispensable but harsh at best, such men make worse by mal-administration. Murders for old grudges, and murders for pelf, proceed under any cloak that will best cover for the occasion.[3]
Admittedly there are some checks on savagery, but these are less frequently moral than pragmatic. Mistreating the other side's prisoners can lead to the mistreatment of one's own prisoners. Calculation of that sort underlies the Geneva Conventions. But this reflects the "realism" that just war theory is supposed to improve on. So how useful are the arguments of jus in bello when one is actually in bello?

Jus ad Bellum
If war, once embarked on, will of itself drive toward extremes, overriding concern with justice, then the real use of just war theory must rest mainly on the decision whether to go to war in the first place. The traditional norms for such a discussion are said to be competent authority for declaring war, as well as just cause, proper intent, last resort, and expectable success. When the norms were framed in the Middle Ages, most discussion turned on the authority for declaring war, since there were many competitors for that office—popes, bishops, feudal lords, kings, margraves, etc. With the rise of the nation-state, that debate faded away, since it was assumed that national leaders had the power to initiate war. This left the emphasis mainly on the just cause for war. But how useful was that norm in determining whether a just war was launched in Iraq?

The Vatican, reputed to be a principal custodian of the just war tradition, said repeatedly and emphatically that such a war would be unjust so long as inspections were still taking place under the aegis of the United Nations. John Allen, the Vatican correspondent of the National Catholic Reporter, writes that "the Holy See opposed the US-led war in Iraq with a ferocity that few issues in the recent past have aroused."[4] Vatican publications, Church diplomats, religious congregation heads, and the Pope himself all said that just war theory forbade the Iraq war. John Paul II sent Cardinal Pio Laghi, his personal peace representative, to make a last-minute appeal to President Bush on March 5, 2003.

But right-wing Catholics in America were certain that just war theory called for war. Michael Novak, of the American Enterprise Institute, said the war was not only defensible but mandatory. He went to Rome, summoned by the United States ambassador to the Vatican, James Nichollson, to convince the hierarchy of the need for war. When he failed to change the Vatican's mind, Novak blamed this on "anti-Americanism." A group of Catholics who are normally subservient to the Pope— Novak, Jean Bethke Elshtain, John Richard Neuhaus, George Weigel— became the defenders of a "just war tradition" they felt the Vatican had abandoned.[5] It was even said that the Pope had turned pacifist—though the Vatican approved of the intervention in Kosovo and the invasion of Afghanistan. One may well ask, what use is just war theory if people supposedly steeped in it could reach such positive conclusions on opposite sides of the Iraq invasion? In truth, the criteria of a just war—the product mainly of late Scholasticism—have little power to determine an outcome. In fact, solemn talk of a just war "tradition" is misleading, since its history is full of anachronisms and contradictions.

"The Tradition"
The great names invoked in the tradition are Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas. But Augustine never wrote systematically about war, his ad hoc comments were severely limited by the issue or person he was addressing, and his comments have been widely distorted.[6] He began from the gospel texts against returning violence for violence, and denied the right that many make the very basis of just war argument—the right of personal self-defense.[7] That would be an act of self-love, which is always evil in Augustine. But if one sees one's fellows threatened by violence, one can defend them out of love—so long as one loves the aggressors, too.[8] The latter condition means that any war driven by Clausewitzian Hass is unjust for Augustine. Also, even when defending others, one cannot act "on one's own hook," which might also come from selfish motives. One must wait for legitimate authority to command the action, and then one must not kill the innocent, or torture or kill prisoners.[9]

Augustine's most extended discussion of war is in five long paragraphs of his Answer to Faustus. There, in opposition to Manichaean attacks on the Jewish patriarchs, he defends the morality of Mosaic and other wars by saying that they were directly ordered by God. One must obey a command from God, even if one does not understand it—as Abraham obeyed the command to kill his son.[10] In today's circumstances this teaching is better fitted to the jihadist "other side"—to those who wage holy war.

Thomas Aquinas is not much more helpful. He has three main norms for permissible war—declaration by competent authority, just cause, and proper intent.[11] The last is defined as acting "to promote good or prevent evil"—a thing that can justify war as a tool of social engineering (e.g., to spread democracy and rebuff tyranny). It is not surprising then that Aquinas approved of the social engineering of his day, the Crusades (to spread Christianity and rebuff Muslimism)—which again is more useful to current jihad than to a secular democracy.[12]

The most relevant of the just war theorists is less cited than Augustine or Thomas since he is less known— Francisco de Vitoria (1486–1546), a Spanish Dominican who bravely protested his countrymen's conquest of the Americas. It was he who focused especially on discrimination and proportionality.[13] But even when he is counted in the "tradition," there is little more than a checklist of items to be ticked off, with some items as broad and vague as any warmaker could wish. That is why the tradition has had so little impact on the actual waging of war. Is just war theory, then, a meaningless exercise? Not if one is to believe Michael Walzer and the arguments of his new work.

Walzer avoids a checklist approach to the so-called tradition, ticking off the items on a fixed program. In fact, in his 1977 book, Just and Unjust Wars, as well as in his new work, Arguing About War, he denies the universal validity of some of the most revered items on the list. Concerning the Gulf War he writes:

The move [toward pacifism] involves a new stress upon two maxims of the [just war] theory: first, that war must be a "last resort," and second, that its anticipated costs to soldiers and civilians alike must not be disproportionate to (greater than) the value of its ends. I do not think that either maxim helps much in making the moral distinctions that we need to make.
If he quarrels with the tradition, why does he bother with it at all? He says that his protest against the Vietnam War made him realize that a way had to be found to object to actions as basically immoral, not just ineffective in terms of "realism." This meant asking basic questions all over again, including Augustine's initial one—when (if ever) is it permissible to kill other human beings?

Walzer is, in a perhaps unconscious way, very Augustinian in his belief that no theory of justice can free warriors from guilt. They may have to kill, but they give rein to atrocities all the same, since even a just war is a fountain of evil. Augustine puts it this way:

Anyone who looks with anguish on evils so great, so repulsive, so savage, must acknowledge the tragedy of it all; and if anyone experiences them or even looks on at them without anguish, his condition is even more tragic, since he remains serene by losing his humanity.
Walzer, in similar vein, says that all war overrides certain moral rules; but even when they have to be overridden, they remain moral rules: "Overriding the rules leaves guilt behind as a recognition of the enormity of what we have done." "The tradition" often implies that belligerent acts in a just war are themselves moral—which is the basis of triumphalism and patriotic smugness. Walzer denies the right to such self-congratulation. Even a just war, he says, "invites—and then only insofar as it also requires—an immoral response: we do what we must (every legitimate alternative having been exhausted)." Paradoxically, then, a person who tries to act morally in war sees his own immorality.

Is this an impossible ideal to expect? One might think so but for the example of Lincoln. While most war leaders ratchet up hatred, he tried to ratchet it down, in recognition of the evil being done on both sides. That was the theme of his Fast Day proclamations, asking people to wage a repenting war, "in sorrowful remembrance of our own faults and crimes."[14] During the Vietnam War, Senator Mark Hatfield introduced a resolution calling on the nation to repent its own war crimes. He was attacked as unpatriotic, as treasonously giving aid and comfort to the enemy—till he revealed that he had been directly quoting Lincoln.

Walzer's moral sensitivities have one special source (among others). Though he says that he wrote his 1977 book on just war in response to the immoral acts committed in Vietnam (napalm, Agent Orange, etc.), he was also disturbed by the Israelis' increasing need to use force. He weighs the rationales offered for the raid on Khibye (1953), for the Six-Day War (1967), for the attack on Beirut's airport (1968) and on Entebbe (1976). He found all but Khibye justified, but he clearly saw the dangers of moral obtuseness in the others.[15] In his new book, he condemns Israeli overreaction to the first intifada:

As even Yitzhak Rabin has recognized, it is not terrorist in character. The youngsters who do the everyday work of the uprising are not a specially trained cadre of killers. They are everyone's children, and they are supported by a full-scale popular movement and by an extraordinary network of local committees.... Terrorists cannot claim a right to self-determination; a popular movement can, and the Palestinians have finally produced a popular movement.... Israelis of roughly my age remember throwing stones at British soldiers. It is a useful, if also a disturbing, memory.
Walzer says that Israel, instead of using the sense of pride bred in Palestinians to work with a popular movement, felt humiliated by having children as enemies and "aimed not only to defeat the uprising but to force the Palestinians to acknowledge defeat— 'to wipe the smile off the Palestinian face.'" Israelis preferred to dictate a peace rather than negotiate it—which made it harder for them to get negotiations when they wanted them.

But sympathy for the first or children's intifada does not affect Walzer's harsh condemnation of Palestinians' later terror tactics, like suicide bombing. In fact, he argues that terrorism— the killing of innocent people as a way of making a political statement—is never justified. Yet he sees as well the danger in fighting terror with terror, turning a nation into the mirror image of its foes. "First oppression is made into an excuse for terrorism, and then terrorism is made into an excuse for oppression. The first is the excuse of the far left; the second is the excuse of the neoconservative right."

Discriminating and painful honesty like this has made Walzer a respected judge of moral issues when it comes to war. That is why many people were looking to him for guidance as the Bush administration considered the invasion of Iraq. It was not clear beforehand what he would say. His first book had been considered "permissive" by some. George W. Bush was talking about a preemptive war, and Walzer had supported the preemptive Six-Day War of 1967 and Israel's pre-emptive strike against Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981. He condemns pacifism as an abrogation of moral responsibilities. He supported the Gulf War and the Kosovo intervention. He signed a letter drafted by Jean Bethe Elshtain and the Catholic just war proponents defending the invasion of Afghanistan. Why, then, would he balk at a war many friends of Israel thought would be in their interest?

But balk he did. In five important lecture-essays written as the crisis unfolded—the culminating section of Arguing About War—he condemned the war while it was still in the offing, as it was being conducted, and after the occupation began. The United States conduct was, he concluded, injustum ad bellum, injustum in bello, injustum post bellum.

1. Ad bellum. Walzer is as critical as any Republicans have been of France and the Clinton administration for their weak policies toward Iraq during the 1990s. The time to threaten war, and to wage it if necessary, was when Clinton and the French let Saddam defy and, in effect, expel the weapons inspectors, who had found and destroyed many weapons. That course would have strengthened the UN's mandate, rather than undermined it. But the "good guys" blinked. The way to repair that blunder was with sanctions, the no-fly zones, and demands for new inspections backed by force. This approach was working when inspectors were readmitted in 2002, and the combined pressures made it impossible for Saddam to deploy any threats he might have had in mind. Increased (though targeted) sanctions, and a no-fly zone over the entire country, combined with insistence that the inspections continue unimpeded, were obvious alternatives to the ultimate step of military attack. "For whether or not the inspectors find and destroy weapons of mass destruction (some of these are very easy to hide), they themselves are a barrier to any deployment of such weapons."

But members of the Bush team did not want to support inspections. They ridiculed Hans Blix. They had decided, without adequate sources on the ground, that weapons of mass destruction existed, and did not want certainty to be questioned or undermined. They were looking for an excuse to adopt an anticipatory war strategy for dealing with terrorists everywhere. They misquoted Daniel Webster in order to justify preemptive war, citing a passage Walzer had carefully analyzed in his first book on just wars.[16] Walzer rightly distinguishes preemptive from preventive war, and says Bush was adopting the latter (where a threat is not imminent) while talking of the former.[17]

Even humanitarian intervention was not justified in Saddam's case, since his major human rights violations, against the Kurds and after the 1991 war, were over, not ongoing, and invasion to punish rather than prevent atrocities is very hard to justify. If Saddam had resumed his mass killings in the presence of inspectors and in defiance of flyovers, this would have provided a genuine casus belli. Walzer has condemned the lack (or the listlessness) of intervention to stop such killing in Rwanda and Haiti (and he would now add, no doubt, Darfur). But these cases do not offer true parallels to the Iraq war, where Bush made humanitarian motives the casus belli only after weapons of mass destruction failed to turn up:

Now that a zone of (relative) safety has been carved out for the Kurds in the North, there is no compelling case to be made for humanitarian intervention in Iraq. The Baghdad regime is brutally repressive and morally repugnant, certainly; but it is not engaged in mass murder or ethnic cleansing; there are governments as bad (well, almost as bad) all over the world.
Walzer wrote that in September 2002, before the inspectors were readmitted. Once they did reenter the country, his argument was obviously even stronger. He was unequivocal in saying that war at that time would be unjust:

If the dithering and delay go on and on—if the inspectors don't return or if they return but can't work effectively; if the threat of enforcement is not made credible; and if our allies are unwilling to act— then many of us will probably end up, very reluctantly, supporting the war the Bush administration seems so eager to fight. Right now, however, there are other things to do, and there is still time to do them. The administration's war is neither just nor necessary.
2. In bello. On the very eve of war (March 7, 2003), Walzer already saw what many people would recognize only much later, that "the administration seems to have no exit strategy, no contingency plans to stop the march" to war. When the war began, he could say firmly, "America's war is unjust.... A war fought before its time is not a just war."

3. Post bellum. "Surely occupying powers are morally bound to think seriously about what they are going to do in someone else's country. That moral test we have obviously failed to meet." "A just occupation costs money; it does not make money." Admittedly, war always has its peripheral scavengers, its opportunistic camp followers.

In the Iraqi case, however, President Bush and his advisers seem committed to profiteering at the center. They claim to be bringing democracy to Iraq, and we all have to hope that they succeed. But with much greater speed and effectiveness, they have brought to Iraq the crony capitalism that now prevails in Washington....
The distribution of contracts to politically connected American companies is a scandal.... An international agency of proven impartiality would be best [in awarding contracts], but even American regulators, under congressional mandate, would be an improvement over no regulators at all.
On the other hand, Walzer says, a conquering nation is responsible for the chaos it has introduced into a conquered nation, and cannot leave when it suits the conqueror's convenience. That would be adding a crowning injustice to all the prior injustices.

Walzer made very good arguments against the justice of the war's commencement, conduct, and conclusion. But he was no more successful in his opposition than was the Vatican. So are his arguments as useless as those of the tradition? I hope not. We are not exempted from pressing moral claims even by defeat, and he supplies us with better moral claims than we have experienced in the past. Besides, his arguments over war go to many other concerns with democracy in the centralized modern state.

Democratic War
Perhaps the greatest service Walzer has performed is to reopen the question of competent authority for declaring war. That problem was prema-turely set aside by those who thought the nation-state had settled it. In a democracy, the people are supposed to be the ultimate authority. Should they be the judges of a war's legitimacy? Even proto-democratic thinkers like Vitoria and Suarez thought that they should, and Nuremberg principles raise the problem of popular complicity in immoral wars.[18] Walzer notes that the United States government, anticipating popular resistance to wars of choice, has tried to insulate warmaking from the democratic process. Abolishing the draft made influential citizens less concerned with service abroad. The promise of low-risk air strikes and technological "smart war" is meant to reduce the casualty rate and minimize the people's stake in whatever wars their rulers might decide on. Walzer finds it repugnant to kill others with small risk of being killed in return—that is more the role of a sniper or assassin than of a combatant.

A more serious way of keeping citizens out of the decision process is the modern cult of secrecy. We must, we are told, trust our leaders to make decisions we are not qualified to evaluate. Lyndon Johnson said that if we knew what he did, we would approve his actions in Vietnam—but we could not know. The information was "classi-fied." When a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff criticized the preparations for the Gulf War, Secretary of State James Baker said his comments should be disregarded because he was no longer cleared to read the latest intelligence reports. If a man with those credentials is dismissed, how can humble citizen I or humble citizen you have any right to an opinion? Secrecy is a shield against every other authority or challenge. When Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson was asked how he, a Catholic, could defend a war the Pope condemned, he answered: "We have much better information than the Pope about what's going on inside Iraq."

The disqualifying of challenges to authority is furthered by the claim that the President is "our commander in chief," to whom we owe a military obedience, not a citizen's responsibility. The Constitution says that the president is "commander in chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states when called into the actual service of the United States." Putting the nation in a state of permanent war turns dissent into disloyalty and criticism into treason. The fear of being considered insufficiently deferential to the high priests of classified information leaves politicians and the public vulnerable to lies from the top. Even William Fulbright endorsed Lyndon Johnson's lies when he voted for the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. Only Senators Wayne Morse and Ernest Gruening were courageous enough to defy the President and vote against it. You would think that this experience would make senators wary of George W. Bush—but, no, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton voted to give him authority to make war in Iraq. The role of Morse and Gruening was left to Senator Bob Graham and my own state's sainted senator, Richard Durbin. Kerry later said he expected Bush to be responsible in his use of the authority given him. What on the record could have justified such an expectation?

Walzer argued in his 1977 book that much of the American intelligentsia abdicated its responsibility to challenge the assurances of the government during the Vietnam War.[19] That charge applied to experts in and outside government. Robert McNamara should have told us he had doubts when that would have affected events—not thirty years later. I suppose we can expect a similar performance from Colin Powell—the loyal enabler turning at last into the ex post facto penitent. Democrats have been so chary of challenging the President that they have allowed the Bush administration to extend secrecy on an unparalleled scale. When the Democrats still had a majority in the Senate, they would not issue subpoenas to find out who was advising Vice President Cheney on energy policy. Health care statistics were kept secret.

Anything that might be embarrassing to a president is now treated as a national security issue—weakening him, it is said, will hamper his dealings with foreign powers. Unless we treat him as infallible, foes will see him as powerless. Since democracy is impossible without accountability, and accountability is impossible if secrecy hides the acts to be held accountable, making a just war may become impossible for lack of a competent democratic authority to declare it. A president who can make a war of choice, not of necessity, at his pleasure, on the basis of privileged information, treating his critics as enemies of the state, is no longer a surreal fantasy. Walzer has moved the concerns over just war from the periphery of political theory to the very center of our democratic dilemma.

[1] Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, translated by Constance Garnett (Modern Library, 1994), pp. 885–886.

[2] Abraham Lincoln, speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Act, October 16, 1854, in Speeches and Writings, edited by Don E. Fehrenbacher (Library of America, 1989), Vol. 1, p. 335.

[3] Abraham Lincoln, letter to Charles D. Drake and others, October 5, 1863, in Fehrenbacher, Speeches and Writings, Vol. 2, p. 523.

[4] John L. Allen Jr, All the Pope's Men: The Inside Story of How the Vatican Really Thinks (Doubleday, 2004), p. 372. Allen assembles (pp. 313–378) an impressive chronology of Vatican statements opposing the war in Iraq. Sample: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, asked if this could be a just war, answered: "In this situation, certainly not."

[5] See Jean Bethke Elshtain, Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World (Basic Books, 2003).

[6] For the ad hoc nature of Augustine's comments on war, and the mistake of making them the foundation for a "tradition," see R.A. Marcus, "Saint Augustine's Views on the 'Just War,'" in The Church and War, edited by W.J. Sheils (Blackwell, 1983); Marie-François Berrouard, "Bellum," in Augustinus-Lexikon, edited by Cornelius Meyer et al. (Schwabe, 1986); Frederick H. Russell, "War," in Augustine Through the Ages: An Encyclopedia, edited by Allan D. Fitzgerald et al. (Eerdmans, 1999).

[7] Augustine, On Free Will 1.5; Epistles 47.5; Answer to Faustus the Manichaean 22.70; The City of God 1.21.

[8] Augustine, Epistles 138.14.

[9] Augustine, The City of God 1.21; Epistles 189, 220, 229. Letter 229 has his famous statement, "Better to slay war with words than men with swords."

[10] Augustine cites Cicero in one place (Quaestionum in Heptateuchum 6.10) as saying that wars are "usually" (solent) justified as "avenging wrongs" (ulcisci injurias). This is often falsely cited as Augustine's own summary teaching on the matter, though it is just the first step in an a fortiori argument saying that wars are surely more justified if they are commanded by God, "with whom there is no iniquity, and who knows what is owing to each party—in which war the people conducting armies are not to be considered as initiators of the war themselves but as his agents."

[11] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica II-II 40.

[12] Aquinas, Summa Theologica II-II 188.3. For Thomas's approval of the Crusades' papal authorization, of crusader vows and of crusader indulgences, see Scriptum super Sententiarum 4.32, 38; Quaestiones de Quolibet II 8.2, V 7.

[13] Francisco de Vitoria, Political Writings, edited by Anthony Pagden and Jeremy Lawrance (Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 314–326. There are seeds of Nuremberg law in Vitoria when he says that aggressors can be punished for the wrongs they have done.

[14] Abraham Lincoln, proclamation of a National Fast Day, August 12, 1861, in Fehrenbacher, Speeches and Writings, Vol. 2, p. 264.

[15] He did not discuss the raid on Iraq's nuclear reactor, since it had not then occurred, but he justifies it in the new book.

[16] Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, third edition (Basic Books, 2000), pp. 74–75.

[17] Vitoria condemned preventive war: "It is quite unacceptable that a person should be killed for a sin he has yet to commit." See Vitoria, Political Writings, pp. 315–316.

[18] See Vitoria, Political Writings, p. 307: "If the war seems patently unjust to the subject, he must not fight, even if he is ordered to do so by the prince."

[19] Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, pp. 287–303.

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 12:04 PM | Comentários (0)

Coetzee - P Roth - NY Review of Books

What Philip Knew
By J. M. Coetzee
The Plot Against America
by Philip Roth
Houghton Mifflin, 391 pp., $26.00

In 1993, over the name "Philip Roth," there appeared a book entitled Operation Shylock: A Confession, which besides being a dazzling raid into territory that had seemed to be staked out by John Barth and the metafictionists, was also about Israel and its relations with the Jewish Diaspora.

The book presents itself as the work of an American writer named Philip Roth (within the book, however, there are two such Philip Roths) who admits to a history of assisting the Israeli intelligence services. We may choose to take this confession at face value. On the other hand, the confession may be part of a larger fiction: Operation Shylock—A Confession: A Novel. Which would be the truer reading? A "Note to the Reader" seems to promise an answer. The note begins, "This book is a work of fiction," and ends, "This confession is false." We are in the sphere of the Cretan Liar.

If Roth did and did not mean Operation Shylock to be read as a lie, an invention, is his new book—which contains a similar note, commencing with the words "The Plot Against America is a work of fiction"—to be read in the same way, namely with its truth status held in suspension? In a sense, no, obviously not. The Plot Against America cannot be true since many of the events it describes are universally known never to have occurred. For instance, there was no President Charles Lindbergh in the White House in the years 1941–1942, carrying out secret orders from Berlin.

Just as obviously, however, Roth has not concocted this lengthy fantasy of an America in thrall to the Nazis simply as a literary exercise. So what is the relation of his story to the real world? What is his book "about"?

Roth's President Lindbergh favors an oratorical style based on the clipped declarative sentence. His administration runs sinister programs with reassuring titles like "Just Folks" and "Homestead 42" (compare "Homeland Security," "Patriot Act"). Behind him lurks an ideologue of a vice-president impatient to get his hands on the levers of power. The similarities between the Lindbergh presidency and the presidency of George W. Bush are hard to brush over. Is Roth's novel of America under fascist rule then "about" America under Bush?

Roth has taken steps to head off such a reading. "Some readers are going to want to take this book as a roman à clef to the present moment in America," he writes in The New York Times Book Review. "That would be a mistake.... I am not pretending to be interested in [the years 1940–1942]—I am interested in those two years."

It sounds unambiguous, and it is. Nevertheless, a novelist as seasoned as Roth knows that the stories we write sometimes begin to write themselves, after which their truth or falsehood is out of our hands and declarations of authorial intent carry no weight. Furthermore, once a book is launched into the world it becomes the property of its readers, who, given half a chance, will twist its meaning in accord with their own preconceptions and desires. Again Roth is aware of this: in the same New York Times piece he reminds us that, though Franz Kafka did not write his novels as political allegories, East Europeans under Communist rule read them as such and employed them for political ends.

Finally, we might note that this is not the first time Roth has invited us to think about a slide into fascism led from above. In American Pastoral (1997) the hero's father, watching the Watergate hearings on television, observes of the circle around Richard Nixon:

These so-called patriots...would take this country and make Nazi Germany out of it. You know the book It Can't Happen Here? There's a wonderful book, I forget the author, but the idea couldn't be more up-to-the-moment. These people have taken us to the edge of something terrible.
The book referred to is the now barely readable It Can't Happen Here (1935), in which Sinclair Lewis tells of a takeover of the American government by an unstable mix of far-right and populist forces. As a model for his fascist president Lewis uses not Lindbergh but Huey Long.

In any sensible reading, The Plot Against America is "about" the presidency of George W. Bush in only the most peripheral way. It needs a paranoid reader to turn it into a roman à clef for the present. However, one of the things that The Plot Against America is about is, precisely, paranoia. In Roth's story, the plot from above, which is immediately a plot against America's Jews but ultimately a plot against the American republic, works so insidiously that at first sensible people cannot see it. Those who talk about a plot are dismissed as crazy.

Roth's fictional history begins in 1940 when, having campaigned to keep America out of the new European war, the aviator Charles Lindbergh defeats Franklin Delano Roosevelt for the presidency. Plenty of folk are horrified by the election of a known Nazi sympathizer. But in the face of Lindbergh's success in keeping America peaceful and prosperous, opposition dwindles. Roosevelt retires to lick his wounds. The first laws targeting Jews are passed, and evoke no outcry.

What resistance there is crystallizes around an unlikely center. Week after week the journalist Walter Winchell uses his radio program to lambaste Lindbergh. Outside the Jewish community there is little support for Winchell. The New York Times criticizes him for "questionable taste" and commends the advertisers who have him removed from the airwaves. Winchell responds by denouncing the proprietors of the Times as "ultracivilized Jewish Quislings." Stripped of access to the media, Winchell announces himself as a candidate for the Democratic nomination in 1944. At a rally in the Lindbergh heartland, however, he is assassinated. At the memorial service Fiorello La Guardia delivers a Mark Antony–type oration, full of scorching irony, over the coffin. In response Lindbergh gets into his plane, flies off into the blue, and is never heard from again.

After Lindbergh's disappearance things get worse. His vice-president and successor, Burton K. Wheeler, is an extremist. Under Wheeler there is a brief reign of terror. Riots break out; Jews and Jewish businesses are targeted. Anne Morrow Lindbergh, of all people, protests, and is promptly taken into protective custody by the FBI. There is talk of a war against Canada, which has been giving shelter to Jews from its mighty southern neighbor.

Then the country pulls itself right. Resistance brings together political figures like La Guardia and Dorothy Thompson, wife of Sinclair Lewis and animating spirit behind It Can't Happen Here, with decent Americans from all walks of life. In an extraordinary presidential election in November 1942 Roosevelt is returned to office, and Japan promptly bombs Pearl Harbor. Thus exactly one year late, the ship of history—American history, that is—resumes its wonted course.

The 1940s are conveyed to us through the eyes of one Philip Roth, born 1933, a youngster with a stable and happy disposition that comes from being "an American child of American parents in an American school in an American city in an America at peace with the world." As the Lindbergh program unrolls, however, young Philip has to absorb, stage by stage, a lesson that may well be at the heart of his author's enterprise: that the history we learn from history books is only a domesticated version of the real thing. Real history is the unpredictable, "the relentless unforeseen." "The terror of the unforeseen is what the science of history hides." To the extent that it chronicles the irruption of the relentless unforeseen into the life of a child, The Plot Against America is a history book, but of a fantastic kind, with its own truth, the sort of truth Aristotle had in mind when he said that poetry is truer than history— truer because of its power to condense and represent the multifarious in the typical.

Philip's father, Herman Roth— whom Roth has already eulogized in Patrimony (1991)—is a man of sterling qualities with a more intense, or perhaps more romantic, loyalty to the ideals of American democracy than anyone else in the book. Herman does his best to shield his family from the gathering storm; but in order to keep them from relocation from their native Newark to the hinterland (this is what Homestead 42 is all about—isolating Jews) he has to quit his job selling insurance and take night work lugging crates in the produce market; and even there he is not safe from the threats of Agent McCorkle of the FBI.

The spectacle of his father's powerlessness against the state sets off a psychic breakdown in Philip. This begins with petty delinquency, proceeds through alienation ("She's somebody else," he thinks to himself, watching his mother—"everybody is"), and ends with him fleeing home to seek sanctuary in a Catholic orphanage. He is quite clear about the meaning of running away from home. "I wanted nothing to do with history. I wanted to be a boy on the smallest scale possible."

Philip's breakdown is treated with a light hand—despite the menace in the air, the tone of the book is comic. His flight expresses panic more than rejection of his family. One of Roth's alter egos, Nathan Zuckerman, has in the past insinuated that Roth the obedient, dutiful son is an impostor, and—worse—a boring impostor, that the true Roth is the sly, scabrous rebel who first put out his head in Portnoy's Complaint (1969). The Plot Against America in effect speaks back to Zuckerman, offering a pedigree for the more filial, "citizenly" Roth.

Nevertheless, Lindbergh, and what Lindbergh represents—license for everything that is ugliest in the American psyche to emerge and have its day—forces Philip to grow up too fast, lose his childhood illusions too early. Does this abrupt awakening from childhood change Philip for life? In a sense this question is illegitimate. Since Roth's novel ends in 1942, we do not get to see Philip after nine. But if the author Philip Roth had meant to write about a fictional child whose sole existence is between the pages of a novel, he would not have called that child Philip Roth, born in the same year and of the same parents as himself. In some sense the young Philip Roth about whose childhood we read continues his life in the life of the Philip Roth who six decades later not only narrates the child's story but writes it too.

In some sense, then, we are reading not just the story of a representative Jewish-American child of the generation that came to awareness in the 1940s—albeit here in a perverted version of the 1940s—but also the story of the real, historical Philip Roth. Puzzling out in what sense the real Philip Roth can be said to bear the marks of the child Philip's ravaged childhood may help us to answer the question, What is this book, this work of fiction, really about?

Whatever marks are borne by Philip seem all the stranger as one examines them. Oskar Matzerath, in Günter Grass's The Tin Drum, bears in or on himself more obviously than Philip the proof that he wanted nothing to do with history. Oskar asserts his right to childhood not by hiding from history, which cannot be done, not even in an orphanage, but by ceasing to grow, which—in a sense—can be done. But the history with which Oskar collides, the history of the Third Reich, is not some abstract "unforeseen": it really happened, as attested in common memory and recorded in thousands of books and millions of photographs. The history that scars Philip, on the other hand, happened only in Philip Roth's head and is recorded only in The Plot Against America. Making sense of The Plot and its imaginary world is therefore nowhere near as straightforward as making sense of The Tin Drum.

Just how imaginary, however, is the world recorded in Roth's book? A Lindbergh presidency may be imaginary, but the anti-Semitism of the real Lindbergh was not. And Lindbergh was not alone. He gave voice to a native anti-Semitism with a long prehistory in Catholic and Protestant Christianity, fostered in numbers of European immigrant communities, and drawing strength from the anti-black bigotry with which it was, by the irrational logic of racism, entwined (of all the "historic undesirables" in America, says Roth, the blacks and the Jews could not be more unalike). A volatile and fickle voting public captivated by surface rather than substance —Tocqueville foresaw the danger long ago—might in 1940 as easily have gone for the aviator hero with the simple message as for the incumbent with the proven record. In this sense, the fantasy of a Lindbergh presidency is only a concretization, a realization for poetic ends, of a certain potential in American political life.

With this reading of Lindbergh in mind, we may return to the question of the scar carried into the future by the child of the 1940s. And here, rather than searching in the life and character of the real Philip Roth, a questionable enterprise under any circumstances, it may help to turn to the other Roth boy, Philip's elder brother Sandy, the one who did not run away from history (and did not write a book about his childhood). Philip, passionately patriotic, collects icons (postage stamps) of exemplary Americans. Sandy, artistically gifted, prefers to draw his heroes. Both own treasured images of Lindbergh the aviator; both face a crisis when Lindbergh reveals his true political colors. Philip does not want to give up his Lindbergh stamps; Sandy hides his Lindbergh portraits under his bed.

Under the influence of a collaborationist rabbi to whom their mother's sister is married, but against his parents' wishes, Sandy enrolls in the Just Folks program, which takes Jewish children away from the cities for the summer and quarters them with typical (i.e., Lindbergh-inclined) non-Jewish families in rural areas. He spends a summer on a farm in Kentucky and comes back husky and tanned, unable to understand why his parents, whom he sneers at as "ghetto Jews" suffering from a "persecution complex," get excited about Hitler. It takes Sandy another year to appreciate that what he calls a persecution complex may be a survival mechanism.

By any objective standard, Sandy emerges from the Lindbergh years as scarred as his younger brother, perhaps more so, since he has to live like an alien in a disapproving parental household. If those years had really occurred, the historical Philip Roth's elder brother—who is just as real as Philip, and lived through the same history—would bear the marks too. But there were no Lindbergh years, and therefore there are no Lindbergh marks as such. What then is the nature of the scar that both brothers, the writer and the non-writer, bear, as a result of a history that is poetically (in Aristotle's sense) called the Lindbergh presidency; or is it only the writer brother who bears the scar; or is there in fact no scar at all?

Though young Philip will of course grow up to become a famous writer, The Plot is not a book about the incubation of the writer's soul. Nowhere does Roth invoke the trope of the artist as a wounded being whose wound becomes the source of his art. The only answer that seems to make sense of the Lindbergh scar is that the scar is Jewishness itself, but Jewishness of a particular etiology: Jewishness as an outsider's idea—and a hostile outsider's at that—of what it is to be a Jew, forced upon the growing child too early, and by means that, while they might not be extreme in themselves, might easily—the 1940s, the quintessential time of the unforeseen, provide proof aplenty—become extreme.

What the plot against America does to young Philip between the ages of seven and nine is terrible. It forces upon him—though less, it must be noted, at first hand than through the medium of newsreels and radio programs and from eavesdropping on his parents' worried conversations—a vision of a world based on hatred and suspicion, a world of them and us. It turns him from a Jewish American into an American Jew, or in the eyes of his enemies just a Jew in America. In waking him up to "reality" too early, it strips him of his childhood. Or rather, the Zionists would say, it strips him of his illusions. A Jew, in their view, can expect no home on earth but in the Jewish homeland.

What is it to be a Jew in America? Does a Jew belong in America? Can America be his or her true home? Herman and Bess Roth, Philip's parents, were born in the United States in the early twentieth century, into immigrant families. They love their native country and work hard to make their way in it. Philip offers a tribute to their generation that is not without overtones of elegy:

It was work that identified and distinguished our neighbors for me far more than religion. Nobody...had a beard or dressed in the antiquated Old World style or wore a skullcap.... The adults were no longer observant in the outward, recognizable ways.... [The one] stranger who did wear a beard and...appeared every few months after dark to ask in broken English for a contribution toward the establishment of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine... seemed unable to get it through his head that we'd already had a homeland for three generations....
These were Jews who needed no large terms of reference, no profession of faith or doctrinal creed, in order to be Jews, and they certainly needed no other language—they had one, their native tongue, whose vernacular expressiveness they wielded effortlessly.... What they were was what they couldn't get rid of—what they couldn't even begin to want to get rid of. Their being Jews issued from their being themselves, as did their being American.
The account Roth gives here of the Judaism of his parents is wholly affirmative. There is no hint of what he suggests elsewhere: that a religion reduced to an ethical code plus some social practices may prove too barren for some, who to give their lives meaning may plunge hysterically into cults (Mickey Sabbath's wife in Sabbath's Theater) or revolutionary violence (Meredith Levov in American Pastoral).

The Jewishness of Herman Roth and his kind may be devoid of a metaphysical dimension but it does embody a chemistry that neither the Zionists nor the architects of Homestead 42 are able to grasp. Jewish-Americanness is a compound, not a simple mixture. One cannot simply subtract one element ("Jewishness," "Americanness") and be left with the other. To be American—to speak the American language, participate in the American way of life, be absorbed in American culture —does not require that one cease being a Jew or entail a loss of Jewishness; conversely, being relocated by fiat from a Jewish to an "American" (i.e., gentile) community will not make one more of an American. The same holds or held for the Jews of Europe. Roth quotes with approval Aharon Appelfeld's mordant observation: "I have always loved assimilated Jews, because that was where the Jewish character, and also, perhaps, Jewish fate, was concentrated with greatest force."

After the election of Lindbergh, Herman takes his family on a trip to Washington, D.C., where he hopes contact with the enduring monuments of American democracy will wash away the bad taste. Instead they are given a taste of what public life in the wider America is becoming. They are turned out of their hotel room on a pretext and subjected to anti-Semitic menaces by fellow tourists. Lindbergh's triumph has clearly been read by middle Americans as a signal that the hunting season can commence. A strange man attaches himself to them. He claims to be a professional guide and will not be shaken off. Who is he really? In their new, paranoid state, the Roth parents suspect he is an FBI agent, and test him out. He passes every test. The simple truth is that he is a tour guide, and a good one too. But in the new America, nothing is any longer simple. A trip that had been intended to reassure the boys about their common heritage turns into a lesson in exclusion. Philip: "A patriotic paradise, the American Garden of Eden spread before us, and we stood huddled together there, the family expelled."

In the starkest terms, that is what the plot of Roth's title is meant to achieve and, at the level of the imaginary, does achieve: to expel Jews from America. Juden raus. That is what Philip cannot forget.

To put all talk of metaphorical scarring in perspective, finally, we ought not to forget the third boy in the Roth household: Alvin, their twenty-one-year-old ward, an orphan in the true sense of the word, who runs off to join the Canadian army and fight the Nazis, loses a leg ingloriously, and returns to Newark in a wheelchair with a medal and a seething rage against all and sundry. With grim purposefulness Alvin descends into a life of crime, his anti-fascist past dismissed as a foolish escapade. Scarred more deeply than either of the brothers, Alvin is in the book to give a sobering reminder of what real history can achieve in the way of destroying lives.

Although the mind through which the events of 1940–1942 are mediated is that of a child, the account we get is not a faux-naif one. The voice speaking to us is that of the child grown up, yet subjecting himself to the vision of his younger self, and in return lending to the younger self a concentrated self-awareness that no child possesses.

There are no particular signs that the grown-up voice reaches us from the first decade of the twenty-first century. There is hardly any forward perspective beyond 1945. (If there had been—if a poignant gap had been allowed to open up between a boy who thinks that being relocated to Kentucky is the worst that can happen and a man looking over his shoulder who knows all the time that the plot against world Jewry extends to gassing them and incinerating their remains—then Roth would have had a different book on his hands.) Nonetheless, given the autobiographical traces, we may take the narrating voice as belonging to the historical Philip Roth or his fictional alter ego "Philip Roth," from whose repertoire the wisdom of hindsight has been deliberately excluded, and who passes over every opportunity to be smart at the expense of the child. If one may speak of the affection of a grown man for his childhood self, then the affection and respect of the writer for young Philip is one of the most appealing aspects of the book.

The modulation between youthful freshness of vision and adult insight is brought off with such skill that we lose awareness of who is speaking in our ear at any given moment, child or man. Only rarely does Roth's hand fail, as for example when the child Philip sees his aunt Evelyn for who she is: "Her pretty face, with its large features and thickly applied makeup, suddenly looked to me preposterous—the carnal face of [a] ravenous mania."

Subjecting himself to a child's worldview means that Roth has to eschew a range of stylistic resources, in particular the harsher reaches of irony and the wails and tirades of desperate eloquence that distinguish such works as Sabbath's Theater (1995) and The Dying Animal (2001), an eloquence sparked by the brute resistance of the world to the human will or by the prospect of approaching extinction. On the other hand, it does place Roth outside the range of William Faulkner, whose heady prose has sometimes overwhelmed him of late, particularly in The Human Stain (2000).

Roth has grown in stature as a writer as he has grown older. At his best he is now a novelist of authentically tragic scope; at his very best he reaches Shakespearean heights. By the standard set by Sabbath's Theater, The Plot Against America is not a major work. What it offers in place of tragedy is pathos of a heart-wrenching kind saved from sentimentality by a sharp humor, a risky, knife-edge performance that Roth brings off without a slip. The subject of the keenest pathos is not young Philip—though, clutching his stamp album, heading off into the night, determined to be just a boy again, Philip is pathetic enough—but Philip's neighbor and shadow self, Seldon Wishnow. Like Philip, Seldon is a clever, impressionable, obedient little boy. He is also fatally unlucky, a born victim, and Philip wants nothing to do with him (Seldon of course adores Philip).

In his efforts to shake off the curse of Seldon, Philip suggests to Aunt Evelyn, who works in the relocation bureau, that the Wishnows, widow and son, be packed off to Kentucky. To his dismay she acts on his suggestion. Within months of arriving in the town of Danville, Seldon's mother has been set upon and murdered by anti-Semitic vigilantes, and Seldon has to be brought back to Newark an orphan. Philip thus has to bear not only the guilt of sending Mrs. Wishnow to her death but the punishment of having Seldon quartered upon him.

The night of his mother's disappearance, Seldon telephones Newark (he knows no one in Kentucky), and Mrs. Roth, calling on all her resources of motherly firmness, confronts no less a task than keeping the excitable child sane. Their long-distance conversation contains some of the most heart-rending (we know Seldon's mother is dead but Seldon and Mrs. Roth do not, though she suspects the worst) yet funniest dialogue Roth has written.

A historical novel is, by definition, set in a real historical past. The past in which The Plot Against America is set is not real. The Plot is thus, generically speaking, not a historical but a dystopian novel, though an unusual one, since the dystopian novel is usually set in the future, a future toward which the present seems to be tending. George Orwell's 1984 is a classic dystopian novel. It looks forward to 1984 from the perspective of a 1948 in which the threat of total control seems ominously strong.

In the typical dystopian novel there is a convenient gap between present and future—convenient because it frees the author from having to demonstrate step by step how present turns into future. Roth's task is more difficult. He needs to provide two lines of suturing: the imaginary Lindbergh years have to be sutured at one end to the real history from which they diverge in mid-1940, and at the other end to the real history that they rejoin in late 1942.

By strict standards, the surgery fails and has to fail. Even under a resolutely isolationist administration, American history cannot proceed independently of world history. The absence of America from the international stage for two years would inevitably have affected the course of the war and thereby changed the world.

If, by its nature, Roth's alternative history cannot pass the test of the real, can it pass the lesser test of the plausible? Is it plausible, for example, that Congress should not have been disquieted by the spectacle of Japanese forces sweeping through Indonesia, India, and Australia, thereby laying the foundations for a vast Co-Prosperity Sphere run from Tokyo? Is it plausible that what the US armed forces achieved in four years of real history (1942–1945) could be achieved in three years of revised history (1943–1945)?

Questions like these would be less relevant if Roth were indulging in a fable of the "what if?" kind. But the challenge he has set himself is more rigorous. Roth is writing a realistic novel about imagined events. From the premise of the election of a fascist to the White House all else ought to follow by a logic of the plausible. That is why, in order to explain American inaction, Roth has to create a network of secret agreements between Nazi Germany and imperial Japan on the one hand, and their puppet in the White House on the other. That is why he has to revise the chronology of the war. But by the standard of plausibility to which he subjects himself, this historical framework is more than a little rickety.

In real life, Charles Lindbergh responded to Pearl Harbor by joining the war effort and flying bombing runs against the Japanese. He died in 1974. What happens to the fictional Lindbergh after October 1942, when he takes off, flying solo, and is never seen again?

We get no solid answer, only rumors. According to one rumor Lindbergh was forced down on Canadian soil by British planes. According to the Germans he has been kidnapped by the international Jewish conspiracy. The British say that he ditched his plane in the Atlantic and was taken by U-boat to Germany. Anne Morrow Lindbergh puts out a story that the Lindbergh child was not murdered in 1932 but spirited away to Germany, where he has been held as a hostage to ensure that his parents carry out the will of their German masters; and that Charles Lindbergh himself was shot out of the skies by German agents because he was no longer deemed trustworthy. In the face of these competing versions, all that we as readers of this fictional history can say is that we do not know what happened to Lindbergh, and, more seriously, that we do not know why the Lindbergh presidency or plot had to end when it did, given that resistance had not got beyond the point of speechmaking.

The spirit that reigns rather distantly over the last, hurried-sounding pages of The Plot Against America is that of Jorge Luis Borges. But Borges would have made better use of the layer of solid historical research on which Roth has built his book. As Lindbergh himself disappears into thin air, leaving nothing behind, so his presidency disappears, leaving its trace only on the mind of the boy who will grow into Philip Roth the writer. Save for the book we hold in our hands, there is no Lindbergh legacy. The two ghostly, parallel years in the American story—and, since the world is indivisible, in the story of the world—might as well not have occurred.

What Borges knew is that the ways of history are more complex and more mysterious than that. If there had been a President Lindbergh, our lives would be different today and probably worse, though exactly how we cannot be sure.

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 12:02 PM | Comentários (0)

J Julliard

La chronique de Jacques Julliard

Le Dieu américain

Non seulement la religion ne régresse pas, mais tout indique que l’on a affaire à une renaissance du sentiment religieux

Ce divorce rampant qui, jour après jour, emporte un peu plus les Etats-Unis loin de l’Europe, rien ne permet mieux de le toucher du doigt que l’attitude envers la religion. Tandis que l’Europe est entraînée dans un grand mouvement de sécularisation que rien ne semble devoir arrêter, les Etats-Unis, eux, se reconnaissent toujours davantage dans cette religion civile qui avait tant frappé Tocqueville quand il les visitait au premier tiers du xixe siècle.
Un signe qui ne trompe pas: quand un Français se rend aujourd’hui de l’autre côté de l’Atlantique, sur quoi pensez-vous qu’il est interpellé? Sur l’Irak? Vous n’y êtes pas. Pour avoir laissé de l’amertume, la position française n’en est pas moins comprise et souvent approuvée. Non, ce qui fait problème, c’est l’interdiction des signes religieux dans les écoles françaises, autrement dit la question du voile islamique. Là, c’est l’incompréhension la plus totale, même chez les musulmanes américaines les plus émancipées: permettre à l’Etat de réglementer le culte? Impensable!
Laissons là l’objet du débat, ce qui nous importe ici, ce sont les tendances. Or, aux Etats-Unis, non seulement la religion ne régresse pas mais tout indique que l’on a aujourd’hui affaire à l’une de ces renaissances (revivals) du sentiment religieux comme il y en a eu plusieurs au cours de leur histoire: 96% des Américains croient en Dieu, 67% appartiennent à des communautés religieuses, 40% sont des pratiquants réguliers (contre moins de 10% en France). Sait-on que c’est depuis 1954 seulement que le serment d’allégeance, rédigé en 1892 par le socialiste Bellamy et récité tous les matins par les écoliers américains, comporte une référence à Dieu? Et que c’est de 1952 seulement que date l’institution d’une journée nationale de prière (NDP) fixée au premier jeudi du mois de mai?

Le fait le plus nouveau, bien mis en lumière par Sébastien Fath dans un livre excellent auquel j’emprunte ici beaucoup (1), c’est la substitution progressive aux appartenances établies traditionnellement (presbytériens, épiscopaliens, catholiques à la Spellman) d’une religion évangélique transcendant les confessions (denominations en américain) proprement dites, à la théologie chrétienne assez vague mais qui se fonde sur la conversion personnelle, voire la reconversion, permettant au fidèle de «renaître»: on sait que Bush est l’un de ces «born again» et ne manque pas une occasion de le rappeler. Le dosage de la sincérité personnelle et de l’opportunisme politique dans l’exhibitionnisme religieux de «Dubya» est un problème à soi seul, qui passionne les Américains.
On ne veut retenir ici, en fonction de la présidentielle de la semaine prochaine, que trois éléments:
1) Il faut s’interroger sur l’hypothèse webérienne d’un «désenchantement du monde», autrement dit de sa laïcisation au fur et à mesure qu’il avance dans la modernité. Cette hypothèse, reprise par beaucoup de sociologues européens de la religion, comme Marcel Gauchet, ne trouve pour le moment de confirmation qu’en Europe occidentale. Au contraire, l’islam continue de progresser mais aussi, et peut-être davantage, la nouvelle religion évangélique américaine, qui compte sous diverses formes quelque 500 millions de fidèles à travers le monde… Il n’y a pas que le rock, le jean et le cinéma à marquer l’influence planétaire des Etats-Unis: Dieu aussi!
2) Parallèlement à cette poussée religieuse, subjective et affective, mais aussi festive et communautaire, qui n’est pas sans évoquer certains états seconds du pentecôtisme (effusions, transes, glossolalie), se développe aux Etats-Unis, sous l’influence de George W. Bush lui-même, une nouvelle religion civile, patriotique, moraliste et messianique dont le président est en quelque sorte le Grand Prêtre, les Etats-Unis l’épicentre, et le monde entier l’objectif. Si cette analyse est exacte et si George W. Bush est réélu, l’Irak ne serait qu’un début et l’impérialisme américain pourrait s’enrichir de l’élan spiritualiste qui lui a longtemps manqué. C’est dire que l’enjeu du 2 novembre dépasse largement le gouvernement des Etats-Unis pour les quatre années à venir.
3) Inutile de souligner le grand écart qui se creuse ainsi entre cette Amérique imbue de sa mission assurée de la protection divine et une Europe qui s’est refusé à rappeler dans son projet de Constitution ses origines chrétiennes, fût-ce à titre purement historique. Nous avons ici affaire à deux modèles antagonistes et également ambitieux: celui de la république universelle et laïque; celui de l’empire économique et militaire, mais aussi spirituel. Le premier est porteur de paix et d’égalité mais il véhicule peu de rêve; le second est batailleur, voire belliqueux, mais il a pour lui la force du réel et la puissance de l’imaginaire…
Vivement mardi.

(1) « Dieu bénisse l’Amérique.La religion de la Maison-Blanche » (Seuil).

Jacques Julliard

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 11:32 AM | Comentários (0)

John Gray - BH Levy

War, Evil and the End of History
Bernard-Henri Levy; translated by Charlotte Mandell Duckworth, 371pp, £20
ISBN 0715633368

Reviewed by John Gray

For someone commonly derided as a mere populariser of ideas, Bernard-Henri Levy has not gone out of his way to court popularity. In the 1970s, he abandoned the Maoism of his youth and became a militant anti-communist - a bold act for a public intellectual at a time when the Soviet Union and Maoist China were still objects of reverence for large sections of the western intelligentsia. His views were vindicated by history, as the Soviet Union disintegrated and China embraced capitalism, but his prophetic exposure of the reality of life under communism gained him no credit from the left, which has remained bitterly hostile to him.

Despite this, Levy was the ultimate winner. Unable to come to terms with the communist collapse, left-wing intellectuals - in Britain as in France - deliquesced into cultural criticism and became politically irrelevant. Levy, on the other hand, acquired an enormous public following, and became the chief contemporary exponent of a uniquely French genre: philosophy written as journalism.

He is not the first to have combined the two. He has a predecessor in Michel Foucault, who produced a series of articles in the late 1970s analysing the course of the Iranian revolution and speculating on its larger significance. In many ways Levy begins where Foucault left off, taking the mix of genres further than Foucault (whom he admires intensely) ever did. All of Levy's recent writings are exotic hybrids, mixing philosophical musings with autobiographical vignettes and moving without warning from sharp reportage to novelistic reconstruction.

Levy is a fearless intellectual risk-taker, and the results can be brilliantly thought-provoking. Yet his work has inspired suspicion more often than admiration, and it has to be admitted that the mix of genres is not always successful. In Who Killed Daniel Pearl?, Levy presented his theories about the kidnapping and murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter in the form of a "romanquete", a cross between investigative journalism and a novel. He speculated that Pearl was killed because he knew too much about links between Pakistan's intelligence services, its nuclear scientists and al-Qaeda - an unsupported theory whose credibility is not enhanced by Levy's deliberate blurring of fact with fiction.

In War, Evil and the End of History, Levy has produced a more successful hybrid. The book is split into two sections. The first contains reportage, originally published in Le Monde, covering countries, such as Angola, Sri Lanka and Colombia, that Levy sees as being ravaged by a new kind of purposeless war. The second comprises philosophical reflections suggested by his observations. The pieces of reportage are acutely observed and often gruesomely compelling. In one, Levy recounts his interview in Sri Lanka with a woman who had been trained in the jungle as a suicide bomber for the Tamil Tigers. The woman told him she had been drawn to the Tigers' cause by a desire to avenge the death of her father, who had been kidnapped by the army, but she had second thoughts after a period living under cover and working at a restaurant in Colombo. She did not know why her resolution suddenly faltered - perhaps it was just living in the city after a year in the jungle - but when she was given a cyanide pill for use in case the operation went wrong and she was at risk of falling into enemy hands, she decided she wasn't ready, and managed to escape.

The interest of the piece lies partly in the details (such as the importance attached, in training suicide bombers, to ensuring that the head breaks off intact at the moment of the explosion and rolls to a spot determined in advance) and partly in the picture it gives of the normal human psychology that usually underlies terrorism. Large-scale, continuing terrorism cannot be explained by reference to any "terrorist mentality", and it is a mistake to view suicide bombing as the product of any one culture. In the media, it is portrayed as if it were peculiarly Islamic, but actually it was Hindu Tamils who developed it and only later was it taken up by Islamists. Attempts to explain suicide bombing in cultural terms do not take account of the uncomfortable fact that it is a highly effective technique of asymmetric warfare that can be used by anyone.

In the second section of the book, Levy offers some thoughts on the harrowing scenes of war and terror that he has recounted in the first. Densely allusive and flamboyantly rhetorical, his reflections exemplify a style of writing that is all too easy to parody. For example, apropos the meaningless wars he sees going on in many parts of the world, he writes:

The disappearance of meaning is a fact, but it is, still, an idea. And I'm not even sure if this idea, this envisioning of a war capable, without the least sense or reason, without anything at stake, of producing an infinite amount of devastation, is very easy to conceive of. Anti-Hegelian? Yes, of course, anti-Hegelian. Anti-everything Hegelianism has taught us about the economy of evil in the world.

In Britain, a certain laborious dullness is prized as a mark of intellectual seriousness, and passages such as this are sure to be seized on as proof that Levy has nothing of substance to say. Yet they often contain a kernel of vital truth. Grandiloquent he may be, but Levy is trying to make sense of realities that more timorous and conventional writers prefer to ignore. The end of history that was announced when the Berlin Wall crumbled was supposed to be a time of peace. In fact, the world has been wracked by successive wars. Sometimes (as in the first Gulf war) they have been conflicts between states with clearly defined objectives. More typically they have been wars of the intractable, anarchic sort that comes about when states break down or are wilfully destroyed (as in Iraq). In these latter cases, the result has not been to achieve any of the goals the wars may have originally served. Instead, it has been to institutionalise war and make it something approaching a permanent condition. Unending war of this kind may turn out to be what really defines the "end of history" - a state of universal peace which somehow generates, perhaps even requires, chronic conflict.

How has this situation come about? What keeps it in being? Most thinkers contrive to avoid such questions, but Levy makes them his chief concern. He is one of very few struggling to understand the present, and for that reason he is a thinker we cannot afford to be without.

John Gray's latest book is Heresies: against progress and other illusions, published by Granta (£8.99)
This review first appeared in the New Statesman. For the latest in current and cultural affairs subscribe to the New Statesman print edition.

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 11:28 AM | Comentários (0)

Giddens-New Statesman

NS Essay - The left must open up more clear water between itself and its opponents
NS Essay
Anthony Giddens
Monday 1st November 2004

Why are social-democrat parties in such trouble in so many European countries? Have they been too quick to break with their traditional policies, or too slow? By Anthony Giddens

The European left is not in good shape. At the turn of the millennium, left or leftish governments were in power in 13 of the 15 states of the European Union, while Bill Clinton held office in Washington. All these were revisionist, Third Way governments; the Jospin coalition in France was no different, even if Lionel Jospin had a distaste for the term Third Way itself.

Now, out of the 25 EU countries today, the centre left holds power in just nine. Gerhard Schroder's Social Democratic/Green coalition in Germany has suffered unprecedented reversals in local and regional polls. The three states in eastern Europe - the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland - are all suffering from "post-enlargement blues" and look shaky. Goran Persson is enjoying his third term as prime minister in Sweden, but the Social Democrats do not have a majority in the Riksdag. Though the Socialists took power in Spain this year, they did so only after the Madrid bombings changed public opinion. Before that, they had looked likely to lose the election. In the UK, even Tony Blair, though still odds-on to win the next election, is in difficulties over the Iraq war.

Where the left is out of power, the situation seems even more discouraging. The Italian left appears rudderless: though Romano Prodi's return as leader of a new centre-left alliance prompts hopes for a revival, the parties and groups involved do not yet have a common programme. The French left has still not recovered from the shock of Lionel Jospin's elimination in the first round of the 2002 presidential elections. The Socialists are divided between modernisers and traditionalists, and the "plural left" that Jospin held together while in government has fallen apart.

Yet when I talked to a senior British government adviser - just before the latest Progressive Governance conference, held in Budapest from 13-14 October and organised by the international think-tank Policy Network - he was remarkably laid-back about it all. He did not think it mattered much, he said: after all, the "right-wing" parties or coalitions in some European countries are actually quite leftish in British terms.

The CDU in Germany, for example, is essentially a one-nation Tory party, far removed from current British Conservatism. Christian-democratic parties on the Continent, the adviser pointed out, have played a significant part in building and sustaining Europe's welfare institutions.

It is true that the centre of political gravity differs from country to country. It is as difficult for a government significantly to reduce taxes in Sweden, for example, as it is for a government to raise them in the UK. Moreover, as I wrote a book with the title Beyond Left and Right, you would expect me to agree that some issues no longer fall under the usual left-right divisions.

But the political composition of Europe certainly does matter. Many rightist parties or coalitions in power in Europe today are, to some degree, in hock to the far right, and most have embraced anti-immigration policies. Some - such as those in Italy and Austria - have brought far-right groups directly into government. The left absolutely needs to fight such trends.

So what explains the centre left's diminishing fortunes? The point should first be made that the decline has not been quite as marked as some suggest. There never really was a firm centre-left hegemony in 2000. Some left-of-centre parties came to power at that time largely because of the political cycle: the Social Democrats in Germany, for example, had been out of government for almost as long as Labour in the UK. Though the electorate responded positively to these parties' ideological innovations, many people simply voted for change. Moreover, in 2000, the left had a parliamentary majority in only four of the 13 countries concerned: Britain, Germany, France and Greece.

Contingent events are often more important in politics than ideology. But for a few thousand dimpled chads (or Ralph Nader's decision to stand), Al Gore, not George Bush, would have become US president in 2000. The occupant of the White House almost always has an influence on Europe's political complexion and, if Gore had been elected, a different approach to Iraq might well have prevented the splits on the Iraq war that have so damaged much of the European left.

Tactical failures also help to explain the left's declining fortunes. Left and right are everywhere internally divided, but the left is usually more prone to sectarian division. If the left had stuck behind Jospin in the first round of the French presidential election, he would at least have been able to put up a good fight against Jacques Chirac. If the Olive Tree centre-left coalition had managed to stay intact in Italy, Silvio Berlusconi might not be in power today. The principle "United we win, divided we lose" is a powerful one in politics. When Labour put its sectarian past behind it, it was accused of "control-freakery". Yet Labour's continuing electoral strength owes much to the containment of its internal schisms.

However, the weaknesses of the European left are undeniably ideological in some part. Do they flow from too much revisionism, or too little? I believe strongly that the problem is the latter. Social-democratic governments have often been either unwilling or unable to push through the programmes to which they are committed in principle.

Take Schroder in Germany. A Third Way disciple, surely? Yes, but more in spirit than in reality, I would say, at least until quite recently. He signed up to the "Blair-Schroder manifesto" in June 1999, supporting the kind of economic restructuring that new Labour has followed in the UK, but it was almost immediately disowned by many fellow Social Democrats circles in Germany. Schroder made little immediate progress in reforming a benefit system that prices German workers out of jobs. Only more recently, in his second term, has he started to make such reforms. By deferring them, he has arguably made the backlash much greater.

Labour's version of the Third Way was less original than some of its proponents believed. Active labour-market policy, for example, in the shape of the New Deal, was pioneered in the Scandinavian countries. In one key respect, however, Labour was ahead of the game: it believed that no area should be treated as "belonging to the right". Labour should generate left-of-centre solutions to "rightist" problems - such as those to do with crime or immigration.

Other social-democratic parties in Europe came round to such a standpoint too late. The Jospin government, for example, started to talk about crime reduction only late in its electoral campaign, and failed to convince the French electorate of its sincerity.

The Danish Social Democrats fell from power after they failed to anticipate and respond to a wave of right-wing populism, led by the anti-immigration Danish People's Party. Similarly, in the Netherlands, the ruling "purple coalition" was shocked to find itself ejected from government as a result of the rise of the anti-immigration campaigner Pim Fortuyn.

How can the left revive its fortunes? Despite what many have written on the subject, the populist parties as such are not a major problem for social-democratic parties. They tend to be intrinsically unstable, depending as they do on the appeal of "anti-political politicians".

Much more consequential for social democracy are the conditions that lead to right-wing populism. The stresses and strains of globalisation have created a new schism in our society. On one side are those who are at ease (or relatively so) with technological advance and the cosmopolitan interchange of cultures, and who possess the qualifications to do well in the new economy. On the other side - much further down the socio-economic scale - are those, often lacking in skills or qualifications, who feel that their jobs or even their way of life are threatened. These groups blame the "establishment" or "outsiders" or both for what is going on, and are easily attracted by racist or xeno- phobic sentiments. Many are erstwhile social-democratic voters who feel let down or disenfranchised by the mainstream parties.

Some commentators argue that populism flourishes because we no longer have the great ideological confrontations of the past. Politics, they argue, has become too mundane for voters to take much interest. The large majority, therefore, feel that "all politicians are the same" and that they are not being offered a real choice. The political vacuum is then filled with protest votes and direct action - outsiders against the establishment. If social-democrat parties are to get back on track, so this analysis goes, they must open up more clear water between themselves and their opponents on the right.

I have some sympathy with this view, which was the subject of much debate in Budapest. But we must not be naive. The third way turn in social-democratic politics is inevitable and inescapable. Left-of-centre parties will not enjoy electoral success unless they respond to change.

They have to win battles of tactics, strategy and ideology: tactics in the sense of sustaining a united front and organising election campaigns professionally; strategy in the sense of continuing to innovate in policy; ideology in the sense of giving revisionism emotional appeal. Pragmatism without passion will not command enduring political support. Social democrats must respond to populism without succumbing to it.

At the height of the social-democratic "boom", Blair talked of the aspiration to make the 21st century a "social-democratic century". So far, there is little sign of it, but the aspiration can still be realised. Outside Scandinavia, the left has never held power for long. This could change if social democrats could learn to speak for the majority, not just for sectoral interests. It could change if the left can rise to one of the biggest challenges - to promote a renewed egalitarianism, but one compatible with a dynamic and competitive economy.

The political right in Europe does not have an especially coherent political agenda. Right-wing parties dominate because they have responded more rapidly than the left to voter concerns about security and identity; and because of the left's tactical and organisational mistakes. With enough determination and intellectual effort, however - allied to a more lively and continuous exchange of ideas following on from the work of bodies such as the Policy Network - there is no intrinsic reason why the political map of Europe should not change yet again over the next few years.

But what happens in America has a big influence on Europe. The prospects for a social-democratic revival will be all the greater if, within a week, John Kerry wins the US presidency.

Anthony Giddens, former director of the London School of Economics and now a member of the House of Lords, is the author of The Third Way (Polity Press, 1998)
This article first appeared in the New Statesman.

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 11:25 AM | Comentários (0)

Furedi - Bush-Fear - Spiked

Article28 October 2004
The politics of fear
President Bush isn’t the only one who plays the scare card.

by Frank Furedi

Today, we seem to recognise the politics of fear only in its most grotesque caricatured form.

Many commentators have argued that the US presidential election is dominated by the politics of fear. American media outlets, including the Washington Post and the New York Times, have criticised the fear-mongering tactics of the election campaign organisers.

Both President George W Bush and his Democrat challenger John Kerry have been criticised - but the charge of fear-mongering is predominantly focused on Bush. Indeed, many claim that fear has become Bush's favourite weapon of choice, and accuse him of systematically manipulating the public's fear of terrorism since 9/11 in order to strengthen his administration's authority. The post-9/11 curbs on civil rights, such as the Patriot Act, have been discussed as symptoms of this trend towards domination through fear.

It seems that one of the principal discoveries made by twenty-first century media pundits is that governments use fear to sustain their authority. The elevation of terrorism into the biggest threat to civilisation no doubt provides a lot of material for scripting the politics of fear - but the script is hardly original. It has been recycled in different forms for decades. In the post-Second World War era there was a continuous promotion of fear of the 'other side'. Fear of communism underpinned Cold War ideology, with periodic outbursts of fear of crime, fear of immigrants, and fear of nuclear war.

Fear of terrorism is not new either. Even before 9/11 governments couldn't resist the temptation to play the terror card. Speculation about 'catastrophic terrorism' and 'weapons of mass destruction' was rife in the 1990s. It was President Bill Clinton who appointed a national coordinator for security, infrastructure protection and counterterrorism in May 1998, in order to 'bring the full force of all of our resources to bear swiftly and effectively'. In November 1998, a group of foreign policy experts claimed that, 'The danger of weapons of mass destruction being used against America and its allies is greater now than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962' (1).

A few weeks before September 2001, Sir William Stewart, the UK's former chief scientific adviser, warned that the New Labour government's difficulty in dealing with the foot-and-mouth outbreak showed just how vulnerable Britain was to any future threat from biological warfare (2). The ease with which he could jump from a crisis of British farming to the spectre of biological warfare highlighted the salience of fear as a political resource today.

Since 9/11, politicians, business, advocacy organisations and special interest groups have sought to further their selfish agendas by manipulating public anxiety about terror. All seem to take the view that they are more likely to gain a hearing if they pursue their arguments or claims through the prism of security. Businesses have systematically used concern with homeland security to win public subsidies and handouts. And paradoxically, the critics of big business use similar tactics - many environmentalist activists have started linking their traditional alarmist campaigns to the public's fear of terror attacks.

So after 9/11, the Worldwatch Institute issued a statement entitled 'The Bioterror In Your Burger', which argued that although past attempts to clean up America's food chain had 'failed to inspire politicians', a patriotic demand for homeland security could 'finally lead to meaningful action'. The Detroit Project, a campaign started by liberal commentator Arianna Huffington and Americans for Fuel-Effiecient Cars, links its campaign against sports utility vehicles (SUVs) with the war on terrorism, arguing that Americans need to 'free ourselves from the nations and terrorists holding us hostage through our addiction to oil'.

Some environmentalists argue that their programmes offer the most effective counter-terrorist strategy of all. In an article for the online journal OnEarth, David Corn, the Washington-based editor of America's left-leaning weekly The Nation, argued that 'technologies long challenged by environmental advocates are potential sources of immense danger in an era of terrorism'. 'Environmentalism will have to be an essential component of counter-terrorism', he added.

Even radical critics of the war in Iraq argued against the war by ratcheting up fears of terrorism. The UK's Stop the War Coalition said that a 'headlong rush into war against Iraq will precipitate the very terror threats that most sane people want to avert'. George Michael caused controversy when he released the anti-war single 'Shoot the Dog' in 2002 - but that also was an argument against war on the basis that it would make us more vulnerable to terrorism. 'I got the feeling that when it all goes off, they're gonna shoot the dog', he sang, 'they' being the 'Mustaphas' and 'Gaza Boys' and the dog being Blair's Britain. The video that accompanied the song showed a map of Britain with a target sign across it.

Radical critics also use the rhetoric of terror to denounce policies they dislike. They write of the 'terror' experienced by poor Americans who lack access to health insurance or the 'terror' inflicted through racist policies on minorities. In attempting to subvert the dominant rhetoric of the war on terror, they inadvertently lend credibility to it.

There is nothing distinct about Bush's rhetoric on terrorism. His sentiments are echoed by leaders of other interest groups and even by his opponents. Indeed, by transforming Bush into a figure that should be feared the Democrats have proved to be the most adept cultivators of the politics of fear. While Bush has adopted a one-dimensional focus on the threat of terror, Kerry has succeeded in promoting fear on several fronts.

The Democrats claim that if Bush is re-elected he will conspire to reintroduce a military draft, and will turn the world into a more dangerous place. 'Despite a lot of rhetoric, Bush has failed to provide adequate homeland security', states one Democrat website. The message, in short, is that the security of the USA depends on the election of Kerry.

In fact, Kerry is a far more sophisticated practitioner of the politics of fear than his Republican opponents. Consider the recent controversy over the shortage of flu vaccines. Kerry seized upon this issue and declared that Bush could not be trusted with protecting the public's health. His intervention provoked a panic; people who hadn't previously heard about the flu vaccine started queuing up to receive it.

The narrative of fear has become so widely assimilated that it is now self-consciously expressed in a personalised and privatised way. In previous eras where the politics of fear had a powerful grasp - in Latin American dictatorships, Fascist Italy or Stalin's Soviet Union - people rarely saw fear as an issue in its own right. Rather, they were frightened that what happened to a friend or a neighbour might also happen to them. They were not preoccupied with fear as a problem in an abstract sense.

Today, however, public fears are rarely expressed in response to any specific event. Rather, the politics of fear captures a sensibility towards life in general. The statement 'I am frightened' is rarely focused on something specific, but tends to express a diffuse sense of powerlessness. Or fears are expressed in the form of a complaint about an individual, such as 'Bush really scares me' or 'he's a scary president'. Ironically, in the very act of denouncing Bush's politics of fear, the complainant advances his own version of the same perspective by pointing out how terrifying the president apparently is.

Fear as a perspective

As I argue in my book Culture of Fear: Risk Taking and the Morality of Low Expectation, fear has become a powerful force that dominates the public imagination. This was the case for some time before 9/11, and its ascendancy has not been predicated on the issue of terrorism.

The defining feature is the belief that humanity is confronted by powerful destructive forces that threaten our everyday existence. The line that used to delineate reality from science fiction has become blurred. So government officials have looked into the alleged threat posed by killer asteroids to human survival; some scientists warn that an influenza pandemic is around the corner; others claim that 'time is running out' for the human race unless we do something about global warming. 'The end is nigh' is no longer a warning issued by religious fanatics; rather, scaremongering is represented as the act of a concerned and responsible citizen.

Advocacy groups often claim that we are not scared enough and that the public should be more 'aware' of the risks they face. Newspapers compete with one another in the promotion of different scare stories, whether it's Frankenstein foods, the risks posed by the MMR vaccine, economy-flight syndrome, or asylum seekers.

The prevalence of such scary stories suggests that society feels uncomfortable with itself. It cannot discuss a problem facing children without going into panic mode. Overnight we discover that obesity is an 'epidemic' and is likely to kill more people than smoking does. Discussions about new technology, drugs, health or the environment invariably focus on worst-case scenarios. The cumulative impact is to transform fear into a cultural perspective through which society makes sense of itself. Fear is rarely about anything specific - it is about everything. The culture of fear is underpinned by a profound sense of powerlessness, a diminished sense of agency that leads people to turn themselves into passive subjects who can only complain that 'we are frightened'.

Politics has internalised the culture of fear. So political disagreements are often over which risk the public should worry about the most. British politics is currently dominated by debates about the fear of terror, the fear of food, the fear of asylum seekers, the fear of anti-social behaviour, fears over children, fear about health, fear for the environment, fear for our pensions, fears over the future of Europe. The politics of fear transcends the political divide.

And yet the politics of fear could not flourish if it did not resonate so powerfully with today's cultural climate. Politicians cannot simply create fear from thin air. Nor do they monopolise the deployment of fear; panics about health or security can just as easily begin on the internet or through the efforts of an advocacy group as from the efforts of government spindoctors. Paradoxically, governments spend as much time trying to contain the effects of spontaneously generated scare stories as they do pursuing their own fear campaigns.

Perhaps the distinct feature of our time is not the cultivation of fear, but the cultivation of vulnerability. In an era where children, women, the elderly, the infirm and the poor - around 80 to 90 per cent of the population of the Western World - are routinely discussed as 'vulnerable groups', there is little need for an omnipotent state to remind us of our lack of power. When most forms of human experience come with a health warning, we are continually reminded that we cannot be expected to manage everyday risks. And if vulnerability is the defining feature of the human condition, we are quite entitled to fear everything.

Frank Furedi's latest book is Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone?: Confronting Twenty-First Century Philistinism, published by Continuum (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon USA). His Culture of Fear: Risk Taking and the Morality of Low Expectation was published in 2002 (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)). Visit his website at www.frankfuredi.com.

(1) 'Catastrophic Terrorism; Tackling the New Danger', Ashton Carter, John Deutch and Philip Zelikow , Foreign Affairs, November/December 1998

(2) Biological warfare warning for UK, BBC News, 2 September 2001

Reprinted from : http://www.spiked-online.com/Articles/0000000CA760.htm

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 11:16 AM | Comentários (0)

EU crisis - Slate

international papers
Another Day, Another EU Crisis
The European Parliament takes on the European Commission—and wins.
By Scott MacMillan
Posted Thursday, Oct. 28, 2004, at 1:29 PM PT

European papers are all aflutter after the European Parliament—previously thought to be an ineffectual talk shop located in Strasbourg, France—blocked the approval of the new European Union executive body, the European Commission. Facing a resounding "no" in the legislature, José Manuel Barroso of Portugal, the incoming president of the commission, withdrew his entire proposed slate of commissioners.

While many editorialists are hailing "a victory for democracy," others are saying that the European Union has once again been thrown into institutional crisis. (It is worth noting that the EU goes through an "institutional crisis" of some sort on a fairly regular basis.) In fact, it's the opposite of an institutional crisis, says Germany's Die Zeit, arguing that this is actually how European democracy is supposed to work and that this is "a step towards the much sought after democratisation and politicisation of [EU] institutions." (Translation via EurActiv.)

Britain's Daily Telegraph, meanwhile, called Barroso's balk "an historic upset that profoundly alters the character of the European Union." The Telegraph, which is firmly in the euro-skeptic camp of the British press, dubbed the proposed team of center-right, pro-free-market commissioners "the most 'Anglo-Saxon' style commission ever proposed." It was scuttled, the paper says—indeed, "blackballed"—by the European Parliament's aversion to a single commissioner, the Italian Rocco Buttiglione, who has close ties to the brash and outspoken Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as well as Pope John Paul II. Buttiglione, the proposed commissioner for "justice, freedom and security," had raised the hackles of many members of European Parliament (MEPs) by calling homosexuality "a sin" and for his conservative Catholic views on marriage and motherhood.

The conflict is not simply between right and left, and between traditionalists and European secularists—although it is surely that. It also demonstrates the rift between a vision of European governance that sees the seat of power in national governments (who appoint the commissioners) and one that sees it in the directly elected European Parliament. Confused? The European Commission is "the engine room of the European Union," and this is where most of the action takes place. Ultimate power, though, rests with the Council of Ministers (not to be confused with the European Council or the non-EU-related Council of Europe). The council, and to a lesser degree the commission, represents national governments of member states; the European Parliament, on the other hand, is supposed to represent the people of Europe. The commission and the council are constantly vying with the European Parliament for power, and this week's events are seen as a victory for the latter. "After years of sliding down the slippery slope of oblivion, the European Parliament has finally done something worthy of its name. By putting its foot down to Barroso's proposal, the Parliament has gained respect. This reinforces European democracy," wrote Frankfurter Rundschau. (Translation via Deutche Welle radio.)

On a more personal level, many see the row as an extension of the conflict sparked by Berlusconi's quip last year that the German MEP Martin Schulz, head of the Socialists in the European Parliament, would play a good Nazi concentration camp guard. Most Germans—and indeed, most Europeans—didn't think that joke was very funny. (It, too, plunged the European Union into "institutional crisis.") As one of its most vocal opponents, Schulz played in instrumental role in sinking Barroso's proposed commission. Lending a hand was the head of the Greens, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, best known to students of 20th century European history as the leader of the May 1968 student uprising in Paris.

It didn't help that Buttiglione has a habit of making statements that make Berlusconi almost seem like a diplomat by comparison. In a remark covered widely in the Czech press, Buttiglione told Italy's La Stampa that powers related to anti-discrimination were not in his hands but in those of the proposed commissioner for social policy, Vladimir Spidla of the Czech Republic. Buttiglione described Spidla, with apparent sarcasm, as "a tough ex-communist in whose hands the principles of freedom are guaranteed." A former Czech prime minister, Spidla has never been a member of the Communist Party. Few people familiar with his political career would call the bespectacled former historian "tough," either.

With so much pontificating about what it all means, few are hazarding many guesses about what will happen next. "The EU is now in new political territory," says the BBC. The outgoing commission of Romano Prodi will stay on as a caretaker government, perhaps for as long as several weeks, until Barroso puts together a new set of names. Meanwhile, the European Union lurches toward its next institutional crisis.

Scott MacMillan is a freelance journalist based in Prague. He is a contributor to the group blog Fistful of Euros.

Article URL: http://slate.msn.com/id/2108805/

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 11:13 AM | Comentários (0)

C Hitchens e Tariq Ali - Democracy Now

AMY GOODMAN: We're joined in our New York studio by Tariq Ali and in Washington, D.C. studio by Christopher Hitchens. We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Why don't we start off with Christopher Hitchens. Your assessment, Christopher, right now, of what's happening in Iraq.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: I think that the United States and coalition forces are not militarily defeatable in Iraq.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain what you mean?

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Yes. I mean, I think it's important to know first what can't happen. I mean, it helps just to begin [inaudible] elimination. Military superiority -- I've been mocked for saying this in an earlier report from Iraq, but I'm reprinting it in my upcoming collection. Military superiority is something you have to see to -- to believe. Unless the United States chooses to be defeated in Iraq, it cannot be. Therefore, the insurgency, so-called, will be defeated. And all logical and moral conclusions you want to draw from that, should be drawn.


TARIQ ALI:Well, I think Christopher is right on this, that militarily, it is virtually impossible to defeat the United States. After all, they were not defeated militarily in Vietnam, either. It was a big military offensive by the Vietnamese. But had there not been a growing opposition to the war in the United States, a big anti-war movement which penetrated and percolated into the heart of the American army, that war could have gone on. What brought the Vietnam War to an end was the combination of the Vietnamese military offensive and just a refusal by the American public, and in large sectors of the army to accept that this war was winnable. The question is this: The United States army cannot be defeated militarily; they're incredibly powerful, but can the Iraqi people be defeated? Can Iraq be anything else but a lame colonyÐa mixture of Gaza and Guantanamo under foreign occupation? So it's -- it's a difficult one, this. And I think a low-scale, low-level intensity guerilla war could carry on for years; and the attrition finally could reach such a stage that the United States would say, it's not worth it. I mean, as it is today, many conservative people, Edward Luttwak, the Brookings Institute are saying we should cut and run. It's not been worth it. It's going to end extremely badly; and we should leave before we are humiliated. They don't mean a military humiliation. What they mean is a failure to achieve the goals which this administration set itself. I mean, we shouldn't forget that early on we were told it would be a cakewalk. Rumsfeld said, maximum, this war would only last for six months. Pro-U.S. administration Arabs in Washington said they'd be welcomed with sweets and flowers. None of that has happened. And what has become obvious is that the Iraqi people don't like being occupied. They may have loathed Saddam, but they don't like being occupied by the United States itself. And so one has to move to a situation of U.S. withdrawal, and the emergence of an elected Iraqi government, which will determine its own future, including control of its own oil. There's no other way out.

AMY GOODMAN: Christopher Hitchens?

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Well, I mean just as a point of honor, because this is so often used as a taunt, you would have to call me a liar if you said there was no greeting of American troops. I can't actually vouch for the sweets. But I can sure vouch for the flowers. And for mass outpouring of rejoicing and welcome. I've seen it myself. I'm not going to be persuaded it didn't happen. It may be an unimportant thing; but it seems to have become a regular jeer. It did happen. I saw it myself a lot in all parts of the country. Second, the nature of the enemy is what defines this war, I believe, and makes all comparisons with Vietnam ridiculous. I was on a show I'm sure you sometimes listen to, AmyÐLaura Flanders's show, in fact. She began (this is about six months ago, I imagine) she began by quoting someone who both Tariq and I respect, Patrick Cockburn of The Independent, who's also -- I mean-- It doesn't matter to me that she's his cousin, I think, or perhaps his niece. I mean, I've known him longer than she has. And he said about Najaf, the struggle over the mosque there, that if this was the Vietnam War, the Najaf moment would be remembered as its Tet offensive. And I therefore presume -- I have to presume -- he means that the ridiculous mullah involved would be, I'm not quite sure, Ho Chi Minh? At any rate, Mr. Sadr has now been isolated, discredited; his forces have been killed in very large numbers, without pity or compunction, I'm glad to say, by American and British forces. He's been broken and they've been broken morally, too. They're rattled. They're shattered. And they're -- Even today we read, in Sadr City itself, the heartland, so-called, in Baghdad, they're cueing up either to sell or give away their heavy weapons. Now that may be a bluff. That's been promised before. But it is not where the Vietcong were six months after the Tet offensive. So all of this is nonsense, in other words. The United States will not break domestically. Edward Luttwak represents nobody; I'm not sure he even represents himself in this point. The Brookings Institution is virtually irrelevant. People know they're looking down the gun barrel of theocracy of a particularly violent, disorderly, cruel, sectarian, fanatical kindÐsomewhat worse than the Taliban. Since this is an enemy across the globe and in our own society, there is no possibility of surrender with it or of negotiation with it. So that's another respect in which the Vietnam analogy is futile.


CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: In the first place, I think it's extremely important to understand that the people fighting the United States in Iraq are not exclusively religious groups. The religious groups, in fact, are barely involved in the armed struggle. The armed struggle in Iraq today, as any Pentagon analyst will tell you, is being carried out by former members of the Iraqi army, many of them dissidents even during the Saddam years, who decided that Saddam was utterly useless, wasn't going to do anything to defend the country, was incapable of doing so; and months before the invasion happened had prepared that they would wage a long, hard, scorched-earth guerilla resistance. These are not religious people. The religious groups which Christopher is talking about, the Shia groups, in many cases, not in the case of Al Sadr, but in some cases were actually very pro the United States, during the Saddam years. They were being backed by the United States. They were being given money by the United States. And some of these Shia groups are still allied to the United States. Others aren't. So you can't pick and choose your theocrats. If they're with us, they're fine; if they're against us, they're a problem. This is a decision, unfortunately, which does not -- or fortunately -- which does not lie in Christopher's hands or mine. This is something the Iraqi people will decide and determine for themselves when they are given the chance to vote. Now what happens if, in a genuine election, not an election carried out under occupation, the Iraqis decide to vote the Shia parties into power. Are we going to challenge that militarily? Are we going to crush them pitilessly? Are we going to kill them because this is what they want? And I think the whole point of toppling Saddam, I was told by Christopher and others, was to liberate Iraq so that the people could determine their own future. Now we are being told that the only people who can determine their future is the United States army and the Bush administration. And I disagree with Christopher that there won't be a price to pay inside the United States if casualties carry on, at this rate, even. There will be opposition in the United States, as there is, which is beginning to percolate through even to the Democratic Party. And I think if Kerry wins, and of course it's a big if, he will be under heavy pressure from day one to organize an orderly withdrawal from Iraq.

AMY GOODMAN:We're talking to Tariq Ali and Christopher Hitchens. I wanted to go right now to a clip of the second presidential candidate meeting in St. Louis. This is Friday night's, at Washington University. President Bush and Senator Kerry took questions from audience members in a town-meeting-style debate. This is Anthony Baldi asking Senator Kerry a question about Iraq.

ANTHONY BALDI: Senator Kerry, the U.S. is preparing a new Iraq government, and it will proceed to withdraw U.S. troops. Would you proceed with the same plans as President Bush?

SENATOR KERRY: Anthony, I would not. I have laid out a different plan, because the President's plan is not working. You see that every night on television. There's chaos in Iraq. King Abdullah of Jordan said just yesterday or the day before, you can't hold elections in Iraq with the chaos that's going on today. Senator Richard Luger, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee said that the handling of the reconstruction aid in Iraq by this administration has been incompetent. Those are the Republican chairman's words. Senator Hagel of Nebraska said that the handling of Iraq is, "beyond pitiful, beyond embarrassing. It's in the zone of dangerous." Those are the words of two Republicans, respected both on the Foreign Relations Committee. Now, I have to tell you, I would do something different. I would reach out to our allies in a way that this president hasn't. He pushed them away, time and again. Pushed them away at the U.N. Pushed them away individually. Two weeks ago there was a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, which is the political arm of NATO. They discussed the possibility of a small training unit or having a total takeover of the training in Iraq. Did our administration push for the total training of Iraq? No. Were they silent? Yes. Was there an effort to bring all the allies together around that? No. Because they've always wanted this to be an American effort. Have -- You know, they even had the Defense Department issue a memorandum saying: "Don't bother applying for assistance or for being part of the reconstruction if you weren't part of our original coalition. Now that's not a good way to build support and reduce the risk for our troops and make America safer. I'm going to get the training done for our troops. I'm going to get the training of Iraqis done, faster. And I'm going to get our allies back to the table.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Two days ago in the Oval Office, I met with the finance minister from Iraq. He came to see me. And he talked about how optimistic he was and the country was about heading toward elections. Think about it. They're going from tyranny to elections. He talked about the reconstruction efforts that are beginning to take hold. He talked about the fact that Iraqis love to be free. He said he was optimistic when he came here. Then he turned on the TV and listened to the political rhetoric, and all of a sudden he was pessimistic. This is a guy who, along with others, is taking great risks for freedom. And we need to stand with him. My opponent says he has a plan. Sounds familiar 'cause it's called the Bush Plan. We're going to train troops, and we are. We'll have 125,000 trained by the end of December. We're spending about $7 billion. He talks about a grand idea. Let's have a summit. We're going to solve the problem in Iraq by holding a summit. And what is he going to say to those people that show up to the summit? Join me in the wrong war at the wrong time at the wrong place? Risk your troops in a pla -- in a war you've called a mistake? Nobody is going to follow somebody who doesn't believe we can succeed and somebody who says the war where are is a mistake. I know how these people think. I meet with them all the time. I talk to Tony Blair all the time. I talk to Silvio Berlusc -- They're not going to follow an American president who says follow me into a mistake. Our plan is working. We're going to make elections, and Iraq is going to be free and America will be better off for it.

CHARLES GIBSON: You want to follow up, Senator?

SENATOR KERRY: Yes, sir, please. Ladies and gentlemen, the right war was Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan. That was the right place, and the right time was Tora Bora, when we had him cornered in the mountains. Now everyone in the world knows that there were no weapons of mass destruction. That was the reason Congress gave him the authority to use force, not after excuse to get rid of the regime. Now we have to succeed. I've always said that. I have been consistent. Yes, we have to succeed, and I have a better plan to help us do it.

PRESIDENT BUSH: First of all, we didn't find out he didn't have weapons until we got there. And my opponent thought he had weapons. And told everybody he thought he had weapons. And secondly, it's a fundamental misunderstanding to say that the war on terror is only Osama bin Laden. The war on terror is to make sure that these terrorist organizations do not end up with weapons of mass destruction. That's what the war on terror's about. Of course we're going to find Osama bin Laden. We've already got 75 percent of his people. And we're on the hunt for him. But this is a global conflict that requires firm resolve.

AMY GOODMAN:President Bush, Senator Kerry in there, in their St. Louis debate on Friday night. When we come back, we'll get reaction from Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ali. This is Democracy Now! [break]

AMY GOODMAN: I'm Amy Goodman. Our guests are Tariq Ali, who is in our New York studio. Tariq is the author of, among other books, his latest, Bush in Babylon: The Recolonization of Iraq. Also editor of the New Left Review. Christopher Hitchens is with us in the Washington studio, his latest book, Blood, Class, and Empire: The Enduring Anglo-American Relationship. Christopher Hitchens, your response to the debate Friday night.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Well, I must say I have never listened to Bush before. I've only sort of watched him, as it were. And there's something even more excruciating in a way about just hearing him. But it was a clear knockout, I thought, from his side. The people I feel sorry for, pitiful that Bush is, are those who are genuinely anti-war, such as yourself and Tariq, who find themselves having to hope, I presume, for the election of a Kerry-Edwards team that's committed to carrying on the war, except without the sense of conviction that, for example, I feel, that it's a just war and has to be won.


CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: It's an awkward situation for an anti-war person to be in.

TARIQ ALI: Well, I'm afraid that Christopher is right about that. It is an awkward situation for us to be in, that the only person Ð that the candidate the Democrats have chosen has been extremely wishy-washy on the war and still can't come clean and say that if it's the wrong war in the wrong place, then the obvious thing he needs to do the minute he comes to power is organize an orderly withdrawal, which is not what he's saying. But nonetheless, my view is that all the leaders who took their respective countries to war have to be defeated electorally, regardless of the quality of the opposition. I think this was an unjust, illegal, immoral war and those that took their countries to war deserve be defeated, and then we deal with the people who defeated them.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to get your response to a comment made by Richard Perle, former Pentagon advisor, almost exactly a year ago. He made this comment at a conference organized by the American Enterprise Institute.

RICHARD PERLE: And a year from now, I'll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush.

AMY GOODMAN: Richard Perle. Tariq Ali?

TARIQ ALI: Well, what can one say? I mean, it's utterly ridiculous. I would suggest, however, that when the foreign occupiers finally are forced to leave Iraq, that a tiny public toilet in the big square in Baghdad is named after Richard Perle in memory of that remark.

AMY GOODMAN: Christopher Hitchens?

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: In a way, I feel pity for -- I seem to be expressing sympathy for everyone this morning -- it's not my usual style. Genuine pity for Richard Perle because he does or did have quite a good mind. He's become, as you know, a figure of ridicule and contempt because of his endless double-dipping of consultancies with the Turks, consultancies with the Israelis, consultancies now with the long-lamented Lord Black, the newspaper tycoon. I don't think it's as important a remark to detain us for long. President Bush doesn't want a square named after himself in Baghdad.

AMY GOODMAN: Would you say, Christopher, that you've joined the ranks now of the neo-cons, the neo-conservatives?

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: I couldn't quite say that, partly because of the clip you did just show. I mean, there is a division within the neo-conservative movement, which is, by the way, one of the tests of its authenticity as a tendency. I would say I was a supporter of Paul Wolfowitz, though, if you want that answer from me.


CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: And I feel I can illustrate what I think is the difference. There was a lot of argument about the relationship between Iraq and the Palestinian question. Now there are some of the neo-conservatives, I think, thought by taking out the main rejectionist dictatorship in the region, they would make Eretz Israel, or Greater Israel, more secure, or more feasible, alternatively, whether you think Greater Israel has been achieved or not. There were others of the same kidney, if you wish, where Wolfowitz and others took exactly the opposite feeling. If you took out the rejectionist dictatorship, you were in a stronger position to bring the leverage on Israel about the settlements and about expansionism, especially at a time when the Likud party itself is beginning to abandon the ultimate dream of Eretz Israel. I think it's very seldom noticed about this election, especially on the left, and this surprises me and I dare say I might even get Tariq's half acquiescence on this point. If you care about the rights of the Palestinians, which I do and I know he does, and you do, there's absolutely no reason whatever to hope for a Democratic victory in November. It's quite obvious to me that the only chance they have is a Bush second term. The possibility that some pressure can be brought in Israel from this quarter, the only quarter that counts, increases if Bush is re-elected. It's an irony, perhaps, but it's not as much of a lousy irony as it would be if the Kerry-Edwards ticket was elected, because that's a more or less straight AIPAC-Likud ticket.


TARIQ ALI: Well, I must say what Christopher said on this is undeniable. The Democrats have over the last 20 years been completely uncritical of every single Israeli government, which has continued to press the Palestinians and crush and kill on a daily basis. What I dispute is whether a Bush second victory would be of any benefit in this particular direction, because the whole thing has now been subsumed under the war against terror, so-called. And Sharon became a valued ally of the Bush administration because he was regarded as absolutely central in the war against terror. And every single struggle is now characterized as a struggle against terrorism. I mean, Putin has destroyed half of Chechnya in the name of the so-called war against terror. And Sharon continues to do that in Palestine. And I think unless this administration abandons this whole concept and this whole notion, we're in trouble. And that of course, applies to Paul Wolfowitz himself. I mean, I don't know how Christopher sees Wolfowitz as different to, for instance someone who I know he still disagrees with violently, which is Henry Kissinger. I mean, what makes Wolfowitz different from Henry Kissinger in terms of projecting America power? They have different tactics, they have, to do this. But by and large they are very similar people, I would have thought.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Can I recommend -- sorry, I'm presuming you want me to reply, I can't see you, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: Go ahead.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Can I recommend a book by James Mann, Jim Mann of the Los Angeles Times written a very good book. It's got the rather vulgar title of The Rise of the Vulcans. It's an examination of the neo-conservative tendency in Washington and within the Republican party. And actually it takes on the question of Wolfowitz versus Kissinger very well. It's the only book I know of that properly does do it. Wolfowitz and Kissinger disliked each other and disagreed very strongly with each other for a long time. I think the origin of the disagreement and the origin of Wolfowitz's political career is that he argued it was important to dump the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines. Base or no base, let it go and take the chances that this would have a ripple effect in the rest of Asia, which was just what Kissinger didn't want. As a result, there were outbreaks of democratic insurgency, starting with the Aquino election, in South Korea, in Taiwan, eventuating in Tiananmen Square, in fact, in 1989, which of course, Kissinger also opposed and took the side of the Chinese Stalinists. On the Middle East, the victory of the neo-conservatives is very paradoxical, because contra Bush, Eagleburger -Ð Bush Sr., that is -Ð Eagleburger, Scowcroft -- I've just mentioned, by the way, the two leading members of Kissinger Associates -- and others, Colin Powell. The argument of the neo-conservatives, or at least of the Wolfowitz wing, was, "We can't go on like this, running the Middle East as a kind of political slum of client states. We have to take the chance that destabilization would be worth it in the long run." That's what, that's still why the extreme right in the country, people like Buchanan and others, oppose it. Precisely for that reason. They and the pro-Saudi conservatives.

AMY GOODMAN: Christopher Hitchens.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: To the extent I'm a neo-conservative, it would be because they're the only ones willing to take the radical risk of regime change.

AMY GOODMAN: Christopher Hitchens is also the author of The Trial of Henry Kissinger. Christopher, you've written in a piece in Slate talking about Michael Moore, Naomi Klein, Tariq Ali -- our other guest in the studio in New York -- as "fellow travelers" with fascism.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Yes. I think that the ideology espoused by people like Zarqawi deserves the comparisons with fascism. It's fanatical, it's irrational, it's dictatorial, it's racist, and it's a product of a terrible psychological and sexual repression. It gashes me more than I can easily say, or probably even have time to say, to hear it called a resistance or an insurgency, or to have people call, as Tariq, I'm sorry to say did in the pages of New Left Review some time ago, for solidarity with it. That is something that I've never heard properly justified or explained. Michael Moore in his film compares these people in Iraq, who as you know are the murderers and rapists and torturers, to the founding fathers of the American revolution. This to me is inexplicable. Well, I'm sorry to say in the case of Michael Moore, it's not inexplicable. But in the case of Tariq, I thought you would offer a better explanation.


TARIQ ALI: I think words like fascism shouldn't be thrown about lightly, leave alone accusing people you disagree with of being "fellow travelers" with fascism. I mean, Christopher, from that point of view, is a fellow traveler with imperialism. He's a fellow traveler with people who are carrying out tortures in Iraq. The side he's on has killed several thousand innocent Iraqi civilians. But he supports that war, so you take, you know, what you get. You support a side of the war and you accept all of this as collateral damage, including the tortures, which are part and parcel of every single colonial war. And I would urge Christopher, very seriously, to go back and look at the war that was fought in Algeria. We have a mythology about this war that it was exclusively secular. It wasn't. There was a very strong, whether we like it or not -- and I don't like it, because as Christopher knows full well, I'm an atheist, I'm not a believer in any religion. But if you have countries where a large part of the population are Muslims, obviously Islamic groups play a part in it, as they did in Algeria. As for thinking that Zarqawi --

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Which Algerian war are you talking about?

TARIQ ALI: I'm talking about the war against the French.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Ah. Not the Islamic insurgency against the FLN, which was put down by people who were defending the Algerian state from Islamic insurgency.

TARIQ ALI: I know, Christopher. And the reason that that particular insurgency started in Algeria is because the military interrupted a democratic election halfway because they were told that their opponents were going to win, rather than letting them win and putting firm demands on the table that they wouldn't accept any tampering with the constitution. That triggered off the insurgency. That's a different story. Now, to pretend that the entire resistance in Iraq is Zarqawi and his group is just completely false. This is a tiny group, built up in the western media largely. Attacked by most Iraqis, dissidents of every sort, who are opposed to the occupation. And you've got to just accept this. And I don't even support Zarqawi. I've never said I support him. I've criticized him in public and in interviews with Arab television networks, saying this is not the way. But the resistance in Iraq is much, much broader and much deeper than that. And incidentally, as far as talking about these people having repressive sexual attitudes, this is, of course, absolutely true, which I have denounced many a time, openly and publicly. But what about the Christian majority inside the Republican party which you support, Christopher? Whatever else you say about Bush, you can't say his attitudes on homosexuality are particularly enlightened, not to mention capital punishment.

AMY GOODMAN: Christopher Hitchens?

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: I actually couldn't say that I knew what the President's attitudes on homosexuality was. I know what his attitude on gay marriage is. I think it's slightly strange Ð

AMY GOODMAN: We just have 30 seconds.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: I'm so sorry. Well then, I should simply say this. The only really organized rebel force in Iraq, worthy of the name insurgent force, force of people's army, guerilla warfare, is and has been the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and its allies whose flag I'm happy to wear on my lapel. They deserve the name of a true rebel people's army. They of course are fighting for regime change, and as long as they do, so will I.

AMY GOODMAN: Tariq Ali, 15 seconds.

TARIQ ALI: I think the Iraqi resistance continues to grow because a colonial occupation has that effect, that even people who might have initially been indifferent or even halfway sympathetic, seeing the effects of a colonial occupation, where large numbers, several thousands of innocent civilians are being killed -- when you see the pictures from Samarra, of women fleeing with their children -- it stokes the resistance. Zarqawi is neither here nor there.

AMY GOODMAN: On that note I want to thank you both very much for a very interesting discussion. Tariq Ali is author of Bush in Babylon: The Recolonization of Iraq, editor of the New Left Review, and Christopher Hitchens's latest book, Blood, Class, and Empire: The Enduring Anglo-American Relationship.

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 11:05 AM | Comentários (0)

pack 2 - NYTimes

Seven Steps to a Smooth Service Pack 2 Installation

The best way to avoid problems is to be slow and methodical BEFORE you install SP2. Proceed through this checklist with all the care of an archaeologist unearthing a skeleton.

Step 1: Check your hard drive for free space
You need at least 500 megabytes of free space, or SP2 won't even install. (For the speediest installation, defragment your hard drive first, if you know what that means.)

Step 2: Remove spyware
Spyware (software that you don't realize you have because it piggybacked on something else you downloaded, like Kazaa) can gum up the works of an SP2 installation. Scan your hard drive using a free program like Ad-Aware (www.lavasoftusa.com) or Spybot Search & Destroy (www.safer-networking.org) to make sure your PC is free of these programs.

Step 3: Uninstall your virus and firewall programs
Installing Service Pack 2 on top of outdated utilities can produce two different unpleasant side effects. First, the new Security Center doesn't recognize older versions of these programs. Second, your PC might not even be able to start up after the installation — which is, you have to admit, something of a drawback. (Later, after the installation, put your virus and firewall programs back — updated versions, if possible — one at a time.)

Step 4: Visit the Web page of your PC manufacturer
Search for information regarding SP2. It may turn out that your PC won't work with Service Pack 2 unless you first update your BIOS (the built-in software that controls your keyboard, screen, disk drives, communications, and so on). In that case, you would find, at www.dell.com or www.gateway.com (for example), a BIOS updater program that you're supposed to download and run.

Step 5: Back up your stuff.
If you can back up your entire hard drive, do so; but at the very least, make safety copies of your photos, email, music, documents, and so on. Think of it this way: Your PC is going in for brain surgery.

Step 6: Visit the Windows Update Web site
A preliminary visit to www.windowsupdate.com is an important prerequisite. This Web site will actually interactively inspect your PC to see what condition your copy of Windows is in. If you're missing pieces, they'll be filled in for you — an important step before the big Service Pack 2 installation.

Click the Express Install link to begin. After a moment of computation, you'll see a list of updates that Microsoft thinks you need, under the heading High Priority Updates. Installing them now will ensure that, when Service Pack 2 comes along, your copy of Windows will be everything the installer expects.

Step 7: Log off everyone but yourself
In other words, if you have Fast User Switching turned on, make sure all the other accounts have been signed off. You should now be ready to install SP2 successfully, whether from the Windows Update Web page, a CD that you've ordered, or from the Automatic Updates dialog box that appears on your screen one day.

Finally, another tip, courtesy of author David Karp, my own personal Windows XP guru: If your PC is your life — or your job, at least — you may want to take one additional, advanced step: Install a SECOND copy of Windows XP. This arrangement, known by geeks as dual-booting, takes some technical expertise. But it means that you can install SP2 on the duplicate copy of Windows to test your most essential programs. That way, you'll know about any potential crises before committing your "real" copy of Windows to SP2.


P.S. Last week, I noted that another approach to avoiding the nightmare of Windows security hassles is to switch to the Macintosh, where practical. Many of you challenged my assertion that there hasn't been a single a Mac virus outbreak. I should have explained more specifically that I'm talking about Mac OS X, the Mac's operating system since 2001.

Even then, many of you wrote to say, "But if everyone switches to the Mac, it won't remain virus-free for long. The only reason the virus writers leave the Mac alone is that its market share is so small."

The Mac's small market share ("only" 25 million running Mac OS X) may be part of the explanation, it's but not the only one; there are some solid technical reasons the Mac is less susceptible to viruses and Internet attacks, too. For details, see this earlier column: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/18/technology/circuits/18POGUE-EMAIL.html

Visit David Pogue on the Web at DavidPogue.com

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 10:52 AM | Comentários (0)

Fukuyama - Open Democracy

Fukuyama’s moment: a neocon schism opens
Danny Postel
28 - 10 - 2004

The Iraq war opened a fratricidal split among United States neo–conservatives. Danny Postel examines the bitter dispute between two leading neocons, Francis Fukuyama and Charles Krauthammer, and suggests that Fukuyama’s critique of the Iraq war and decision not to vote for George W Bush is a significant political as well as intellectual moment.

Over the last two years, the term “neo–conservative” has come into sharper focus than at any other point in its roughly thirty–year history. The neo–conservative movement has exerted greater influence on United States foreign policy since 9/11 than it was ever previously able to do, the Iraq war being its crowning achievement.

Coinciding with this ascendancy has been an unrelenting stream of criticism directed at neo–conservatism, from virtually every square on the ideological chessboard. Such sorties have become something of a rallying–cry among much of the left. Neo–conservatives either ignore left–wing criticism (a luxury they can well afford) or else chew it up and spit it out: the more vitriolic it is, the more emboldened it makes them.

Some of the most savage reprisals against the neocons, however, have come from the right. I have written elsewhere of the ensemble of realists, libertarians, and “paleoconservatives” who opposed the Iraq adventure and the doctrines that justified it, and of other conservatives who fear that the neocons and their war will sink Bush’s presidency.

Neo–conservatives are no less sanguine about attacks from this political direction: as if to say “bring it on”, neocons are armed with counterattacks about the variously amoral, isolationist, nativist, unpatriotic, even anti–Semitic nature of the conservative cases against them.

But the latest salvo against the war and its neocon architects has stung its targets like none other has done. That’s because the critique Francis Fukuyama has advanced is an inside job: not only is its author among the most celebrated members of the neo–conservative intelligentsia, but his dissection of the conceptual problems at the core of the Iraq undertaking appeared on the neocons’ home ground. “The Neoconservative Moment,” his twelve–page intervention into the Iraq debate, was published in the Summer 2004 issue of The National Interest, a flagship conservative foreign–policy journal.

This, in short, is different. Fukuyama is – to use a phrase patented by Margaret Thatcher – one of us. He’s part of the club. Indeed, he’s played as prominent a role as any of his co–thinkers in fostering the life of the neo-conservative mind since helping define the post–cold war moment fifteen years ago with his famous “end of history” thesis.

That’s why the neocon world is abuzz about Fukuyama’s jab, and about his decision not to support Bush for re–election. “I just think that if you’re responsible for this kind of a big policy failure,” he tells openDemocracy, “you ought to be held accountable for it.”

Breaking ranks

In “The Neoconservative Moment,” Fukuyama turns a heat lamp on the cogitations of one thinker in particular, Charles Krauthammer, whose “strategic thinking has become emblematic” of the neo-conservative camp that envisaged the Iraq invasion. Krauthammer, one of the war’s most vociferous advocates, had somewhat famously fancied the end of the cold war as a “unipolar moment” in geopolitics – which, by 2002, he was calling a “unipolar era.” In February 2004 Krauthammer delivered an address at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington in which he offered a strident defense of the Iraq war in terms of his concept of unipolarity, or what he now calls “democratic realism.”

Fukuyama was in the audience that evening and did not like what he heard.

Krauthammer’s speech was “strangely disconnected from reality,” Fukuyama wrote in “The Neoconservative Moment.” “Reading Krauthammer, one gets the impression that the Iraq War – the archetypical application of American unipolarity – had been an unqualified success, with all of the assumptions and expectations on which the war had been based fully vindicated.” “There is not the slightest nod” in Krauthammer’s exposition “towards the new empirical facts” that have come to light over the course of the occupation.

Fukuyama’s case against Krauthammer’s – and thus the dominant neo–conservative – position on Iraq is manifold.

Social engineering

Krauthammer’s logic, Fukuyama argues, is “utterly unrealistic in its overestimation of U.S. power and our ability to control events around the world.” “Of all of the different views that have now come to be associated with neoconservatives, the strangest one to me was the confidence that the United States could transform Iraq into a Western–style democracy,” he wrote, “and to go on from there to democratize the broader Middle East.”

This struck Fukuyama as strange, he explained, “precisely because these same neoconservatives had spent much of the past generation warning...about the dangers of ambitious social engineering, and how social planners could never control behavior or deal with unanticipated consequences.” If the US can’t eradicate poverty at home or improve its own education system, he asked, “how does it expect to bring democracy to a part of the world that has stubbornly resisted it and is virulently anti–American to boot?”

He didn’t rule out the possibility of the endeavour succeeding, but saw its chances of doing so as weak. Wise policy, he wrote, “is not made by staking everything on a throw of the dice.” “Culture is not destiny,” but, he argued in tones echoing his former professor Samuel Huntington, it “plays an important role in making possible certain kinds of institutions – something that is usually taken to be a conservative insight.”


The only way for such an “unbelievably ambitious effort to politically transform one of the world’s most troubled and hostile regions” to have an outside chance of working, Fukuyama maintained, was a huge, long–term commitment to postwar reconstruction. “America has been involved in approximately 18 nation–building projects between its conquest of the Philippines in 1899 and the current occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq,” he wrote, “and the overall record is not a pretty one.”

The signs thus far in Iraq? “Lurking like an unbidden guest at a dinner party is the reality of what has happened in Iraq since the U.S. invasion: We have been our usual inept and disorganized selves in planning for and carrying out the reconstruction, something that was predictable in advance and should not have surprised anyone familiar with American history.” (There are, it should be noted, serious doubts about whether democratisation is the real agenda of the regime–changers. Click here and here for two skeptical views.)

But unlike many conservative critics of nation–building – the aforementioned realists, libertarians, and paleocons, for example – Fukuyama believes there are cases when it is necessary, indeed vital. While he argues that America “needs to be more realistic about its nation–building abilities, and cautious in taking on large social–engineering projects in parts of the world it does not understand very well,” he sees it as inevitable that the US will get “sucked into similar projects in the future,” and America must be “much better prepared,” he warns, for a scenario such as the “sudden collapse of the North Korean regime.”


Krauthammer and other neocon advocates of the war – Robert Kagan most famously – have turned anti–Europeanism into a sport, arguing that Europe’s doubts about Iraq reflect a plate–tectonic shift in consciousness and signal a cleft in transatlantic relations of epochal significance.

Fukuyama doesn’t dismiss this argument entirely, but sees a sleight of hand at work in its rhetorical deployment in the Iraq debate. If Krauthammer, rather than summarily spurning continental arguments as just so much bad faith and responsibility–shirking, had instead “listened carefully to what many Europeans were actually saying (something that Americans are not very good at doing these days), he would have discovered that much of their objection to the war was not a normative one having to do with procedural issues and the UN, but rather a prudential one having to do with the overall wisdom of attacking Iraq.”

Krauthammer’s almost principled disdain for European sensibilities is particularly problematic, Fukuyama argued, when one considers that “the European bottom line proved to be closer to the truth than the administration’s far more alarmist position” vis–à–vis weapons of mass destruction (WMD). “On the question of the manageability of postwar Iraq, the more skeptical European position was almost certainly right.” Despite this, Krauthammer proceeds “as if the Bush administration’s judgment had been vindicated at every turn, and that any questioning of it can only be the result of base or dishonest motives.”

Fukuyama, in contrast, exhorts the US to confront these errors head–on, realising that they have “created an enormous legitimacy problem for us,” one that will damage American interests “for a long time to come.” “This should matter to us,” he inveighs, “not just for realist reasons of state (our ability to attract allies to share the burden), but for idealist ones as well (our ability to lead and inspire based on the attractiveness of who we are).” The US must “spend much more time and energy” cultivating “like–minded allies” to accomplish “both the realist and idealist portions” of its agenda.


Finally, Fukuyama argues, Krauthammer and other neo–conservatives misconstrue the nature of the threat facing the US today, in part because they view American foreign policy through the prism of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Krauthammer’s hard line, Likudnik position on Israel “colors his views on how the United States should deal with the Arabs more broadly.” Krauthammer once quipped in a radio interview that the only way to earn respect in the Arab world is to reach down and squeeze between the legs. (His exact wording was slightly less delicate.)

Fukuyama questions the logic of transposing this Ariel Sharon style of thought to US strategy: “Are we like Israel, locked in a remorseless struggle with a large part of the Arab and Muslim world, with few avenues open to us for dealing with them other than an iron fist?” In an argument echoed by Anatol Lieven in his book America Right or Wrong, Fukuyama asks: “does a strategic doctrine developed by a small, vulnerable country surrounded by implacable enemies make sense when applied to the situation of the world’s sole superpower…?”

Calling for a “more complex strategy” that “recalibrates the proportion of sticks and carrots,” Fukuyama argues that “an American policy toward the Muslim world that, like Sharon’s, is largely stick will be a disaster: we do not have enough sticks in our closet to ‘make them respect us’. The Islamists for sure hated us from the beginning, but Krauthammerian unipolarity has increased hatred for the United States in the broader fight for hearts and minds.”

In his response to Fukuyama, published in the current (Fall 2004) issue of The National Interest, Krauthammer polemically dismisses Fukuyama’s arguments with words like “bizarre,” “ridiculous,” “absurd,” “silly,” and “odd in the extreme.” Fukuyama, he writes, has “enthusiastically joined the crowd seizing upon the difficulties in Iraq as a refutation of any forward–looking policy that might have gotten us there…” As for Fukuyama’s claim that the fecklessness of the reconstruction effort was “predictable in advance,” Krauthammer writes: “Curiously, however, Fukuyama never predicted it in advance. He waited a year to ascertain wind direction, then predicted what had already occurred.”

On Fukuyama’s argument about the role of Israel, Krauthammer accuses his interlocutor of “Judaizing” neo–conservatism. “His is not the crude kind, advanced by Pat Buchanan and Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad, among others, that American neoconservatives (read: Jews) are simply doing Israel’s bidding, hijacking American foreign policy in the service of Israel and the greater Jewish conspiracy.” “Fukuyama’s take,” he writes, “is more subtle and implicit.”

What makes Fukuyama’s argument “quite ridiculous,” Krauthammer contends, is that at the vanguard of the policies in question are Bush, Blair, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. “How,” he asks, “did they come to their delusional identification with Israel?” “Are they Marranos, or have they been hypnotized by ‘neoconservatives’ into sharing the tribal bond?”

Inside or out?

Just how deep into the body of neo-conservatism did Fukuyama’s knife go? Is he himself still a neocon? Fukuyama is ambiguous on this point. Others are less so.

On the one hand, Fukuyama claims he’s starting from faithful neo–conservative axioms and simply drawing different conclusions about their application in the specific case of the Iraq war. “One can start with premises identical to Krauthammer’s…and yet come up with a foreign policy that is very different from the one he lays out,” he writes.

“I still consider myself to be a dyed–in–the–wool neoconservative,” he told an audience in August.

In the same stroke of the pen, however, he writes (in “The Neoconservative Moment”) that “it is probably too late to reclaim the label ‘neoconservative’ for any but the policies undertaken by the Bush administration” and doubts whether the vision he proposes as an alternative to Krauthammer’s “will ever be seen as neoconservative.” Then again, he concludes, “there is no reason why it should not have this title.”

In his National Interest response, Krauthammer (who declined openDemocracy’s request for an interview) writes that Fukuyama’s “intent is to take down the entire neoconservative edifice.” Indeed, Krauthammer’s counterpunch is shot through with the conviction that, notwithstanding his interlocutor’s pronouncements to the contrary, this is anything but a family quarrel: Fukuyama’s train, he believes, has pulled out of the neoconservative station.

Why Fukuyama Matters

John Mearsheimer thinks Krauthammer is on to something.

“Fukuyama understands, quite correctly, that the Bush doctrine has washed up on the rocks,” the University of Chicago political scientist and author of The Tragedy of Great Power Politics tells openDemocracy. Fukuyama’s essay provides a “great service,” he says, in making plain that the neo-conservative strategy for dealing with Iraq has “crashed and burned.” Fukuyama is “to be admired for his honesty here. He is confronting reality.”

The significance of Fukuyama’s intervention, says Mearsheimer, goes beyond its being the first in–house, intra–neocon dispute over Iraq. “It’s not only that he’s a member of the [neoconservative] tribe going after another member of the tribe; [Fukuyama] is one of the tribe’s most important members.” Indeed, he says, Fukuyama and Krauthammer are without a doubt “the two heavyweights” of the neoconservative intelligentsia, and their debate is about “terribly important issues, issues of central importance to American foreign policy.”

Mearsheimer agrees with Krauthammer that Fukuyama’s critique threatens to dismantle the neo-conservative project. First, he says, Fukuyama is challenging “the unilateralist impulse that’s hard wired into the neoconservative worldview.” Second, Fukuyama disputes the argument that the Iraq war would create a democratic domino effect in the Arab–Islamic world. These, says Mearsheimer, are “two of the most important planks” in the Bush doctrine and in the neo-conservative Weltanschauung.

Fukuyama also possesses what Mearsheimer calls a “very healthy respect for the limits of military force.” “I think you cannot bring about democracy through the use of military force,” he told the Cairo–based weekly Al–Ahram. Then there is Fukuyama’s point about the limits of social engineering and his argument regarding the neocon tendency to conflate Israel’s security threats with those of the United States.

Taken together, says Mearsheimer, this band of criticisms makes Fukuyama’s case nothing less than devastating. “This is not just a minor spat within the camp. This is consequential.”

High stakes, hard words

The Fukuyama–Krauthammer exchange has generated considerable buzz within Washington. “The foreign policy establishment are paying attention,” National Interest editor John O’Sullivan tells openDemocracy. The exchange, he says, is “generating debate and discussion more generally” as well.

“It was about time somebody out of this circle broke out and dealt with reality,” says Gary Dorrien, author of The Neoconservative Mind and Imperial Designs: Neoconservatism and the New Pax Americana, of this “first crack in the dyke.” “I’m not surprised that he’s the one who did,” Dorrien tells openDemocracy. “He was never the hard–line ideologue that most of them are.”

David Frum, a daily National Review Online columnist for and former Bush speechwriter currently at work on a history of foreign–policy decision–making in the Bush administration, thinks l’affaire Fukuyama will take on greater significance in the event of a Bush defeat. “If Bush loses and Republicans turn against the war and decide to blame somebody for [it],” he tells openDemocracy, “then intellectually they’re going to end up unraveling the chain of reasoning that led them to Iraq. At that point, they’re going to start looking for some kind of alternative. I don’t think right now you can point to Fukuyama and say, ‘it’ll take them here’,” but Fukuyama’s arguments “may become more attractive,” he says.

Frum, who continues to support the war and thinks Krauthammer makes “intellectual mincemeat” of Fukuyama in their exchange, says he “would find it hard to believe” if the two men were still friends. (Fukuyama tells openDemocracy that he and Krauthammer have not spoken since the shootout began.) Frum attributes the rather rancorous tone of the debate – particularly, one must say, in Krauthammer’s reply – to the magnitude of the issues. “We’re fighting right now over who’s going to control the fate of the [Republican] party. There are large stakes.”


Fukuyama does plan to respond to Krauthammer’s essay, in a forthcoming issue of The National Interest. “There’s a little bit of an implication that I’m being anti–Semitic and I really do think I need to talk about that,” he tells openDemocracy.

He admits to being “a little bit disappointed” that Krauthammer didn’t employ “a more neutral tone,” he says of his old friend. “On the other hand,” he says, “that’s his style. He does this to everybody. I don’t know why I would be exempted.”

What does Fukuyama make of Krauthammer’s claim that “The Neoconservative Moment” amounts to an attempt to raze the Neocon Palace? “The zealousness of many people who wear the neoconservative label for the war in Iraq has done more to undermine neoconservatism than anything I possibly could have said,” he rejoins, adding that a dose of introspection might do them well.

“That’s the thing that strikes me – it’s the same thing that strikes me about President Bush, as well,” he says. “I would forgive a lot if any of these people who were very strong advocates of the war showed any reflectiveness about what’s happened or any acknowledgement that maybe there was something problematic in what they were recommending. Krauthammer doesn’t do that, and President Bush doesn’t do that. I take that as a big flaw. It seems to me it’s not going to help their case to keep insisting that they were right about everything.”

Absent from Krauthammer’s reply, says Fukuyama, “was any acknowledgement that any of my points had any validity, or that the way the war developed led to any rethinking of anything.”

Neo–conservatism faces a test, says Fukuyama. Either it will adapt in the face of changing realities on the ground or “stick to a rigid set of principles.” The outcome, he says, will “mean either the death or the survival of this movement.”

A paradigm shift?

Why didn’t Fukuyama voice the doubts he says he had about the war in the months leading up to it, when the debate was in full stride? “I didn’t think it would do any good for me to come out against it because everybody was so determined to do it,” he says. And so I thought, ‘well, let them have their chance.’ I was not certain about the outcome. I thought the probabilities of it working out were not sufficient to justify taking that kind of a risk.”

For Fukuyama, the prospects of a Bush victory in the presidential election are troubling. In the Financial Times (14 September 2004) he wrote: “The Republican convention outrageously lumped the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Iraq war into a single, seamless war on terrorism – as if the soldiers fighting [militant Iraqi Shi’a cleric Muqtada al–Sadr] were avenging the destroyers of the twin towers. This has, in fact, become true, but only because mismanagement of the war has created a new Afghanistan inside Iraq.” He concluded: “if Mr Bush is returned with a large mandate in November, the administration will have got away with a Big Lie about the war on terrorism and will have little incentive to engage in serious review.”

Though Fukuyama says he will not be voting for Bush, he refuses to affirm whether he’ll cast his ballot for Kerry. “There are things I really don’t like about Kerry, either,” he says. While the Bush people “have been much too willing to use force and to use it recklessly,” the Democrats, he says, “still have this big problem about using it at all. I wish there were someone who had a better balance between the two positions. ”

And yet, Fukuyama told the Jerusalem Post in March 2004 that electing a Democrat to the White House “will make a difference.” “[S]ince it is not the Democrats’ war,” he said, “if they have to face a really stressful situation a few years from now, it would be easier for them to walk away than it would be for a second Bush administration.”

In April 2005, Fukuyama will give a series of lectures in which he intends to address “more systematically” his criticisms of the Iraq adventure and its neo–conservative architects.

Does Fukuyama regard the recent turn of events – his critique of the war, his debate with Krauthammer, his opposition to Bush’s reelection – as signaling something of a paradigm shift in his self–understanding? “I don’t know whether it’s going to prompt the shift so much as reflect the shift,” he explains. “I’ve been moving towards an interest in development questions over the last few years,” he says.

Indeed, he explores the politics and economics of international institutions at some length in his recent State Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century and will continue to do so in 2005 when he takes over as head of the International Development Program at SAIS (Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies), where he is currently a professor of international political economy.

“I think one of the big divides in the world is between people who primarily do security studies and people who do development. And I think one of the reasons the Bush people got into so much trouble is they put people who knew security in charge of what was really a big development project. These are people who had not spent a lot of time in East Timor or Somalia or Bosnia, watching how these things are done,” he says. “I think that was one of the big problems.”

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 10:44 AM | Comentários (0)

Vaclav Havel - Figaro

Les ambiguïtés de la mondialisation

[29 octobre 2004]

Le hasard a voulu qu'une expérience récente m'ait conduit à réfléchir de nouveau sur ce qu'on nomme la mondialisation ou plutôt sur l'évolution de la civilisation contemporaine et les divers écueils auxquels elle est confrontée.

Un après-midi, je suis allé faire mes courses dans un supermarché, vaste comme un hall de gare. Je m'y suis égaré, une nouvelle fois ébahi devant l'incroyable diversité des produits proposés, laquelle presse imperceptiblement tout client à repartir avec beaucoup plus que ce qu'il n'était venu chercher. Bien entendu, je m'y suis laissé prendre également. A la place du kilo de pommes pour lequel je m'étais déplacé à l'origine, je repartais ainsi avec un chariot rempli de marchandises intéressantes. Il y a cependant un produit que j'ai finalement renoncé à garder dans mon chariot : de la viande hachée assaisonnée, qu'il suffit de faire revenir pour obtenir des boulettes. Un homme d'un certain âge, préposé au rayon boucherie après m'avoir reconnu, m'a conseillé à voix basse de ne pas acheter de cette chose-là. Elle n'est pas préparée sur place, mais on la fait venir Dieu sait d'où – vraisemblablement pour alimenter toute la chaîne – et nul ne sait ce qui est haché au juste. Surtout par courtoisie vis-à-vis de ce gentil monsieur j'ai remis la barquette à sa place et je lui ai demandé s'il pouvait m'indiquer en ville une boucherie ordinaire où je pourrais faire préparer la viande sous mes yeux, à partir des morceaux que j'aurai choisis. Ayant jeté un coup d'oeil de conspirateur autour de lui, il me dit tout bas : on nous a exterminés. Il s'agissait sans doute d'un ancien boucher, probablement humilié de se voir affecter sur ses vieux jours à un rayon plein de produits à la préparation desquels il n'avait pas participé.

Je sais que, dans ces grands supermarchés, il existe aussi bien sûr des comptoirs où l'on prépare de la viande hachée au gré du client. Néanmoins, j'ai l'impression que ces grandes surfaces font effectivement disparaître, lentement mais sûrement, beaucoup de petits commerces et de petits artisans de nos villes et villages. D'un point de vue purement économique, à savoir celui de la productivité et du bénéfice, il est vraisemblablement plus avantageux de réunir la plupart des fabricants et des commerçants sous les ailes de grandes organisations supranationales, qui possèdent de l'argent et du «savoir-faire». Il existe toutefois d'autres points de vue que celui de la rationalité économique. Tout aussi importants, voire plus importants encore que ce dernier.

Les petits commerces situés dans les rues et sur les places des villes et des villages ont depuis toujours constitué de petits centres de vie sociale. L'on y retrouvait les gens du voisinage, se connaissant mutuellement, tout comme ils connaissaient le vendeur. C'était là du reste l'occasion d'échanger quelques mots. Grâce à cette dimension humaine, tenant au caractère individualisé de l'achat, ces commerces faisaient partie de ces nombreuses institutions qui concourent à une certaine stabilité sociale, aussi relative soit-elle. Confortant des communautés humaines non anonymes, qu'il était possible d'embrasser d'un seul coup d'oeil, ils participaient à ce que je qualifierais «d'autocontrôle moral» de la société ou, plus simplement, «d'autocontrôle social» (...).

Le nombre de citadins ne cesse de croître sur notre planète, si bien que les villes deviennent des agglomérations gigantesques, ce qui se reflète obligatoirement sur tous les aspects de la vie urbaine, qu'il s'agisse du mode d'habitat – collectif ou de masse –, de la structure urbanistique ou encore de l'organisation générale de la collectivité, depuis la consommation jusqu'aux loisirs. L'homme sombre dans l'anonymat de la civilisation et, en définitive, dans l'isolement existentiel.

Le marxisme et le communisme ont constitué à bien des égards les avatars les plus extrêmes de la civilisation moderne ou, plus précisément, de certains de ses traits spécifiques, tel que l'accent mis sur la nature parfaitement rationnelle et matérielle de l'univers et de l'existence humaine, la foi sans faille en des lois générales et surtout en notre capacité à les découvrir progressivement et, par conséquent, à tout comprendre. Sur ces fondements, le communisme élabora un projet solide pour un monde meilleur. Fermement et orgueilleusement convaincu de détenir la vérité unique et d'avoir en conséquence le droit exclusif d'organiser la vie de tout un chacun, il a systématiquement éliminé tout ce qui débordait ou contestait ce projet. Bon nombre d'individus doués et talentueux ont jadis succombé à la séduisante tentation d'adopter cette attitude confortable à l'égard du monde. Il y avait parmi eux des générations d'architectes d'avant-garde, dont certains avaient construit de magnifiques maisons. Mais leur foi moderniste ou directement communiste les a, dans leur grande majorité, induits en erreur. Ils succombèrent ainsi à l'illusion d'un savoir leur permettant, au moyen de l'architecture, d'organiser la vie de l'humanité de façon rationnelle, bénéfique et équitable.

Ils étaient notamment convaincus, et c'était l'une des expressions de cette erreur, que la chose la meilleure et la plus pratique pour la qualité de vie serait de cloisonner les différentes fonctions de l'habitat. Ils se sont donc mis à séparer le logement du travail, les achats des loisirs, la verdure de l'industrie. (...)

J'ai sans cesse l'occasion de contempler autour de moi les conséquences plus ou moins perverses et monstrueuses de cette manière d'envisager l'architecture ; les grands ensembles désespérément mornes que le communisme nous a légués, mais aussi les étranges zones commerciales introduites dans mon pays par le capitalisme et qui poussent en pleine campagne, avec leurs vastes étendues d'entrepôts et de parkings, gaspillant le sol et transformant chaque jour de nouveaux terrains en une sorte de steppe.

Le hasard a voulu que, le jour même où j'ai renoncé à acheter des boulettes de viande au supermarché et me suis entretenu avec notre amie de Los Angeles, mon épouse et moi-même ayons assisté à la première d'un excellent film tchèque. Celle-ci avait lieu dans un multiplexe récemment ouvert à Prague. Bien que nous soyons arrivés une demi-heure avant la séance, nous avons pourtant manqué le début du film. Nous nous sommes en effet retrouvés dans une sorte de labyrinthe de restaurants et de salles de cinéma, où il était très difficile de s'orienter. A dire vrai, nous nous sommes perdus dès le départ, étant donné que les lieux réservés à l'usage des hommes et ceux destinés aux dames se trouvaient aux deux extrémités de ce multibâtiment. Cela a pris longtemps avant que chacun de nous trouve le lieu en question. Nous avions cependant oublié de semer, comme dans le conte, des cailloux sur notre chemin, afin de pouvoir nous retrouver et rejoindre ensemble notre salle. Nous avons questionné les employés, en vain. Commença alors la quête éperdue de la salle de cinéma où nous étions censés nous rendre. On nous envoya même au restaurant, dont les employés surent déchirer nos tickets, mais pas davantage nous indiquer la salle de projection.

Je dois avouer que j'en voulais de plus en plus à ce bâtiment, son architecte et à l'inventeur des multiplexes. Or cette colère grandissante me fit penser que la disparition des cinémas de village et de quartier, qui constituaient à l'image des petits commerces des lieux d'interaction sociale pour de plus ou moins larges communautés, de même que leur remplacement par des multiplexes anonymes dans les grandes villes constituaient une nouvelle intervention destructrice, assez brutale, dans le corps social. Si cette tendance devait se poursuivre à l'infini, tous les cinémas de République tchèque devraient un jour se voir substituer un gigantesque méga-hyper-super-multiplexe. Cela serait évidemment très avantageux pour celui qui n'aurait plus à distribuer les bobines de films à travers le pays, mais seulement à les transporter d'une salle à l'autre. (...) Cela paraîtra plus évident encore si je pousse plus avant cette funeste vision : imaginons que, dans un pays de dix millions d'habitants, outre un gigantesque multiplexe qui projetterait le feuilleton sans fin, signé par les mêmes réalisateurs, il n'y ait plus qu'un seul et gigantesque hypermarché, un colossal complexe sportif, une immense zone industrielle concentrant toutes les industries du pays, l'énergie nécessaire étant fournie par une énorme centrale nucléaire. Evidement, dans un pays organisé de manière aussi rationnelle et fonctionnelle, tous les journaux appartiendraient à un seul éditeur, qui influencerait ainsi directement ce que dix millions de personnes doivent ou non savoir sur le monde.

Que signifie un tel degré de centralisation ?

En fin de compte, le totalitarisme. Et, lorsque j'ai mis l'accent en de nombreuses occasions, sur le fait que je concevais le communisme comme la cruelle caricature de la civilisation contemporaine, j'avais entre autres à l'esprit que le type de dictature économique et politique représenté par le communisme n'est que le miroir déformant tendu à la civilisation actuelle, qui dans son fondement même converge vers une certaine forme de dictature, insidieuse, dissimulée et extrêmement sophistiquée. On pourrait définir celle-ci de diverses manières, soit comme une dictature des cartels, de la publicité, de la consommation, du profit ou des corporations. Il n'en s'agit pas moins d'une même tendance à la centralisation, à la concentration du pouvoir, au monopole et à l'unification générale, fût-ce sous le couvert d'une infinie diversité.

(...) Il est tout à fait possible que chacun d'entre nous puisse un jour vivre dans un pays où le PIB croît de manière prodigieuse, dont les supermarchés regorgent de marchandises, dont les routes grouillent de camions, où les énergies sont sans cesse moins chères, où le bâtiment connaît une croissance exponentielle, les multiplexes et les zones industrielles se multiplient et dans lequel nous serons exposés de toutes parts à une publicité de plus en plus insidieuse. Un paysage où tout n'en sera que plus lisse, vain, vide, sans âme, laid, sempiternellement identique sous l'apparence d'une illusoire diversité et dans lequel les habitants seront sans cesse plus nerveux, tristes, isolés et désabusés.

Je ne possède pas le mode d'emploi qui permettrait de rendre la vie sur terre belle et amusante pour tout le monde. En revanche, je sais que c'est faire montre d'un orgueil parfaitement condamnable que de s'imaginer détenir un tel mode d'emploi et de le faire reposer sur une croissance mécanique et comptable de l'ensemble des paramètres économiques. (...) Ce que je crains, en revanche, c'est l'exportation de toutes les ambiguïtés que la civilisation contemporaine porte en elle. Car c'est bien justement la transposition dans des contextes différents de nos progrès, de nos règles, de nos objectifs et de nos manières de faire euro-atlantiques qui engendre de façon plus ou moins directe certains des grands problèmes rencontrés par d'autres régions. Des problèmes qui, dans leur ensemble, peuvent tôt ou tard tourner en catastrophe planétaire.

Pour cette raison, mais pas seulement, nous devrions nous pencher sur tout cela avec une acuité plus grande que d'habitude.

* Ancien président de la République tchèque.

(Ce texte est extrait d'une allocution, suivie d'un débat, prononcée ce mardi, à Paris, par Vaclav Havel à l'occasion de la conférence organisée par la société UPS-Longitudes 04 Living in a Synchronized Global Economy.)

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 10:38 AM | Comentários (0)

outubro 28, 2004

Cosmopolitan Democracy and its Critics: A Review*
Daniele Archibugi
Revised: 19 January 2004

European Journal of International Relations, Forthcoming, vol. 10, no. 3, 2004

Italian National Research Council
Via dei Taurini, 19
00185 Rome, Italy
Direct Line Tel. +39-06 4993 7838
Secretary +39-06 4993 7836
Fax +39-06 446 3836
email archibu@isrds.rm.cnr.it

London School of Economics
and Political Science
Centre for the Study of Global Governance
Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, UK
Direct Line +44-(0)20 7955 7434
Fax +44-(0)20 7955 7591
email d.archibugi@lse.ac.uk


The victory of Western liberal states endingthat has ended the cold war inspired the hope that international relations could be guided by the ideals of democracy and the rule of law. In the early 1990s, a group of thinkers developed the political project of cosmopolitan democracy is with the aim of providing intellectual argumentsand develop proposals for in favour of an expansion of democracy, both within states and at the global level. While some significant successes have been achieved in terms of democratisation within states, much less has been attained in democratising the global system. The aim of this review article is twofold: on the one hand, to reassert the basic concepts of cosmopolitan democracy; on the other, to address the criticisms coming from Realist, Marxist, Communitarian and Multicultural perspectives.

Keywords: democratic deficit, democratic peace, democratisation, global governance, global movements, globalisation of democracy, rule of law


The victory of the West overagainst the Soviet system led many optimistslots of persons to believe that the gates to democracywould have expanded as the dominant form of global government had opened. Indeed, under the pressure of peoples’ movements, many countries in the East as well as in the South embraced democratic constitutions, and in spite of the countless contradictions in these nascent democracies, self-government has thus slowly expanded and consolidated. started ButBut an additional and equally important development that should have attended the victory of liberal states has not: the expansion of democracy also as a mode of to global governance.
It was natural to assume that globalisation—a word disliked by many but whose use cannot be avoidedthat few like but nobody can avoid using—would affect not only production, finance, technology, media and fashion, but also the international political system, leading also to a globalisation of democracy. The notion itself of ‘globalising democracy’ might be understood simply as a phenomenon affecting the internal regimes of the various states, but it could also be taken also as a new way way of to understanding and regulating e worldwide political relations, and once the nuclear threat had been removed, many thinkers urged Western states to progressively apply their principles of the rule of law and shared participation also within the field of in international affairs. This was the basic idea behind of cosmopolitan democracy: toof globalise ing democracy whilstand, at the same time, of democratisinging globalisation (in an increasingly vast literature, see Archibugi and Held, 1995; Held, 1995; 1997; 2002; Falk, 1995; 1998; McGrew, 1997; 2002; Archibugi and Koehler, 1997; Archibugi, Held and Koehler, 1998; Kaldor, 1998; Linklater, 1998; Habermas, 1998; 2001; Dryzek, 1999; Thompson, 1999; Holden, 2000; Franceschet, 2003; Archibugi, 2003, Morrison, 2003b).
The governments of leading Western liberal states have not heard responded to these appeals. With the sole exception of the International Criminal Court, no major institutional reform has occurred since the end of the Cold War. Moreover, war has continued to be used deployed as a method mechanism for tackling controversies, international law has been unrelentingly violated, and economic aid to developing countries has been decreased, rather than increasedreduced. Significant sections of public opinion in the North have railed against their governments’ foreign policies, but when censured for their behaviour beyond borders, Western governments have justifiedy their actions on the ground of with a dangerous syllogism: ‘we havinge been elected democratically elected, we cannot be guilty of crimesdo not commit’.What is missing in this statement is that These governments might indeed have been elected democratically and have and respected the rule of law at home, but can the same be maintained when considering their behaviourwhile their supposed crimes are committed abroad on foreign matters?
Dangerous double standards mark even the intellectual debate on democracying. The most tenacious defenders of democracy within states often become sceptics, even cynics, when confronted with the hypothesis of a global democracy. Dahrendorf (2002, p. 9) hastily settled the issue by declaring that to propose a global democracy is equal to ‘barking at the moon’, while Dahl (1999, p. 21) more elegantly concluded that ‘the international system will lie below any reasonable threshold of democracy’. Nonetheless, cosmopolitan democracy continues to take upon itself the risks that attend to proposing the implementation of a democratic cy society within, among and beyond states. The aim of this article is twofold: to reassert the basic guiding principles of cosmopolitan democracy, and to survey and address the main critical response it has received.

Seven assumptions for cosmopolitan democracy

The logic grounding the pursuit of cosmopolitan democracy depends on a number of assumptions, to be examined here in turn:
 Democracy is to be conceptualised as a process, rather than as a set of norms and procedures.
 A feuding system of states hampers democracy within states.
 Democracy within states favours peace, but does not necessarily produce a virtuous foreign policy.
 Global democracy is not just the achievement of democracy within each state.
 Globalisation erodes states’ political autonomy and thereby curtails the efficacy of state-based democracy.
 The stakeholders’ communities in a relevant and growing number of specific issues do not necessarily coincide with states’ territorial borders.
 Globalisation engenders new social movements engaged with issues that affect other individuals and communities, even when these are geographically and culturally very distant from their own political community.

Democracy is to be conceptualised as a process rather than as a set of norms and procedures. – Democracy cannot be understood in static terms. This is easily seen in that those states with the most grounded democratic traditions are increasingly putting democracy to the test in uncharted waters. For example, the number of rights-holders in the most developed democracies is on the rise: minorities, immigrants, future generations, even animals, have now been granted a particular set of rights. Procedures for decision-making are once again under dispute, as indicated by the debate over deliberative democracy (Habermas, 1998; Dryzek, 2000; Bohman, 1998), while the problem of aggregation of political preferences, initially raised by Condorcet, is once again at the centre of the debate. On the one hand, it has been stressed that democracy cannot be expressed solely in terms of the majority principle (see, for example, Beetham, 1999, chapter 1). On the other hand, it is often proposed that consideration should not simply be given to the arithmetical sum of individual preferences, but also to how different individuals are affected by a given decision.
Never before has the debate within democratic theory been so vigorous as during the last decade of the 20th century—the same decade that also witnessed the supposed victory of democracy. What conclusions could we possibly draw from all of this? First of all, the understandingat the idea that of the process of democracy is unfinished and far from having reached its conclusionas an unfinished journey is gaining new support (Dunn, 1982). Generalising this statement, democracy should be seen as an endless journeyprocess, such that we lack the ability to predict today the direction in which future generations will push the forms of contestation, participation, and management. Such assumptions place democracy not only in an historical context, but also within the historical evolution specific to each political community. The way in which political systems are effectively assessed becomes therefore decisive: each and every democratic system can be evaluated more effectively on the basis of a scale relative to its own development, rather than through a simplistic democracy/non-democracy dichotomy. This would imply that, in order to evaluate the political system of a state, it becomes necessary to take into account both the level of, and the path to, democracy (see Beetham, 1994; Beetham et al., 2002; UNDP, 2002).

A feuding system of states hampers democracy within states. – The absence of a peaceful international climate has the effect of blocking dissent, of modifying opposition and of inhibiting freedom within states. Citizens’ rights are limited and, in order to satisfy the need for security, civil and political freedoms are therefore damaged. This is all but new. Back in the 16th century, Erasmus noted that ‘I am loth to suspect here what only too often, alas!, has turned out to hold truebe the truth: that the rumour of war with the Turks hads been trumped up with the purpose aim of mulcting the Christian population, so that being burned and crushed in all possible waysit might have been all the more servile towards the tyranny of all kind of princes’ (Erasmus, 1536, pp. 347-8). In the 18th century, Jean-Jacques Rousseau elucidated the connection between internal/external by reminding that war, or its menace, was nothing more than a method employed by tyrants as a means to control their subjects: ‘war and conquest without and the encroachment of despotism within give each other mutual support...Aggressive princes wage war at least as much on their subjects as on their enemies, and the conquering nation is left no better off than the conquered’ (1756, p. 91). These observations took on a new meaning during the Cold War: in the East the foreign menace was employed as a tool to inhibit democracy, whilst in the West to limit its potential (Kaldor, 1990). At the same time, leadership—democratic no less than autocratic—fuelled the confrontation as an instrument to maintain internal dominion.
The Cold War is over, but the need to find scapegoats has not ceased. Extremists—even in democratic states—still reinforce power by fuelling the flames of international conflict. The development of democracy has therefore us been constrained both by the lack of favourable external conditions and the lack of willingness to create them. Even today, the dangers of terrorism have led to an imposed limitation on civil rights in many states. It is, therefore, undoubtedly significant that the recent project of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (see Beetham et al., 2002) evaluates the level of democracy within a state, possibly for the first time, also on the ground of how citizens appraise their government’s foreign policy and of the overall international political environment—thus recognizing that an international order founded both on peace and the rule of law proves is a necessary condition for the progression of democracy within states.

Democracy within states favours peace, but does not necessarily produce a virtuous foreign policy. – The presence of democratic institutions hinders the ability of governments to engage in insane wars that put the life and the welfare of their citizens at risk. A noble liberal tradition has pointed out that autocrats are most prone to conflicts, whereas governments held to account by their public are inclined to contain conflict. Jeremy Bentham (1786-89) maintained that in order to diminish the chances of engaging in war, it is necessary to abolish the practise of secrecy within the Foreign Office and allow citizens to control that foreign policies are in line with their interests. James Madison (1792) believed that in order to prevent conflict from taking place, governments should be subject to the will of the people. Immanuel Kant (1795, p. 100) held that if a state adopted a republican constitution, the chances of going to war would be few and far between since, ‘if the approval of citizens were required on the issue of whether or not to go at war, there would be nothing more natural if these [the citizens]—once having acknowledged their responsibility for any calamities caused by the war—were to give the matter a considerable amount of thought before engaging in such a wicked game’.
The debate that has flourished over the hypothesis that ‘democracies do not fight each other’ (Doyle, 1983; Russett, 1993; Russett and Oneal, 2001) suggests a connection, causal and precise, binding states’ internal systems to peace at the international level. According to a syllogism that is never made explicit, the persistence of war is ascribable to the presence of non-democratic states. Consequently, one can guarantee a peaceful community at the international level by acting solely upon the internal political systems of states. Yet, democratic states do not necessarily apply to their foreign policy those same principles and values upon which their internal system is built. Already Thucydides narrates with disenchanted realism how citizens of the Athenian polis voted with enthusiasm, ‘amongst a pile of other fascinating nonsense’ (Book VI, 8. See also 1 and 24 in the same book) in favour of the campaign against Sicily, despite the fact they were totally oblivious to both the island’s location or its size. The analogies between Athens’ foreign policy and the United States’ are many (cf. Gilbert, 1999, ch. 4).
Of course, Realist theorists would not expect a regime’s democratic stamp to necessarily imply a more virtuous foreign policy, and cosmopolitan democracy accepts this lesson from the Realists regarding the absence of necessary consistency between domestic and foreign policies. However, it points to two hidden virtues of democratic regimes that may make it possible for them to bridge the ‘real’ and the ‘ideal’ elements of their foreign policies. The first of these two virtues is the interest of states in generating and participating in international organisations (Russett and Oneal, 2001) and in favouring trans-national associations. The second virtue is the tendency of states to nourish a greater respect for rules when these are shared amongst communities that recognise each other as analogous (Kratochwil, 1989; Hurd, 1999).

Global democracy is not just the achievement of democracy within each state. - It is certainly encouraging that there are as many as 120 states with elected governments in the contemporary world. Comparing this figure with the 41 democratic states in 1974 and the 76 in 1990 indicates how much democratic—albeit often in imperfect forms—has expanded worldwide. A thinker as influential as Larry Diamond (2002) has predicted that within a generation democratic governments could rule all states of the world. Diamond and the group of scholars around the Journal of Democracy have developed a very fruitful agenda to explore the conditions that favour and hamper the development and consolidation of democracy. However, they have ignored the parallel agenda addressed by cosmopolitan democracy, namely the democratisation of the international system as well as of its individual member states.
Although the attainment of democracy within more states may well strengthen the international rule of law, as well as reduce the conditions that can lead to war, I do not consider it a sufficient condition upon which to base the democratic reform of international relations (see Franceschet, 2000, for a comparison between democratic peace and cosmopolitan democracy). An increasing number of democratic states will certainly ease the struggle for global democracy, but will not automatically provide it. Global democracy, which cannot be understood solely in terms of an ‘absence of war’, requires the extension of democracy also to the global level. To that end, it also becomes crucial to identify the legitimate tools that democratic states could use to expand democracy in autocratic states: to use undemocratic means is clearly contradictory to a democratic end.

Globalisation erodes states’ political autonomy and thereby curtails the efficacy of state-based democracy. It would be hard to imagine nowadays a state’s political community with a totally autonomous and independent fate. Each state’s political choices are bound to a set of obligations (as for example those determined by agreements undersigned between states). Even more important are the de facto connections that bind a given community to policies that have been drafted elsewhere (see, after Held, 1995; the flourishing debate on the matter: Clark, 1999; Cerny, 1999; Goodhart, 2001; Keohane, 2003). Whilst the traditional internal/external dichotomy assumes the existence of a defined separation between the two dimensions, they appear progressively connected, as has been highlighted by the literature on international regimes (Rosenau, 1997). The areas in which a state’s political community can make decisions autonomously are decreasing, which leads us to the question: via what kind of structures will the various political communities be able to deliberate in a democratic fashion on matters that are of common interest?

Stakeholders’ communities don’t necessarily correspond to national borders. – We can identify two sets of interests that supersede states’ borders. On the one hand, there are the matters that involve all inhabitants of the planet. Many environmental problems are authentically global, since they influence the destiny of individuals irrespective of their nationality (Gleeson and Low, 2001). But there are also cross-border issues relevant to more restricted communities. The management of a lake surrounded by five different states, the existence of a religious or linguistic community with members scattered in remote areas of the world, the dependence of workers in more than one state on the strategic choices of the same multinational firm, the ethical choice of a specialised professional society; are all issues which cannot be addressed democratically within a state’s political community. In most cases, such ‘overlapping communities of fate’ (Held, 1995, p. 136) lack the means necessary to influence those political choices that affect their destiny. Governments have put in place specific IGOs, but these are dominated by government officials rather than by stakeholders, and this makes these institutions inclined to favour policies that privilege states’, rather than stakeholders’, interests. Even in cases where all governments are elected ones, the political process on these matters does not follow the democratic principle, according to which everyone affected is able to take part in the decision-making.
Take the striking example of the nuclear experiments conducted by the French government in 1996 on the island of Mururoa in the South Pacific: the decision to undertake the experiments was based on the procedures of a state with a long-standing democratic tradition. Yet, the primary stakeholders’ community was manifestly different from the political community, since the French public was not exposed to possible nuclear radiation, but was receiving the (supposed) advantage in terms of national security and/or nuclear energy. The French public would certainly have had a different reaction if those same experiments had been conducted around Parisin the Parisian region. By contrastInstead, the environmental disadvantages were experienced exclusively by the communities living in the South Pacificonly. The Mururoa case is certainly one of the most outstanding, but the occasions cases in which a state’s political community diverges from those whose interests are most affected community are increasing.
The role of stakeholders in a democratic community has long been recognised: democratic theory attempts to take into account not only the sum of each individual preference, but also how strongly each individual is invested in a specific choice. In a similar fashion, a significant part of contemporary democratic theory, inspired by Rousseau, is committed to the analysis of the process concerning the formation of preferences rather than its aggregation (Young, 2000, p. 23). This is just one of the many fields in which the theory and practice of democracy are developing, but it is one still being neglected at the international level (see Bohman, 1999). Can the issues affecting stakeholders not allied to a single state continue to be overlooked within a democratic order?

Global participation. – It is not only a common interest that brings populations closer together. Already Kant (1795, p. 107) noted that ‘in reference to the association of the world’s populations one has progressively come to such an indication, that the violation of a right in any one point of the Earth, is adverted in all of its points’. Together with the violation of human rights, concern about natural catastrophes, conditions of extreme poverty and environmental risks also increasingly unite this planet’s various populations. Human beings are capable of a solidarity that often extends beyond the perimeters of their state. Surveys on the political identity of the Earth’s inhabitants have shown that 15% already claim that their principal identity is regional/global, against 38% who claim it is national, and 47% who claim it is local (Norris, 2000. For a discussion, see Marchetti, 2004). If we take these data at prima faciae, it emerges that only a minority of the world’s population primarily identify with those institutions that depend upon the Weberian monopoly of legitimised use of force. The emergence of multiple identity could lead also to multiple layers of governance. If to this we were to add the increasing global identity amongst young people and among those with a higher culturallevel status, it becomes legitimate to ask: what results will these surveys yield in 10, 50 or 100 years time?
This feeling of belonging to the planet expresses itself also through the formation of an increasing number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and global movements (Glasius et al., 2001; 2002; 2003; Pianta, 2003). As pointed out by Falk (1995) and Habermas (2001), there is an emergent international public sphere (its connection with cosmopolitan democracy is explored in Koehler, 1998; Dryzek, 1999; Cochran, 2002). Although there is a tendency to exaggerate the extent to which citizens participate in matters that do not directly affect their political community (Brown, 2000), the feeling of belonging to a planetary community and taking public action for the global commonwealth is nevertheless growing. It has been observed that the necessity of realising political association amongst various populations is not solely an instrumental answer to the pressures of globalisation (Saward, 2000, p. 33), but also answers this growing feeling of belonging to a planetary community. It is a fact that globalisation strengthens the need for the coordination of inter-state politics, but it should be remembered that even if it were possible to re-establish the autonomous conditions of each state, the empathy of individuals for planetary issues would continue to flourish.

The structure of cosmopolitan democracy

These issues are both old and new. Old, because they belong to that journey to democracy yet to be accomplished; they are issues which re-emerge periodically in theory as much as in practice. New, because the worldwide economic, social and cultural transformations are exerting pressure upon the cradle of democracy: from the polis to the nation-state (Morrison, 2003a). It is not the first time that democracy has had to undergo a transformation in order to survive (Held, 1997). When the American colonists began planning a participatory system based on universal suffrage for all adult white males within a geographical area larger than that encompassed by any other democratic system previously organised—either by the Greek polis or Italian Renaissance-republics—the word ‘democracy’ was studiously avoided. ‘Democracy’ would have evoked ‘direct’ democracy, which would have been impracticable under such conditions. Tom Paine (1794, p. 173) defined direct democracy as ‘simple’, whilst the authors of the Federalist preferred the word ‘republic’ for the express reason that ‘in a democracy the people meet and exercise the government in person; in a republic, they assemble and administer it by the representatives and agents’ (Hamilton, Jay and Madison, 1788, No. 14). However tractable, tThroughout its history democracy has nonetheless held on to certain values: the juridical equality of citizens, the majority principle, government’s duty to act in the interest of everyone, the need for majorities to be transitory and not perpetual, the idea that deliberation must be the result outcome of a public confrontation between various divergent positions. The crucial question for the global age becomes: how can democracy preserved its core values and yet adapting it to new circumstances and issues?
The best way to conceptualise cosmopolitan democracy is to view it in terms of its different levels of governance. These levels are not bound so much to a hierarchical relationship, as much as to a set of functional relations. I indicate five paradigmatic dimensions: local, state-wide, inter-state, regional and global. These levels correspond to what Michael Mann (1997) defines as the networks of socio-spatial social interaction. The assumption of the universal value of democracy demands, I believe, testing how its norms can be applied to each of these levels. At the end of this exercise it will be possible to distinguish similarities and differences between the present state-based democracies and a potential global democratic system.

The local level. – It is difficult to imagine a national democracy without a local network of democratic institutions, associations and movements. Today, however, local dimensions are not alien to the global dimension. Since states are seldom eager to devolve competenciesy on issues specific to inter-local but trans-border institutions, the players involved are often forced to extending their activities beyond their assigned jurisdictions. Thus, inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations designed to bring together communities and local bodies that do not belong to the same state are growing significantly (see Alger, 2003). Cosmopolitan democracy supports this strengthening, where needed and possible, of the structure of local government, even when this demands crossing the borders of more than one state (these issues are explored in Seatrobe and Anderson, 2002).

The state level. – To date, less than half of the world’s states have not yet adopted a political system that corresponds to the contemporary understanding of democracy (UNDP, 2002). Although the ideal of democracy has converted even yesterday’s opponents, its affirmation worldwide is still far from being obtained. New democracies are in constant danger, facing a daily struggle for consolidation, and not even the citizens of the most advanced democratic systems are fully satisfied with their regimes (or an assessment of national democracies, see, among others, Shapiro and Haker-Cordon, 1999; and Carter and Stockes, 2002). Looking at the issue of the expansion of democracy from a state level to a global system, I see each of the existing (incomplete) democratic states as much a laboratory of cosmopolitan democracy, as an agent. In factFor example, states are now called upon to grant rights to individuals—such as refugees and immigrants–who had traditionally had been denied them. Granting rights to foreigners equal to those enjoyed by a state’s nationals is still a long way away Much still needs to be done before these individuals are able to benefit from the same rights granted to indigenous populations (see Rubio-Marin, 2000), but this issue highlights how d emocratic states are currently being confronted with the dilemma of who to consider as their own citizens: those who are born in a specific community? Those who live and pay taxes? Those who would simply like to be citizens of a particular democratic community?
Even within a particular community, the rights of various groups and citizens are becoming differentiated. One of the most relevant developments of modern citizenship theory concerns the acknowledgement of specific rights for communities with particular religious, cultural and ethnic identities. A democratic state, we are told, is not exclusively based on a notion of equality, but also on the acknowledgement of diversity—even on making the most of diversity (Young, 1990; Kymlicka, 1995). Yet, acknowledging the diversity within a given political community causes its boundaries to weaken. Why should we consider as members of our community individuals who may speak a language, profess a religion and have a cultural background different from our own, but hold the same passport, whilst considering individuals which who share a greater affinity with us, but who have a different nationality than our own as members of a foreign community? are much more similar to us but with a foreign passport? In order toTo find good reasons to be cosmopolitans, we do not necessarily have toneed not cross state borders; it is enough to look at our schools and hospitals.
Along with its internal dimension, a state is also characterised by being a member of of the international community. What is it then, that distinguishes a democratic member from a undemocratic member? John Rawls (1999) has attempted to determine what the foreign policy of a liberal state should be by formulating a set of precepts such a state should observe unilaterally. Whilst for the most part I take Rawls’s precepts here as guidelines for a democratic foreign policy, not once does he call upon the need for states to comply with inter-states agreements. Rawls leaves to states—as did the pre-United Nations vision of international law—the right to autonomously dictate their own norms and rules. I feel that a liberal state must distinguish itself not only by the substance of its foreign policy, but also by the willingness to follow shared procedures. A good citizen of the international community (Linklater, 1992) is thus distinguished for actively respecting shared norms as well as for producing them.

The inter-state level. – The presence of inter-governmental organisations (IGOs) is an indicator of the willingness to expand at the inter-state level a number of democratic principles (formal equality between member states, public accountability, rule of law) but, at the same time, it is also an expression of the difficulties involved in achieving this. It is not necessary to be a partisan of democracy, nor of its cosmopolitan dimension, to support the work of IGOs; it is their duty to facilitate the work of states—be they democratic or autocratic—at least as much much as to limit their sovereignty. Although statist, functionalist and federalist thinkers may hold different views concerning the future function and development of IGOs, they are all equally in favour of them.
Could we consider IGOs democratic institutions? And, if not (as argued by Dahl, 1999), could they ever become so? The charge of a democratic deficit is more and more often raised not only with respect to the European Union (EU), but for also other organisations, starting from the United Nations. For instance, on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary, and again at the turn of the Millennium, of it brought was recommended to increase the power, transparency, legitimacy and democratic accountability of the UN (see, for instance, Commission for Global Governance, 1995). But let us consider the application at the global level of one of the key principles of democracy, namely the majority principle. It is unclear how its introduction would increase democracy within the UN since membership criteria do not require a state to be democratic (the issue is discussed in Falk, 1995; Bienen, Rittberger and Wagner, 1998). However, the UN does not require members themselves to be democracies, thus making it unclear that the introduction of a majority principle would constitute an increase in democracy. A democratic state can in general have sound motivations for hesitating before accepting a majority principle when many of the representatives in these IGOs have not been elected, and even more so if the organisation’s competencies are extended to matters that touch upon internal issues. Even if the membership of IGOs were to include democratic states only, as is the case of the EU, there would be no guarantee that the decision-making process would respect the preferences of the majority of stakeholders. Most IGOs are based on the formal equality of their member states, and this in turn guarantees each state the right to one vote, independent of its population, political and military power, and involvement in the decisions to be taken. In the UN General Assembly, those member states whose total number of inhabitants represents just 5% of the planet’s entire population have a majority in the Assembly. Would it then be a more democratic system were the weight of each state’s vote proportional to its population? In such a case, six states (China, India, United States, Indonesia, Brazil and Russia) that represent more than half of the world’s population would have a stable majority. IGOs thus illustrate how the majority principle is difficult to apply at the inter-state level (see Beetham, 1999, chapter 1).
Nevertheless, the majority principle cannot be ignored. Clearly, the veto power held by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council goes against all traditional principles of democracy. Within the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, the voting rights of member states are undemocratically measured on the basis of financial contributions. Within the G7 and G8 summits, admittedly not formally IGOs due to the absence of a charter, a few governments make decisions that have consequences for the entire planet. And the world’s main contemporary military alliance, NATO—almost entirely composed by democratic states—has on several occasions been more of an obstacle than a facilitator of democratic relations among states.
Moreover, the participation of the affected individuals in decision-making processes within IGOs, if not altogether absent, is often simply limited to a decorative function. With the exception of the EU, which has an elected parliament, no other IGO envisages a participatory role in the decision-making process for the citizens of its constituent members. Dahl (1999) is certainly indeed right right in pointing out the many difficulties that IGOs encounter in their attempts to reach a decision-making process that satisfies the conditions of democracy. However, this should not deter IGOs from seeking democratic solutions, but rather should be taken as an incentive for IGOs to place this issue at the core of their agenda. The number of projects and campaigns enacted for the reform and democratisation of the UN and other IGOs are many numerous (for a review see Patomaki and Teivainen, 2002a). They require taking a stand on a political, rather than theoretical, ground. ThusWhere, then, should the partisans of democracy stand when what is demanded is the abolition of the veto power within the UN Security Council, a more powerful voice for those states with lower quotas within the IMF andor an increased level of transparency within the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are required?

The regional level. – Problematic issues that slip through at the state level can also be dealt with at the regional level. In many cases the regional level might emerge as the most appropriate level of governance. The most striking historical example of this has been the EU. What began with six states has slowly, but more or less continuously, developed into a widening and deepening Union of States, which as it has grown has been able to strengthen the democratic system of its member states. The presence of a parliament elected through universal suffrage, coupled with the ability to bring together first 6, now 15 and soon 27 states, distinguishes Europe from any other regional organisation. But the EU is not alone: in this last decade an increase in and intensification of regional organisations has occurred almost everywhere, with a particular focus on trade agreements (Telò, 2001).
Moreover, regional networks and organisations can also become important promoters of stability in areas where individual constituents are far less familiar with democracy. I think about the areas where states have proven incapable, on one side, of preserving the exclusive use of legitimised force within their borders and, on the other, of keeping peaceful relationships with their neighbours. Take for instance the case of the Great Lakes Region in central Africa: the formation of states has been superimposed upon more traditional communities such as the village, the extended family, and the ethnic group. Because of the continuing strength of these complex and customary allegiances, many of the conflicts within this region could be better managed through an organisation that operates at a regional level and that includes both state representatives as well as representatives of the various local communities. This is not to say that we should expect from a hypothetical regional organisation of central Africa democratic institutions as sophisticated as those in the EU. Still, such a regional organisation could be helpful in managing critical issues such as endemic conflicts between rival ethnic groups. Others have applied cosmopolitan democracy as a model for regional unions such as Mercosur (see Patomaki and Teivainen, 2002b).

The global level. – It It is undoubtedly undoubtedly bold to think that global decisions could also be part of a democratic process, given that within the realms such of armaments, financial flows and even trade, any form of public governance has proven extremely difficult (for an analysis of global governance, see Rosenau, 1997; Keohane, 2001; Held and McGrew, 2002; Koenig-Archibugi, 2002; Patomaki, 2003). However, the proposition of democratic global governance may, in practise, be less bold than it initially appears to be. For the past decade or so, non-governmental players have benefited from the ability to make their voice heard at various UN summits, as well as within such agencies as the IMF and WTO. This leads one to assume that IGOs might have self-adjusting devices that will allow them to become more increasingly accountable and representative (see Paris, 2003). Still, NGOs have, to date, been limited to a mere advocacy role deprived of any decision-making power (Brown, 2000). But a level of governance that goes beyond the state’s scope is gradually imposing itself politically (Koehler, 1998; Bohman, 1999; Cochran, 2002). The UN and other international organisations, in spite of their inter-governmental character, have for the most part gone beyond their original mandate and opened their floor to non-governmental players.
The call for a global level of governance is strong in many areas: financial flows, immigration, environmental concerns, human rights, development aid (cf. Coleman and Porter, 2000; Held and McGrew, 2002). Each one of these specific regimes has its own rules, lobbies, and control devices (for an attempt to map the levels of global governance, see Koenig-Archibugi, 2002. A convincing list of criteria for a democratic governance is provided in Wolf, 1999, p. 353). It is not surprising therefore that, in each one of these regimes, one can find initiatives and campaigns that push for a greater accountability and democratisation (the vast literature on the subject is reviewed in Holden, 2000; Edwards and Gaventa, 2001; Patomaki and Teivainen, 2002a; Glasius, Kaldor and Anheiner, 2002). These initiatives correspond to Cochran’s pragmatic bottom-up approach (Cochran, 2002). Although often proceeding independently from each other, these initiatives aim at a greater democratisation: every day it is possible to act concretely for the pursuit of an increased transparency, control and accountability of global governance. Cosmopolitan democracy simply offers a working frame within which the diversity of areas citizens and global movements are working on can be connected.
During the G8 summit in Genoa in July 2001, protesters displayed banners with the slogan ‘you G8, we 6 billion’. Similar statements could be heard in Seattle, Porto Alegre and Florence. These protesters were expressing the spirit of many groups and global movements concerned about with environmental issues, human rights, and economic inequalities. They believed—and rightly so—that such issues are often neglected within the formal expression of politics. Nevertheless, heads of state to could—rightly—respond to these accusations by retort replyingby asking: ‘we got elected, who elected you?’ There is always the risk that global movements, even when pursuing good causes, speak on behalf of humanity even if without a mandate, as in the case of the bizarre Prussian Jacobean Anacharsis Cloots, self-proclaimed ‘orator of the human race’. As noted by Wendt (1999, p. 129), the demos is not necessarily prepared to support a global democracy. Only with the construction of dedicated political institutions is it possible to test how many of the issues advocated by social movements are supported by the majority of the population of the earth. At the same time, the very existence of these institutions would raise awareness of the possibility to address global issues through joint political action. A cardinal institution of democratic governance is therefore a world parliament. This is an ancient and utopian proposition which has repeatedly re-emerged (cf. Archibugi, 1993; Heater, 1996; Falk and Strauss, 2001) and which should today be at the core of global movements’ campaigns.

The relation between the various levels of governance. – As both the levels and institutions of governance are on the increase, the question arises: how can the competencies among these different bodies be shared? Is there a risk of creating a new division of tasks, where every each body claims to have sovereignty but actually lacks itin reality no one has it effectively? Could new conflicts originate from the existence of institutions endowed with overlapping competencies, over which each may well could claim sovereignty?
The key issue here is of course sovereignty, the foundation of the international law system since Restoration (Brown, 2002, p. 4). Sovereignty served the purpose to define the state competences and to make it clear what were the state borders. Ideally, the concept of cosmopolitan democracy belongs to that school of thought that from Kelsen (1920) onwards has regarded sovereignty as a dogma to overcome. The belief that a political or institutional body should be exempted from justifying its actions is incompatible with the essence of democracy. Each political player, whether it is a tyrant or a ‘sovereign’ people, must come to terms with other actors when competencies do overlap. From an historical point of view, the concept of sovereignty has been the artificial creation of an ‘organised hypocrisy’ (Krasner, 1999), and in very few instances has it succeeded in limiting a state’s extra-territorial interests. Nevertheless, we must face up to the challenge of finding an effective replacement, since the formal claim of sovereignty is still needed today to curb the dominance of the strong over the weak.
I suggest replacing, within states as much as between states, the concept of sovereignty with that of constitutionalism (Ferrajoli, 1995). The content of this proposal is similar to the idea of the vertical dispersion of sovereignty, as suggested by Pogge (1992, p. 61) and to the cosmopolitan model of sovereignty proposed by Held (2001, p. 23). However, I hold that the use of the concept ‘sovereignty’ itself ought to be removed. Conflicts concerning the issue of competence arising as a result of the different levels of governance, must be solved within the domain of a global constitutionalism, and referred to jurisdictional bodies, which in turn must act upon the basis of an explicit constitutional mandate, as Kelsen (1944) had already advocated.
To think that conflicts could be solved on a global level by means of constitutional and juridical procedures, rather than by means of force, is certainly visionary. But it rests on the assumption that norms can be respected even in absence of a coercive power of last resort (Kratochwil, 1989, Hurd, 1999; Scheuerman, 2002). The project of a cosmopolitan democracy is thus identified with a much broader ambition: that of turning international politics from the realm of antagonism into the realm of agonism (competitive spirit; see Bobbio, 1995; Mouffe, 2000). This process has gradually affirmed itself within democratic states, and it is common practice that different institutions engage in disputes over their competencies. Reaching the same result on a global level would mean taking a decisive step towards a more progressive level of civilisation.

The critics of cosmopolitan democracy

More than a decade after its first presentation, the idea of cosmopolitan democracy continues to be discussed within the domain of political theory. It is encouraging to see many thinkers, including young ones, sharing and developing these ideas originally advanced by a sparse group of scholars. Of course, criticism has not been spared, and it is to these that the rest of this essay is dedicated.

Realist critics. – The disenchanted Realists remind us that the world’s mechanisms are very different from how cosmopolitan democracy’s dreamers imagine them to be. They argue that the principal elements regulating international relations are, ultimately, force and interest. Thus, every effort to tame international politics through institutions and public participation is pure utopia (Zolo, 1997; Hawthorn, 2000; Chandler, 2003). I do not disagree with attributing importance to force and interest, but it is excessive not only to consider them as the sole force moving politics, but also as being immutable. Even from a Realist perspective it would be wrong to think that the interests of all actors involved in international politics are opposed to democratic management of the decision-making process. A more accurate picture is that of opposing interests in tension with each other. Thus at the moment, there is on the one side the influence exerted over the decision-making process by a few centres of power (a few governments, military groups, large enterprises); on the other side the demands of wider interest groups to increase their role at the decision-making table. Whether peripheral states, global movements or national industries, these latter groups are not necessarily pure at heart. They follow an agenda which is de facto anti-hegemonic because their own interests happen to be opposed to those of centralised power. To support these interests is not a matter of theory, but rather of political choice.
Some realists, however, reject not only just the feasibility of the cosmopolitan project but also its desirability. These critiques are often confused; doubtless because a risk is perceived that the cosmopolitan project could, in the frame of contemporary political reality, be used in other directions. It is certainly relevant that Zolo, in order to construct his critique of cosmopolitan democracy, must continuously force the position taken by his antagonists. In Cosmopolis, he often criticises the prospect of a global government, but none of the authors he cites - Bobbio, Falk, Habermas, Held - ever argued in its defence (on the other hand, the inevitability of world government is discussed in Wendt, 2003). These scholars limited their support to an increase in the rule of law and integration within global politics; they never argued in favour of the global concentration of coercive power. Cosmopolitan democracy is not to be identified with the project of a global government—which is necessarily reliant upon the concentration of forces in one sole institution—on the contrary, it is a project that invokes voluntary and revocable alliances between governmental and meta-governmental institutions, where the availability of coercive power, in ultima ratio, is shared between players and subjected to juridical control.
It would be useful to carry out an experiment to verify how often a realist’s critique of cosmopolitan democracy could also apply to state democracy. If the realist approach were to be applied coherently, democracy could not exist as a political system. Despite all of its imperfections, democracy does exist, and this has been made possible due, in part, to the thinkers and movements—all visionary!—who have supported and fought for its cause far before it could ever become possible.

American hegemony. - Today’s world is dominated by a hegemonic bloc where a single state, the United States, is endowed with extraordinary powers and the mandate to defend very narrow economic interests (Chandler, 2001; Gower, 2002). This hegemon goes so far as to resort to military power in order to penetrate economic and political activity. Critics have described how many international organisations – such as the International Monetary Found, the World Trade Organization and NATO—also serve the purpose of maintaining and preserving the interests of this new hegemonic bloc. Basing observation on real world conditions, these critics argue that a project that aims to empower global institutions to coordinate and monitor national policies leads de facto to a decrease in the independence of the various states and, ultimately, reinforces the ideology of the current hegemonic power. Authors such as Zolo, Gowen and Chandler have noted how those same years that witnessed audacious projects for UN reform and the democratisation of global governance, also witnessed the significant military engagement of Western states. In the lead up to their use of force, these states employed a rhetoric dangerously resembling those discourses that long for a global order founded on the values of lawfulness and democracy.
I have already argued that the amount of power concentrated within the hands of the United States is excessive, and that its domestic democracy is no guarantee of for the wise or lawful application of such power. However, the key is to find a strategy that can effectively oppose this hegemonic bloc. Contrary to Zolo, Gowen, Chandler et al, I dispute the ability of the old sovereignty dogma to provide a satisfactory alternative to US hegemony, or to any hegemony, for that matter. Until this moment, the appeal to sovereignty has served the purpose of aiding governments in abusing their citizens, rather than offering weaker states protection from the greed of the strongest states. The strengthening of international institutions, especially if inspired by the values of democracy, would most probably produce the desired effect of obliging the United States and its allies to engage in a foreign policy much more in line with their own constitutions. Barricading ourselves behind the notion of sovereignty merely for the sake of counterbalancing America’s hegemony may cause us to forget the millions of people who are subjected everyday to oppression from their own governments. The recent conflict in Iraq seems to reinforce this point. On the one hand, the lack of international consensus and legitimacy did not constrain two democratic states, the USA and the UK, from waging war against international law. On the other hand, the international community lacked non-coercive instruments to protest against the violation of human rights by the Iraqi government since it had the status of representing a ‘sovereign’ state. The cosmopolitan perspective would, on the contrary, have urged the international community to take other actions, such as smart sanctions, to oppose and ultimately remove the Iraqi government.

The Marxist critique I (Karl). – It is often said that the hegemonic power of the US and its closest allies, is a consequence of the present international economic system (Gowan, 2001). Since cosmopolitan democracy focuses on the institutional aspects of the international order, on the superstructure, and does not give pride of place to economic dynamics, it is criticised for discounting the crucial centres of power. From a Marxist perspective, international democracy taken solely as an institutional project would be impossible (Gorg and Hirsch, 1998), as the transformation of global politics can only be brought about by a new economic regime. But it is not easy to establish well-defined links of cause and effect between politics and economics. Many economic interests are indeed more than satisfied with the present mechanisms of control and have no interest in increasing the democratic management over the flows of capital or international trade. However, there are many other interests, maybe more widespread, that are pushing for greater accountability. The financial speculation that is of advantage to some groups is an obstacle to others, and many economic powers are now looking forward to altering the current structure of international finance. Some of the most interesting proposals on how to limit the damage caused by financial globalisation come from George Soros (2002) himself; if we do not want to write this off as a case of schizophrenia, we must infer that there is no such thing as univocal interests.
Other Marxists argue that the project of cosmopolitan democracy suffers from an improper use of the term ‘cosmopolitanism’. Brennan (2001, p. 76) maintains that to talk about ‘internationalism’ would be much more suited. Of course, what really matter are concepts, not words. Nevertheless, I maintain that it is more precise to qualify this project as ‘cosmopolitan democracy’ rather than as ‘international democracy’. The term ‘international’, coined by the Abbot of Saint-Pierre and Jeremy Bentham, recalls a type of organisation that is characterised by two levels of representation: first, the existence of governments within states, and second the creation of an ‘international’ community based on governments (Anderson, 2002). Adopting the notion of ‘cosmopolitanism’ instead allows for the introduction of a third level of governance, one that requires a more active participation of individuals in global political matters (Carter, 2001, Dower and Williams, 2002, Heater, 2002). Citizens should therefore play a twofold role: that of citizens of the state, and that of citizens of the world.
Nevertheless, Gilbert (1999) and Brennan (2001) evoke the internationalism of other glorious traditions—traditions that share the spirit of cosmopolitan democracy: the international workers’ associations and the peace congresses of the 19th and early 20th century. The famous slogan ‘proletarians of the world, unite!’ heralded the essence of this spirit. Within this perspective, ‘internationalism’ is no longer used to refer to representatives of the state. Internationalism refers rather to the political players within the state who are in conflict with their governments because the latter are believed to be the expression of the antagonist class, the bourgeoisie. The Marxist view maintains that the strength of common interest uniting proletarians in different states is such that conflicts between proletariat states would be solved much more effectively than conflicts between bourgeois states. This Marxist definition of ‘internationalism’ was built upon the belief that the defeat of the ruling class by the proletariat would result in the cessation of all conflicts between organised groups, since proletarian communities would never nurse the desire to subjugate any other (worker’s) community. Consequently, there would be no need to organise an international political system that could mediate conflicts, as there wouldn’t be any. Sovereignty would simply dissolve together with its holder, the bourgeois state.
Marxist analysis maintains the existence of a permanent conflict of interests between rival social classes; interests that—now more than in the past—are in conflict not only within states, but also between states. The creation of a global citizenship will not put an end to these conflicts of interest, but that is not the ambition inspiring it. Its goal is simply to find institutional loci where these conflicts of interests could possibly be addressed and managed. If the prolonged civil war in Sierra Leone were somehow linked to the diamond trade, and the traders from Anvers, Moscow or New York were thought to play an effective role in promoting the instigation of the hostilities, what kind of institutional channels might prove effective in resolving the issue? Policies that are decided within international institutions—such as the certification of the diamonds’ origin—offer the possibility of mitigating the conflict. In other words, global institutions should offer effective channels for mending conflicts.
What needs to be revised is the political programme—not the spirit—of proletarian internationalism. Cosmopolitan democracy suggests the creation of institutions and representative channels not limited to a specific social class, but open to all individuals. Its aim is not to overcome social classes, but an objective more modest but equally ambitious: offering channels of direct representation to all people at the global level, regardless of their social status. This implies basing decision-making on global issues on the preferences of a majority, rather than on those of a single class. In this vein, Ulrich Beck (1999, p.18) invoked: ‘Citizens of the world, unite!’.
Trans-national campaigns have already succeeded in influencing the choices of political decision-makers: take the decision of the UK government to follow environmentally friendly procedures for the disposal of the Brent Spar (Prins and Sellwood, 1998); the institution of the International Criminal Court (Glasius, 2002); the decision of some multinationals to recede from their profit-making interests and allow for the free-diffusion of the AIDS drug (Seckinelgin, 2002), or even military interventions to protect human rights (Kaldor, 2001). An international public sphere (Koheler, 1998; Cochran, 2002) is moving towards public action, and some partial but nevertheless significant results have been achieved (Pianta, 2003).

The Marxist critique II (Groucho). – Groucho Marx once said: ‘I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member’. Groucho thus anticipated what has become one of the most frequent criticisms of the EU: ‘if the EU were to apply for membership in the EU, it would not qualify because of the inadequate democratic content of its constitution’ (for a convincing answer to this claim, see Zürn, 2002, p. 183). Many scholars refer to this criticism to argue the inability of the EU to ever become a democratic institution (for in-depth discussions of the case of the EU see, Pogge, 1997; Beetham and Lord, 1998; Schmitter, 2000; Bellamy and Castiglione, 2001; Zürn, 2002; Moravcsik, 2002). Since the EU is actually the most democratic of all present international organisations, this argument supports the position that it is difficult, if not impossible, to extend democracy beyond the state system. Robert Dahl (2001, p. 38) has produced a list of criteria for the evaluation of democracy within a state. By applying these criteria to global democracy, he shows that they cannot be met and therefore, he argues, global democracy is impossible.
International organisations, the EU included, are far less democratic than many of their member states, but I do not believe that they can be judged according to the same criteria that apply to states. In my view, it is more a question of evaluating the ability of different mechanisms to increase democratic participation, particularly at a time when many complain about the lack of control over the decisions taken by the executive. Dahl does not appear to be hostile to the idea of international organisations, nor does he deny the usefulness of increasing their transparency and accountability. What he considers improper is the use of the word ‘democracy’. However, if one shares the view that decisions over issues that cross national borders are to be taken within appropriate institutions (i.e. international institutions), and that these should respond at least to the criteria of transparency and accountability, one will observe that the discrepancies between positions are mainly an issue of terminology. It would perhaps prove far more useful to argue about possible courses of actions, rather than word choice. I wonder to what extent a thinker like Dahl would object to a substantial reform of the various international organisations, such as the creation of a parliamentary assembly within the United Nations (cf. Falk and Strauss, 2001) or a compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (Archibugi, 1993). We must therefore avoid finding ourselves in a situation in which the good is the an enemy of the better. Faced with the difficulty of constructing an international level of democracy on a state-like model, we often neglect the possibility of pushing for a greater legitimacy of the decision-making process, even in those areas where it would be feasible to do so.

The dangers of a global technocracy. – There is always the fear that a level of governance that is beyond the state may ultimately deprive states of their hard-won democratic content by concentrating competencies and power in sites far from public control. Thaa (2001, p. 519), among others, has this concern: ‘Global civil society cannot provide a realm of political equality and deprives the idea of citizenship of its political content’. Small communities with high levels of participation—communities also tenaciously and generously committed to global issues—are often those who most object to membership in international organisations. Switzerland, homeland of Rousseau, country of origin of the Red Cross, seat of the League of Nations and of many other UN agencies, became a formal member of the UN only in 2002, and still maintains its independence from the EU despite being entirely surrounded by it. The Norwegians have twice voted against joining the EU, while both the Swedes and the Danes have refused to exchange replace their currency for with the Euro. Since in the matter of democracy these communities have more to teach than to learn, their preferences should be taken seriously. The most convincing explanation has come from Wolf (1999, p. 343), when he points out governments’ propensity to use their obligations towards international organisations to limit the sovereignty of their citizens. There is a widespread concern that international organisations might become the Trojan horse enabling technocrats to prevail over democratic control.
In Europe, the parameters of Maastricht have become the religion that has forced states to resort to restrictive economic policies. The directives of the International Monetary Fund have forced particular political choices upon many developing countries and have sometimes even thwarted the possibility of deepening democratisation. I share the worries related to the ability of international organisations even to limit the political autonomy of a state, but does the refusal of international integration sustain these political communities at a higher degree of autonomy? Take the examples of three neighbouring states: Finland, Sweden and Norway. The first of these is fully integrated within the EU; the second is an EU member, although it has decided not to introduce the Euro; the third has chosen to opt out. Could we thus conclude that Norway benefits from a greater degree of autonomy than Finland? Finland has the capacity to express its concerns within institutions at the European level. Norway does not. So, at present, the autonomy of Norway appears to be more at risk than the autonomy of Finland. To integrate within supra-national democratic organisations helps preserve states’ democracy far more than it obstructs it. To refuse to extend democratic decision-making beyond the state’s territory not only leaves decisions within no-man’s land, but it also jeopardises democracy within the state. It may therefore be preferable to go the opposite way and push for more accountability and transparency within the international organisations, introducing within each one different

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Minsky-Crisis of democracy

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Perry Anderson-França

Perry Anderson
La France qui tombe by Nicolas Baverez
Perrin, 134 pp, €5.50

La Face cachée du 'Monde': Du contre-pouvoir aux abus de pouvoir by Pierre Péan and Philippe Cohen
Mille et Une Nuits, 631 pp, €24.00

France is, of all European countries, the most difficult for any foreigner to write about. Its intractability is a function, in the first instance, of the immense output on their society produced by the French themselves, on a scale undreamt of elsewhere. Seventy titles just on the electoral campaign of spring 2002. Two hundred books on Mitterrand. Three thousand on De Gaulle. Such numbers, of course, include a huge amount of dross. But they are not mere logomachy. High standards of statistical rigour, analytic intelligence, literary elegance continue to distinguish the best of French writing about France, in quantities no neighbouring land can rival.

Confronted with this mass of self-description, what can the alien gaze hope to add? The advantages of estrangement, would be the anthropological reply - Lévi-Strauss's regard lointain. But in England we lack the discipline of real distance. France is all too misleadingly familiar: the repetitively stylised Other of insular history and popular imagination; the culture whose words are still most commonly taught, movies screened, classics translated; the shortest trip for the tourist, the most fashionable spot for a second residence. London is now closer to Paris than Edinburgh by train; there are some 15 million visits by Britons to France every year, more than from any other country. The vicinity is lulling. Its effect is a countrywide equivalent of the snare against which every schoolchild struggling with French is warned. France itself becomes a kind of faux ami.

Local connoisseurs are seldom of much help in correcting the error. It is striking that the two best-known recent English historians of France, Richard Cobb and Theodore Zeldin, have taken the national penchant for the whimsical and eccentric to extremes, as if so defeated by their subject they had to fall back, in compensation, on a parodic exhibition of French images of Anglicity, as so many historiographic Major Thompsons. Less strenuous contributions - political science, cultural studies, the higher journalism - offer little antidote. Reportage itself often seems mortified: few dispatches are so regularly flat as those filed from Paris, as if it were somehow the deathbed of the correspondent's imagination. A bright obscurity covers the country, screening its pitfalls for cross-Channel commentary. What follows is unlikely to escape a share of them.

The current scene is as good a place to start as any, since it offers a pregnant example of the illusions of familiarity. Newspapers, journals and bookshops brim with debate over French decline. Gradually trickling to the surface in the past few years, le déclinisme burst into full flow with the publication last winter of La France qui tombe, a spirited denunciation of national default - 'the sinister continuity between the 14 years of François Mitterrand and the 12 of Jacques Chirac, united by their talent for winning elections and ruining France' - by Nicolas Baverez, an economist and historian of the centre-right. Rebuttals, vindications, rejoinders, alternatives have proliferated. Baverez looks at first glance like a French version of a Thatcherite, a neo-liberal of more or less strict persuasion, and the whole controversy like a rerun of the long-standing debates on decline in this country. But the appearances are deceptive. The problem is not the same.

Britain's diminution since the war has been a long-drawn-out process. But its starting point is clear: the illusions bred by victory in 1945, under a leader of 1914 vintage, followed virtually without intermission by the realities of financial dependency on Washington, austerity at home and imperial retreat abroad. By the time consumer prosperity arrived, a decade later, the country was already lagging behind the growth of Continental economies, and within a few more years found itself locked out of a European Community whose construction it had rejected. In due course the welfare state itself - a landmark when first created - was overtaken elsewhere. There was no dramatic reckoning with the past, just a gradual slide within a framework of complete political stability.

Abroad, decolonisation was conducted steadily, at little cost to the home country, but owed much to luck. India was too big to put up a fight for. War in Malaya, unlike Indochina, could be won because the Communist movement was based on an ethnic minority. Rhodesia, unlike Algeria, was logistically out of range. The costs to the colonised were another matter, in the bloody skein of partitions left behind: Ireland, Palestine, Pakistan, Cyprus. But British society appeared unscathed. Yet, like the welfare state with which it was often coupled as a principal achievement of the postwar order, withdrawal from empire, too, eventually lost its lustre, when the abscess of Ulster reopened. The decisive development of the period lay elsewhere, in the abandonment after the Suez expedition of any pretension by the British state to autonomy from the US. Henceforward the adhesion of the nation to the global hegemon - internalised as a political imperative by both parties, more deeply by Labour even than Conservatives - cushioned loss of standing in the popular imagination, while exhibiting it to the world at large. Intellectual life was not so dissimilar, vitality after the war coming largely from external sources, emigrés from Central and Eastern Europe, with few local eminences. Here, too, there was subsidence without much tension.

A sense of decline became acute within the British elites only when fierce distributional struggles broke out in the 1970s, with the onset of stagflation. The outcome was a sharp shift of gravity in the political system, and Thatcher's mandate to redress the fall in the country's fortunes. Neo-liberal medicine, continued under New Labour, revived the spirits of capital and redrew the social landscape - Britain pioneering programmes of privatisation and deregulation internationally as it had once done welfare and nationalisation. A modest economic recovery was staged, amid still decaying infrastructures and increasing social polarisation. With the recent slowdown in Europe, claims of a national renaissance have become more common, without acquiring widespread conviction.

Overseas, Thatcher's most famous success was regaining the puny Antarctic colony of the Falklands; Blair's, brigading the country into the American invasion of Iraq. Pride or shame in such ventures scarcely impinge on the rest of the world. Internationally, the country's cultural icon is now a football celebrity. Little alteration of political arrangements; moderate growth but still low productivity; pinched universities and crumbling railways; the unmoved authority of Treasury, Bank and City; an underling diplomacy. The record lacks high relief. The British way of coming down in the world might itself be termed a mediocre affair.

France has been another story. Defeat and occupation left it, after Liberation, at a starting point far below that of Britain. The Resistance had saved its honour, and Potsdam its face, but it was a survivor rather than a victor power. Economically, France was still a predominantly rural society, with a per capita income a little over half of the British standard. Sociologically, the peasantry remained by far its largest class: 45 per cent of the population. Politically, the Fourth Republic floundered into quicksands of government instability and colonial disaster. Little more than a decade after Liberation, the army was in revolt in Algeria, and the country on the brink of civil war. The whole postwar experience appeared a spectacular failure.

In fact, the Fourth Republic had in some ways been a period of extraordinary vitality. It was in these years that the administrative structure of the French state was overhauled, and the technocratic elite that today dominates the business and politics of the country took shape. While cabinets revolved, civil servants assured a continuity of dirigiste policies that modernised the French economy at nearly twice the clip of growth rates in Britain. French architects - Monnet and Schumann - laid the foundations of European integration, and it was French politicians who clinched the Treaty of Rome: the birth of the European Community, just before the Fourth Republic expired, owed more to France than any other country. French literature, in the days of Sartre, Camus and De Beauvoir, enjoyed an international readership probably without equal in the postwar world, well beyond its standing between the wars.

So when De Gaulle came to power, on the back of military revolt in Algiers, the dilapidated estate he inherited in fact offered solid bases for national recovery. He, of course, promised much more than that. France, he had announced, was inconceivable without grandeur. In his vocabulary the word had connotations that escape the vulgar claims of 'greatness' attached to Britain; it was a more archaic and abstract ideal, that appeared even to many of his compatriots out of keeping with the age. Yet it is difficult to deny it to the man, and the reconstruction over which he presided. It is conventional to pair him with Churchill, as statues in the national pantheon. But, beyond romantic legend, there is a discrepancy between them. De Gaulle's historical achievement was much larger. Colourful as it was, Churchill's role in 20th-century Britain proved by comparison quite limited: an inspirational leadership of his country, crucial for a year, in a war won by Soviet troops and American wealth, and a brief epilogue of nondescript office in time of peace. The image he left was huge, the mark modest. Little in postwar Britain, save lingering imperial illusions, is traceable to him.

In exile, De Gaulle's wartime leadership was more purely symbolic, and his adjustment to peace, at which he threw in a hand stronger than Churchill's, little more successful. But he was a generation younger, with an altogether more reflective and original cast of mind. When he returned to power a decade later, he had mastered the arts of politics, and proved a strange singleton of modern statecraft. In the West no other postwar leader comes near his record. The largest colonial conflict of the century - at its height, the French army in Algeria numbered 400,000; perhaps a million Algerians were killed - was brought to a dextrous end, and resistance to the settlement by those who had put him in power crushed. A new republic was founded, with institutions - above all, a strong presidential executive - designed to give the country political stability. High-tech modernisation of the economy proceeded apace, with major infrastructural programmes and rapidly rising living standards in the towns, as growth accelerated. Large-scale farming was shielded by the Common Agricultural Policy, a French construction, while the countryside started to empty, and the capital regained its pristine splendour.

Most striking was the transformation of the French state's position in the world. As the Cold War continued, De Gaulle made France the only truly independent power in Europe. Without breaking with the United States, he built a nuclear deterrent that owed nothing to America, and cocked it à tous azimuts. Withdrawing French forces from Nato command, boycotting US operations under UN guise in the Congo, stockpiling gold to weaken the dollar, he condemned the American war in Vietnam and Israeli arrogance in the Middle East, and vetoed British entry into the Common Market: actions unthinkable in today's cowering world, as they were for Britain's rulers at the time. No country of the period was so plainly removed from any notion of decline. Equipped with a vigorous economy, an exceptionally strong state, an intrepid foreign policy, France displayed a greater elan than at any time since the Belle Epoque.

The radiance of the country was also cultural. The arrival of the Fifth Republic coincided with the full flowering of the intellectual energies that set France apart for two generations after the war. Looking back, the range of works and ideas that achieved international influence is astonishing. It could be argued that nothing quite like it had been seen for a century. Traditionally, literature had always occupied the summit on the slopes of prestige within French culture. Just below it lay philosophy, surrounded with its own nimbus, the two adjacent from the days of Rousseau and Voltaire to those of Proust and Bergson. On lower levels were scattered the sciences humaines, history the most prominent, geography or ethnology not far away, economics further down. Under the Fifth Republic, this time-honoured hierarchy underwent significant changes. Sartre refused a Nobel Prize in 1964, but after him no French writer ever gained the same public authority, at home or abroad. The Nouveau Roman remained a more restricted phenomenon, of limited appeal within France itself, and less overseas. Letters in the classical sense lost their commanding position within the culture at large. What took their place was an exotic marriage of social and philosophical thought, at the altar of literature. It was the products of this union that gave intellectual life in the decade of De Gaulle's reign its peculiar brilliance and intensity. It was in these years that Lévi-Strauss became the world's most celebrated anthropologist; Braudel established himself as its most influential historian; Barthes became its most distinctive literary critic; Lacan started to acquire his reputation as the mage of psychoanalysis; Foucault to invent his archaeology of knowledge; Derrida to become the antinomian philosopher of the age; Bourdieu to develop the concepts that would make him its best-known sociologist. The concentrated explosion of ideas is astonishing. In just two years (1966-67) there appeared side by side: Du miel aux cendres, Les Mots et les choses, Civilisation matérielle et capitalisme, Système de la mode, Ecrits, Lire le Capital and De la grammatologie, not to speak - from another latitude - of La Société du spectacle. Whatever the different bearings of these and other writings, it does not seem altogether surprising that a revolutionary fever gripped society itself the following year.

The reception of this effervescence abroad varied from country to country, but no major culture in the West, not to speak of Japan, was altogether exempt from it. This owed something to the traditional cachet of anything Parisian, with its overtones of mode as much as of mind. But it was also an effect of the novel elision of genres in so much of this thinking. For if literature lost its position at the apex of French culture, the effect was not so much a banishment as a displacement. Viewed comparatively, the striking feature of the human sciences and philosophy that counted in this period was the extent to which they came to be written increasingly as virtuoso exercises of style, drawing on the resources and licences of artistic rather than academic forms. Lacan's Ecrits, closer to Mallarmé than Freud in their syntax, or Derrida's Glas, with its double-columned interlacing of Genet and Hegel, represent extreme forms of this strategy. But Foucault's oracular gestures, mingling echoes of Artaud and Bossuet, Lévi-Strauss's Wagnerian constructions, Barthes's eclectic coquetries, belong to the same register.

To understand this development, one has to remember the formative role of rhetoric, seeping through the dissertation, in the upper levels of the French educational system in which all these thinkers - khâgneux and normaliens virtually to a man - were trained, as a potential hyphen between literature and philosophy. Even Bourdieu, whose work took as one of its leading targets just this rhetorical tradition, could not escape his own version of its cadences; far less such as Althusser, against whose obscurities the sociologist railed. The potential cost of a literary conception of intellectual disciplines is obvious enough: arguments freed from logic, propositions from evidence. Historians were least prone to such an import substitution of literature, but even Braudel was not immune to the loosening of controls in a too flamboyant eloquence. It is this trait of the French culture of the time that has so often polarised foreign reactions to it, in a seesaw between adulation and suspicion. Rhetoric is designed to cast a spell, and a cult easily arises among those who fall under it. But it can also repel, drawing charges of legerdemain and imposture. Balanced judgment here will never be easy. What is clear is that the hyperbolic fusion of imaginative and discursive forms of writing, with all its attendant vices, was also inseparable from everything that made this body of work most original and radical.

The vitality of France's culture under De Gaulle was not merely a matter of these eminences. Another sign of it was possession of what was then the world's finest newspaper, Le Monde. Under the austere regime of Hubert Beuve-Méry, Paris enjoyed a daily whose international coverage, political independence and intellectual standards put it in a class by itself in the Western press of the period. The New York Times, the Times or Frankfurter Allgemeine were provincial rags by comparison. In the academic world, this was also the time when the Annales, still a relatively modest affair during the Fourth Republic, became the dominant force in French historiography, winning for it both a more central role within the public culture - something it had once enjoyed, but long lost - and a great arc of overseas influence. Braudel's command of the Sixième Section of the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes allowed him to rejuvenate the social sciences, and lay the foundations of what would become the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, regrouping disciplines and talents in a manner worthy of the Consulate. Last but not least, of course, was the cinema. Here, as in much else, the origins of a spectacular burst of creativity lay in the subcultures of the Fourth Republic. One of its features, still undiminished through the 1960s, had been the number and variety of its journals of ideas, which played a much more important part in intellectual life than anywhere else in the West. Sartre's Temps modernes, Bataille's Critique, Mounier's Esprit were only the best known of these. It was in this milieu that Bazin's Cahiers du cinéma had its place, as the crucible in which the passions and convictions of the future directors of the Nouvelle Vague were formed.

Their debut on the screen coincided with the arrival of De Gaulle in power. Les Quatre Cents Coups and Les Cousins opened in 1959, A bout de souffle in 1960. After the war Paris had notoriously ceased to be the capital of modern painting, a position it had held for a century. But within the visual arts as a whole, it might be said that France recouped with brio in moving pictures. Or if, with equal plausibility, we regard film as the art that has taken the place of the novel as the dominant narrative form of the age, Godard might be seen as the contemporary equivalent of the great French writers of the past, producing one tour de force after another - Le Mépris, Bande à part, Une femme mariée, Pierrot le fou, Deux ou trois choses, La Chinoise, Weekend punctuating the decade as once the latest volumes by Balzac or Proust. No other country, even Italy, came near the blaze of the French cinema in these years.

Today, all this has passed. The feeling is widespread that the Fifth Republic, as it approaches its half-century, presents a fallen landscape. The economy, after crawling forward at 1.3 per cent a year through the 1990s, is today sunk in yet another trough, with a widening deficit, rising public debt and very high levels of unemployment. Well over 9 per cent of the labour force, itself reduced by high rates of early retirement, is out of work. One quarter of French youth is jobless; two-fifths among immigrant families. Secondary education, once the best in Europe, has been steadily deteriorating; large numbers now emerge from it scarcely literate. Although France still spends more on a pupil in its lycées (for the first time outclassed, except at the very highest level, by private schools) than it does on a student at its universities, it has one of the lowlier rates of reading in the OECD. Scientific research, measured by funding or by discovery, has plummeted: emigration, virtually unknown in the past, now drains the country's laboratories.

The political system, riddled with corruption, is held in increasing public contempt. Nearly a third of the electorate - a far larger number than voted for any single candidate - refused to cast a ballot in the first round of the presidential elections of 2002; the incumbent got less than a fifth of the vote; 40 per cent abstained in the legislative elections. The National Assembly is the weakest parliament in the Western world, with more than one resemblance to the echo chambers of the First Empire. The current ruler of the country would be in the dock for malversation had a constitutional court not hastened to grant him immunity from prosecution: a trampling of equality before the law that not even his Italian counterpart, in what is usually imagined to be a still more cynical political culture, has been able to secure. Foreign policy is a mottled parody of Gaullism: vocal opposition to the pretext for war in the Middle East, followed by practical provision of airspace and prompt wishes for victory once the attack was under way, then eager amends for disloyalty with a joint coup to oust another unsatisfactory ruler in the Caribbean, and agrément for the puppet regime in Baghdad. At home the prestige of public works, as late as the 1990s still a touchstone of national pride, lies in the mortuary dust and rubble of Roissy.

Economic stress and political corrosion could still, it might be argued, leave intact what are the essential values of France, both in its own eyes and those of the world. No other nation, after all, has so conspicuously based its identity on culture, understood in the broadest sense. But here too, as much as - in some ways, perhaps even more than - in matters of industry or state, the scene at large is dismal: in the eyes of many, a veritable dégringolade. The days of Malraux are long gone. No better symbol of current conditions could be found than the fate of his hapless descendant as court philosopher, the salonnier Luc Ferry, minister of education under Chirac - derisively pelted with his own latest opuscule by teachers when he tried to tour schools to persuade them of the latest round of downsizing reforms, and then summarily terminated as an embarrassment to his patron.

More generally, a sense of cheapening and dumbing down, the intertwining of intellectual with financial or political corruption, has become pervasive. Press and television, long given to the incestuous practices of le renvoi d'ascenseur - is there an equivalent so expressive in any other language? - have lost earlier restraints, not only in their dealing with ideas, but with business and power. The decline of Le Monde is emblematic. Today, the paper is a travesty of the daily created by Beuve-Méry: shrill, conformist and parochial, increasingly made in the image of its website, which assails the viewer with more fatuous pop-ups and inane advertisements than an American tabloid. The disgust that many of its own readers, trapped by the absence of an alternative, feel for what it has become was revealed when a highly uneven polemic against the trio of managers who have debauched it - Alain Minc, Edwy Plenel and Jean-Marie Colombani - sold 200,000 copies, in the face of legal threats against the authors, later withdrawn to avoid further discomfiture of them in court.

La Face cachée du 'Monde', a doorstop of 600 pages mixing much damaging documentation with not a few inconsistencies and irrelevancies, unfolds a tale of predatory economic manoeuvres, political sycophancies and vendettas, egregious cultural back-scratching, and - last but not least - avid self-enrichment, unappetising by any standards. 'Since Le Monde was founded,' Beuve-Méry remarked after he retired, 'money has been waiting below, at the foot of the stairs, to gain entry to the office of the editor. It is there, patient as always, persuaded that in the end it will have the final word.' The media conglomerate erected by Colombani and his associates gives notice that it has taken up occupation. But, powerful a motive though greed at the top may be, the journalism they represent is too pervasive to be explained simply by this. A deeper focus can be found in Serge Halimi's exposure of the interlocking complicities - across the spectrum - of establishment commentary on public affairs, in Les Nouveaux Chiens de garde (1997). What this sardonic study of mutual fawning and posturing among the talking heads and editorial sages of Parisian society shows is a system of connivance based at least as much on ideological as material investment in the market.

The world of ideas is in little better shape. Death has picked off virtually all the great names: Barthes (1980); Lacan (1981); Aron (1983); Foucault (1984); Braudel (1985); Debord (1994); Deleuze (1995); Lyotard (1998); Bourdieu (2002). Only Lévi-Strauss, at 95, and Derrida, at 74, survive. No French intellectual has gained a comparable international reputation since. Lack of that is not a necessary measure of worth. But while individual work of distinctive value continues to be produced, the general condition of intellectual life is suggested by the bizarre prominence of Bernard-Henri Lévy, far the best-known 'thinker' under 60 in the country. It would be difficult to imagine a more extraordinary reversal of national standards of taste and intelligence than the attention accorded this crass booby in France's public sphere, despite innumerable demonstrations of his inability to get a fact or an idea straight. Could such a grotesque flourish in any other major Western culture today?

If this is what lays claim to philosophy, literature is not far behind. Today's leading novelist, Michel Houellebecq - the 'Baudelaire of the supermarket' in the eyes of admirers - occupies a position not unlike that of Martin Amis in English letters, as the writer by whom readers most like to be shocked, though beyond the commonplaces of sex and violence, their forms of épater are asymmetrical: flamboyance of style and bienséance of sentiments in Amis, provocation of ideas and banality of prose in Houellebecq. The French version, coming out of science fiction, is less conventional in intellectual outlook - capable of the occasional unsettling, if never very deep, apothegm - but, as might be expected of its origins, poorer in literary imagination. In principle, the steady drone of flat, slack sentences reproduces the demoralised world they depict, not the limits of the writer's talent. But a glance at the doggerel of Houellebecq's poetry suggests that the match between them is only too natural. That writing of this quality could command official acclaim says something about another, now more long-standing, weakness of French culture. Criticism has remarkably little place in it. The standard idea of a book review - see La Quinzaine littéraire, Le Nouvel Observateur, Le Monde des livres, Libération - is what would elsewhere be regarded as not much above a puff. The rule has its exceptions but these tend to simple inversion, the obloquy as another ritual. No equivalent exists of the TLS or the LRB, of L'Indice or of the books pages of the New Republic, even of the dull ones of Die Zeit: truly sustained, discriminating engagement with a work of fiction, of ideas or history has become rare.

It was not always like this. The culture of the Fourth Republic and the early years of the Fifth, when political divisions were stronger and conflict within and between journals was livelier, involved much more genuine argument and criticism than can be found today. Cahiers du cinéma is a striking case in point. What is it now? Another commercial magazine in Colombani's stable, that could be mistaken on the news-stands for Elle. If French cinema itself has not fallen as far, this is mainly due to the continuing flow of works from its original transformers: Godard, Rohmer and Chabrol are still as active as when they began. As for its contemporary output, the one film France has successfully exported in recent years, Amélie, is kitsch sickly enough to make even Hollywood squirm.

The current French scene cannot, of course, be reduced to its least appealing expressions. No mere inventory of failings could capture the uneven realities of a society in motion; other features and forces have yet to be considered. It is also true that all inter-temporal comparisons are subject to distortion and selective illustration. In the case of France, still haunted by the assured regency of the General, perhaps more so than elsewhere. But the present unease is not a chimera, and requires explanation. What lies behind the apparent subsidence of institutions, ideas, forms, standards? An obvious first hypothesis would be that the life of what was once the 'French exception', that is, all those ways in which this society and its culture escaped from the mediocre routines of the Atlantic ecumene surrounding it, has gradually been squeezed out of the country by two unstoppable forces: the worldwide advance of neo-liberalism, and the rise of English as a universal language. Both have certainly struck at the foundations of traditional conceptions of France. Historically, neither right nor left, however passionately divided in other ways, ever trusted the market as an organising principle of social order: laissez-faire is a French expression that was always foreign to French reality. Even today, so deep is suspicion of it that here, uniquely, the contemporary term 'neo-liberal', with all its negative connotations, has little currency, as if it were redundant: 'liberal' alone remains enough, for a still considerable range of opinion, to indicate the odium. The Gleichschaltung of Western economic arrangements that began in the era of Thatcher and Reagan was thus bound to bear especially painfully on a national inheritance of economic intervention and social protection, common to the Fourth and Fifth Republics alike.

Coinciding with the economic pressure of deregulated financial markets, and often experienced as simply its cultural dimension, came the victory of English as the irresistible global medium of business, science and intellectual exchange. For the smaller countries of Northern Europe - Benelux and Scandinavia - this merely confirmed a widespread bilingualism. The political and intellectual elites of the Federal Republic had always been so deeply in thrall to the United States, as the country's saviour from a discreditable past, that the postwar pretensions of German were small. Italians have never imagined their language as of much moment to anyone but themselves. France was in a completely different situation. French had once been the common tongue of the Enlightenment, spoken by upper classes across the continent, sometimes even - Prussia, Russia - preferred to their own. It remained the standard idiom of diplomacy in the 19th century. It was still the principal medium of the European bureaucracy of the Community, down to the 1990s. Long identified with the idea of French civilisation - somewhat more than just a culture - it was a language with a sense of its own universality.

The intellectual fireworks of the trente glorieuses, spraying aloft and exploding far beyond the borders of France, sustained this notion. But the conditions that produced them depended on the training of an immensely self-assured, spiritually - often also practically - monoglot elite, in the Ecole Normale and the key Parisian lycées that formed generation after generation of talents within an intense, hothouse world. The rise of the Ecole Nationale d'Administration, founded only in 1945, to become the nursery of high-fliers in politics and business (Pompidou was the last normalien to rule the country) had already tended to shift privileged education in a more technocratic direction. Then, after 1968, university and school reforms followed the pattern elsewhere: broadening access to education, without the resources necessary to maintain the standards of the narrower system.

Democratisation on the cheap inevitably undermined the morale and cohesion of a national institution that had been the pride of the Third Republic. The prestige of the instituteur plummeted; curricula were restlessly rejigged and degraded, the average lycéen now getting only a wretched smattering of French classics; private schools spread to take up the slack. This is a familiar story, which could be told of virtually every Western society. Overdetermining it in France were the brutal blows to cultural self-esteem from the invasion of English, through the circuits of business, entertainment and journalism. In the past two decades, the proportion of French films screened every year has dropped from a half to a third: at present 60 per cent are American. Le Monde now distributes a suitable selection from the New York Times at weekends. One of the most important props of national identity is under acute stress. In these conditions, some degree of disintegration in intellectual performance was to be expected.

But while economic and cultural pressures from the Anglosphere have imposed increasing constraints on a wide range of French traditions and institutions, political changes within French society have also been critical in bringing the country to its present low waters. Here an obvious coincidence strikes the eye. De Gaulle presided over the apogee of France's postwar revival. His rule culminated in the explosion of May-June 1968. A year later he was gone. But by then the social energies released in that crisis, racing to the verge of upheaval, had been defeated. No comparable elan has ever reappeared. Ever since, on this reading, France has been sunk in the long post- partum depression of a stillborn revolution - what should have been the turning point of its modern history that, as in 1848, failed to turn.

Seductive though such a conjecture may seem, the actual sequence of events was more complicated. Although the immediate revolutionary thrust of 1968 was broken, the energies behind it were not extinguished overnight. Politically speaking, for a time most of them flowed into more conventional channels of the left. The early 1970s saw a rapid growth in the membership of the Communist Party, the reunification of the Socialist Party, and in 1972 their agreement - seeming to bury Cold War divisions - on a Common Programme. Although Giscard narrowly won the presidency in 1974, polls indicated that the legislative elections scheduled for the autumn of 1978 would give a clear-cut victory to the left, creating the first Socialist-Communist government since the war, on a platform repudiating capitalism and calling for sweeping nationalisations of banks and industries.

It was this prospect, unleashing something close to panic on the right, that precipitated the real break in the intellectual and political history of postwar France. Mobilisation to stop the spectre of Marxism making its entry into the Hôtel Matignon was rapid, radical and comprehensive. The noisiest shots in the campaign were fired by former gauchiste intellectuals, launched by the media as the Nouveaux Philosophes between 1975 and 1977, warning of the horrors of Soviet totalitarianism and its theoretical ancestry. If a straight line could be drawn from Engels to Yezhov, would the French be mad enough to let Marchais and Mitterrand extend it into their own homes? Packaged under lurid titles - La Cuisinière et le mangeur d'hommes, La Barbarie à visage humain - and patronised by the Elysée, the message received timely reinforcement from the French translation of Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago in 1976. Lacking much scholarly tradition of Sovietology, France had long lagged behind the US, UK or Germany in public awareness of the detail of Stalin's regime: what was common knowledge elsewhere during the Cold War could come as a revelation to le tout-Paris during détente.

For a brief period Solzhenitsyn could thus exercise, as a local admirer was to put it, the 'moral magistracy' traditionally accorded by the French to one of their own great writers: a role that expired when his disobliging opinions of the West and other inconveniences came to light. But while it lasted, the effect was considerable, helping to put BHL and his fellow thinkers into orbit. Then, in the midst of the mounting Communist scare, the PCF itself allowed its opponents a sigh of relief by suddenly ditching its alliance with the PS, for fear of becoming a junior partner in it, and so destroying any chance of the left winning a majority in the National Assembly. By 1981, when Mitterrand finally won the presidency, the Common Programme was a thing of the past, and the Party a spent force. The left gained the epaulettes of office after it had lost the battle of ideas.

For the uncertainties of the late 1970s had galvanised into being an 'anti-totalitarian' front that would dominate intellectual life for the next two decades. The Russian sage and the Nouveaux Philosophes were only the advance criers of much stronger, more durable forces set in train in those years. In 1977, Raymond Aron - who had just joined L'Express, to be able to intervene more actively in politics - was preparing a new journal, Commentaire, to defend the Fifth Republic against what appeared to be the deadly threat of a Socialist-Communist regime coming to power on a well-nigh revolutionary programme. By the time the first number of the journal appeared, on the eve of the elections of March 1978, there had occurred the 'divine surprise' of the rupture between the PCF and PS. Nevertheless, as he explained in a formidable opening essay, 'Incertitudes françaises', there was good reason for continuing apprehension and vigilance. The factors that had made France so unstable and prone to violent upheavals in the 19th century - the lack of any generally accepted principle of legitimacy; peasant acceptance of any regime that left the gains of 1789 on the land intact; the powder-keg role of Paris - all these might indeed have passed away in the prosperous, industrialised democracy of Pompidou and Giscard. But the depth and predictable length of the economic crisis that began in the early 1970s, when world recession had set in, was underestimated by the French, while - even with the recent fortunate division of the left - French socialism had not yet cast off all maximalist temptations. If the PS were still to pursue PCF voters and bring Communists into government, 'France will live through years of perhaps revolutionary, perhaps despotic, turmoil.'

Commentaire went on to become the anchor journal of the liberal right, distinguished not only by its intellectual avoirdupois, but also by its international horizons - a function in part of its close connections, under the direction of Raymond Barre's chef de cabinet, with functionaries, politicians and businessmen, as well as the academy. Two years later it was joined, and soon outpaced, by a partner in the liberal centre. Le Débat, launched in a sleeker format by Pierre Nora under the auspices of Gallimard, had a more ambitious agenda. Nora opened the journal with a programme for intellectual reform. In the past, French culture, steeped in humanist traditions, had been dominated by an ideal of rhetoric that had led from the role of the instituteur to the cult of the great writer, and had permitted every kind of ideological extravagance. Now, however, the legitimacy of the intellectual lay in positive knowledge certified by the competent institutions - essentially, the university. This change could not do away with the agonistic tensions inherent in intellectual life, but it confronted intellectuals with a new set of tasks: not only to promote democracy in society at large, but to practise it within the sphere of thought itself, as a 'republic in letters'. The aim of the new journal would thus be to organise what was still a rarity in France, genuine debate. The ground for that had been cleared by the demise of the three major schemas for understanding history operative since the 18th century. The ideologies of Restoration, of Progress and of Revolution were now all equally dead, leaving the road open at last for the modern social sciences. Le Débat would stand for 'information, quality, pluralism, openness and truth', and against every kind of irresponsibility and extremism.

Addressing the perennial French query, 'Que peuvent les intellectuels?', this manifesto did not touch directly on politics, beyond indicating that a 'complete democracy' was to be found in the United States, not in France. When Mitterrand took the presidency a year later, Nora struck a cautious note, stressing the personal character of his victory. Although not suspect of any tenderness towards totalitarianism, would this former ally of the Communists draw the necessary consequences of the 'great change of mentality in the past four years that has turned the image of the Soviet regime upside down', and adopt the requisite foreign policy to confront the principal enemy? These were concerns shared by Esprit, a journal that had once been the voice of an anti-colonial and neutralist Catholic left, but on the retirement in 1976 of its postwar editor, Jean-Marie Domenach, had repositioned itself as a front-line fighter in the anti-totalitarian struggle. In these years, as Nora would later note, Commentaire, Le Débat and Esprit formed a common axis of what would have elsewhere been called Cold War liberalism, each with its own inflexion and constituency.

Of the three, Le Débat was the central creation. Not simply as the house journal of Gallimard, with resources beyond those of any rival, but because it represented a real modernisation of styles and themes in French intellectual life. Extremely well edited - in time Nora turned over its day-to-day running to Marcel Gauchet, a transfuge from the Socialisme ou Barbarie wing of the far left - the journal devoted its issues to a generally temperate exploration of three main areas of concern, history, politics and society, with frequent special numbers or features on a wide range of contemporary topics: the biological sciences, the visual arts, social security, the institutions of heritage, postmodernism and more. If it was less international in horizon than it originally set out to be, it was rarely parochial. It was never an impartial forum for objective debates, as its prospectus had suggested, but it would have been a duller affair had it been. It was, on the contrary, an urbane machine de guerre.

BBehind its political project stood one commanding figure. Nora's brother-in-law was the historian François Furet, whose Penser la révolution française - published at the political crossroads of 1978 - had in no time made him the country's most influential interpreter of the French Revolution. Like Nora from a wealthy banking family, Furet had been formed in the postwar Communist Party at the height of the Cold War, when it included a group of future historians - among them, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Maurice Agulhon, Jacques Ozouf - to rival its British counterpart. In France, too, it was the XXth Party Congress in Moscow and the Hungarian Revolt that broke up this nursery of talents. Furet left the Party in 1956, and while pursuing - initially fairly conventional - historical research, became a regular contributor to France-Observateur, the independent left weekly that was the principal organ of opposition to the Algerian War, and to De Gaulle's rule in the Fifth Republic. In 1965 he coauthored, with another brother-in-law, an illustrated history of the French Revolution designed for a general readership, which argued that it had been 'blown off course' (dérapée) in 1792 by a series of tragic accidents, destroying the liberal order at which it had originally aimed, and ushering in Jacobin dictatorship and the Terror instead.

Thirteen years later, Penser la révolution française was a more potent proposition: an all-out assault, invoking Solzhenitsyn and the current political conjuncture, on the catechism of Marxist interpretations of the Revolution. Furet offered instead the insights of two liberal-conservative Catholic thinkers, Tocqueville in the mid-19th century and Augustin Cochin in the early 20th, as the keys to a real understanding of the 'conceptual core' of the Revolution: not the interplay of social classes, but the dynamics of a political discourse that essentially exchanged the abstractions of popular will for those of absolutist power, and in doing so generated the terrifying force of the new kind of sociability at work in the revolutionary clubs of the period. Delivered with great polemical verve, this verdict led, logically enough, to a pointed taking of distance from the Annales school - its facile notion of mentalités 'often a mere Gallic substitute for Marxism and psychoanalysis' - as no more capable of grappling with the upheaval of 1789 and what followed. Needed instead was an 'intellectualist history that constructs its data explicitly from conceptually posed questions'.

Furet's major application of this credo, which appeared in 1988, was a large political history of France from Turgot to Gambetta, conceived as the playing out over a century of the explosive dialectic of principles released by the attack on the Ancien Régime. Whereas in his earlier writing he had maintained that 'the Revolution was over' with Napoleon's coup d'état in 1798, he now extended its lifespan to the final fading away of monarchism as an active force under the Third Republic, in 1879. Only then were republic and nation finally reconciled, and the original goals of 1789 realised in a stable parliamentary order. The tormented path from starting point to terminus, threading its way through the commotions of 1815, 1830, 1848, 1851 and 1871, was to be traced as a working out of the tensions and contradictions of the first historical experiment in creating a democracy.

The motor of Furet's history is essentially a genealogy of ideas. But he was not an intellectual historian in the sense that Pocock or Skinner has given the term. Although he was capable of acute insights into thinkers who interested him, there is scarcely any detailed textual scrutiny of a given body of writing in his work, and no attention to languages of discourse in the Cambridge tradition. Ideas are treated rather as stylised forces, each of them embodied in particular individuals, around whom a narrative of high political conflicts is woven. Furet was also fascinated by ceremonials as the public symbolisation of ideas, and La France révolutionnaire 1770-1880 is studded with set-piece descriptions of them, from the coronation of Napoleon to the funeral of Thiers. At the other pole of his imagination were personalities, and here he had an outstanding gift for mordant characterisation. Out of this trio of elements - ideas: rituals: persons - Furet produced an unfailingly elegant, incisive story of the making of modern France, largely cleansed of its social and economic dimensions, and all but completely insulated from its imperial record abroad, that issued into an utterly focused contemporary political conclusion. He was not a great historian of the calibre of Bloch or Braudel. But he was an exceptional force in French public life in ways they were not.

For his historical work was part of a larger enterprise. No modern historian has been so intensely political. There was a virtually seamless unity between his work on the past and his interventions in the present, where he was an institutional and ideological organiser without equal. He owed that role to his person, a mixture of the dashing and the reserved. There was, a foreign colleague once observed, a hint of Jean Gabin in his taciturn charm. As early as 1964, he was orchestrating the merger of a declining France-Observateur with a more right-wing stable of journalists from L'Express, and picking the necessary editor to ensure that the periodical to be created out of the fusion would have the correct politics. As Jean Daniel, who still presides over the Nouvel Observateur - for four decades the unfailing voice of centre-left proprieties - recollected 25 years later, 'I will not forget the pact we made; the choice in favour of his controversial theses on the Revolution and on Marxism which he proposed to me; and the surprise on his face at finding me an accomplice already so primed and determined to be at his side. I want to record the debt I owe him, and his family of thought, for the real intellectual security they gave me.' This disarming confession, from one of the country's most powerful journalists - Daniel even adds, in all innocence: 'One day we all found ourselves, without knowing it, running behind Augustin Cochin because Furet was pushing us in the back' - could have been echoed by many another kingpin of the Parisian establishment in the years to come. The network of Furet's placements was eventually referred to in the press simply as 'the galaxy'.

If the Nouvel Observateur gave Furet a central base in the media, his control of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, which he helped to create out of Braudel's old Sixième Section, and of which he became director in 1977, put him in command of the most strategic institution of the academy, bringing a research elite together across disciplines in the Rockefeller-funded building on the Boulevard Raspail, freed from the teaching burdens and administrative tares of the French university - 'like going to the cinema without paying for a ticket', as he cheerfully put it. The launch of Commentaire and Le Débat, in both of which he was active from the start, supplied him with flanking positions in the world of journals. Then, after Mitterrand's accession to power, he helped create in 1982 the Fondation Saint-Simon, an alliance of insider intellectuals and industrialists formed to resist any socialist temptations in the new regime, and guide it towards a more up-to-date understanding of market and state. Bankrolled by big business - the boss of the Saint-Gobain conglomerate was a moving spirit along with Furet, who acquired a seat on the board of one of his companies - the foundation operated as a political think-tank, weaving ties between academics, functionaries, politicians; organising seminars; publishing policy papers; and, last but not least, hosting dinners every month for Schmidt, Barre, Giscard, Chirac, Rocard, Fabius and other like-minded statesmen, at which common ideas were thrashed out over appropriate fare.

Two years later, Furet set up - or was granted - the Institut Raymond Aron, as a committed outpost of anti-totalitarian reflection, of which he became president, and which in due course would be integrated into the fold of the EHESS itself. Then in 1985 he extended his range with a transatlantic connection, taking up a seasonal position with the Committee of Social Thought at the University of Chicago, where he secured financial backing from the Olin Foundation to pursue research on the American and French Revolutions. The bicentennial of 1789 was looming, and Furet voiced fears that this would become an occasion for the Mitterrand regime, in which Communist ministers still sat, to organise an official consecration of the mythologies of Jacobinism and the Year II of the Republic. With his colleague Mona Ozouf, he set to work to make sure this did not happen.

On the eve of the potentially risky year, a huge - 1200-page - Dictionnaire critique de la révolution française appeared, covering 'events', 'actors', 'institutions' and 'ideas'. Its hundred entries, written by some twenty carefully selected contributors, supplied a comprehensive rebuttal of left-wing legends and traditional misconceptions of the founding episode of modern democracy. The overwhelming impact of this admirably designed and executed compendium of moderate scholarship removed any danger of neo-Jacobin festivities in 1989. The fall of Communism in the East offered further, conclusive vindication of the original impulse of the Revolution, against its ensuing perversions. When the bicentennial arrived, Furet was the unquestioned intellectual master of ceremonies, as France paid homage to the inspiring principles - duly clarified - of 1789, and turned its back at last on the atrocities of 1794.

To dispatch the wrong past, and recover the right one, was part and parcel of the country's overdue arrival in the safe harbour of a modern democracy. In tandem with the Dictionnaire critique, Furet coauthored in the same year La République du centre for the Fondation Saint-Simon, subtitled: 'The End of the French Exception'. After the absurd nationalisations of its first phase, Mitterrand's regime had put paid to socialism by embracing the market and its financial disciplines in 1983, and then buried anti-clericalism by bowing to the demonstrations in favour of Catholic schools in 1984. In doing so, it had finally made the country a normal democratic society, purged of radical doctrines and theatrical conflicts. France had now found its equilibrium in a sober centre. So entire did liberal triumph seem that on the tenth anniversary of his journal in 1990, Nora - rejoicing that the 'leaden cape of Gaullo-Communism was now lifted from the nation' - could announce with Hegelian satisfaction: 'The spirit of Le Débat has become the spirit of the epoch.'

The second part of this essay is also available online at: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v26/n18/ande01_.html

Perry Anderson teaches history at UCLA.

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 03:18 PM | Comentários (0)

tony judt - império

Number 17 · November 4, 2004
Dreams of Empire
By Tony Judt

America's Inadvertent Empire
by William E. Odom and Robert Dujarric
Yale University Press, 285 pp., $30.00

The Imperial Tense: Prospects and Problems of American Empire
edited by Andrew J. Bacevich
Ivan R. Dee, 271 pp., $28.95;$16.95 (paper)

Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America's Perilous Path in the Middle East
by Rashid Khalidi
Beacon, 192 pp., $23.00

The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America
by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge
Penguin, 400 pp., $25.95

by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri
Harvard University Press, 478 pp., $45.00; $19.95 (paper)

by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri
Penguin, 427 pp., $27.95

The New Imperialism
by David Harvey
Oxford University Press, 253 pp., $22.00

Fear: The History of a Political Idea
by Corey Robin
Oxford University Press, 316 pp., $28.00

A New World Order
by Anne-Marie Slaughter
Princeton University Press, 341 pp., $29.95

Talk of "empire" makes Americans distinctly uneasy. This is odd. In its westward course the young republic was not embarrassed to suck virgin land and indigenous peoples into the embrace of Thomas Jefferson's "empire for liberty." Millions of American immigrants made and still make their first acquaintance with the US through New York, "the Empire State." From Monroe to Bush, American presidents have not hesitated to pronounce doctrines whose extraterritorial implications define imperial authority and presume it: there is nothing self-effacing about that decidedly imperious bird on the Presidential Seal. And yet, though the rest of the world is under no illusion, in the United States today there is a sort of wishful denial. We don't want an empire, we aren't an empire—or else if we are an empire, then it is one of a kind.

This nervous uncertainty has given rise to an astonishing recent spate of books and essays. Some of these display a charming insouciance. America, write William E. Odom and Robert Dujarric, is an empire of a new type,

unipolar, based on ideology rather than territorial control, voluntary in membership, and economically advantageous to all countries within it.[1]
Others—like the essays collected by Andrew Bacevich in The Imperial Tense: Prospects and Problems of American Empire—are a curious amalgam of military hubris and cultural anxiety: they dutifully document both America's truly awesome military reach and the widespread national uncertainty about what to do with it.

The United States is different from other countries. But as an imperial power it is actually quite conventional and even familiar. True, modern America eschews territorial acquisitions. But that is irrelevant. Like the British at the height of their imperial majesty, the US prefers to get its way by example, pressure, and influence. Lord Palmerston's dictum—"trade without rule where possible, trade with rule where necessary"—has been applied by Washington with even greater success. Whereas the British were constrained (after some initial reluctance) to exercise formal—and costly—imperium over whole sub-continents, the US has hitherto perfected the art of controlling foreign countries and their resources without going to the expense of actually owning them or ruling their subjects.

Even the story that America tells about its overseas initiatives is hardly original. Like the Victorians, Americans readily suppose that what is demonstrably to our advantage—free trade, democracy—must therefore serve everyone's interest. Like the French, we count ourselves blessed with laws and institutions whose incontrovertible superiority places a duty upon us to make them universally available. Europeans who cringe when George W. Bush describes America as "the greatest force for good in history" —or promises to export democracy to the Middle East because American values "are right and true for every person in every society"[2] —would do well to recall France's "civilizing mission," or the White Man's Burden.

They should recall, too, that empires are not all bad. They bring protection, especially to minorities. Joseph Roth correctly foresaw that Jews above all would have cause to rue the fall of the Habsburgs. And it is not by chance that the Abkhazian people trapped in independent Georgia dream today of returning to the anonymous security of the Russian imperial fold: there are many worse things than subjection to a distant imperial capital. Empires often bring modern institutions, too—an ambiguous economic benefit but not without other advantages. And some imperial powers just do have a better track record than others. There is little to say in defense of the Italian overseas empire, much less the Belgian. But if we apply the felicific calculus to the history of American foreign involvement, we shall find a lot to applaud.


Nonetheless, even if it could be demonstrated beyond a doubt that American hegemony really was a net good for everyone, its putative beneficiaries in the rest of the world would still reject it. Whether they would be acting against their own best interests is beside the point—a consideration not always well understood even by proponents of "soft power."[3] As Raymond Aron once observed, it is a denial of the experience of our century (the twentieth) to suppose that men will sacrifice their passions for their interests. And it is above all in its reluctance to grasp the implications of that experience that America today is genuinely different. For the world has changed in ways that make imperial power uniquely difficult to sustain.

In the first place, it is hard to be an imperial democracy. Given the choice, voters are reluctant to pay the full cost of sustaining an empire. In a democratic setting the sentiment that money might be better spent at home can be more easily exploited by political opponents, especially when expensive postwar "stabilization and reconstruction" (i.e., nation-building) is at stake. That is why US administrations have sought to underwrite overseas adventures (first in Vietnam and now in Iraq) by borrowing money rather than taxing the American citizenry, and have tried, so far as possible, to outsource—i.e., privatize—the unglamorous nation-building part.

Moreover, the US is handicapped when it comes to exporting the image of its own democratic virtues: because it has rather too many undemocratic allies (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan come to mind) and because America does not always regard democracy as an unalloyed virtue if it produces the wrong results. Open elections in Iraq or Palestine right now would produce outcomes wholly unwelcome in Washington, as they have done or threatened to do in other places at other times.[4] The British and the French, not to mention the Russians, did not have this problem: whatever "values" they were exporting, universal suffrage was not one of them.

Secondly, it is almost impossible to practice empire in a world of instantaneous mass media transmission. Imperial control is violent. Colonization, as the Marquis de Gervaisis observed apropos of France's seizure of Algeria back in the 1830s, unavoidably entails "the expulsion and extermination of the natives."[5] But most people at home in the imperial metropole never saw that. Not so today.

To watch crimes being enacted is very different from reading about them after the fact. That is why Bill Clinton was forced into the Balkans in 1995, once the images from Bosnia had become daily fare on American television. There is a good reason why Washington now "embeds" reporters and looks with disfavor upon the independent Qatar-based al-Jazeera television network (whose equipment we damaged in both Kabul and Baghdad and which the sovereign authorities in Iraq have now temporarily banned)— the same reason the Bush administration severely restricts visual coverage of American casualties in Iraq.

The crimes of Abu Ghraib were as nothing set against what King Leopold of Belgium did to his Congolese slave laborers or the British massacre of 379 civilians at Amritsar in the Punjab in 1919. The difference is that everyone has seen what happened at Abu Ghraib. We don't know how ordinary Belgians would have responded to seeing what their government was doing in central Africa; but in any case our own sensibilities are heightened. When the inevitable dirty work of exercising power over reluctant foreigners—expropriation, violence, corpses —is available in real time for all to see, the case for empire becomes a lot harder to sell.

Thirdly, the US cannot be an effective empire precisely because it comes in the wake of all the other empires before it and must pay the price for their missteps as well as its own. The French had been to Vietnam before the US got there. The Russians (and before them the British) have been to Afghanistan. And everyone has been to the Middle East. When Donald Rumsfeld assured his troops in Baghdad that

unlike many armies in the world, you came not to conquer, not to occupy, but to liberate, and the Iraqi people know this [emphasis added]
he was decidedly unoriginal. That's what the British General Stanley Maude said in Baghdad ninety-seven years earlier ("Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators") —not to mention Napoleon Bonaparte's proclamation upon occupying Alexandria in 1798:

Oh Egyptians...I have not come to you except for the purpose of restoring your rights from the hands of the oppressors.


Let us concede, for the sake of argument, that American intentions are more honorable than those of the perfidious Brits and hypocritical French. It really doesn't matter. The history of what they went on to do is what counts—and what is remembered and weighed in the balance when American behavior is assessed from abroad.[6] The name Mohammad Mossadegh doesn't trip readily off many educated American tongues. But as the elected prime minister of Iran who was unceremoniously bundled out of office in 1953 by an Anglo-American coup his memory is invoked all across the Middle East whenever the subject of Western intervention in the region comes up. Americans may be only dimly aware of this history, but others are better informed.

Even when the US is free of any responsibility for some malevolent colonial undertaking, it still inherits the consequences. Iraq, it is now being whispered abroad, is America's "Suez": an ill-advised foreign expedition that brought initial military success but long-term discredit and catastrophic loss of influence. The implications of this demeaning comparison ought to be a source of concern in Washing-ton. Unparalleled military superiority counts for far less than its besotted advocates sometimes suppose.

Americans may be from Mars, but this is Planet Earth. It isn't significant that our armed forces can outspend and outshoot any hypothetical foe. All they have to be able to do in order to exert effective military hegemony is beat with ease any actual, existing enemy. The rest is superfluity.[7] And that level of domination has been reached by a number of empires and armies (or navies) in the past—Napoleon among them. In the end, of course, all were brought low: more often than not by their own mistakes. Are America's prospects any different?

One reason to be pessimistic about America is the mediocrity of its current political class. A brilliant elite is no guarantee of political wisdom, as David Halberstam reminded us many years ago.[8] But its absence is a bad omen. Douglas Feith, the Pentagon undersecretary for policy and a prominent representative of the generation of neoconservatives now installed in Washington, was recently described by General Tommy Franks (who had to deal with him in Iraq) as "the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth." Even allowing for the fighting soldier's traditional contempt for civilian interlopers, this should give us pause—it is hard to imagine Eisenhower being driven to describe Charles Bohlen or George Kennan in these terms.[9]

The generation of intellectuals and politicians responsible for US foreign policy today did not emerge by chance, as John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge convincingly demonstrate in The Right Nation, their detailed account of right-wing political culture in contemporary America. While the great liberal foundations were irresponsibly throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at fashionable scholarship and "politically correct" causes, a small group of American philanthropists and institutions spent the Seventies and Eighties underwriting a revival of conservative political strategy. By the end of the cold war a new generation of right-wing thinkers and activists had recaptured—for the first time in many decades—the initiative in public policy making: so much so that their ideas had become the conventional wisdom. Many of Bill Clinton's successful domestic policies (like those of Tony Blair) were adaptations of initiatives first mooted in conservative think tanks.

But overseas policy was another matter. In their prime the British and French empires could draw on a wealth of specialized overseas knowledge—of terrain, of history, of languages. The soldiers, administrators, businessmen, and proconsuls who ran these empires were often scholarly experts in their own right and had in many cases lived and traveled for decades in the countries they now ruled. The same was true of the journalists and writers who commented on them. That didn't make imperial rule any more welcome, but it did keep it well-informed. A comparably talented foreign policy elite emerged in the US in the wake of World War II; it has now been all but eclipsed.[10]

Although the new conservatives at the American Enterprise Institute or the Heritage Foundation never lacked for foreign policy pundits, expertise was another matter. Whereas position papers on domestic policy emanating from these institutions were usually detailed and rigorous—if somewhat ideologically tendentious—recommendations for US policy overseas inclined to the hyperbolic. Strategic ambition was typically present in inverse proportion to professional competence[11] —and almost no one in these circles had any military experience, so there was a natural disposition to exaggerate the scope for military action and minimize its risks.

The result was a form of intellectual overreach whose best-known public manifestation comes in the messianic sound-bites written for George W. Bush: America is engaged in a historic mission "to change the world" (from the presidential press conference on April 13 of this year) is a representative example. The point, as William Kristol explained it at the American Enterprise Institute in March 2003, is to get some "respect" for America in places like the Middle East: first Baghdad, and then on to regime change in Tehran and Damascus. The inept execution of the Iraq misadventure has thus been a severe disappointment to the Pentagon cheerleading bench, who spent the Nineties dreaming of a Mesopotamian initiative. They now feel personally affronted. When the editors of The New Republic asked "Were we wrong?" (to advocate war in Iraq), they concluded that no, war was always a good idea. But by misleading the country and the world in order to get his war, the President let them down.[12]


If the right has proved inadequate to the task of imagining and executing a responsible foreign policy for the twenty-first century, its critics have done little better. While neoconservatives culpably overestimated America's capacity to dominate the actual world, the left continued to dream up worlds of its own imagining. In an age when the right to bear (nuclear) arms may soon be available to any criminally disposed person on the planet, and when the problem of maintaining security in an open society is the most difficult challenge facing any democratic government (albeit cynically exploited by the present American one), what is the most popular source of political enlightenment on American campuses today? Empire, by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri—now accompanied by the same authors' Multitude.

Both books are dreadful. Anyone old enough to remember the revolutionary rhetoric of the Seventies will recognize the style, notwithstanding the postmodern updating. Negri, who spent many years in prison for his part in the homicidal radicalism of Italy's Lead Years, has learned nothing and forgotten nothing (Hardt is presumably too young to have known anything in the first place). There are no subjects in these books: just structures, processes, and "de-centered" forces and "encounters." The proposition—to flatter more than nine hundred pages of flaccid, inept prose—is that the "multitude" will be brought together by the workings of "empire" and (with the familiar help of some cleansing violence) will rise up and break its shackles:

Empire...by colonizing and interconnecting more areas of human life ever more deeply, has actually created the possibility for democracy of a sort never before seen. Brought together in a multinoded commons [sic] of resistance, different groups combine and recombine in fluid new matrices of resistance.
This is globalization for the politically challenged. In place of the boring old class struggle we have the voracious imperial nexus now facing a challenger of its own creation, the de-centered multitudinous commonality: Alien versus Predator. Through his American dummy, Negri is ventriloquizing a twenty-first-century paraphrase of Marxist theories of imperialism popularized by Rosa Luxemburg and Lenin at the end of the nineteenth. The originals were much better written and distinctly more poli-tically threatening, since they had some purchase upon reality. With the American left reading Multitude, Dick Cheney can sleep easy.

David Harvey, by contrast, is a Marxist anthropologist who actually does know something about the way empires work. Building on his claim that there is a permanent tension in American foreign policy between the logic of territorial dominion and the imperatives of a global market, Harvey has some interesting geopolitical reflections to offer upon the illusion of democratic "voluntary" empire. However much the US might genuinely seek to democratize the foreign countries dependent on it and win them over for its way of life, it is sooner or later driven to undermine such exercises of "soft power" by manipulating their domestic policies through a "predatory devaluation of [their] assets."

There seems to me some uncertainty in The New Imperialism over what distinguishes "function" (the core workings of capitalism) from "intention" (the stated aims of American foreign policy): in Harvey's hands the latter is accorded little autonomy and even less attention. There is also a little too much genuflection in the direction of Lenin and Kautsky. But that is negligible beside the major drawback to this book, which is that Harvey, too, has a writing problem. Some samples:

The consolidation of bourgeois political power within the European states was, therefore, a necessary precondition for a reorientation of territorial politics to-wards the requirements of the capitalistic logic.
The molecular processes of capital accumulation operating in space and time generate passive revolutions in the geographical patterning of capital accumulation.
If you didn't already agree, you aren't likely to be convinced by something that reads like a parody of a radical sociology lecture from 1972. The point, as Marx observed back in 1845, is either to interpret the world or to change it. This sort of prose advances neither objective.


Fortunately, not everyone writes like this. Corey Robin's account of the place of fear in American life is refreshingly clear—and timely. The first half of his book is a brisk account of the idea of fear in political argument from Hobbes to Arendt; the second a forthright discussion of "Fear, American Style." Some of his observations about the American pairing of optimism and fear—or autonomy and compliance —will be familiar to readers of Tocqueville, though Robin illustrates the American propensity to conformity with a particularly chilling quotation from Dan Rather on media self-censorship in the wake of September 11:

It is an obscene comparison—you know I am not sure I like it—but you know there was a time in South Africa that people would put flaming tires around people's necks if they dissented. And in some ways the fear is that you will be necklaced here, you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck.... Now it is that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions.
It starts with a feeling of patriotism within oneself. It carries through with a certain knowledge that the country as a whole—and for all the right reasons—felt and continues to feel this surge of patriotism within themselves. And one finds oneself saying, "I know the right question, but you know what? This is not exactly the right time to ask it."
Two of the author's arguments have a special bearing on our present situation. The Madisonian institutions of limited government and separated powers are commonly believed to protect the citizenry against the abuses of state power, and so they do (although only citizens, not aliens, need feel protected). But in Robin's view the American system leaves civil society disproportionately underregulated, with the result that the American workplace in particular is a site of managerial coercion and workers' fear in a way no longer true of any other Western society. This overstates the case— and anyway, whether the US government in the age of John Ashcroft would be quite so recognizable to Madison may be open to question. But there is no doubt that the American social model now stands at a disconcerting tangent to the rest of the West.[13]

Robin's most interesting observation, however, concerns what he calls the "liberalism of terror." For some time now the center of gravity of left-liberal politics in America and elsewhere has been what Judith Shklar once called the liberalism of fear: the belief that the twentieth century taught us that radical projects to accomplish social goals in the service of grand visions were unwise and that the best way to think about liberal politics was to "ramble through a moral minefield." This was one source of the turn to human rights in the last third of the century; it is the reason why many otherwise secular thinkers are sympathetic to George Bush's emphasis on "evil" and "terror" as the ultimate threats to the republic; and it accounts for support by many liberals for overseas intervention to prevent genocide or topple dictators.[14]

Robin argues, against the grain of a generation of mainstream liberal thought, that this is a seriously insufficient basis for political action. He also claims that it diverts liberal attention away from domestic injustice, since it is easier to identify absolute evil in Bosnia or Rwanda (or Iraq) than in one's own democratic republic, however imperfect. And of course it is easier to triumph over terror or evil in foreign incarnations than it is to conquer injustice or fear at home, where compromises and disappointments are inevitable.


I'm reluctant to swallow this argument whole. Having favored intervention in Kosovo but opposed it in Iraq, I—like anyone else who wishes to be taken seriously in public policy debates—had better come up with good reasons for these hard choices: there will be more of them in years to come. A left that won't engage the reality of evil overseas because it wants to refocus attention on injustice at home is no better equipped to face our brave new world than a right that invokes the "war against terror" as an excuse for thinking about nothing else.

Nevertheless, after reading Robin with a skeptical eye, I found my attention caught by a recent remark by Michael Ignatieff, perhaps the best-known proponent of the "negative" liberalism Robin dislikes. "Iraq...," Ignatieff declared, "has made the case for liberal interventionism impossible."[15] Really? So in retrospect we were wrong to attack the Serbs in Bosnia? And we would be wrong again to send the Marines into Darfur? Isn't Michael Ignatieff folding the tent just a little bit hastily? He is one of a number of prominent liberal intellectuals—Adam Michnik in Poland, for example, and André Glucksmann in Paris—who supported George W. Bush's Iraq policy as part of the ongoing struggle against political tyranny and moral relativism. Having thus deluded themselves into believing that the American president was conducting his foreign policy for their reasons, some of them are understandably disgruntled.

But is liberal internationalism so vulnerable, so politically unsecured that one of its core moral tenets can be collapsed by the mendacious misdealings of a single conservative president? Maybe Robin is correct after all. But in that case how should Americans think about foreign policy?

One problem with both left and right is that they look upon America's foreign dealings as a zero-sum game. Either the US is sovereign, in which case it should be free of all foreign entanglements, cooperating only with those willing or constrained to accept its leadership. Or else the US, like everyone else, must adapt to a borderless world and relinquish some national sovereignty to international authorities for the benefit of all.

Faced with that choice the outcome is foreordained. Their debt-ridden economy may be in thrall to foreign investors and their overstretched military desperate for allied help; but most US congressmen (like their constituents) don't hold a passport and haven't been overseas. They will never "relinquish" sovereignty to some toothless international authority. Liberal internationalists who want to justify intervention in foreign lands—on the grounds that the tradition of "Westphalia"[16] is defunct and the integrity of states has been replaced by international law—will be doomed to accept one law for the US and another for everyone else.

But that isn't the choice and it hasn't been for quite a while. As Anne-Marie Slaughter shows in her new book, A New World Order, from the World Trade Organization and the World Court to the international organization of securities commissioners, the United States is already inextricably integrated into a complex web of agencies and networks that inform, oversee, regulate, negotiate, and in practice shape much of what happens in America no less than everywhere else. This much is the truth in "globalization." The fallacy, as she demonstrates, is to suppose that all this either signals or necessitates the end of the sovereign state, much less the coming of a supranational, global system of government.


A New World Order offers copious evidence for what Slaughter, a prominent international lawyer and dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy at Princeton, calls de facto global "governance." Of course states exist, she says, and they aren't going away. They will be the only imaginable form of legitimate political organization and government for the foreseeable future. But untrammeled, autonomous sovereignty is no more. Instead sovereignty is "relational": bankers, policemen, environmentalists, doctors, Supreme Court justices, ministers, and countless others now exchange and share information and precedents and proposals.

Some trans-state links and networks are based on an explicit treaty or agreement; others—such as the US committee on international judicial relations in which American judges collaborate with their colleagues abroad —remain informal. But the mere existence of this horizontally networked world—some of it truly venerable, like the International Postal Union or the Nordic Council, but with new intergovernmental entities "popping up" every year—encourages convergence and cooperation with, and compliance by, the vertically organized states in its embrace. The result is not top-down imposition of rules but an accumulation of common cross-border practices and the domestic incorporation of regulations and procedures first applied or proposed somewhere else. In the longer run Slaughter sees this producing, in her own field for instance, a global legal system "established not by the World Court in The Hague, but by national courts working together around the world."

A New World Order is not an easy book to read but it is important. By showing how today's world—of what she calls "disaggregated states"—actually works, Slaughter cuts the ground away from nationalists and internationalists alike. This, she says, is how it is, for America and everyone else. She also, quite clearly, believes that this is how it should be—because a world of collaborative networks that acknowledges state sovereignty while securing and facilitating interstate cooperation is inherently desirable; and because nothing else will work.


It is not clear to me how democratic politics fits in here—this may be how the world actually works but most people don't know that. What if they choose—like the American people— to be governed in their own country by leaders who are actively unsympathetic to Slaughter's new world order and who would seek to unravel or just ignore it? There would be nothing to stop them: certainly not the United Nations. As Slaughter acknowledges, a certain kind of power will always be retained by the state and no supervening authority exists to stop it abusing that power. The problem of force, and the legitimate application and regulation of force in international affairs, are not addressed in her book.

But if Slaughter doesn't pretend to have all the answers, she does have a working model. If you want to see what this new world order of voluntarily linked sovereign states will actually look like, she says, go to Europe. There, the European Union is "pioneering a new form of regional collective governance that is likely to prove far more relevant to global governance than the experience of traditional federal states." The "genius" of the EU, in Slaughter's view, is that it maximizes the benefits of international governance while avoiding the risks of centralization. Legitimacy and power remain at the national level while the regulatory agencies in Brussels are authorized to organize and administer transnational regulations and rules that are supposed to work to everyone's advantage and often do.

This seems to me a rather generous reading of the EU, which is not universally appreciated in Europe these days, and is anyway an accident of that continent's unique history. But I have absolutely no doubt that Slaughter is on to something. Seen from the rest of the world, the arrangements that Europeans have worked out for themselves are by far the most attractive and realistic solution to the problems that states and societies alike will face in the coming decades. Given that we have to start from where we are and not some better place, they are the only way to get anywhere.

And what of the US, all dressed up in its martial finery but with no place to go? What if America—"the hope of the world," as Churchill told Clark Clifford on the train to Fulton in March 1946—were now irrelevant: still Madeleine Albright's "indispensable nation," but less for the example it offers than because of its capacity to impede the wishes of others? We haven't reached that point yet—in 1995 the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Shalikashvili, observed that "absent America's leadership role, things still don't get put together right"; and little has changed.[17]

But as Shalikashvili would doubtless agree, it is hard to be a leader if your behavior is not admired, your authority not respected, your example not emulated. All that remains to you is force. Of course, as the neocons are fond of repeating, a good prince would rather be feared than loved; but what they forget is that the same is true of most bad princes. An empire built on fear—fear of terror and the aspiration to make others fear us in turn—is not what Machiavelli (or Jefferson) had in mind.

The challenge facing American voters in the coming elections is not to find a president who can convince the world that the US isn't an empire—or else, if it is an empire, that its intentions are honorable. That argument has been lost and is now beside the point. Nor is it even a question of choosing between being loved and being feared. Thanks to America's performance in Iraq—and our evident inability to plan one war at a time, much less two—we are neither loved nor feared. We have shocked the world, yes; but few now hold us in awe.

And yet the election of 2004 is the most consequential since 1932, if not since 1860. Is John Kerry the man for the moment? I doubt it. Does he fully grasp the scale of America's crisis? I'm not sure. But what is absolutely certain is that George W. Bush does not. If Bush is reelected much of the world (and many millions of its own citizens) will turn away from America: perhaps for good, certainly for many years. On November 2 the whole world will be looking: not to see what America is going to do in future years, but to find out what sort of a place it will be.

With our growing income inequities and child poverty; our underperforming schools and disgracefully inadequate health services; our mendacious politicians and crude, partisan media; our suspect voting machines and our gerrymandered congressional districts; our bellicose religiosity and our cult of guns and executions; our cavalier unconcern for institutions, treaties, and laws—our own and other people's: we should not be surprised that America has ceased to be an example to the world. The real tragedy is that we are no longer an example to ourselves. America's born-again president insists that we are engaged in the war of Good against Evil, that American values "are right and true for every person in every society." Perhaps. But the time has come to set aside the Book of Revelation and recall the admonition of the Gospels: For what shall it profit a country if it gain the whole world but lose its own soul?

[1] America's Inadvertent Empire, p. 36. The book is not all this bad, though much of it is trite and smug. One chapter, on the US military, is excellent—presumably written by Odom, a retired lieutenant general and former director of the National Security Agency. Odom provides a cogent account of the Pentagon's remarkable failure to anticipate the tasks that American forces will face in coming years, including peacekeeping and maintaining the security of beleaguered states. Like many other commentators, Odom and his coauthor make much of the way America's allies in Europe were "free-riders" during the cold war, suggesting that this somehow makes American power distinctive. But there were free riders under the British Empire too—that is just how empires work.

[2] Bush speech at the White House, July 30, 2002; presidential cover letter (September 17, 2002) to The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, quoted in Rashid Khalidi's excellent essay Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America's Perilous Path in the Middle East, p. 3.

[3] See, e.g., Joseph S. Nye, Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (Public Affairs, 2004), a restatement of his earlier essay The Paradox of American Power (Oxford University Press, 2002), which I discussed in The New York Review, August 15, 2002.

[4] On April 13, 1976, fearing that the Italian Communist Party (at the time supported by over one third of Italian voters) might be invited to take office in a coalition ministry, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger publicly declared —just nine weeks before the forthcoming Italian elections—that the US would "not welcome" a Communist role in the government of Italy.

[5] Quoted by Khalidi in Resurrecting Empire, p. 182.

[6] In Iraq Rumsfeld is best remembered for his enthusiastic wooing of Saddam Hussein in the early Eighties, when the Iraqi dictator really was manufacturing and using chemical weapons— on Iranians. See Khalidi, Resurrecting Empire, p. 187, n. 13.

[7] This seems to be better appreciated by soldiers than by their civilian superiors. See America's Inadvertent Empire, Chapter 3: "The Military Power Gap."

[8] The Best and the Brightest (Random House, 1972).

[9] Franks is quoted by Bob Woodward in Plan of Attack (Simon and Schuster, 2004), p. 281. Feith, now number three in the Defense Department, was coauthor, along with Richard Perle, of A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, a foreign policy memorandum delivered to incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996. Among its recommendations is the removal of Saddam Hussein as the opening move in a plan to reshape the Middle East. See www .israeleconomy.org/strat1.htm.

[10] The US State Department remains a repository of specialized knowledge and skills; but one of the achievements of the conservative intellectual revolution has been to ensure that no one listens to the State Department any more.

[11] Thus Charles Krauthammer advised an audience at the American Enterprise Institute in May 2003 that the "Bush Doctrine" (of preemptive, preventive war) rivaled the Truman Doctrine in "audacity, success and revolutionary nature." See The Right Nation, p. 414, n. 10. Audacity, perhaps.

[12] Kristol and others are quoted in the Financial Times of March 22, 2003. For The New Republic see its edition of June 28, 2004, "Were We Wrong?" Note the unconscious echo here of an earlier generation of intellectuals out to change the world on the backs of others, and who particularly resented Stalin for blotting the escutcheon of Marxism.

[13] I shall have more to say about this in a subsequent essay.

[14] Judith Shklar, Ordinary Vices (Harvard University Press, 1984), p. 6; also "The Liberalism of Fear," in Political Thought and Political Thinkers, edited by Stanley Hoffmann (University of Chicago Press, 1998).

[15] Quoted in the Financial Times, June 26/27, 2004, p. W2.

[16] The reference is to the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia that ended the European Thirty Years' War and is commonly taken as the starting point for the modern state system.

[17] Shalikashvili is quoted by Richard Holbrooke in To End a War (Random House, 1998), p. 173.

Publicado por maria teresa monica às 03:06 PM | Comentários (0)

Traducing Solzhenitsyn

Daniel J. Mahoney


Copyright (c) 2004 First Things 145 (August/September 2004): 14-17.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is one of the great souls of the age. He is also among its most maligned and misunderstood figures. It is hard to think of another prominent writer whose thought and character have been subjected to as many willful distortions and vilifications over the past thirty years.

Things were not always so. Until the early 1970s Solzhenitsyn was widely admired in the West as a dissident and as a critic of Communist totalitarianism. On the left he was appreciated as a defender of human rights against an undeniably illiberal and autocratic regime. But with the publication of works such as August 1914 (1972), the Letter to the Soviet Leaders, and the cultural-spiritual anthology From Under the Rubble (both published in the West in 1974), it became impossible to claim Solzhenitsyn as a champion of left-liberal secularism. He continued to be, of course, a ferocious critic of the ideological “lie” and a tenacious defender of fundamental human liberties. But this antitotalitarian writer clearly did not believe that a free Russia should become a slavish imitator of the secular, postmodern West. It became increasingly clear that he was both an old-fashioned patriot and a committed Christian—but here also he was perplexing to some, because he adamantly rejected “blood and soil” nationalism, expressed no desire to return to the Tsarist past, and asked for no special privileges for Christianity in a post-totalitarian Russia.

Some of his critics soon reasoned that if Solzhenitsyn was not a conventional liberal, then he must be an enemy of liberty. The legend grew that he was, at best, a “Slavophile” and a romantic critic of decadent Western political institutions, and that he was, at worst, an authoritarian and even, perhaps, an anti-Semite and a theocrat. Even those Western critics who admired Solzhenitsyn’s courage in confronting the Communist behemoth and who drew upon his dissections of ideological tyranny tended to slight his contribution to the renewal of the spiritual foundations of human liberty in a post-totalitarian world. In a memorable article published in Commentary in 1985 (“The Terrible Question of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn”), Norman Podhoretz praised Solzhenitsyn as an anti-Communist and as the author of The Gulag Archipelago, while largely taking for granted the accuracy of the caricature about him that had taken shape over the previous decade and a half. Podhoretz simply assumed that Solzhenitsyn was an authoritarian or anti-democratic thinker, though he did acquit Solzhenitsyn, a strong supporter of the state of Israel, of the charge of anti-Semitism. He also cavalierly dismissed as a literary failure The Red Wheel, Solzhenitsyn’s magnum opus that explores the events leading up to the Bolshevik revolution. (Podhoretz was in no position to do so at the time since he did not have access to any of the finished volumes of that great work.) The anti-Communist Podhoretz, however, never denied Solzhenitsyn’s greatness or his enduring commitment to human dignity.

Unfortunately, other American conservatives have succumbed to the facile consensus that has developed about Solzhenitsyn—a consensus that has, as we shall see, little connection with reality. The same tiresome distortions are recycled ad nauseam and contribute to a willful refusal to consider Solzhenitsyn’s thinking about the political and spiritual condition of modern man. My experience has been that even those who are well disposed toward Solzhenitsyn are genuinely surprised to learn that he is, in fact, an indefatigable advocate of democratic self-government, a critic of illiberal nationalism in all its forms, an erudite historian who has defended authentic Russian liberalism against its reactionary and revolutionary opponents, and an Orthodox Christian who does not take an exclusivist view toward other Christians and recognizes the wisdom inherent in all the great religions of the world. There is, to be sure, a good deal of impressive scholarship about Solzhenitsyn in all the major European languages, but such work rarely gains the kind of public hearing that would alter the reigning public perceptions about the Russian Nobel laureate.

Serious, informed, and measured engagement with Solzhenitsyn’s writing is all too rare in America. Some of Solzhenitsyn’s critics are content to sneer at him without bothering to produce quotations that would support their characterizations of his thought. The distinguished historian Richard Pipes has used this tendentious mode in his recent memoir, Vixi, in which Pipes calls Solzhenitsyn “quite innocent of historical knowledge” and declares, without offering any evidence, that Solzhenitsyn is committed to an impossible “‘Holy Russia’ of his imagination.” After acknowledging Solzhenitsyn’s “courage in standing up to the equally hate-filled and equally fanatical Communist regime,” Pipes goes on to dismiss him as a “false prophet” full of “hate-driven intellectual intolerance.” Thus Pipes fabricates a moral equivalence between the author of The Gulag Archipelago and the inhuman regime he did so much to bring to its knees. This shameful comparison dishonors Pipes, who here lends his considerable authority to the vituperative campaign against Solzhenitsyn.

The Russian-born libertarian journalist Cathy Young provides an equally shoddy account of the writings of Solzhenitsyn in the May 2004 issue of Reason magazine (“Traditional Prejudices: The Anti-Semitism of Alexander Solzhenitsyn”). Her subject is Dvesti let vmeste (Two Hundred Years Together), Solzhenitsyn’s monumental study of Russian-Jewish relations. (Volume one was published in 2001 and volume two in 2003; there is as yet no English translation. See the July-August 2004 issue of Society for my extensive discussion of this work.) In a calm and authoritative-sounding tone, Young engages in nothing less than character assassination, eschewing anything that resembles explication de texte and ignoring everything in Solzhenitsyn’s writings that might militate against her claims.

A reader of her essay, for example, would never learn about Solzhenitsyn’s condemnation of “scandalous restrictions” against Jews under the Russian old regime, his criticisms of the Russian state for its “unpardonable inaction” in failing to anticipate and respond to brutal anti-Jewish pogroms, his admiration for the great Russian statesman Pyotr Stolypin’s efforts to end the Jewish disabilities, or his criticism of the White forces during the Russian Civil War for their inexcusable toleration of anti-Semitic violence in territories under their control. Nor would one learn about his moving and somber discussion in chapter twenty-one of Two Hundred Years Together of the Holocaust unleashed against Jews on Soviet territory. In that chapter Solzhenitsyn narrates the truly mind-boggling facts regarding the extermination of Soviet Jews in the western territories of the Soviet Union. It is true that he refuses to choose between the two terrible totalitarianisms of the twentieth century: this is because Communist and Nazi totalitarianism are equally deserving of unqualified condemnation by all decent people. Solzhenitsyn refuses to set the sufferings of Russians and Jews against each other. The “totality of suffering” experienced by both at the hands of the Communist and Nazi regimes was “so great, the weight of the lessons inflicted by History so unsupportable, the anguish for the future so gnawing” that it is imperative that such suffering give rise to empathy and understanding between Russians and Jews.

Throughout these two volumes, Solzhenitsyn is emphatic in his condemnation of all bigoted and hostile depictions of Jews qua Jews, and he expresses the deepest respect for the spiritual greatness of the Jewish people. He never attributes “collective guilt” to Jews or any other people. To be sure, he calls on Russians and Jews alike to take “collective responsibility” for their respective sins and omissions. In his view, Russians and Jews must both come to terms with the members of their peoples who acted in complicity with the Communist regime. They should also stop blaming others for all of their misfortunes and discontents. Jews must not pretend that every Jew was a victim, that there were no “revolutionary assassins” in their midst. And Russians must admit that they were the “authors of [their own revolutionary] shipwreck” and resist the deluded inclination “to blame everything on the Jews.”

Instead of accurately reporting Solzhenitsyn’s published views, Young resurrects several discredited indictments, perhaps the most egregious one being that the author of The Gulag Archipelago is not a true friend of human liberty but is instead a partisan of a traditionalist collectivism. She shows no awareness of Solzhenitsyn’s eloquent defenses of the rule of law and the importance of local self-government to a healthy and well-constituted civic life. The third and final volume of The Gulag Archipelago, for example, ends with a stirring denunciation of the absence of the rule of law in Soviet Russia, and all of Solzhenitsyn’s recent political writings invoke the crucial importance of local self-government for the consolidation of political liberty and civic virtue in post-Communist Russia. Solzhenitsyn does not slight what Russians can learn from the Western and American experiences of democratic self-government. Addressing the town meeting of Cavendish, Vermont (his home from 1976 until 1994), shortly before returning to his native Russia, he spoke thoughtfully about how in Cavendish and its neighboring communities he had “observed the sensible and sure process of grassroots democracy, in which the local population solves most of its problems on its own, not waiting for the decisions of higher authorities. Unfortunately, we do not have this in Russia, and that is still our greatest shortcoming.”

More fundamentally, Young shows no appreciation of the personalism that informs nearly every page of The Gulag Archipelago. This is a remarkable lacuna since the book is nothing less than “a celebration of personality,” to cite the apt formulation of the distinguished Russianist John B. Dunlop. The Gulag’s portraits of freedom-loving individuals and indomitable souls such as the young Zoya Leshcheva (who fearlessly defended her religious faith against her atheistic persecutors), the defiant Anna Skripnikova (who had the self-respect to act as a free citizen in a totalitarian state and spent the years from 1918 to 1959 in and out of prison), the committed escaper Georgi Tenno, and the religious poet Anatoli Silin, are unforgettable encomia to the human spirit. As any charitable reader of the Gulag will discern, Solzhenitsyn is no collectivist. But neither is he a “libertarian” who ignores the indispensable moral foundations of human liberty. Of course, Young has every right to quarrel with Solzhenitsyn’s account of Russian history or with his understanding of the moral and religious foundations of human liberty. But it is dishonest, and worse, to accuse him of anti-Semitism or to label him an enemy of human freedom.

How does one begin to break out of this interminable recycling of distortions and misrepresentations? To begin with, it is necessary to recognize that the defense of human liberty and dignity is not exhausted by the categories or assumptions of late modernity. Solzhenitsyn is a liberal in the sense that he is acutely aware of the myriad moral and cultural prerequisites of human liberty. In particular, he belongs to a noble Russian tradition that attempts to breathe “only the best air from the West” while “feeding ourselves only with the best milk from our own Mother Russia.” These words of the prerevolutionary Russian journalist M. O. Menshikov are highlighted in James H. Billington’s excellent new book Russia in Search of Itself (Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 256 pp., $24.95). As Billington points out, the most illuminating Russian thought of the past 125 years—from Soloviev, Bulgakov, and Berdiaev, to Solzhenitsyn and D. M. Likhachev today—has attempted to draw on the best of the Western and Russian philosophical, theological, literary, and political traditions. This synthesizing current, which is suspicious of Western nihilism and scientism as well as of Eastern despotism, is all but ignored by Western elites today, who reflexively identify liberalism with materialism, relativism, and political correctness.

Solzhenitsyn has meditated on this problem of conjugating Russia and the West, liberty and the moral contents of life, with great penetration and finesse in the various volumes of The Red Wheel. These books include profound reflections on the character of political moderation and the requirements of a statesmanship that would unite Christian attentiveness to the spiritual dignity of man with an appreciation of the need to respect the unceasing evolution of society. Solzhenitsyn takes aim at reactionaries who ignore the inexorability of human “progress,” at revolutionaries who take nihilistic delight in destroying the existing order, and at “false liberals” who refuse to explore prudently the necessarily difficult relations between order and liberty, progress and tradition.

In nearly all of his major writings, Solzhenitsyn appeals to the indispensability of the spiritual qualities of “repentance” and “self-limitation” for a truly balanced individual and collective life. But he never turns the classical or Christian virtues into an antimodern ideology that would escape the reality of living with the tensions inherent in a dynamic, modern society. He is not, however, unduly sanguine about the prospects for these virtues in the contemporary scene. As he writes in November 1916, “In the life of nations, even more than in private life, the rule is that concessions and self-limitation are ridiculed as naïve and stupid.” Solzhenitsyn thus has no illusions about repentance and self-limitation becoming the explicit and unchallenged foundation of free political life. His more modest hope is to claim a hearing for the Good amidst the cacophony of claims that vie for public notice. Neither genuflecting before progress nor irresponsibly rejecting it, Solzhenitsyn insists that we must “seek and expand ways of directing its might towards the perpetration of good.” Solzhenitsyn’s moral vision has too often been politicized in ways that mistake his rejection of progressivist illusions for a reactionary refusal to admit the possibility of progress.

Solzhenitsyn is, in truth, a conservative liberal who wants to temper the one-sided modern preoccupation with individual freedom with a salutary reminder of the moral ends that ought to inform responsible human choice. Like the best classical and Christian thinkers of the past, he believes that human beings should not “neglect their spiritual essence” or “show an exaggerated concern for man’s material needs.” Thus, while he displays a rich appreciation of the limits of politics, he also recognizes that “a Christian must . . . actively endeavor to improve the holders of power and the state system.” And when Solzhenitsyn addresses specifically political questions he does so as a principled advocate of political moderation. His portrait in August 1914 of Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin’s efforts to establish a constitutional order that would be consistent with Russia’s spiritual traditions and that would keep Russia from falling into the revolutionary abyss contains some of the wisest pages ever written about statesmanship.

The shamefully one-sided journalistic and critical reception too often accorded to Solzhenitsyn’s work thus serves as an unintended confirmation of the difficulty of pursuing what he has called the “middle line” in the service of human liberty and human dignity. Solzhenitsyn has used his literary gifts and moral witness to teach us, as he says in The Gulag Archipelago, “that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but through all human hearts.” Today, though he is eighty-five years old and has had some physical setbacks, he remains committed to his writing. Moreover, his stature and moral authority remain high where it most counts: in his native Russia. In response to the recent awarding of the Solzhenitsyn Prize to the actor and the director of the television series that brought Dostoevski’s The Idiot to the screen, the popular writer Darya Dontsova commented that “the great Solzhenitsyn is in reality a very modern man, and young of heart.” Most importantly, amidst the corruption and moral drift of the post-Communist transition, he has never ceased to remind his compatriots that they “must build a moral Russia or none at all.” He remains an intrepid defender of a freedom that is worthy of man and has thus maintained faith with the best in both Russian and Western traditions. He merits our continuing gratitude, respect, and admiration.

Daniel J. Mahoney is chairman of the political science department at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts and the author of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Ascent From Ideology (2001). His latest book, Bertrand de Jouvenel: The Conservative Liberal and the Illusions of Modernity, will be released by ISI Books in the spring of 2005.

Traducing Solzhenitsyn


Daniel J. Mahoney


Copyright (c) 2004 First Things 145 (August/September 2004): 14-17.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is one of the great souls of the age. He is also among its most maligned and misunderstood figures. It is hard to think of another prominent writer whose thought and character have been subjected to as many willful distortions and vilifications over the past thirty years.

Things were not always so. Until the early 1970s Solzhenitsyn was widely admired in the West as a dissident and as a critic of Communist totalitarianism. On the left he was appreciated as a defender of human rights against an undeniably illiberal and autocratic regime. But with the publication of works such as August 1914 (1972), the Letter to the Soviet Leaders, and the cultural-spiritual anthology From Under the Rubble (both published in the West in 1974), it became impossible to claim Solzhenitsyn as a champion of left-liberal secularism. He continued to be, of course, a ferocious critic of the ideological “lie” and a tenacious defender of fundamental human liberties. But this antitotalitarian writer clearly did not believe that a free Russia should become a slavish imitator of the secular, postmodern West. It became increasingly clear that he was both an old-fashioned patriot and a committed Christian—but here also he was perplexing to some, because he adamantly rejected “blood and soil” nationalism, expressed no desire to return to the Tsarist past, and asked for no special privileges for Christianity in a post-totalitarian Russia.

Some of his critics soon reasoned that if Solzhenitsyn was not a conventional liberal, then he must be an enemy of liberty. The legend grew that he was, at best, a “Slavophile” and a romantic critic of decadent Western political institutions, and that he was, at worst, an authoritarian and even, perhaps, an anti-Semite and a theocrat. Even those Western critics who admired Solzhenitsyn’s courage in confronting the Communist behemoth and who drew upon his dissections of ideological tyranny tended to slight his contribution to the renewal of the spiritual foundations of human liberty in a post-totalitarian world. In a memorable article published in Commentary in 1985 (“The Terrible Question of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn”), Norman Podhoretz praised Solzhenitsyn as an anti-Communist and as the author of The Gulag Archipelago, while largely taking for granted the accuracy of the caricature about him that had taken shape over the previous decade and a half. Podhoretz simply assumed that Solzhenitsyn was an authoritarian or anti-democratic thinker, though he did acquit Solzhenitsyn, a strong supporter of the state of Israel, of the charge of anti-Semitism. He also cavalierly dismissed as a literary failure The Red Wheel, Solzhenitsyn’s magnum opus that explores the events leading up to the Bolshevik revolution. (Podhoretz was in no position to do so at the time since he did not have access to any of the finished volumes of that great work.) The anti-Communist Podhoretz, however, never denied Solzhenitsyn’s greatness or his enduring commitment to human dignity.

Unfortunately, other American conservatives have succumbed to the facile consensus that has developed about Solzhenitsyn—a consensus that has, as we shall see, little connection with reality. The same tiresome distortions are recycled ad nauseam and contribute to a willful refusal to consider Solzhenitsyn’s thinking about the political and spiritual condition of modern man. My experience has been that even those who are well disposed toward Solzhenitsyn are genuinely surprised to learn that he is, in fact, an indefatigable advocate of democratic self-government, a critic of illiberal nationalism in all its forms, an erudite historian who has defended authentic Russian liberalism against its reactionary and revolutionary opponents, and an Orthodox Christian who does not take an exclusivist view toward other Christians and recognizes the wisdom inherent in all the great religions of the world. There is, to be sure, a good deal of impressive scholarship about Solzhenitsyn in all the major European languages, but such work rarely gains the kind of public hearing that would alter the reigning public perceptions about the Russian Nobel laureate.

Serious, informed, and measured engagement with Solzhenitsyn’s writing is all too rare in America. Some of Solzhenitsyn’s critics are content to sneer at him without bothering to produce quotations that would support their characterizations of his thought. The distinguished historian Richard Pipes has used this tendentious mode in his recent memoir, Vixi, in which Pipes calls Solzhenitsyn “quite innocent of historical knowledge” and declares, without offering any evidence, that Solzhenitsyn is committed to an impossible “‘Holy Russia’ of his imagination.” After acknowledging Solzhenitsyn’s “courage in standing up to the equally hate-filled and equally fanatical Communist regime,” Pipes goes on to dismiss him as a “false prophet” full of “hate-driven intellectual intolerance.” Thus Pipes fabricates a moral equivalence between the author of The Gulag Archipelago and the inhuman regime he did so much to bring to its knees. This shameful comparison dishonors Pipes, who here lends his considerable authority to the vituperative campaign against Solzhenitsyn.

The Russian-born libertarian journalist Cathy Young provides an equally shoddy account of the writings of Solzhenitsyn in the May 2004 issue of Reason magazine (“Traditional Prejudices: The Anti-Semitism of Alexander Solzhenitsyn”). Her subject is Dvesti let vmeste (Two Hundred Years Together), Solzhenitsyn’s monumental study of Russian-Jewish relations. (Volume one was published in 2001 and volume two in 2003; there is as yet no English translation. See the July-August 2004 issue of Society for my extensive discussion of this work.) In a calm and authoritative-sounding tone, Young engages in nothing less than character assassination, eschewing anything that resembles explication de texte and ignoring everything in Solzhenitsyn’s writings that might militate against her claims.

A reader of her essay, for example, would never learn about Solzhenitsyn’s condemnation of “scandalous restrictions” against Jews under the Russian old regime, his criticisms of the Russian state for its “unpardonable inaction” in failing to anticipate and respond to brutal anti-Jewish pogroms, his admiration for the great Russian statesman Pyotr Stolypin’s efforts to end the Jewish disabilities, or his criticism of the White forces during the Russian Civil War for their inexcusable toleration of anti-Semitic violence in territories under their control. Nor would one learn about his moving and somber discussion in chapter twenty-one of Two Hundred Years Together of the Holocaust unleashed against Jews on Soviet territory. In that chapter Solzhenitsyn narrates the truly mind-boggling facts regarding the extermination of Soviet Jews in the western territories of the Soviet Union. It is true that he refuses to choose between the two terrible totalitarianisms of the twentieth century: this is because Communist and Nazi totalitarianism are equally deserving of unqualified condemnation by all decent people. Solzhenitsyn refuses to set the sufferings of Russians and Jews against each other. The “totality of suffering” experienced by both at the hands of the Communist and Nazi regimes was “so great, the weight of the lessons inflicted by History so unsupportable, the anguish for the future so gnawing” that it is imperative that such suffering give rise to empathy and understanding between Russians and Jews.

Throughout these two volumes, Solzhenitsyn is emphatic in his condemnation of all bigoted and hostile depictions of Jews qua Jews, and he expresses the deepest respect for the spiritual greatness of the Jewish people. He never attributes “collective guilt” to Jews or any other people. To be sure, he calls on Russians and Jews alike to take “collective responsibility” for their respective sins and omissions. In his view, Russians and Jews must both come to terms with the members of their peoples who acted in complicity with the Communist regime. They should also stop blaming others for all of their misfortunes and discontents. Jews must not pretend that every Jew was a victim, that there were no “revolutionary assassins” in their midst. And Russians must admit that they were the “authors of [their own revolutionary] shipwreck” and resist the deluded inclination “to blame everything on the Jews.”

Instead of accurately reporting Solzhenitsyn’s published views, Young resurrects several discredited indictments, perhaps the most egregious one being that the author of The Gulag Archipelago is not a true friend of human liberty but is instead a partisan of a traditionalist collectivism. She shows no awareness of Solzhenitsyn’s eloquent defenses of the rule of law and the importance of local self-government to a healthy and well-constituted civic life. The third and final volume of The Gulag Archipelago, for example, ends with a stirring denunciation of the absence of the rule of law in Soviet Russia, and all of Solzhenitsyn’s recent political writings invoke the crucial importance of local self-government for the consolidation of political liberty and civic virtue in post-Communist Russia. Solzhenitsyn does not slight what Russians can learn from the Western and American experiences of democratic self-government. Addressing the town meeting of Cavendish, Vermont (his home from 1976 until 1994), shortly before returning to his native Russia, he spoke thoughtfully about how in Cavendish and its neighboring communities he had “observed the sensible and sure process of grassroots democracy, in which the local population solves most of its problems on its own, not waiting for the decisions of higher authorities. Unfortunately, we do not have this in Russia, and that is still our greatest shortcoming.”

More fundamentally, Young shows no appreciation of the personalism that informs nearly every page of The Gulag Archipelago. This is a remarkable lacuna since the book is nothing less than “a celebration of personality,” to cite the apt formulation of the distinguished Russianist John B. Dunlop. The Gulag’s portraits of freedom-loving individuals and indomitable souls such as the young Zoya Leshcheva (who fearlessly defended her religious faith against her atheistic persecutors), the defiant Anna Skripnikova (who had the self-respect to act as a free citizen in a totalitarian state and spent the years from 1918 to 1959 in and out of prison), the committed escaper Georgi Tenno, and the religious poet Anatoli Silin, are unforgettable encomia to the human spirit. As any charitable reader of the Gulag will discern, Solzhenitsyn is no collectivist. But neither is he a “libertarian” who ignores the indispensable moral foundations of human liberty. Of course, Young has every right to quarrel with Solzhenitsyn’s account of Russian history or with his understanding of the moral and religious foundations of human liberty. But it is dishonest, and worse, to accuse him of anti-Semitism or to label him an enemy of human freedom.

How does one begin to break out of this interminable recycling of distortions and misrepresentations? To begin with, it is necessary to recognize that the defense of human liberty and dignity is not exhausted by the categories or assumptions of late modernity. Solzhenitsyn is a liberal in the sense that he is acutely aware of the myriad moral and cultural prerequisites of human liberty. In particular, he belongs to a noble Russian tradition that attempts to breathe “only the best air from the West” while “feeding ourselves only with the best milk from our own Mother Russia.” These words of the prerevolutionary Russian journalist M. O. Menshikov are highlighted in James H. Billington’s excellent new book Russia in Search of Itself (Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 256 pp., $24.95). As Billington points out, the most illuminating Russian thought of the past 125 years—from Soloviev, Bulgakov, and Berdiaev, to Solzhenitsyn and D. M. Likhachev today—has attempted to draw on the best of the Western and Russian philosophical, theological, literary, and political traditions. This synthesizing current, which is suspicious of Western nihilism and scientism as well as of Eastern despotism, is all but ignored by Western elites today, who reflexively identify liberalism with materialism, relativism, and political correctness.

Solzhenitsyn has meditated on this problem of conjugating Russia and the West, liberty and the moral contents of life, with great penetration and finesse in the various volumes of The Red Wheel. These books include profound reflections on the character of political moderation and the requirements of a statesmanship that would unite Christian attentiveness to the spiritual dignity of man with an appreciation of the need to respect the unceasing evolution of society. Solzhenitsyn takes aim at reactionaries who ignore the inexorability of human “progress,” at revolutionaries who take nihilistic delight in destroying the existing order, and at “false liberals” who refuse to explore prudently the necessarily difficult relations between order and liberty, progress and tradition.

In nearly all of his major writings, Solzhenitsyn appeals to the indispensability of the spiritual qualities of “repentance” and “self-limitation” for a truly balanced individual and collective life. But he never turns the classical or Christian virtues into an antimodern ideology that would escape the reality of living with the tensions inherent in a dynamic, modern society. He is not, however, unduly sanguine about the prospects for these virtues in the contemporary scene. As he writes in November 1916, “In the life of nations, even more than in private life, the rule is that concessions and self-limitation are ridiculed as naïve and stupid.” Solzhenitsyn thus has no illusions about repentance and self-limitation becoming the explicit and unchallenged foundation of free political life. His more modest hope is to claim a hearing for the Good amidst the cacophony of claims that vie for public notice. Neither genuflecting before progress nor irresponsibly rejecting it, Solzhenitsyn insists that we must “seek and expand ways of directing its might towards the perpetration of good.” Solzhenitsyn’s moral vision has too often been politicized in ways that mistake his rejection of progressivist illusions for a reactionary refusal to admit the possibility of progress.

Solzhenitsyn is, in truth, a conservative liberal who wants to temper the one-sided modern preoccupation with individual freedom with a salutary reminder of the moral ends that ought to inform responsible human choice. Like the best classical and Christian thinkers of the past, he believes that human beings should not “neglect their spiritual essence” or “show an exaggerated concern for man’s material needs.” Thus, while he displays a rich appreciation of the limits of politics, he also recognizes that “a Christian must . . . actively endeavor to improve the holders of power and the state system.” And when Solzhenitsyn addresses specifically political questions he does so as a principled advocate of political moderation. His portrait in August 1914 of Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin’s efforts to establish a constitutional order that would be consistent with Russia’s spiritual traditions and that would keep Russia from falling into the revolutionary abyss contains some of the wisest pages ever written about statesmanship.

The shamefully one-sided journalistic and critical reception too often accorded to Solzhenitsyn’s work thus serves as an unintended confirmation of the difficulty of pursuing what he has called the “middle line” in the service of human liberty and human dignity. Solzhenitsyn has used his literary gifts and moral witness to teach us, as he says in The Gulag Archipelago, “that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but through all human hearts.” Today, though he is eighty-five years old and has had some physical setbacks, he remains committed to his writing. Moreover, his stature and moral authority remain high where it most counts: in his native Russia. In response to the recent awarding of the Solzhenitsyn Prize to the actor and the director of the television series that brought Dostoevski’s The Idiot to the screen, the popular writer Darya Dontsova commented that “the great Solzhenitsyn is in reality a very modern man, and young of heart.” Most importantly, amidst the corruption and moral drift of the post-Communist transition, he has never ceased to remind his compatriots that they “must build a moral Russia or none at all.” He remains an intrepid defender of a freedom that is worthy of man and has thus maintained faith with the best in both Russian and Western traditions. He merits our continuing gratitude, respect, and admiration.

Daniel J. Mahoney is chairman of the political science department at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts and the author of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Ascent From Ideology (2001). His latest book, Bertrand de Jouvenel: The Conservative Liberal and the Illusions of Modernity, will be released by ISI Books in the spring of 2005.

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