Paul Berman Terror and Liberalism

ISBN 13: 9780393325553

Terror and Liberalism

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A manifesto for an aggressive liberal response to terrorist attacks.

One of our most brilliant public intellectuals, Paul Berman has spent his career writing on revolutionary movements and their totalitarian aspects. Here he argues that, in the terror war, we are not facing a battle of the West against Islam―a clash of civilizations. We are facing, instead, the same battle that tore apart Europe during most of the twentieth century, only in a new version. It is the clash of liberalism and its enemies―the battle between freedom and totalitarianism that arose in Europe many years ago and spread to the Muslim world.

The author considers the wars against fascism and communism from the past, and draws cautionary lessons. But he also draws from those past experiences a liberal program for the present―a program that departs in fundamental respects from the policies of the Bush administration.

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About the Author:

Paul Berman writes about politics and literature for The New Republic, the New York Times Book Review, and other magazines. His books have been translated into thirteen languages. He lives in New York City.

From Publishers Weekly:

Berman puts his leftist credentials (he's a member of the editorial board of Dissent) on the line by critiquing the left while presenting a liberal rationale for the war on terror, joining a discourse that has been dominated by conservatives. The most original aspect of his analysis is to categorize Islamism as a totalitarian reaction against Western liberalism in a class with Nazism and communism; drawing on the ideas of Camus in The Rebel, Berman delineates how all three movements descended from utopian visions (in the case of Islamism, the restoration of a pure seventh-century Islam) into irrational cults of death. He illustrates this progression through a nuanced analysis of the writings of a leading Islamist thinker, Sayyid Qutb, ending with some chilling quotations from other Islamists, e.g., "History does not write its lines except with blood," the blood being that of Islam's martyrs (such as suicide bombers) as well as of their enemies, Zionists and Crusaders (i.e., Jews and Christians). Berman then launches into his most provocative chapter, and the one he will probably be most criticized for in politically correct journals: a scathing attack on leftist intellectuals, such as Noam Chomsky, who have applauded terrorism and tried to explain it as a rational response to oppression. Berman exhorts readers to accept that, on the contrary, Islamism is a "pathological mass political movement" that is "drunk on the idea of slaughter." A former MacArthur fellow and a contributing editor to the New Republic, Berman offers an argument that will be welcomed by disaffected progressives looking for a new analysis of today's world.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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