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Messianism

John Dunn, 30 December 1982

The Myth of the Nation and the Vision of Revolution 
by J.L. Talmon.
Secker, 632 pp., £15, October 1981, 0 436 51399 4
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... In The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy in 1952 the late Jacob Talmon offered an influential diagnosis of ‘the most vital issue of our time ... the headlong collision between empirical and liberal democracy on the one hand, and totalitarian democracy on the other, in which the world crisis of today consists ...

Will the Empire ever end?

John Lloyd, 27 January 1994

Pandaemonium: Ethnicity in International Politics 
by Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
Oxford, 221 pp., £17.95, March 1993, 0 19 827787 3
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Nations and Politics in the Soviet Successor States 
edited by Ian Bremner and Ray Taras.
Cambridge, 577 pp., £55, December 1993, 0 521 43281 2
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The Post-Soviet Nations 
edited by Alexander Motyl.
Columbia, 322 pp., £23, November 1993, 0 231 07894 3
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The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Path to Independence 
by Anatol Lieven.
Yale, 454 pp., £22.50, June 1993, 0 300 05552 8
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... for Soviet man, both official and – it seems from Gorbachev’s naive approach to what J.L. Talmon has called ‘the demoniacal, obsessive character of the nationalist passion’ – private, was in the efficacy of the system and its ability, over time, to achieve the goals which Marx had said were ineluctable consequences of progress and socialism. In ...

Moderation or Death

Christopher Hitchens: Isaiah Berlin, 26 November 1998

Isaiah Berlin: A Life 
by Michael Ignatieff.
Chatto, 386 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 7011 6325 9
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The Guest from the Future: Anna Akhmatova and Isaiah Berlin 
by György Dalos.
Murray, 250 pp., £17.95, September 2002, 0 7195 5476 4
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... in their hands? Never mind the dire fate of the indigenous Palestinians, as Berlin’s friend J.L. Talmon always painstakingly emphasised that he didn’t. Does this not mean that the shtetl and the ghetto, and sooner or later the magical rabbi, will be back? And isn’t there a class question involved?Many people’s attitude to Zionism is conditioned by ...

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