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Complaining

Brian Barry

23 November 1989
The Company of Critics: Social Criticism and Political Commitment in the 20th Century 
by Michael Walzer.
Halban, 260 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 1 870015 20 7
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... MichaelWalzer is one of America’s leading social critics, an editor of the magazine Dissent and the author of such books of political philosophy as Spheres of Justice, a systematic discussion of the nature of ...

Local Justice

T.M. Scanlon

5 September 1985
Morality and Conflict 
by Stuart Hampshire.
Blackwell, 175 pp., £18.50, September 1984, 0 631 13336 4
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Spheres of Justice: A Defence of Pluralism and Equality 
by Michael Walzer.
Blackwell, 343 pp., £15, September 1984, 0 631 14063 8
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... placed too much emphasis on a mistaken search for ‘rational foundations’ for our moral beliefs? A number of recent writers have suggested in various ways that it has. Two stimulating books by MichaelWalzer and by Stuart Hampshire make distinctive contributions to this debate. Both are more personal than most books in moral philosophy, and each gives the clear sense of an author working to ...

Protocols of Machismo

Corey Robin: In the Name of National Security

19 May 2005
Arguing about War 
by Michael Walzer.
Yale, 208 pp., £16.99, July 2004, 0 300 10365 4
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Chain of Command 
by Seymour Hersh.
Penguin, 394 pp., £17.99, September 2004, 0 7139 9845 8
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Torture: A Collection 
edited by Sanford Levinson.
Oxford, 319 pp., £18.50, November 2004, 0 19 517289 2
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... inspiring the invocation of the threat in the first place. Hovering about every discussion of war and peace are questions of life and death. Not the death of some or even many people, but as MichaelWalzer proposes in Arguing about War, the ‘moral as well as physical extinction’ of an entire people. True, it is only rarely that a nation will find its ‘ongoingness’ – its ability ‘to carry on ...

Silent Partner

Yitzhak Laor: Israel’s War

8 May 2003
... on the US: ex-cabinet ministers, ex-ambassadors, professors of American history, specialists on democracy in general, specialists on democracy in our part of the globe in particular, PhD students, MichaelWalzer fans, Thomas Jefferson fans etc. The civilian casualties were hardly mentioned, as in the US, though our media are not quite as bad as theirs. We were never shown the ‘disturbing pictures ...

Big Pod

Richard Poirier: How Podhoretz Dumped His Friends

2 September 1999
Ex-Friends 
by Norman Podhoretz.
Free Press, 256 pp., $25, February 1999, 0 684 85594 1
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... In the chapter of Ex-Friends reserved for the Trillings, for example, he repeats an attack made first in 1982, in his book Why We Were in Vietnam, on two editors of Dissent: the political theorist MichaelWalzer and the literary and social critic Irving Howe. Though the attack on these two occurs in the Trilling chapter, it has no direct connection with any strains in his relationship with the ...
30 September 1999
Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War 
by Frances Stonor Saunders.
Granta, 509 pp., £20, July 1999, 1 86207 029 6
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... of cultural propaganda, one of whose main purposes ‘was to advance the claim that it did not exist’. The main vehicle for all of this was the Congress for Cultural Freedom, ‘run by CIA agent Michael Josselson from 1950 till 1967’. My first encounter (pun unintended) with the Congress was through The God that Failed, a compendium of confessions by well-known former Communists (and/or ...

The Great Fear

William Lamont

21 July 1983
Charles I and the Popish Plot 
by Caroline Hibbard.
North Carolina, 342 pp., £21, May 1983, 0 8078 1520 9
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Charles I: The Personal Monarch 
by Charles Carlton.
Routledge, 426 pp., £14.95, June 1983, 9780710094858
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The Puritan Moment: The Coming of Revolution in an English County 
by William Hunt.
Harvard, 365 pp., £24, April 1983, 0 674 73903 5
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... Puritan Revolution pay homage to this tradition. Gardiner, Woodhouse and Haller, in different ways, were showing how Protestant ideals influenced the middle-class constitutionalism of Opposition MPs. MichaelWalzer went further in his Revolution of the Saints by arguing that Calvinism was a modernising ideology. With breathtaking audacity, he leapt from case-studies of Marian exiles to New Model soldiers ...

Je m’en Foucault

Vincent Descombes

5 March 1987
Foucault: A Critical Reader 
edited by David Hoy.
Blackwell, 246 pp., £27.50, September 1986, 0 631 14042 5
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Foucault 
by Gilles Deleuze.
Minuit, 141 pp., frs 58, February 1986, 2 7073 1086 7
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... admittedly, for other, opposed regimes). If every political regime is a power relation, why should some regimes be considered illegitimate or unacceptable? This is one of the questions raised here by MichaelWalzer. Edward Said suggests that Foucault would have been more convincing if he had made a distinction between submitting to a power and following a social convention. In Deleuze’s analysis, the ...

Bush’s Useful Idiots

Tony Judt: Whatever happened to American liberalism?

21 September 2006
... Congress is awash in lobbies and favours, the place of the liberal intellectual has been largely taken over by an admirable cohort of ‘muck-raking’ investigative journalists – Seymour Hersh, Michael Massing and Mark Danner, writing in the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. The collapse of liberal self-confidence in the contemporary US can be variously explained. In part it is a ...

Let every faction bloom

John Patrick Diggins

6 March 1997
For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of Patriotism 
edited by Joshua Cohen.
Beacon, 154 pp., $15, August 1996, 0 8070 4313 3
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For Love of Country: An Essay on Patriotism and Nationalism 
by Maurizio Viroli.
Oxford, 214 pp., £22.50, September 1995, 0 19 827952 3
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Bonds of Affection: Americans Define Their Patriotism 
edited by John Bodnar.
Princeton, 352 pp., £45, September 1996, 0 691 04397 3
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Buring the Flag: The Great 1989-90 American Flag Desecration Controversy 
by Robert Justin Goldstein.
Kent State, 453 pp., $39, July 1996, 0 87338 526 8
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... heritage, history, culture, tradition, community – and nationality’. Similarly, Charles Taylor reminds Nussbaum that democracy requires a strong national identity on the part of its citizens, and MichaelWalzer insists that his circle of allegiances (‘spheres of affection’) starts, not with the outermost periphery, but at the ‘centre’. In a book with the same title, For Love of Country ...
7 March 1991
... spirits anguished. Our duty as intellectuals is to the truth, as Benda said, and not to the encouragement of collective passions in the interests of mass slaughter. When one hears philosophers like MichaelWalzer or columnists like Anthony Lewis proclaim this as a ‘just war’, one realises once more that words are the first casualty in any conflict ...

The Sound of Cracking

Pankaj Mishra: ‘The Age of the Crisis of Man’

26 August 2015
The Age of the Crisis of Man: Thought and Fiction in America, 1933-73 
by Mark Greif.
Princeton, 434 pp., £19.95, January 2015, 978 0 691 14639 3
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Moral Agents: Eight 20th-Century American Writers 
by Edward Mendelson.
New York Review, 216 pp., £12.99, May 2015, 978 1 59017 776 1
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... editor of the New Republic, came out for old-style liberal universalism: ‘Don’t just stop,’ he exhorted, ‘Think harder. Get it right. (Why are liberals so afraid of their own philosophy?)’ MichaelWalzer, co-editor of Dissent, recently issued a call to arms against radical Islam even though the US has already helped ignite wars in several Muslim countries: ‘So here I am, a writer, not a ...

Jim and Pedro

Geoffrey Best

17 April 1980
The Ethics of War 
by Barrie Paskins and Michael​ Dockrill.
Duckworth, 332 pp., £18, October 1979, 0 7156 1354 5
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... and warfare – that is, books which can meet the military and political ‘realists’ on their own grounds, without sacrificing moral principle – are not as rare as they used to be. Gallie and Walzer come at once to mind. But none is as unusual as this: a book co-authored by a philosopher and a historian, both of whom are possessed by the notion that people are more likely to take ethics ...

Ultimate Choice

Malcolm Bull: Thoughts of Genocide

9 February 2006
The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing 
by Michael​ Mann.
Cambridge, 580 pp., £17.99, January 2005, 0 521 53854 8
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Genocide in the Age of the Nation State. Vol. I: The Meaning of Genocide 
by Mark Levene.
Tauris, 266 pp., £24.50, August 2005, 1 85043 752 1
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Genocide in the Age of the Nation State: Vol. II: The Rise of the West and the Coming of Genocide 
by Mark Levene.
Tauris, 463 pp., £29.50, August 2005, 1 84511 057 9
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... The omission of political, occupational and other social groups from the terms of the UN Convention, which thereby excluded the mass killings of Stalin and Pol Pot, has been criticised by many. Michael Mann chooses to call such massacres ‘classicide’ or ‘politicide’, and reserves ‘genocide’ for the destruction of ethnic or religious groups. Mark Levene, on the other hand, includes all ...

Casuistries of Peace and War

Perry Anderson: The assumptions the Bush Administration and its critics share

6 March 2003
... Six-Day War of 1967, so far from being cause for condemnation, is actually the occasion of the modern doctrine of Just and Unjust Wars, as set out by a distinguished philosopher of the American Left, MichaelWalzer, in a work glowingly evoked by the still more eminent liberal philosopher John Rawls, in his aptly entitled The Law of Peoples. Indeed in attacking Iraq, we will be doing no more than ...

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