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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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... Michael Walzer 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 justice in society. In The Company of Critics he steps back from the activity of social criticism to reflect on the work of a number of other 20th-century social critics ...

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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... A number of recent writers have suggested in various ways that it has. Two stimulating books by Michael Walzer 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 understand and articulate values about which he cares ...

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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... war and peace are questions of life and death. Not the death of some or even many people, but as Michael Walzer 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, and also to improve on, a way of life ...

Silent Partner

Yitzhak Laor: Israel’s War, 8 May 2003

... in general, specialists on democracy in our part of the globe in particular, PhD students, Michael Walzer 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’. Instead, every evening Israelis could watch the ...

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 1982, in his book Why We Were in Vietnam, on two editors of Dissent: the political theorist Michael Walzer 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 Trillings. He had known in the early Seventies that both ...

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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... showing how Protestant ideals influenced the middle-class constitutionalism of Opposition MPs. Michael Walzer 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 belting out battle hymns, in pursuit of his thesis ...

Hey, Mister, you want dirty book?

Edward Said: The CIA, 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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... 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 sympathisers) that included Gide, Silone and Koestler; it was ...

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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... regimes be considered illegitimate or unacceptable? This is one of the questions raised here by Michael Walzer. 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 microphysicist of power need not address the ...

Bush’s Useful Idiots

Tony Judt: Whatever happened to American liberalism?, 21 September 2006

... 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 backwash from the lost illusions of the 1960s generation, 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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... Nussbaum that democracy requires a strong national identity on the part of its citizens, and Michael Walzer 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, Maurizio Viroli offers further, more sustained ...

The Sound of Cracking

Pankaj Mishra: ‘The Age of the Crisis of Man’, 27 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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... exhorted, ‘Think harder. Get it right. (Why are liberals so afraid of their own philosophy?)’ Michael Walzer, 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 fighter,’ he urged, ‘and the most helpful thing I ...

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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... 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 of these within his definition of genocide as ‘the ...

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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... 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 seriously if connections with hard, familiar cases are not ...

Casuistries of Peace and War

Perry Anderson: The assumptions the Bush Administration and its critics share, 6 March 2003

... doctrine of Just and Unjust Wars, as set out by a distinguished philosopher of the American Left, Michael Walzer, 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 completing the vital preventive strike against the Osirak ...

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