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Sunday, April 13, 2003

Paul Berman watch.

Terror and Liberalism is the book of the moment. Here's the author's essay in today's Boston Globe, "The twilight of tyrants and the promise of liberal revolution." Why, Berman asks, do all the statues of Saddam Hussein look so much like the statues from communist Eastern Europe and fascist Italy? "The iconography of Saddam's Ba'ath looks like the iconography of modern Western totalitarianism because that is, in fact, exactly what it is."

Ian Buruma reviews Berman's book, and finds much to praise:

As a general analysis of the various enemies of liberalism, and what ties them together, it is superb. All—Nazis, Islamists, Bolsheviks, Fascists, and so on—are linked by Berman to the "ur-myth" of the fall of Babylon. The decadent city-dwellers of Babylon, corrupted by luxury and poisoned by greed, infect the people of God with their wicked ways, even as the forces of Satan threaten the good people from afar. The people of God will only be freed from these abominations after a massive war of Armageddon, in which the city slickers and Satanic forces will be exterminated. A pure new world will rise from the burning ruins and "the people of God will live in purity, submissive to God."

But Buruma also says that Berman suffers from "Kosovo syndrome," a liberal infatuation with "revolution from above." Leftists, whether they still identify with the left or have undergone that strange transformation into "neoconservatives," are too easily tempted by revolutionary schemes. "[S]uch missions always come to grief, leaving ruins where they meant to build utopias."

More reviews in the Times, the Washington Post, and the Nation.

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 13 April 2003 at 10:39 AM

Previous: Round up, week three.
Next: Evangelicals to the rescue?

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1 comments:

Michael Ducey, Ph.D.:

November 3, 2004 10:23 AM | Permalink for this comment

I'm a sociologist and former Jesuit priest. My book, "The Secular Spirit" gives a psychology of religion that might lay a groundwork for strategies of combatting fundamentalism and evangelical politics.
Love to have a hearing and some discussion.



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