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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars French flair at its acerbic best!, 15 Feb 2004
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
In the chapter Contradictions Revel examines the inherently contradictory character of the diatribes against America, pointing out how European elites that criticise the USA conveniently forget that their own continent made the 20th century the most murderous in history with their two world wars, their criminal ideologies like communism and nazism and their colonialism. He also discusses the enviro-leftist hypocrisy about global warming and the Kyoto protocol. In this regard, please read Bjorn Lomborg’s book The Skeptical Environmentalist.
Revel then turns his attention to Antiglobalism and Anti-Americanism, proving that it really is a struggle against liberalism, of which the USA is a shining example. It is not that the left has anything against globalism, they just don’t like the fact that people worldwide will be able to freely trade with one another without government interference. These mostly young antiglobalists are blind ideologues, remnants from a past of cruelty and bloodshed. Poor Third World countries want more international trade because that is the only way they’ll escape from poverty, in the same way Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea and others have done, and India is now doing. Only economic growth lifts poverty, as Johan Norberg demonstrates so well in his book In Defense Of Global Capitalism.
Revel discusses Régis Benichi’s three waves of globalization: the first that started during the 16th and 17th centuries, the second that lasted from 1840 to 1914, and the third which has continued since the end of the second world war and has improved the lives of third world people in direct proportion to the individual countries’ adherence to the rule of law and to the level of economic freedom.
He explores America’s relations with the world in the chapter Hatreds And Fallacies, detailing the distortions from the left following 9/11 and the liberation of Afghanistan. The phobias and fallacies of old-style anti-Americanism and of Neo-totalitarianism greatly intensified at this time. Revel also looks at the strange alliance between the Leftists and the Islamofascists, a marriage of convenience based on a shared hatred.
In the next chapter The Worst Society That Ever Was, Revel tackles the crude lies about American society invented by the French media. He points out the deliberate distortions and the contradictions, observing that such mendacity can only emanate from sick minds. He compares health care in the USA and Europe, looks at literature, crime statistics, the American melting pot versus large non-integrated minorities in France. I really enjoyed his dissection of the French state-sponsored movie industry and his hilarious opinion of the film Amelie as compared to the films of for example Ken Loach.
In the chapter Cultural Extinction, Revel considers popular culture in more detail, proving that cross-fertilisation benefits everybody and that state protection of local culture leads to stagnation. Globalization enhances cultural diversity and is an engine of enrichment. He warns that anti-American phobias and antiglobalism might derail progress in Europe, referring to Guy Sorman’s book Progress And Its Enemies. This is neither a right-wing nor left-wing idea, but a rational argument also defended by the socialist Claude Allegré.
In chapter 6: Being Simplistic, Revel demolishes the argument that poverty is the root cause of terrorism, quoting Francis Fukuyama that the secular character of the Western concept of human rights at the heart of the liberal theory is the real enemy for the Jihadists. The Al-Qa’ida terrorists don’t even mention economic inequalities, but reproach the West for contravening the teachings (or fundamentalist interpretations) of their religion’s scripture.
In the last chapter: Scapegoating, Revel distinguishes between rational criticism of the USA that is based on facts, and the mental/spiritual disease that is Anti-Americanism. The second is a fanatical mindset that is also obviously idiotic in that it condemns America for certain behaviours (intervention in Kosovo) while simultaneously condemning it for the opposite (lack of intervention in Rwanda). Where was France anyway, in the case of Rwanda, since it has always interfered in Francophone Africa when it suits French interests. He cites numerous instances where the French elite demonises America while much worse was happening in France, like the fact that the extreme rightist Le Pen came second in the first round of the French presidential election of 2000.
Revel concludes that the lunatic ravings of hatred for America and the opinionated ill will in much of the European media will only lead to Americans rejecting the idea of consultation. He believes that the USA’s mistakes should always be subject to vigilant criticism but that the gross bias currently reigning will only weaken its exponents and encourage American unilateralism.
The most important lesson from this book is that anti-Americanism is a disease, not a position. The prognosis is not good – Revel believes that countering this attitude with facts and reason will not work since the disinformation in question is not the result of honest, correctable mistakes, but rather of a profound psychological need. Attitudes that were not formed by facts in the first place, cannot be changed by facts.
For more information on the psychology of the hard left, please read The Death Of Right And Wrong by Tammy Bruce, The Vision Of The Anointed by Thomas Sowell and Left Illusions by David Horowitz. For a clear picture of how globalization is improving the lives of everybody on the planet, read Johan Norberg’s masterpiece, In Defense Of Global Capitalism.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and eye-opening book, 25 Jun 2004
Kurt A. Johnson (Marseilles, IL USA) - See all my reviews
In this fascinating book, French author and Journalist Jean-Francois Revel looks at worldwide anti-Americanism in general, and French anti-Americanism in particular. As has been mentioned repeatedly, immediately after the 911 attack on the United States, people around the world expressed their sympathy for, and solidarity with the United States. However, in short order, the sympathy vanished and the solidarity melted away.
In this book, Monsieur Revel explains that anti-Americanism is based on an anti-rationalist, anti-capitalist obsession that is not entirely rational and cannot be overcome by American actions of any sort. This is not to say that the author sees America as a paragon of virtue, quite the contrary. But, what the author does do is look at the reality of America's actions throughout the world as opposed to the perceptions of its actions, particularly as presented by the world press.
Overall, I found this to be a fascinating and eye-opening book. If you are interested in a penetrating and insightful look at the basis of anti-American thought, particularly in France, as seen by an actual Parisian, then you must get this book. I recommend this book most highly. In fact, if you only read one book this year, I hope that it will be this book!
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Anti-Americanism by Jean-Francois Revel (Paperback - 25 Sep 2004)
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