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71 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Analysis of Middle-Eastern Totalitarianism, 30 Jun 2003
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This review is from: Terror and Liberalism (Hardcover)
Paul Berman is from the left politically, but, as with Christopher Hitchens, is appalled at the current attitude of the liberal left to the Iraqi war and the Palestinian situation. He argues that the short 20th century (1914-1989) didn't see the final defeat of the totalitarianisms of left and right, but that these survive in the Middle East, both in the teachings of Islamic fundamentalists and with the secular Baathists. Both of these groups in their different ways incorporated elements of the worst of European totalitarian philosophies. And the left, following the ignoble traditions of many in the thirties (Berman cites the example of the French socialists under Paul Faure), pretend it isn't happening.
One of the most interesting points that Berman raises, for me, is the question of the Palestinian suicide bombers. I find it quite extraordinary that this repellent form of terrorism is so remarkably effective in raising support for the Palestinian cause, and how many on the left think it quite reasonable (well yes, it's a shame about those innocent deaths, but...), and take it as proof that the Palestinians are suffering so appallingly under the Israelis that comparisons are blithely made not just with apartheid South Africa, but even, pace Tom Paulin and others, with Nazi Germany. But this is completely to misunderstand the mentality involved here. These suicide bombers are part of a profound pathology within the Arab world, a chiliastic movement, where death is glory. The same lazy shallow thinking, whereby everyone acts rationally in the light of their perceived interests, had it that the 9/11 bombers were protesting American foreign policy and the plight of the Palestinians. No, no, no. These people were protesting the very existence of liberalism. These people were fanatics.
Read the book. It's well-written, and will make you think.
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