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Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left Paperback – 8 Sep 2016
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Eminent British philosopher and polymath Scruton gives a sharp-edged, provocative critique of leading leftist thinkers since the mid-twentieth century ... complex and erudite (Publisher's Weekly US)
Caustic, highly recherché, and simply great fun to read for the questing intellectual soul. (Kirkus Reviews)
From the standpoint of a serious conservatism, it honestly assesses the political and philosophical contributions of the Left. The book also addresses what is likely our most pressing question: 'Can there be any foundation for resistance to the leftist agenda without religious faith?' (Catholic World Report)
Since he no longer has a university career to protect, Scruton can now tweak the nose of academic leftism to his heart's content. Scruton is at his best, (and funniest) when trying to make sense of [Alain] Badiou's weird confection historical materialism and Platonic mathematical theory (Jonathan Derbyshire Prospect)
The book is a masterpiece ... In crisp, sometimes brilliant prose, Mr. Scruton considers scores of works in three languages, giving the reader an understanding of each thinker's overarching aim and his place within the multifaceted movement known as the New Left. He neither ridicules nor abuses the writers he considers; he patiently deconstructs them, first explaining their work in terms they themselves would recognize and then laying bare their warped assumptions and empty pretensions. (Barton Swaim Wall Street Journal)
I enjoyed this immensely, both for Scruton's dry, British wit as well as for the sheer breadth of intellectuals covered in his survey (Against the Grain Blog)
Highly recommended (Powerline US Blog)
Here Scruton thoroughly and fairly debunks the ostentation, obfuscation, and terrible writing and downright deceitfulness of much of postwar Marxist-inspired philosophy. For Scruton the culprits are mainly from France and Germany-beginning with Sartre and carrying through to Foucault, Habermas, Althusser, Lacan, Deleuze, Gramsci, and Said-and he carries the attack forward to Badiou and Zizek. Even Galbraith and Dworkin take a few hits. Scruton writes from the perspective of an old-school conservative. His sympathies are with the virtues of the countryside and historically rooted associations of every sort, from churches and the US Constitution to volunteer fire departments, brass bands, and the local Grange. His personal point of view could be called sentimental . but his arguments against his foes are substantial and deep. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. (CHOICE)
What does the Left look like today and how has it evolved? Is there any foundation for resistance to its agenda without religious faith?See all Product description
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That said, the reason that I have given three stars is that I am a psychotherapist and am well acquainted with Lacan, Deleuze, Guattari and Zizek who Scruton dismisses summarily in the book. I found these to be incredibly weak sections with a minimal understanding shown of the conceptual edifices that he was proposing to criticise. I can understand why someone could not be bothered to go through the difficult process of gaining a working knowledge of Lacan or Deleuze but if you are unable to devote the time to understand it, do not try and excuse your failure as a inherent fault of the theorist. There are plenty of writers now who make these works accessible, such as Bruce Fink etc. and these show that Scruton's dismissals are largely the result of his own lack of comprehension.
I get the feeling that he is much better acquainted with the more traditionally Marxist theorists and the book flounders when trying to deal with the more psychoanalytic targets. I also find it disingenuous when Scruton takes a paragraph of text and prints it out of context as a means of showing how unintelligible the theorist is - surely someone could do similar with Kant, Hegel etc.
Overall though I did enjoy this offering and the writing style is very readable.