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April 04, 2012

The American view from London

In one of those famous dustups that defined the lives of New York intellectuals even better than their ideas could, Daniel Bell once remarked that what distinguished Irving Kristol and himself from their more radical Alcove One comrade Irving Howe was that Bell and Kristol had lived in Paris and London and so had witnessed totalitarianism up close. It was one thing to write an admiring biography of Trotsky or inveigh against the paranoid dragnet of McCarthyism from the tenured groves of CUNY; it was quite another to encounter actual Trots trying to infiltrate the British Labour Party or to parler with an intellectual establishment dominated by unrepentant Stalinists.

December 01, 2011

The UN finds the Syrian regime guilty of crimes against humanity

Those of us who have been banging on about the scale and imaginative sadism of the Assad regime's violence have had only to wait for "official" confirmation of claims which activists on the ground in Syria have been all too willing to share with Western journalists for months, typically backed up by documentary evidence such as photographs and mobile phone videos. As against thousands of eyewitness testimonies, we have had a totalitarian regime's state-mediated propaganda.

November 30, 2011

How Egypt’s secularists unintentionally cemented an alliance between the military and the Islamists

Several weeks ago, I spoke to an Egyptian secularist woman who suggested to me that the halfway optimistic scenario for her country would be “the Turkish model. ” What she meant by this was the advent of a parliamentary democracy in which the military still acted as safeguard on secularism and a counterbalance against the likely Islamist victory at the polls.

November 04, 2011

Time’s firebombing apologist is a lonely man

When the French satirical and anti-clerical magazine Charlie Hebdo decided to make Mohammed its guest editor for a week in mock celebration of the rise of various Islamist parties throughout the Middle East, it can have expected the “offended” reply of a few first-time readers. But for those more inclined to believe that Islam is the solution aided by Molotov cocktails, the answer was simple: burn Charlie Hebdo’s office to the ground.

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