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Terror and Liberalism | [Paul Berman]

Terror and Liberalism

In Paul Berman's opinion, terrorism does not represent a paradigm shift in human thought; rather, it represents a return to the kind of totalitarian thinking that ravaged the European continent during most of the twentieth century. Berman shows how a genuine religious inspiration can be turned into murderous terrorism, and offers insights into how Islamic radicalism mirrors some all-too-familiar episodes in America and Europe.
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Publisher's Summary

In Paul Berman's opinion, terrorism does not represent a paradigm shift in human thought; rather, it represents a return to the kind of totalitarian thinking that ravaged the European continent during most of the twentieth century. Berman shows how a genuine religious inspiration can be turned into murderous terrorism, and offers insights into how Islamic radicalism mirrors some all-too-familiar episodes in America and Europe. He condemns the foreign policy "realism" of the right and diagnoses the naivete of the political left. Finally, he calls for a "new radicalism" and "liberal American interventionism to promote democratic values throughout the world", a vigorous new policy of American liberalism. Drawing from the history and philosophy of religion and politics, Berman is a peerless interpreter of today's events.

©2003 Paul Berman; (P)2003 Books on Tape, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Mr. Berman is a wonderfully lucid presenter and analyzer of recent intellectual history. (The New York Times Book Review)

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    Ed Victoria, British Columbia, Canada 03-17-08
    Ed Victoria, British Columbia, Canada 03-17-08 Member Since 2006
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    "Balanced and original"

    This is a real treat of an exegesis from someone who is clearly not beholden to any particular political camp. Berman illustrates some surprising (to me) threads connecting 20th-century intellectual history and the current tangle. I was pretty sure that I didn't care about Baudelaire until I listened to this.
    An excellent, clear reading by Scott Brick (in the last chapter he mistakes the plural of "basis" for the plural of "base"-- otherwise pretty much error free).

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Collierville, TN, United States 07-07-05
    Michael Collierville, TN, United States 07-07-05 Member Since 2004
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    "RIGHT!"

    "Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself." Milton Friedman

    "The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind."
    - Thomas Jefferson

    "We are apt to forget that the vast majority of men and women who fell under the totalitarian spell were activated by unselfish motives, ready to accept the role of martyr or executioner, as the cause demanded."
    - Arthur Koestler

    Equating anything in modern America with the murderous totalitarian regimes (Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, Communist USSR) that ravaged the European continent in the 20th century is simply leftist hyperbole. However, likening religious to political totalitarianism has some merit and Mr. Berman does a fair job of it. Leftys, please argue based on ideas....... oh, I forgot, your ideas have been soundly defeated by history itself.

    Read this book. Classic liberalism (what might be termed libertarianism today) appeals to the best in us, leftist hyperbole to the worst.

    17 of 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roy Ashland, OR, United States 05-16-05
    Roy Ashland, OR, United States 05-16-05 Member Since 2004
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    "Wrong!"

    It's absurd and simplistic for Berman to assert that Islamist terrorism represents a return to the kind of totalitarian thinking that ravaged the European continent during most of the twentieth century. One could just as easily point out the parallels between the emergence of European fascism and the rise of the extremist right in America and it's eventual take over of all three branches of the federal government. One could say that Mussolini's 1922 "March on Rome" was the blueprint for George Bush's Brooks Brothers Riot that shut down the 2000 Florida vote count, or even allude to Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia on some pretense hardly anyone now remembers. It's a fun exercise to make these kinds of comparisons and Berman is having his fun too.

    16 of 58 people found this review helpful
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