July 9, 2018

Questions Raised by 9/11, and Their Answers

[An old grad-school paper]

Lawrence Wright’s book The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 is an illuminating account of Muslim terrorism prior to the attack on the Twin Towers. It describes the origins of such terrorism and specifically the rise of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. At the same time, it traces in great detail the hist...

March 23, 2018

Just a quick note: I recently posted a long summary of and commentary on Georg Lukacs' masterpiece The Destruction of Reason, which has been absurdly--though not surprisingly, given the quality of the West's intellectual culture--neglected and virtually forgotten by everyone except Lukacs scholars. It describes the path to Hitler in the realm of culture, particularly philosophy,...

March 5, 2017

I recently read a book by Chris Bambery called The Second World War: A Marxist History (2014) and decided it was good enough to take notes on. I posted them on, here. Marxist interpretations are typically the most interesting and valuable, so I recommend you read either the notes or the book itself. Especially because World War II was such a formative influence on ou...

August 8, 2016

Years ago I read and took some notes on various works by Hannah Arendt. In particular her classic Origins of Totalitarianism. It's a great book, although perhaps insufficiently Marxist and somewhat idiosyncratic in a few of its interpretations, so I posted those notes and others on I also took notes on an interesting book about Max Weber's sociology of culture. And,...

November 8, 2015

[Some notes I took a while ago. They may be kind of obvious, but I think it’s interesting to adopt something like Hegel’s perspective on himself and on other modern thinkers, and to use this to explain why they’ve resonated so much.]

Descartes had world-historical significance insofar as he was the most perfect manifestation of modernity’s impulse to reject the past and begin anew...

August 5, 2015

It might seem wrong to maintain, as I have in many writings, that the modern predominance of bureaucratic social structures and their ethos—for which industrial capitalism (broadly defined, including the Soviet Union and even “Communist” China) has been largely responsible, in that it is an anti-personal social order in which people tend to be treated as instantiations of such ca...

May 6, 2015

Part 2 of "Thoughts on the 70th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust." Part 1 is here.-- While the industrialized murder of six million people is in a category all its own, one can observe in daily life many of the tendencies that make it possible. The thinking that sees the machinery of death as solely a thing of the past, an incomprehensible anomaly that we have decisively o...

September 10, 2014

[Note: Most of this blog consists of excerpts from books and other writings. Here's one of them--a rather grim one, incidentally. But I think that in some ways the Holocaust symbolized the twentieth century, in fact our modern corporate capitalist society, so these thoughts are appropriate ones to start with. I'll post more cheerful ones later.]

On the Holocaust.— Even seventy yea...

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