Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tony Judt is Dead

Talking is the point of existence.
Tony Judt

Tony Judt, the progressive historian, has died of a form of motor neurone disease. He described himself thus:

I am regarded outside New York university as a Looney Tunes leftie, self-hating, Jewish communist. Inside the university, I am regarded as a typical old-fashioned, white male liberal elitist. I like that.

It is likely that Judt has not moved a lot since he was a boy in south London. What has moved is the center of gravity of politics. Being a liberal was, until a few decades ago, being in the center of the political spectrum. Now, especially in the USA, it is to be a Looney Tunes leftie. The center of gravity of American politics especially has moved so far right, that most of the Republican party sound like raving Brownshirts.

I think what we need is a return to a belief, not in liberty, because that is too easily converted into something else… but equality—equality, which is not the same as sameness. Equality of access to information, equality of access to knowledge, equality of access to education, equality of access to power and politics. We should be more concerned than we are about inequalities of opportunity, whether between young and old, or those with different skills, or from different regions of a country. It is another way of taking about injustice. We need to rediscover a language of dissent.
Tony Judt

Three cheers to all that! Can it be achieved though without overthrowing the established order? A language of dissent might be needed to express it, but capitalism and society are mutually antagonistic, and, if the dissent does not lead to action, then western society will collapse or only a successful revolution will have prevented it.

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