Arab Rejectionism, Seriously
J.J. Goldberg’s review of Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s The Devil That Never Dies [“Hatreds Ancient and New,” Issue #30] is unfair to Goldhagen’s book and its major thesis. In fact, there is a global demonization of the Jewish state and the Jewish people, of an unprecedented kind.
There is as part of this a singling out of Israel for delegitimization by those on the radical left. Goldberg also does not take seriously enough the rejectionism that so strongly pervades the Islamist attitude toward Israel and that is part of most Islamic states’ propaganda networks, even those at peace with Israel. Part of this is no doubt because Goldberg buys the “occupation myth” of the Palestinian Arab version of the conflict, which the Western media almost exclusively take for granted. But anyone who has followed the conflict closely knows that the main theme of the story is refusal to accept Israel no matter what it does.
Goldhagen is certainly not right in every claim he makes—I would be more reserved about his thesis of American exceptionalism—but he has in fact seen correctly the latest transformations in one of humanity’s most shameful stories.
It’s discouraging to see continued devotion to debt and consumption, which is devastating to the planet, enslaves borrowers, and enriches lenders. [“Fiscal Drag,” Issue #30]
The notion that we should fuel “growth” with rising debt derives from the myth that it is possible to have perpetual growth despite finite resources. Other words for “austerity” are prudence, thrift, conservation, and sustainability. I wonder how long we can expect the planet to keep coughing up the stuff we buy with borrowed money (when it isn’t being used to pay for wars). Rather than more and more spending and debt, I suggest that we need to consume less, and give up our addiction to the illusion of “economic growth.” Bill McKibben’s book Deep Economy might be a good counterbalance to those reviewed here.
Wanted: System Smashers
Great piece and beautifully clear. [“The Tech Intellectuals,” Issue #30] Henry Farrell makes a lot of valid points, but there’s an element of straw man-ism. Jeff Jarvis, for example, doesn’t pretend to be a great intellectual. I think he sees himself more as a hack—a hack of ideas and enterprise. It’s a little odd to criticize him for not being Noam Chomsky. More generally, I wonder if your critique could apply to any area of intellectual/public life, rather than just technology? Also, are you ultimately just saying that there aren’t enough very left-wing people who want to smash the system?
Thanks again for the thought-provoking article.