At The Financial Times: Adam Tooze ‘reviews’ Perry Anderson’s The H Word. A comment by Political Observer

Prof. Tooze engages in an interpolation of the Anderson arguments, so the reader of his ‘review’ of ‘The H Word’ is somehow supposed to accept that the ‘Liberal Order’ is an historical actuality, rather than a usable intellectual construct, in the service of Neo-Liberal apologetics. An example:

Once again, by the time it was theorised, hegemony was in crisis. As the Bretton Woods monetary system collapsed, stagflation set in. Was this an inevitable side effect of America’s loss of leadership? Did the world economy really need a dominant centre? With Europe recovered from the destruction of the war and with Japan booming, might co-operation and co-ordination not be enough? That is precisely what Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and their followers in Europe — Helmut Kohl, Bettino Craxi and, eventually, François Mitterrand too — would deliver. As America’s position was relativised, what emerged was not chaos but something more all-pervasive: liberal hegemony reborn in the form of the market revolution or, as we have learnt to call it, neoliberalism.

Does the above paragraph represent the thoughts, the ideas of Prof. Anderson or, again , the interpolations of Prof. Tooze? The reader of Prof. Anderson always knows where he stands, on his thoughts and ideas, and his interpretations of the historical data. Would that Prof. Tooze was as transparent a writer. Note the position of Neo-Liberalism in this paragraph, last, and that its appearance, in the argumentative frame, is in the lower case: so as to relegate it to the rhetorical territory of near irrelevance.

Prof . Anderson’s ‘American Foreign Policy and its Thinkers’ is for want of a more accurate descriptor an historical/political tour de force. Prof. Anderson’s candor is always evident! Prof. Tooze’s ‘review ‘ of ‘The H Word’ for some reason reminds me of ‘The Age of Fracture’ by Daniel T. Rogers. The book is brilliant in its first seven chapters, and then sinks into a rather disheartening academic playing it safe, in his epilogue.  The pressing question that arose, in my mind, upon reading the first seven chapters of Rogers’ book was: how could/should/might a political/moral actor conduct them-self in light of the insights that Rogers offers in those chapters? Also, how can ‘The Age of Fracture’ determine such pressing moral and political questions/quandaries?

I’m sorry to say that Prof. Tooze’s ‘review’ is tinged with an apparent, disappointing, yet carefully modulated mendacity.

Political Observer


About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
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