After finishing Domenico Losudro’s Liberalism : A Counter-History , which is a history and polemic against a nihilistic political/civic mythology: and its perpetrators of colonialism, slavery,the indentured servitude of the ‘lower orders’, not to speak of the genocide against native peoples . Liberalism’s salesmen Locke, de Tocqueville, Mill, Spencer, the list of bad actors embraces almost all the prominent thinkers of the Enlightenment, and their precursors and natural inheritors . This presented in a relentlessly compelling narrative. Losurdo book is a negative revelation.
While waiting for my print copy of Alexander Zevin’s Liberalism at Large: The World According to the Economist ( I had downloaded the e-book from Verso, but I am a reader of books!) As a reader of the Economist- regular and irregular – I was an avid reader of a history of this ‘newspaper’, although the e-book is inhospitable to my retrograde sensibility.
While waiting for Professor Zevin’s book to arrive in the mail, I looked at my book shelf, on my way into my room, and saw Ernest Samuels one volume edition of his biography ‘Henry Adams’ in one of the corners, of the top shelf. One of the expressions of my curiosity, allied to my unslakable intellectual/literary ambition. Perhaps Kant’s imperative of ‘dare to know’ has been my unknown point of reference?
My copy of Prof. Zevin’s book arrived, while I am on page 228 of ‘Henry Adams’ . It reads like a novel, whose main character is Adams, and a host of others personages great and small. While I am nearing 75 years, I read Adams as his 48 year old self, in Samuels telling , who has lost Clover, and seeks to rebuild his life, by way of his history writing, that has become a chore, his ambition has reached an ebb? While surrounded by a coterie of women, as the temporary replacements for Clover.
I think I have, maybe, five good years left, in which to read, think, and write. Am I a fool to believe in a future for myself?
Where might this essay by J. C. Levenson ,The Etiology of Israel Adams: The Onset, Waning, and Relevance of Henry Adams’s Anti-Semitism, fit into the portrait of Henry Adams, provided by Samuels? Checking the index, pages 315, 316, 320, 321, 346, 405, 455 are the page numbers on which Anti-Semitism is given as a subject.
Two quotation from page 405 of the Samuels book are illuminating: Bernard Berenson on Henry Adams:
‘We had much in common , but he could not forget that he was an Adams and was always more embarrassed than I was that I happened to be a Jew’
Henry Adams on Bernard Berenson:
‘As usual, I got more information from Berenson than from the rest, and yet Berenson , – well! Berenson belongs to the primitives’
Given the above, as a kind rhetorical snapshot of my state of mind, if that describes it accurately…
I had seen Edward Luce’s interview with Chrystia Freeland in The Financial Times of January 24, 2020, and decided to continue reading Samuels’ biography, as a better investment of my time. Note the economic metaphor.
Why would I associate Chrystia Freedland with Anti-Semitism?
Headline:Why Is This Canadian Foreign Minister ‘Proud’ of Her Family’s Nazi Past?
Sub-headline: Chrystia Freeland apparently blames Russian disinformation for her grandfather’s Nazi editorials that described Poland as ‘infected by the Jews’
When asked at a press conference on March 6 about the allegations that her maternal grandfather was a Nazi collaborator, Chrystia Freeland, newly appointed Foreign Minister of Canada, former journalist and a writer, a master of words, found only clumsy sentences to deliver what would have earned no more than a ‘C’ in a high school debate class.
“It’s no secret that Russians do not like you and banned you from the country,” began the question. “Recently, there has been a series of articles in pro-Russian websites about you and your maternal grandparents, making accusations that [your grandfather] was a Nazi collaborator. I’d like to get your view—is this a disinformation campaign by the Russians to try to smear you and discredit you, which they have a tendency to do?”
With a poorly-camouflaged expression of pain on her face, Freeland replied:
“It’s public knowledge that there have been efforts—as U.S. intelligence sources have said—by Russia to destabilize the U.S. political system. I think that Canadians and indeed other Western countries should be prepared for similar efforts to be directed at us. I am confident in our country’s democracy and I am confident that we can stand up to and see through those efforts.”
“I don’t think it’s a secret,” she continued, “American officials have publicly said—and even [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel has publicly said—that there were efforts on the Russian side to destabilize Western democracies, and I think it shouldn’t come as a surprise if these same efforts were used against Canada. I think that Canadians and indeed other Western countries should be prepared for similar efforts to be directed at them.”
Freedland wan attempt to put the onus on Putin, as an explanation for her grandfather’s politics was assisted by a ‘reporter’s’ question framed in the New Cold War mythology of Putin The Terrible!
Freedland was once a part of a coterie led by, the now politically irrelevant Michael Ignatieff, as advocate of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) along with Samantha Power:
Headline: The Moral Logic of Humanitarian Intervention
Sub-headline: Samantha Power made a career arguing for America’s “responsibility to protect.” During her years in the White House, it became clear that benevolent motives can have calamitous results.
The interview of Freedland conducted by the Financial Times pundit Luce doesn’t quite meet the standard of the reverence, laced with cynicism, allied to a maladroit, flatfooted comedy, of his ‘Kissinger Interview’ . Out of all the chatter, carefully orchestrated by Luce, to avoid potentially embarrassing questions, this reference to Porcine Spartan Robert Kagan informs the reader that there is no political difference between the under attack ‘Liberals’ and Neo-Conservatives.
Freedland cites The Jungle Grows Back, a book by Robert Kagan, the American author. “I believe that public support has to be constantly cultivated,” she says. “We need to keep watering the garden. The fact that you ran four times last week doesn’t mean you don’t have to run four times this week to stay healthy.”
January 25, 2020