Wednesday, January 9, 2013

8/20 Favorites: The Future of History by John Lukacs

 
 The Future of History
The Future of History by John Lukacs (2008). Lukacs is a relatively recent discovery, but what a discovery he’s been! Like Arendt, he’s a refugee from Europe, although he’s younger, coming after the Second World War, from Hungry. Like Arendt, his thinking can prove a bit obscure to me at times, but I think it because he's just a whole lot smarter than I am. His range intrigues me, from Five Days in London: May 1940 to the whole calling of history as a human endeavor and way of knowing. His thoughts about history as a calling have proven most insightful and unique to me. Lukacs argues, in my paraphrase, that all knowledge is history, and therefore history is the master trope of all knowing and scholarship. These insights are fascinating. He’s a bit of well-kept secret, but any of his books proves worthwhile. Even though English is not his native tongue, he’s a mater stylist who can write with the grace and skill of a novelist.

When Twitter Isn't Enough--A Potpourri

Sometimes our comments and citations need more than 140 characters. I've been using Twitter to comment very briefly on some blog posts, but sometimes you just can't say enough. Thus, an occasional round-up seems in order to comment on various items I've read around the Net that have captured my fancy or items that riff on some reading topic. 

Marx? As the Inscrutable Panda has reminded me, he's still around and still "relevant" (what a 60's word). I think that's correct. Add to that fact the recent death of the prolific historian (and Marxist) Eric Hobsbawm, and you have something worth reading (also it's by well-known critic Terry Eagleton). In fact, truth be told, from my freshman intro to political theory course, I found ol' Karl pretty interesting. Wrong in many ways, but still insightful. Is that still true? Well, we're not in utopia, and we do have some groups of people (shall we say "classes"?) who don't treat other groups fairly. Yes, that still happens, Virginia. So, have a dose of Marx: https://www.readability.com/articles/itwou8az.

Tom Friedman hits on a double note: climate and debt. On climate, I think that we've got our heads up our [you know what] and things will only get worse. On the debt, I'm not quite so sure. Long term, yes; short term, don't shoot the dog. He needs to come to grips with Krugman, whom he obliquely digs by saying that things could change quickly on interest rates, whereas Krugman has pointed out that they haven't, all the Casandras notwithstanding. Before going all Niall Fergusson on us, Friedman needs to do some economic persuading before I'll get too fired up about this. And as Krugman regularly agrees, we do need to address debt issues, certainly; we just don't need to drink the austerity kool-aid now. Friedman's take: https://www.readability.com/articles/pmvybfkl 

Rick Perlstein's Nixonland was an amazingly good book. Here he states why he is a "liberal". Put simply, "freedom plus groceries". I might say freedom plus dignity, which to my mind entails some economic security and fairness, but I quibble. I think he's got it mostly right. A sound introduction to this line of thinking that's even in short supply in the Obama era. https://www.readability.com/articles/oqgosxot

Fareed Zarkaria adds his voice to the chorus about gun violence and gives a plain message. It sounds like Obama is hedging, which I suppose I understand, but I agree 100% with Zarkaria based on the evidence, the way to reduce gun violence is to reduce access to guns. Thanks, Fareed, for pointing out the obvious, but we need it. 
https://www.readability.com/articles/pnxodyrz

Tom Barnett weighs in with some timely thoughts on women and violence in India. While he's an IR guy essentially, he tracks the world in terms of whose those who are in the "gap"; i.e., lagging connections to the more developed world. Anyway, his take merits consideration. Excess young men used to go war to have their numbers reduced, but this is no longer an attractive option. So, instead, we have a de facto war on women. An interesting hypothesis. https://www.readability.com/articles/bvh8hdq0
 
 Naomi Wolf on "India's rape culture" and similar problems in the U.S. and Europe as well. https://www.readability.com/articles/jgqqiu0b