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The Logos Reader

The Logos Reader: Rational Radicalism and the Future of Politics

Stephen Eric Bronner
Michael J. Thompson
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 392
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2jcgp5
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    The Logos Reader
    Book Description:

    The online publication Logos: A Journal of Modern Society and Culture was launched in response to the atmosphere of triumphant conservatism and militarism that pervades American political culture in the aftermath of 9/11. Aiming to revitalize the moribund political left, several world-renowned intellectual figures congregated to form the journal's core group of editors and writers. The mission of Logos is to promote "rational radicalism," grounded in critical social theory and fully engaged with the most vital issues of our time. The Logos Reader: Rational Radicalism and the Future of Politics offers the best political writing published by the journal during its first three years. Compiled by founding editors Stephen Eric Bronner and Michael J. Thompson, these pieces critically examine globalization, the Iraq War, and the plight of the Middle East, while also illuminating the domestic concerns that dominate American discourse. Delivered in a direct, accessible manner, the analyses presented in The Logos Reader reflect the journal's distinctly public purpose. The essays reveal both the practical and theoretical connections between distant military pursuits and domestic struggles for democracy and equality. The left's leading intellectuals shed light on the most recent developments in the global war on terrorism while sharply criticizing right-wing justifications for restricted civil liberties, human rights violations, and rampant expansion of armaments. Similar attention is given to central domestic issues, such as the conservative right's assault on the welfare state and the crusade of religious fundamentalists against civil rights protections for all citizens. Negotiating the vast terrain of current social problems, the contributors are united in their intent to question and ultimately constrain the excessive power wielded by dominant cultural, political, and economic institutions. This collection stakes out firm ideological ground and challenges authoritarian forces, clarifying the notion of rational radicalism as a liberating counterpoint to limiting worldviews and systems of oppression.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-7169-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-6)

    Logoswas founded in the shadow of September 11, 2001, when the new millennium had barely begun. It was conceived as a journal, but also as part of a larger political and cultural project. A palpable chill had already pervaded the cultural climate. Neoconservatism was becoming the intellectual fashion, and a new preoccupation with world hegemony was defining American politics. That situation has only grown worse. The aftermath of 9/11 has witnessed the rise of religious traditionalism, exaggerated nationalism, and Americaʹs withdrawal from the global discourse even as the world is becoming increasingly interdependent. The mass media as well as...

  5. Part I. Whither America?

    • American Landscape: Lies, Fears, and the Distortion of Democracy
      (pp. 9-16)
      Stephen Eric Bronner

      Lying has always been part of politics. Traditionally, however, the lie was seen as a necessary evil that those in power should keep from their subjects. Even totalitarians tried to hide the brutal truths on which their regimes rested. This disparity gave critics and reformers their sense of purpose: to illuminate for citizens the difference between the way the world appeared and the way it actually functioned. Following the proclamation of victory in the Iraqi war, however, that sense of purpose became imperiled, along with the trust necessary for maintaining a democratic discourse. The Bush administration boldly proclaimed the legitimacy...

    • How to Be an Intelligent Anti-American
      (pp. 17-26)
      Jeffrey Goldfarb

      The original idea for this paper dates back to 1996. At that time, I was teaching in Cracow, Poland, in a summer institute on democracy and diversity. Since 1992, I had been teaching a course on democratic culture, utilizing the political theory of both major Western thinkers, particularly Hannah Arendt, and major thinkers and political actors from around the old bloc, particularly Adam Michnik and Vaclav Havel. Since the early 1970s, I had studied and worked with the developing democratic movement in central Europe, particularly Poland. The course was a continuation of these activities. But something new and different presented...

    • The Federal Marriage Amendment and the Attack on American Democracy
      (pp. 27-38)
      R. Claire Snyder

      The American Constitution created a secular government that acts to protect the civil rights and liberties of individuals rather than imposing a particular vision of the ʺgood lifeʺ on its citizens. Freedom of conscience and the separation of church and state are central to the political philosophy of liberal democracy. These principles, enshrined in our founding documents, have become almost universally accepted norms in U.S. society today. Nevertheless, conservative religious organizations are currently mobilizing their supporters across the country to undermine these basic principles, appealing to popular prejudice against an unpopular minority. Claiming to speak for the People, they seek...

    • Fahrenheit 9/11: The Real Lowdown
      (pp. 39-44)
      Kurt Jacobsen

      Agitprop, by any other name, is still agitprop. Even our heartiest approval of a refreshingly candid viewpoint within this dubious medium doesnʹt change that fact. But so what? In the trumped-up second Persian Gulf war, didnʹt the mainstream U.S. media operate, as if by a tap of a wicked witchʹs wand, as an enormous fawning agitprop apparatus for the Bush White House (as anchorman Dan Rather admitted, with the saving grace of traces of shame)? Agitprop is what every government assiduously churns out every day in calculated streams of tactical news bites, although the purveyors usually give it a suitably...

    • The Never-ending War on the Welfare State
      (pp. 45-56)
      Charles Noble

      Commenting on the administrationʹs decision to create a new drug benefit for seniors, one highly respected liberal columnist recently observed that ʺpolitical considerations seemed to be pushing George W. Bush further and further into the New Deal way of life.ʺ¹ But Bushʹs obvious ploy to pick up senior votes should be cold comfort to anyone who cares about public provision. The Right still intends to undo the welfare state. And there is a good chance that it might succeed.

      For one thing, at least in social policy, the Rightʹs strategy is carefully crafted and brilliantly conceived. Moreover, American conservatives enjoy...

  6. Part II. Theoretical Encounters

    • Leo Strauss and the Rhetoric of the War on Terror
      (pp. 59-74)
      Nicholas Xenos

      A very curious piece appeared on the op-ed page of theNew York Timeson June 7, 2003. Its author was Jenny Strauss Clay, a professor of classics at the University of Virginia, and the title was ʺThe Real Leo Strauss.ʺ Highlighted in a box midway down the page were the words, ʺMy father was a teacher, not a right-wing guru.ʺ Clay wrote:

      Recent news articles have portrayed my father, Leo Strauss, as the mastermind behind the neoconservative ideologues who control United States foreign policy. He reaches out from his 30-year-old grave, we are told, to direct a ʺcabalʺ (a...

    • Dual-Layered Time: Reflections on T.W. Adorno in the 1950s
      (pp. 75-80)
      Jürgen Habermas

      What seems to be trivial in retrospect could not be taken for granted by the time I joined the Institut für Sozialforschung (Institute for Social Research): that its reputation would be more dependent on Theodor Adornoʹs incessant productivity, which was only then heading for its climax, rather than on the success of the empirical research with which the institute was supposed to legitimize itself in the first place. Although he was the nerve center of the institute, Adorno could not handle administrative power. Rather, he constituted the passive center of a complex area of tension. When I arrived in 1956...

    • Anthony Giddens’s Third Way: A Critique
      (pp. 81-98)
      Geoffrey Kurtz

      The story goes that Michael Harrington and Paul Jacobs, the socialists in an early War on Poverty task force, liked to end their policy memos by noting: ʺOf course, there is no real solution to the problem of poverty until we abolish the capitalist system.ʺ¹ Harrington and Jacobsʹs complaint, tongue in cheek as it was, suggests something vital about left politics at its best: a relentless vigilance toward the limits and trade-offs implicit in available political options, matched by a willingness to slog it out in the trenches of pragmatic reformism.

      Anthony Giddensʹs recent trio of slim manifestos shows plenty...

    • How Dinesh Gets Over: The Unmeritorious Scholarship of Dinesh D’Souza
      (pp. 99-116)
      Christine Kelly

      For about a decade now, Dinesh DʹSouza has been vexing serious left and liberal intellectuals. DʹSouzaʹs meteoric rise—from Bombay Rotary Club exchange student at the University of Arizona in 1978 to media-renowned political ʺexpertʺ and Rishwain Scholar at Stanford Universityʹs conservative Hoover Institution today—might be cast as one of the great immigrant success stories of our times. That along the way DʹSouza has, as he puts it, ʺharpoonedʺ battalions of liberal and left Americans in the process is his peculiar distinction. After all, it isnʹt every day that liberal and left America draws its most enthusiastic and anointed...

    • A Mills Revival?
      (pp. 117-138)
      Stanley Aronowitz

      Perhaps you know Foucaultʹs remark that despite the torrent of criticism directed against Hegelʹs philosophical system, ʺHegel prowls through the twentieth century.ʺ Consigned to a kind of academic purgatory for the last three decades of the twentieth century, at a time when social theory migrated from the social sciences, obsessed with case studies and social ʺproblems,ʺ to literature and philosophy, where he was rarely discussed and almost never cited, C. Wright Mills was an absent presence. All sociologists, and most people in other social scientific disciplines, knew his name and, in their political unconscious, recognized his salience, but they were...

  7. Part III. Political Recollections

    • The Price of Heavenly Peace: Tiananmen Square Fifteen Years Later
      (pp. 141-148)
      Michael J. Thompson

      Anyone who has walked along Changʹan Boulevard in Beijing in the last fifteen years cannot help but be transported back to the spring of 1989. The ground still elicits the images of the tens of thousands of students and workers who gathered there to demand democratic reform of the communist state. Even today, it is as if the square itself still vibrates with political meaning. This often happens when politics, history, and location meet and intertwine. But whereas certain locales such as Berlinʹs Brandenburg Gate have come to represent the victory of freedom and democracy over fascism and totalitarianism, Tiananmen...

    • But on a Quiet Day … A Tribute to Arundhati Roy
      (pp. 149-164)
      Fred Dallmayr

      Sometimes one feels like ʺtuning out.ʺ Faced with the incessant noise of warplanes and propaganda machines, one sometimes feels like stopping up oneʹs ears in order to shut out the world. The impulse is particularly strong in the ʺdeveloped,ʺ industrial North, given the fact that development almost invariably means a ratcheting up of the noise level. Although amply motivated, the attempt does not quite succeed, for in muffling the roar of military-industrial noises, our ears become available for and attuned to a different kind of sound: the recessed voices of the persecuted and exploited, the anguished cries of the victims...

    • Flight from Van: Memories of an Armenian Genocide Survivor
      (pp. 165-178)
      Patricia Cholakian

      This story was told to me in the 1970s by my mother-in-law, Varsig Pazian Cholakian. I now regret that I did not record it in her own words, but at the time, she insisted that her English was not good enough and that I should write it down for her. Allowances should be made for the fact that these are the memories of a very young child and that many years elapsed between the events and the telling. My original purpose was to preserve her story for the family history, but I believe that it is of interest to a...

    • Dharma and the Bomb: Postmodern Critiques of Science and the Rise of Reactionary Modernism in India
      (pp. 179-194)
      Meera Nanda

      Amidst the headlines about nuclear war worries in South Asia, a little-noticed news item appeared on the BBC World News.¹ The BBC reported on May 14, 2002, that in the middle of the dangerous military buildup along the border with Pakistan, with careless talk of nuclear war in the air, the Indian government had funded scientists in the nationʹs premier defense research institutes to develop techniques of biological and chemical warfare based onArthashastra, a 2,300-year-old Sanskrit treatise on statecraft and warfare. The venerable Sanskrit book is supposed to include recipes for ʺa single meal that will keep a soldier...

    • The Political Legacy of Edward Said
      (pp. 195-200)
      Irene Gendzier

      In the fall of 2002, before the United States led the invasion of Iraq, the Israeli newspaperHaʹaretzran an article by Akiva Eldar on a meeting held in Washington for some members of the Pentagon. The host was Richard Perle, then chair of the U.S. Defense Policy Board. The sponsor was an unnamed think tank. The subject was the future shape of the Middle East. The slide show depicted ʺIraq: a tactical goal, Saudi Arabia: a strategic goal,ʺ as well as stating, ʺPalestine is Israel, Jordan is Palestine, and Iraq is the Hashemite Kingdom.ʺ¹

      Several months later, a leading...

    • Second Letter on Algeria (August 22, 1837)
      (pp. 201-214)
      Alexis de Tocqueville

      Suppose, Sir, for a moment that the emperor of China, landing on the shores of France and at the head of a powerful army, made himself master of our greatest cities and of our capital. And after having destroyed all of the public registers before even having given himself the pain of reading them, destroyed or dispersed all administrators without acquainting himself with their various attributes, he finally rids himself of all state officials from the head of the government to thegardes champêtres, the peers, the deputies, and in general of the entire ruling class; and that he exiled...

  8. Part IV. Israel and Palestine

    • Who Are the Palestinians?
      (pp. 217-226)
      Henry Pachter

      Who are they, the Palestinians, and who has the right to speak for them? Oppressed nationalities find it difficult to get a hearing because those who pretend to represent them are often political adventurers who merely exploit them—whether for other powersʹ imperialistic purposes or to vent on imaginary enemies their own hatred of the world. This is true of the Somalis, the Irish, the Bengalis, the Ibos; it is twice as true of the Palestinians because their country happens to lie at the crossroads of a world power struggle. Nowhere else do local enmities serve so many outside masters;...

    • The Power of Myths in Israeli Society: Historical Realities and Political Dogmatism
      (pp. 227-232)
      Ernest Goldberger

      Practically all peoples, nations, and societies have recourse to a treasury of legends, tales, or poetic fictions stemming from their more or less remote antiquity. These are mostly enacted by supernatural beings or by human heroes expressing, in terms of fable or story, interpretations of the world and idealized conceptions of life, and they sometimes serve, as well, as models and examples. Such myth formations often have their roots in animism, survive through the various prerational stages of cultures, and become, in modern societies, metaphors and other metarational forms for expressing ideas that are conceptually hard to formulate. Sometimes, actual...

    • The Logic behind the Geneva Accord
      (pp. 233-246)
      Menachem Klein

      There are three ways in which the Geneva Accord differs from previous documents dealing with an Israeli-Palestinian settlement. First, this is a model for a permanent status agreement that puts an end to the conflict and to all mutual claims. Prior to the signing of the Geneva Accord in Jordan on October 13, 2003, no such model existed, given that the talks held by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1999–2001 on a permanent status settlement had come to naught. Second, this is a detailed model. Prior to the publication of the Geneva Accord, several joint Israeli-Palestinian...

    • West Bank Settlements Obstruct Peace: Israel’s Empire State Building
      (pp. 247-252)
      Marwan Bishara

      Why is it so hard to make peace in the Middle East? The greatest barrier is the Israeli settlements—these are both the motivation for and the engine of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. Three decades of objections from the United States and Europe have achieved nothing. The rapid expansion of Israeli settlements—all illegal—has undermined Palestinian attempts at nation building. If they continue to spread, they will end the Israel that its founders envisioned.

      As Israel makes more incursions into Palestinian cities, it has placed new restrictions on the movement of their people and goods, stifling...

    • Orwell and Kafka in Israel–Palestine
      (pp. 253-266)
      Lawrence Davidson

      In the last two years, I have made three trips to Israel and occupied Palestine (the West Bank and Gaza Strip). Each trip represents a journey into an approximation of the literary nightmares of George Orwell and Franz Kafka. To a certain extent we are all subject to the Orwellian version of these nightmares.¹ It was Orwellʹs conviction that ʺpolitical language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectful.ʺ Here in the United States we ought to recognize the truth of this maxim, for we have once again been drawn into deadly foreign adventures based on lies and...

  9. Part V. Iraq:: Imperialism and Invasion

    • The Guiding Principles and the U.S. “Mandate” for Iraq: Twentieth-Century Colonialism and America’s New Empire
      (pp. 269-278)
      Keith D. Watenpaugh

      Late in 2001, the Council on Foreign Relations invited twenty-five academics, corporate executives, oil industry consultants, retired military men, and American diplomats to meet at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy on the oak-shaded campus of Rice University. Cochaired by two former career foreign service officers, Edward P. Djerejian and Frank G. Wisner, the group was charged with mapping out a plan for the United Statesʹ role in Iraq after the anticipated war. The final report that followed,Guiding Principles for U.S. Post-Conflict Policy in Iraq, outlines a three-phase, at least two-year process by which Iraq would...

    • The Iraqi Conflict and Its Impact on the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict
      (pp. 279-282)
      Eric Rouleau

      There is a widespread belief in the Arab world—and in Western pro-Palestinian circles—that there is a strong Israeli connection to the invasion of Iraq and, more generally, to American policies in the Middle East. Such a conviction is based more on prejudice than on facts. It is widely assumed that the political interests of the United States and Israel are the same with regard to the Middle East and that the hard-line pro-U.S. Jewish faction led by Ariel Sharon represents the views of ʺthe Jewish communityʺ both in Israel and in the world at large. In actuality, however,...

    • Iraqnophobia versus Reality
      (pp. 283-292)
      James Jennings

      Incredibly, in less than eighteen months, the Bush administration has turned worldwide support for the United States following the September 11 attacks into the biggest foreign policy debacle since the Vietnam era. This administrationʹs policies on Iraq have bitterly divided NATO, the UN Security Council, the U.S. Congress, the European Union, and even the Arab League. Itʹs an old joke in Washington that a politicianʹs most embarrassing moment is when he (or she) inadvertently blurts out the truth. Both President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell had such moments recently.

      In his 2002 State of the Union speech, President...

    • Whither Independence? Iraq in Perspective: From Despotism to Occupation
      (pp. 293-300)
      Wadood Hamad

      There has been nearly unanimous consensus among Iraqis that a new age of possible progress and prosperity has dawned on their battered and war-fatigued country with the downfall of Saddam Hussein on April 9, 2003. However, much has tainted this rosy image, and much more could still mar the outcome. A principal factor has been the highly incompetent and nonchalant manner in which the U.S.–U.K. occupying forces have conducted themselves; one wonders if this is a result of sheer imperial arrogance, ignorance of the region, or a combination of both. None of the above reasons is excusable in any...

  10. Part VI. Transnational Realities

    • September 11 and the Terror War: The Bush Legacy and the Risks of Unilateralism
      (pp. 303-322)
      Douglas Kellner

      On September 11, 2001, terrorists seized control of an American Airlines flight from Boston to Los Angeles and crashed it into the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City, followed by a second hijacking and collision into the other WTC tower minutes later. During the same hour, a third commandeered jetliner hit the Pentagon, while a fourth hijacked plane, possibly destined for the White House, went down in Pennsylvania, perhaps crashed out of harmʹs way by passengers who had learned of the earlier terrorist crimes and were trying to prevent another calamity.

      The world stood transfixed by the graphic...

    • Europe as a Political Project
      (pp. 323-330)
      Dick Howard

      In the 1980s, with several friends, I helped produce a program called ʺEuropein-Formationʺ at the New York left-wing public radio station WBAI. This was a time well before the ultimate internal weakness of the Soviet Union became apparent and when a true or good or purified socialism remained a hope for many leftists. Our idea was that the model of a European Union, enlarging the welfare state and challenging the realpolitik cynicism of a U.S. government that supported repressive regimes in the name of fighting the communist enemy, would encourage political criticism that was still leftist even though it contained...

    • Multilateralism: For a New Political Enlightenment
      (pp. 331-340)
      Drucilla Cornell and Philip Green

      The war in Iraq, having been publicly declared as an example of our new foreign policy and its commitment to preemptive strikes against anyone who gets in the way of the United States, and the threats to Syria and Iran, first put forward by Secretary Rumsfeld after their incursions into Iraq, are already being ratcheted up. At the same time, the landing of our ever more precise cruise missiles in both Iran and Saudi Arabia angered the leaders and the people of both countries, but none of this bothered anybody in charge. Killing had become a sport, with the media...

    • Globalism: The New Market Ideology
      (pp. 341-352)
      Manfred B. Steger

      In his celebrated address to a joint session of Congress nine days after the terrorist attacks on September 11, President George W. Bush made it abundantly clear that the deep sources of the new conflict between the ʺcivilized worldʺ and terrorism were to be found in neither religion nor culture but in political ideology. Referring to the radical network of terrorists and governments that support them as ʺheirs of all the murderous ideologies of the twentieth century,ʺ Bush described the sinister motives of the terrorists: ʺBy sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the...

    • The Silence of Words and Political Dynamics in the World Risk Society
      (pp. 353-368)
      Ulrich Beck

      September 11, 2001, will stand for many things in the history of humanity. Among these is the failure, the silence of language before such an event:war, crime, enemy, victory,andterror—the terms melt in the mouth like rotten mushrooms (to borrow a phrase from Hugo von Hofmannsthal). NATO summed up the alliance, but it is neither an attack from the outside nor an attack of a sovereign state against another sovereign state. September 11 does not stand for a second Pearl Harbor. The attack was directed not toward the U.S. military machine but rather toward innocent civilians. The...

  11. List of Contributors
    (pp. 369-372)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 373-380)