London School of Economics
Recovering Liberties: Indian Thought in the Age of Liberalism and Empire By C. A. Bayly (Cambridge University Press, 383 pp., $29.99) Democracy and Its Institutions By André Béteille (Oxford University Press India, 228 pp., £27.50) I. THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA is the most reckless political experiment in human history. Never before was a single nation constructed out of so many diverse and disparate parts. Partitioned at birth on the basis of religion, India now has almost as many Muslims as the Muslim homeland of Pakistan.
I. MY ROLE ON September 11 was to be a reporter for The New Republic. I was in downtown Brooklyn, and from my rooftop I watched the first tower crumble, and then I ran downstairs to the street with pen and notebook and plunged into the crowds fleeing over the bridges. I spoke with one person after another, asking what they had seen. They told me. I compiled my report.
As Muammar Qaddafi wages war on his own people, whatever international support he once enjoyed has almost entirely dried up. The first to go were his powerful friends in Great Britain; former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who helped rehabilitate the Libyan dictator after he surrendered his nuclear weapons program in 2003, privately urged him to step down.
The ancient rabbis declared that, “even though a Jew has sinned”—which in this context means sinned against his own—“he remains Israel.” We can leave it for the Lord Almighty to decide whether Richard Goldstone remains among His chosen. But, whether the judge can worship with members of the congregation, as he was finally permitted to do at his grandson’s bar mitzvah last spring, remains in the hands of those who’d have to pray with him; and, if I were them, I would not allow him. Not for one moment.
The fact is that almost everyone has dirty hands. Everyone: politicians (even “statesmen”), banks, governments, international organizations, newspapers, universities, scholars—they are now mortified to (have to) admit that they made common cause with Muammar Qaddafi and his favored son Saif. Thursday’s Financial Times carries a half-page article by Michael Peel on some of Qaddafi’s intimates: Tony Blair, the London School of Economics (LSE) and Political Science, the Carlyle Group (America’s most politically wired investment ensemble), the great revolutionary democrat Hugo Chavez, etc.
Ernest Gellner: An Intellectual Biography By John A. Hall (Verso, 400 pp., $49.95) John A. Hall concludes his account of Ernest Gellner by observing that his outlook on the world was austere. “But therein lies its attraction,” he goes on. “Not much real comfort for our woes is on offer; the consolations peddled in the market are indeed worthless.
When one wave of revolution hits an Arab country it is very likely to hit several others. Like the revolts of the colonels. It started with a coup d’état of army colonels by Gamal Abdel Nasser (who supplanted his lackey Muhammad Naguib) in early 1953. There followed another coup of colonels in Syria which then teamed up with Egypt to comprise the United Arab Republic in 1956. The preposterous flag with two stars, one for each state, is about as deep as the union was.