Notes on "Reappraisals: Reflections on the...20th c" (2008) by Tony Judt

Sunday, 12 June 2011 05:20
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-US enriched rather than impoverished by the two world wars and by their outcome, nothing in common with Britain -> still glorifies military, sentiment familiar in Europe before 1945.

-in Europe, dominant sentiment relief at "final closing of a long, unhappy chapter" vs in US - story recorded in a triumphalist key. war works. thus remains the first option, vs last resort

-20th c rise and fall of the state. welfare state a cross-party 20th c consensus implemented by liberals or conservatives not as first stage of 20th c socialism but culmination of late-19th c reformist liberalism, prerequisites of a stable civil order. p10

-citizens lost gnawing sentiment of insecurity and fear that had dominated political life between 1914 and 1945. forgot this fear -> neoliberalism. now fear reemerging [-> neofascism], fear that not only we but those 'in authority' have lost control of forces beyond their reach [implicitly acknowledging the cabal of international bankers/ military industrial complex (mic) that conspire above governments, tho Judt would be the first to dismiss this p20]

-postmodern skepticism of all-embracing political goals - grand narratives of Nation and History and Progress. our collective purposes exclusively economic - prosperity, growth, GDP, efficiency, output, interest rates, stock market as ends in themselves p11

-Edward Said "I still have not been able to understand what it means to love a country." re Camp David and 1993 Declarations of Principles - not 'two sides' to negotiations: there was Israel, an established modern state with an awesome military apparatus illegally occupying land, vs Palestinians, a dispersed, displaced, disinherited community with neither an army nor a territory of its own. occupier and occupied. "Their only leverage was their annoying facticity. Having nothing to give up, the Palestinians had nothing to negotiate. To 'deal' with the occupier is to surrender or collaborate". If Israelis needed something from the Palestinians, then the things the Palestinians wanted – full sovereignty, a return to the 1967 frontiers, the 'right of return', a share of Jerusalem – should be on the table at the outset, not at some undetermined final stage. there was no 'good faith' on Israel's part. p168-70 Camp David was a fraud (Tanya Reinhart 2000). historic Palestine now a lost cause, but so is 'historic Israel' -> one-state

-misunderstands Marx - not "worship of economic necessity and its iron laws" p16

-Primo Levi - in "The Bridge" 'being good at your job and taking pleasure from it constitutes if not the highest, then at least 'the most accessible form of freedom'". p51

-Hobsbawm - Marxist historian - historical/ interpretative approach to analysis - favors broad explanations over political narrative, emphasizes economic causation and social consequences. Tory communist. Thatcherism "the anarchism of the lower middle class". "Whatever its weaknesses, its [Soviet Union] very existence proved that socialism was more than a dream." p122

-Koestler re anti-communism: "You can't help people being right for the wrong reasons... This fear of finding oneself in bad company is not an expression of political purity; it is an expression of a lack of self-confidence." (1948 Carnegie Hall) p307 - this goes for critics of Israel too.

-Khrushchev to Kennedy: "We and you ought not now to pull on the ends of the rope in which you have tied the knots of war, because the more the two of us pull, the tighter this knot will be tied. And a moment may come when that knot will be tied so tight that even he who tied will not have the strength to untie it, and then it will be necessary to cut that knot. And what that would mean is not for me to explain to you, because you yourself understand perfectly of what terrible forces our countries dispose." p319 JFK's war experience and life in UK in 1930s gave him insight that the likes of Bush don't have. US:SU 17:1 edge in intercontinental missiles in 1961. Soviet leaders Stalin/Khrushchev not playing chess but poker. They had a weak hand "Upper Volta with missiles" (Helmut Schmidt). For any card game, outcome depends more on nerve, character and intuition. Khrushchev to Castro: "There's no doubt that the Cuban people would have fought courageously or that they would have died heroically. But we are not struggling against imperialism in order to die." p335 "Stalin would never have exposed himself as thoughtlessly as Khrushchev had done."

-US share of world oil production 64% (1948) -> 22% (1972)

-for Kissinger India a notoriously "neutral" state which had cultivated good relations with the SU. re 1971 Indo-Pakistani war leading to the independence of Bangladesh: "We don't really have any choice. We can't allow a friend of ours and China to get screwed in a conflict with a friend of Russia's." p353 thus supporting a violent (and doomed) military despot. K said: "Why is it our business how they govern themselves?" p354 ie, US backed wrong side in wrong conflict, losing and losing influence and credibility. K jealous of Europe taking any initiatives wrt the US, ie, Willy Brandt 1969+ Ostpolitik. K thought his scheming with China pushed SU to detente despite Vietnam. Grigori Arbatov: "K thinks it was China that played the decisive role in getting us to feel the need to preserve our relationship with the US... But Berlin actually played a much bigger role, almost a decisive one. Having the East German situation settled was most important to us, and we did not want to jeopardize that." p355. K: Nixon ~ Metternich: Emperor Francis II - an ambitious and intelligent courtier with the ear of an absolute ruler (no responsibility for domestic affairs) - quintessential role of court Jew in history.

-Bundy's critique of K (William Bundy A Tangled Web: The Making of Foreign Policy in the Nixon Presidency, 1998), also Gladstone's critique of Disraeli, that for constitutionally ordered state, to flout laws and principles or to support foreign powers that are enemies of your founding ideals is never in long-term interests of the state or its citizens.

-"For a quarter of a century, the KGB, unlike the CIA, believed that the Third World was the arena in which it could win the Cold War." (Andrew/ Mitrokhin 2005). African countries most corrupted by the 'proxy' wars of the later cold war became the 'failed states' of our own time.

-Soviet strategy in CW - 'wars of position', sometimes conciliatory (1921-26, 1934-39, late 1950s, early 1970s) vs uncompromising 'front' 1927-34, 1947-53 p379

-"The Silence of the Lambs" intellectual camp followers of the neocons (Ignatieff, Adam Michnik Islamophobe, Vaclav Havel in Committee on the Present Danger) "useful idiots" a term first coined by Lenin. the weakness of liberalism, no grounding in critique of imperialism. Rise of abstract 'human rights' as enshrined in Helsinki Accords led to casting every political choice in binary moral terms good-evil. Rise of identity politics shape their opinions according to the interests of their affinity of birth or predilection.

-castigates US for "imitating Israel wholesale, importing its self-destructive, intemperate response to anjy hostility or opposition and make it the leitmotif of US foreign policy." p390

-Judt is left flailing -- rejects Marxism and materialist ground in economics [ignores banking and corporate personhood -> international conspiracy] – hoisted on his own petard.

-EU 87 prisoners per 100,000 vs US 685. average US CEO: average wage earner 40:1 (1980) now 475:1 vs Britain 24:1, France 15:1, Sweden 13:1. WHO: US #1 health spending per capita, spending 15% of GDP, and 37th in quality of service

-let 19th c Britain govt regulations and legalized trade unions -> healthy economy. state required because "capital and resources fly around the world and much of what happens in people's lives today has passed from their control or the control of those who govern them" [implicit acknowledgment of international banker military-industrial-complex conspiracy] p423