I reviewed Terry Eagleton's Holy Terror for the New Statesman. For whatever reason, they are probably not going to run with it, so I'm publishing it here. I said:

Avowedly, Eagleton is a Marxist. One of the great shames of this book is that, beneath all his learning, when a clear, more committed voice emerges, it isn’t something radical we hear, but the same, dull, liberal platitudes (“the West risks being brought to the ground by its own unwielding strength”, “freedom must posit the freedom of others”) which we hear all of the time. It would seem, despite all his learning, that Eagleton is as perplexed as the rest of us. As readers we are cowed by his citations, not enlightened. Knowing that sublimated at the very core of society resides a primordial terror tells us precious little. It certainly tells us nothing about the history of terrorism nor illumines paths that may counter or prevent it ... as a treatise on terrorism, or as any sort of a guide to thinking about either the terror of the impassioned or the equally vile response of the scared State, this is all but useless.

(For the whole of my review of Holy Terror.)

Readers Comments

  1. Interesting. It does sound like he's been reading some things, but the effort to filter everything through a popularized Freud and Marx does seem to backfire on him. Which is shame, maybe, because if he didn't consistently set himself up to be everyone on the left's punching bag he might be a more valuable public intellectual?

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