Read Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism by Bernard-Henri Lévy Benjamin Moser Online


In this unprecedented critique, Bernard-Henri Lévy, one of the world’s leading intellectuals revisits his political roots, scrutinizes the totalitarianisms of the past as well as those on the horizon, and argues powerfully for a new political and moral vision for our times. Are human rights Western or universal? Does anti-Semitism have a future, and, if so, what will it loIn this unprecedented critique, Bernard-Henri Lévy, one of the world’s leading intellectuals revisits his political roots, scrutinizes the totalitarianisms of the past as well as those on the horizon, and argues powerfully for a new political and moral vision for our times. Are human rights Western or universal? Does anti-Semitism have a future, and, if so, what will it look like? And how is it that progressives themselves–those who in the past defended individual rights and fought fascism–have now become the breeding ground for new kinds of dangerous attitudes: an unthinking loathing of Israel; an obsessive anti-Americanism; an idea of “tolerance” that, in its justification of Islamic fanaticism, for example, could become the “cemetery of democracies”; and an indifference, masked by relativism, to the greatest human tragedies facing the world today? Illuminating these and other questions, Lévy also brings to life his own autobiography, highlighting the thinkers he has known and scrutinized and the ideological battles he has fought over thirty years–revealing their bearing on the present.Above all, Lévy offers a powerful new vision for progressives everywhere, one based neither on the failed idealisms of the past neither nor on their current misguided, bigoted, and dangerously sentimental attachments but on an absolute commitment to combat evil in all its guises. The “new barbarism” Levy compellingly diagnoses is real and must be confronted. At a time of ideological and political transition in America, Left in Dark Times is a polemical, incendiary articulation of the threats we all face–in many cases without our even being aware of it–and a riveting, cogent stand against those threats. Surprising and sure to be controversial, wise and free of cynicism, it is one of the most important books yet written by one of the crucial voices of our time.Praise for Bernard-Henri Lévy’s American Vertigo“An entertaining trip, as much in the tradition of Jack Kerouac as Tocqueville.” –The New York Times “Perceptive, pugnacious, passionate [and] exquisitely written.”–The New York Observer“It’s difficult to remember when a writer of any nationality so clearly and thoughtfully delineated both the good and bad in America. [Grade:] A.”–Entertainment Weekly (Editor’s Choice)“Lévy is a true friend of the American experiment and a comrade in the American struggle against the barbarisms.”–The New Republic“Lévy writes brilliantly. American Vertigo is filled with insights and goodwill.”–The Wall Street Journal“Provocative . . . [Lévy is] a writer of enormous power and vitality.”–San Francisco Chronicle“Vigorous . . . impressive.”–The Boston GlobeFrom the Hardcover edition....

Title : Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism
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ISBN : 9781400064359
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 233 Pages
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Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism Reviews

  • Buck
    2019-02-24 06:08

    In Three Days of the Condor, John Houseman's old CIA dude is asked if he ever misses the kind of action he saw during WWII. “No,” he says wearily, “I miss that kind of clarity.” Then he goes back to trying to kill Robert Redford. There seems to be a lot of nostalgia for clarity around these days, and it’s not just confined to the hawkish liberal crowd that Bernard-Henri Lévy runs with. I’m all for clarity, I guess, but certainty—moral certainty—creeps me out. Maybe because I have so little of it myself, I’m awed and frightened by those who enjoy a large supply of the stuff. I can hardly order lunch without precipitating a dark night of the soul, and yet the media and blogosphere are full of people who pronounce on the great issues of the day with unflappable self-assurance. I just don’t know how they do it. The world might be a marginally better place if we all embroidered Cromwell’s exhortation on our pillowcases: “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”I was really grooving on this book until I wikied Lévy and discovered that some Parisian wag said of him, “God is dead but my hair is perfect,” which is cruel, unfair, and—if you know anything about Lévy—devastatingly apt. Maybe it’s superficial of me to be swayed by an anonymous one-liner, but there you go. Like his American counterpart Christopher Hitchens, Lévy advocates a get-tough approach on what they both call ‘Islamofascism’. This term has always made me a bit uncomfortable, not because it’s politically incorrect, but because I sense that it’s misleading. I know there are all sorts of historical links between the Nazis and Islamic extremism; I know about the totalitarian tendencies in Islamist ideology; but I also know there’s a whole heap of important differences between classic, European fascism and whatever you want to call the homicidal branch of radical Islam. The absence, in the latter’s case, of territorial boundaries and, you know, a Wehrmacht, are just two things that stand out. The term ‘Islamofascism’ is so seductive because it domesticates something profoundly alien and fucked-up (from our perspective); it takes a huge, diffuse phenomenon and translates it into a handy historical analogy that Westerners can get their heads around. It’s a metaphor, or maybe a synecdoche, but how accurately does it ‘stand in’ for the reality? I don’t know. I’m not a foreign-policy expert or a political scientist and I don’t speak a word of Arabic. I just don’t like to think that I’m at the mercy of a rhetorical device and the public intellectuals who wield it. For the most part, though, I agree with Lévy—which is precisely why I’m making these feeble blocking motions to ward him off. Knowing how error-prone and contingent my own thinking is, how can I trust someone who thinks the same way I do? But that’s just my uncertainty talking.Up next: Berman’s Terror and Liberalism. After that, I just might dip into some kooky, far-left analysis for the sake of balance (does it have to be Chomsky though, or is there someone nominally sane that I should be reading? I’m open to suggestions). Then I’m going to bunker down with a stack of old Marvels and pretend it’s 1999 again.

  • brian
    2019-03-25 07:21

    this is the first time i’ve read something by BHL that i’ve found compelling and absorbing. now, don’t get me wrong -- he’s still a bloviating windbag and it’s really the latter half that earns my praise -- but this is a damn worthwhile book. much as paul berman did in Power and the Idealists, BHL traces the history of the european left and proceeds to excoriate them for their present state… BHL feels that it is a better world now that the question amongst the left, as posed by foucault, has changed from ‘is the revolution possible?’ to ‘is the revolution desirable?’ -- the left, BHL explains, no longer invokes History with a capital “H” or throws out stock phrases such as ‘make an omelette you break some eggs’ to justify murder… in his own words:"Today I no longer see people trying to explain that concentration camps, massacres, crimes against humanity, genocides, can, in certain circumstances, bearing in mind a certain conjuncture or a relation of powers, be historically necessary, have an almost divine legitimacy, and may be part of the plan on the Absolute. I don't hear many people say that the Chechen rebels are the salt of the earth of the Caucasus; or that the Palestinians are not about to achieve their own state but to regenerate humanity; or that the massacres in Darfur are part of the plan of History and therefore blessed by the Gods; I don't hear - as one still did thirty years ago with regard to other bloodbaths - that the humanists who get worked up about the victims of Rwanda are simpletons who haven't read enough Hegel and who would know, if they had, that the dialectic might very well have to chop off a few heads; and neither do I hear, as one did back then, literally, forty years ago, that the Tibetans are lice, harmful insects, germs, who can be treated only by the millenary political medicine of the Chinese."but the european left is still a moral disaster and embarrassment. (as is the right, of course, but BHL a self-proclaimed ‘man of the left’ is interested in setting right his own ‘family’ rather than preaching to an opponent) it prizes certain myths such as ‘a disavowl of Europe, anti-Americanism and the morbid fixation on Empire, this recurrence of anti-Semitism, this refusal to understand the truth about Fascislamism’ over truth. and over morality. and while there may be truth to the claims of those who loathe america, israel, etc, the overwhelming majority of their methods and arguments are wildly counterproductive and work to focus on a few ‘glamorous’ or high profile problems leaving countless africans, sri lankans, or colombians to stew in the shit… in other words, if your oppressors (or who the left imagine to be your oppressors) are not doing it (in reality or in fantasyland) in the name of empire capitalism or zionism… well, your cause and your life aren’t worth our time. moreover, BHL laments the passing of a time in which it was the left who were the anti-fascists and anti-totalitarians rather than the jingoistic and imbecilic right. BHL believes (again, as paul berman puts forward in his great and highly recommended Terror and Liberalism) that radical islam, whose modern origins come from the 30s, to be another of the forms of totalitarian movements that wreaked such havoc over the last century… and, again, mourns a time – ours – in which the right wing in their narrow, nationalist fervor is doing the fighting. furthermore, he’s troubled that the neo-cons have so successfully scared the bejesus out of the left to the extent that they employ a litany of stock reasons (just about all of them bullshit) as to why a country should never enter or invade another country to put an end to genocide or mass murder.BHL asks that the left erase ‘castle in the sky’ utopias and focus on true earthly suffering. that they drop the cultural relativism that allows them to demonize america, say, for school shootings, but turn away from the stoning of women as ‘with western eyes, we are unable to make morality judgments on other cultures’. he asks that while they continue to push for a palestinian state they stop pretending that it is israel which is the cause of, for example, pakistani islamism and the taliban and ubiquitous middle-eastern hatred of women and homosexuals, for poverty and suffering and lack of education… well, i could go on and on. but i won’t. the point is made. and for someone who had always considered himself somewhat affiliated with the left (‘somewhat’ in that i have that gene - for which i am eternally thankful - that will never truly allow me to consider myself part of any group or institution) but has been so sickened by what he’s seen that the 'somewhat' has transformed to ‘sometimes’… BHL’s book makes a lot of sense.

  • Kitty Red-Eye
    2019-02-24 06:13

    Whoah. No page-turner, this. Rather heavy, with historical, political and philosophical references scattered over each paragraph, making it difficult to get through for anyone who's not intimate with Derrida, Camus, Fanon, Kant, Pol Pot, the Mufti of Jerusalem, al-Banna, Finkielkraut, Focault, Spengler, Marx, Sartre... And so on and on, in no particular order. But. That doesn't mean there's nothing of value in here. Levy might be name-dropping (Dutschke, Baader-Meinhof, Blum...), but he knows what he's referring to (Huntington, Cohen, Zola, Castro...) and it's not his fault that I sometimes don't (Arendt, Hitchens, Berman...). This book is one of many which' author is dissatisfied with (parts of) the Left, and looks into the "What's and Why's" of this dissatisfaction. The themes are familiar: Apologetism for brutal dictatorship; anti-americanism; anti-semitism (and how it relates to anti-zionism); multiculturalism vs universalism, and not so much etc. Those are the staples of these books, with small variations. Now, I am one of those leftist-turned-politically-homeless people exactly because of these themes. And I have read a fair few books and articles on the topic. Levy's book is not the most reader-friendly out there (I do recommend Nick Cohen's book "What's Left?"), but by and large I agree with his sentiments. I'm not so sure I'd dismiss Huntington so easily as Levy does here - mostly as an afterthought and by comparing him to Spengler, a nazi (unless I got the wrong Spengler?), and of course It's possible that Levy is misrepresenting others as well. I'm not always capable of detecting that. It's obvious to me that I have to open a most untempting can of worms and read about the Mufti at some point. He seems to pop up everywhere I look. All in all, a book I'm glad I read, as it's been on my must-read list for a long time. Not the best in its genre and rather heavy and name- and reference packed, so not too reader friendly. But definitely interesting, and with a very good list of references in the back which I'll eventually get around to devour.

  • Tyler
    2019-03-04 09:24

    I'm thrilled by this author's response to the Arab Spring and wanted to find out more about his political philosophy. But while he makes some intriguing points in this book, his thesis is too poorly argued to count as philosophical. Levy wants to remain a leftist and wants the left to reform itself. But he attacks strawmen to make his points, then glosses over neoliberalism. What I couldn't understand was why he even wanted to be called a leftist anymore, and his explanation for that was drivel.He attacks the Stalinist left but skips over the Luxemburgist and anarchist ultra-left theories that explain the Arab Spring of 2011 so succinctly. Then, after a hopelessly unconvincing two paragraphs on page 88 telling us why the worst of capitalism won't ever come to pass, he jumps right onto the bandwagon that advertises today's global capitalism as the inevitable and desireable endpoint of history. By neglecting the most compelling arguments against that narrative he demotes himself from a philosopher to simply one more pundit with an opinion.This book has the feel of being slapped together. It came out in 2007, and if Levy had waited just a few months to see the banking system wipe out entire nations his remarks would have been more circumspect. He does give the reader an idea of some of the mistakes the left, especially in Europe, continually gets itself into -- Libya is a case in point. But he paints the left with too broad a brush. Someone needs to call Socialist Worker and report this thinker for pandering.

  • GeekChick
    2019-03-02 07:16

    I decided to check Levy out after seeing him on Fareed Zakaria GPS. I'm not sure that this book was the best choice for a first-read. Some chapters are lucid enough, but others leave me thinking "WTF is he talking about?" The problem is that Levy writes in long, complicated sentences. To excess. There are so many extraneous and tangential phrases, it's difficult to follow the actual subject and verb. **************UPDATE***********************The over all effect to me is good chapter/bad chapter. Some chapters are really difficult (see above) and some are very easy to understand. Still plugging away......**************UPON FINISHING************************My lord, I hope his other books are better. I cannot honestly say I'd recommend this one, which kills me, because he's so cool on Fareed. As if following his random long sentences wasnt' bad enough -- he suddenly does a hairpin turn and starts going on about how anti-semitism is the root of all evil. If you are curious about Levy, I strongly suggest starting with a different title.

  • Manuel J.
    2019-03-12 02:17

    This is a book to force people to think, to question one's beliefs. Lévy makes you travel with him in a realm of ideas that are too lightly taken for granted. I do not think Lévy wrote the book for the Left leaning people: in fact, it would be a diminished book if that was true. It is for every human being, a manifesto of what humanity is about, about my humanity and about the others'; about the way I think influences the way I relate to others.In a sense, Lévy describes a way to the earthly paradise, without recipes. Just the advice.

  • Ralph
    2019-03-06 09:28

    Ouch! Painfully difficult to read. Good thing I took a French history class in uni--otherwise how else am I supposed to know about the Dreyfusards or the Paris Commune? However, his ability to place a dozen different thoughts in a single sentence, rivaling Proust, makes this book more training for reading comprehension passages than anything else.I've given up on the book. Unreadable and undecipherable what political theory he's actually trying to advance.

  • Michael Milton
    2019-02-27 09:25

    Too many words.

  • Iľja Rákoš
    2019-03-14 03:58

    Levy writes: "...this is a critique of those who, inspired by the desire to create a heaven on earth, were--and are, more than ever--led to a flirtation with darkness, barbarism, and hell."In a complex yet compelling argument, Bernard-Henry Levy insists that progressive thinkers burdened with the task of defining the public discourse have abandoned their true calling - the pursuit of social justice - to go mucking around in the more tempting, indeed, lucrative pastures, previously reserved as the philosophical stomping grounds of the Right. That wonderland where every question is ultimately an economics question.Levy's taxonomy of the events that necessarily shapes the Left is interesting, and leads to a critique as complex as it is damning of the New Left's tendency for the hasty adoption of historically heterodox ideas like "the sociality of money and its metaphysical, civilizing function". As an example of this, he takes on Derrida's cozy position toward " [and its function of the] neutralization of differences to achieve pure singularity as a dignity and a universal right" and his insistence that the "rejection of money or of its principle of indifference...[could]...connive with the destruction of morality and law."In a word: the Left has sold out the quest for human rights and replaced it with profitable human economies. That is, Money. Commercially viable economics apparently solve everything in the New Left. Perhaps. Just look at the business McDonald's does in France.I found his approach to geopolitics interesting. Levy labels "Anti-Americanism...the progressivism of the imbecile", and offers the United States as a central, vital, partner in any return to the fight for human dignity which has served as the core, historical identity and purpose of 'the Left'. The American nation's very existence serves as a stinging rebuke to any who have misread the lessons of the Enlightenment, or who would minimize the American role in European survival, he argues. He continues further on this path, tracing the careless, and admittedly less-than-thoughtful European tendency of anti-Americanism to the pathologies of pure envy and resentment toward a benefactor. Unafraid to identify the disastrous consequences of this ideological capitulation, which he traces in part from simplistic, dismissive attitudes toward its own history of rapacious colonialism, and which was convincingly borne out in European ineffectiveness in Bosnia, Levy's jeremiad serves as well-targeted rebuke of the deplorable lack of substantive European engagement in events in which it could, must, take a role. None of this is probably news to specialists in this field, but it certainly was provocative to me. I mean, this is a European writing this.But before we accuse Levy of crude Anglo-American jingoism, he broadens the scope of his argument, insisting that the siren-song to "stay out of other people's business" is "a failure of intelligence and of heart." A failure which he insists betrays a conscious decision by its advocates "to undo what in politics is the hardest thing of all to construct: a way to get people to worry about other people's suffering."There is weight in this approach. This is a French intellectual, characterizing the general European disinterest in the ethnic cleansing, massacres, and forced exile of 80% of the Kosovan population - on European soil - as a kind of reverse colonialism, de facto state-sponsored European racism. And racism of the most discrete sort: impossible to blame on anyone. After all, we didn't do anything. Not our fight. The crises in Dafur, Rwanda, Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, and the pathetic and received justifications of non-intervention in those crises raised by the European left, are nothing less than transparent attempts at disparaging American foreign policy in order to project an indifference that would pass itself off as 'nuanced internationalism'. Yet, by Levy's lights, all this European sophistication manages to evince is, in fact, a pathological (there's that word again) and self-righteous cowardice steeped in contempt for the problems of former colonies which it can no longer exploit with impunity. For Levy, the core of Europe's sterile geopolitical function, and his contempt for that self-enforced sterility, (in stark contrast to American activism), is summed up well in a quote from Jules Renard: "I don't have any enemies, since I've never helped anyone."Finally, he extends the argument to Israel & Palestine, equating contemporary anti-Semitism with Anti-Americanism, which is almost certain to irritate.My thoughts? Levy is right about a lot of things in this book. The Left can, could, must do more. His tone is scolding at times; he unloads with both barrels on the likes of Jimmy Carter and Noam Chomsky, as well as settling a few other scores here. But perhaps it need be. Something has to shake things up, and he just feels he's doing his bit to stem the tide of the very real devaluation of personal liberties world-wide, of the loss of dignity in identity, and of stifled opportunity for advancement. Levy would insist that these are all a certain result of our hastily-designed and ill-defined materialist culture, and a nasty, general lassitude toward newly emergent, deeply-cryptic forms of fascism. If he's right, this isn't something which thoughtful people can tolerate. Ever. Not knowing what we know. Not having seen what we have seen.Finally, one has to wonder how much Robert Kagan's "Of Paradise and Power" influenced Levy. One wonders who may have commissioned this book. One wonders if maybe every question is, ultimately, an economics question. Yet none of these rule out the fact that Levy, and we all, might have some things to be peeved about.Very dense, very "French" and filled with passion. Damn good book.Here's the fun part: I saw it on "the Colbert Report".

  • R Fontaine
    2019-02-26 03:13

    Heavy going, but worthwhile. A self described liberal intellect now viewing "mongrel unanchored 'tolerance" as the cemetery of democracy".

  • Wendelle So
    2019-03-06 05:09

    'the second thing a real Left should do is convince itself that its most effective tool against the concept of Islamism is not the concept of tolerance, but the concept of secular society."*the tolerance discussed here being the tolerance of the death of Theo van Gogh

  • Jeffrey
    2019-03-03 03:02

    The Left in Dark Times by Bernard-Henri Lévy Bernard-Henri Lévy has written his account of being a leftist that is struggling with the left in these heady times. The book begins with a recounting of a phone call between BHL and Sarkozy, the future President of France. Sarkozy wants an endorsement from BHL, an old friend even though they are foes in the realm of ideas. BHL refuses, believing that the Left is his family, yet the seed of doubt grows as he looks to see just what the left believes now. BH (as he is known commonly in France) has written what may be his first book on the path of leaving the left. In the United States there are so many books about the migration from the left that a new genre was born. One of the most famous examples was Radical Son by David Horowitz. There seems to be a similar move afoot in Europe, as the decadent left has been lost since the collapse of the Soviet Union twenty years ago. The modern left has replaced the old beliefs of unity, equality and fraternity for a life of hatred – mostly against the Jews, American and Western Civilization. Israel receives too much scorn from the international left, yet they are silence in the face of too many crimes against humanity. There is no leftist outcry against radical Islam, there is no real look at the havoc and harmed wrecked upon the poor and downtrodden by the very policies that the left champions. These are the issues that are giving the author a second thought about his “family” The book itself is not the best written, as it rambles in place and lacks a seriousness of his other books. I believe that is caused by the raw emotions that BHL is dealing with as he starts the intellectual disentanglement to the European left. He may not become a Norman Podhoretz; he may just become a Christopher Hitchens who is without a definable location on the politic spectrum. Either way, BHL has written a book that ultimately addresses his inner trauma with the current state of France and the world of ideas. Is a perfect summation of the modern international left one where there is no real thought or introspection about the world in which they seek to create? No one looks at the treatment on minorities or women or homosexuals, only the United States and Israel are to be faulted by the left. Why are there not more questions being asked about the subjugation of people in China or Cuba? The Left in Dark Times is a more serious book than it seems. If a stalwart of the French left can wake up, can a movement not be too far behind? There is a dangerous world that surrounds all of us, yet far too many take comfort in the coverings placed before our eyes. This is one book that has started the action of removing those coverings.

  • Leonardo
    2019-03-24 03:17

    La tesis de Bernard-Henri Lévy (en The Left in Dark Times) de que el antisemitismo del siglo xxi será «progresista» evoca la tesis de Milner sobre las «tendencias criminales de la Europa democrática»: la Europa «progresista» representa la fluidificación universal, la supresión de todos los límites, y los judíos, con su fidelidad a su modo de vida basado en su Ley y su tradición, representan un obstáculo para este proceso. ¿Pero no es la lógica del antisemitismo exactamente la contraria? ¿La perspectiva antisemita no percibe a los judíos precisamente como los agentes de la fluidificación global, de la supresión de todas las particularidades étnicas y de otras formas de identidad? Ahí se encuentra la ironía de la argumentación de Milner: se acerca peligrosamente al antisemitismo sionista, ya que lo que realmente ataca –la fluidificación «universalista»– es precisamente la otra cara de la propia identidad judía. Es decir, lo que Milner ataca como el núcleo «antisemita» de Europa está basado en la contribución judía a la identidad europea: los «desarraigados» judíos fueron los primeros y más radicales universalistas europeos. Viviendo en el Final de los Tiempos Pág.154También discutido esto en:El año que soñamos peligrosamente Pág.41En su reciente libro, un verdadero manifiesto de la contrarrevolución liberal, Bernard-Henry Lévy ofrece su explicación sobre por qué la aterradora experiencia de cuatro años de reinado de los jemeres rojos en Kampuchea (1975-1979) fue tan importante para la izquierda: nos obliga a rechazar de una vez por todas la idea habitual de que las revoluciones han fracasado hasta ahora porque no fueron «suficientemente radicales», porque transigieron con lo que estaban tratando de superar y no siguieron su propia lógica hasta el final. Viviendo en el Final de los Tiempos Pág.399

  • CD
    2019-03-15 01:19

    A deeply troubling book that has emerged as slightly more prophetic than the author could have imagined. As France struggles with its ability to continue the social promise to its citizens including recently being forced to raise the retirement age this work shadows the change in economic reality that has swept Europe. Idealism is for an earlier generation and those left from the barricades of '68 are stunned at how far wrong it has all gone. Levy writes more about years previous to the economic meltdown and social turmoil but how the compromising of principles and the posing of the pseudo-intellectual-liberal-socialists has undermined the future of his beloved left. In a distinctly philosophic way he sees the frightening potential that led to totalitarianism in Europe a hundred years earlier potentially returning. After all, the excesses that destroyed millions emerged from the left originally and then slid in every possible direction across the political scale.Levy's works always suffer in translation regardless of the language he started out using. This is stylistic modern philosophy popularized in an applied fashion. Not for the casual or light reader. May take two or three attempts to grasp his rap. Often upon returning to one of his works it is not best to pick up where one left off, but to start a page or more back and 'refresh' one's memory before continuing.Is this polemic as some have critically suggested? Yes, there are elements of that but it is in the nature of this conversation that writer continues with his readers. The biographical elements of this aid in understanding the double-entendre of the title and topic. Reading more, if one is so inclined, from Levy may illuminate his language even more thoroughly.

  • Renee
    2019-03-17 03:17

    Better in the second half. Perhaps because I have no experience of France in the 1960s, its drift from the Left of that progressive moment to now is hard to relate to, and makes for difficult reading because of it. The section on resentment of America and the anti-Enlightenment thrust of some of that was interesting. The exploration of anti-Semitism buried in some contemporary "progressive" statements was chilling, and did help me to sort out what made me so uncomfortable in a few conversations I've had with self-proclaimed "progressives" and "anarchists". The urge to fascism is hard to discuss without hyperbole, and he does a good job of exploring why, without falling into the easy intellectual traps. Definitely worth the read, though it wasn't always an easy one to face at the end of the day.

  • j_ay
    2019-03-22 03:16

    The Dark Times mentioned in the title of this book are further enhanced by the ridiculous term “anti-Semitism” on damn near every page. (This is a term that no intellectual should ever cater to, and it further ‘darkens’ the idea/practise/way of thinking one is trying to heal/change). The supposed “new barbarism” is not at all new, and Lévy seems to think developing into this, mostly in the way of politics (supposedly the theme of the book), is by hammering on endlessly about “anti-Semitism” and by linking Muslims to Nazism. All been done before in books with titles vaguely referring to _that’s_ what the thesis of the book would be.The supposed separation of “church” and “state” is ever thin. Soon to snap...

  • Colleen
    2019-03-22 05:19

    Listened to two public radio interviews with this author and am intrigued enough by his intellect to read his philosophy. He seems to reflect my point of view, as one who wears the label of Liberal, believing it stands for The Village involvement in co-existence (as compared to my generalization of a Conservative, who stands for My Rights and looks out for The Individual). Judging by Levy's title, I assume he casts The Conservative as barbaric. Besides, his savory French accent has charmed me into reading this.

  • Bob
    2019-03-01 02:06

    A pre-eminent French Leftie intellectual discusses the present state of the Left globally. Levy has some excellent insights, but his stream-of-consciousness style and long, convoluted sentences reminds me of reading Pynchon. IMHO both these writers would profit from a good editor, but I still enjoy their word play and thoughts even though the reading can sometimes be ponderous. I read Levy's American Vertigo and have the same criticism about the writing more than the philosophy and politics of his works.

  • Iris
    2019-02-28 04:04

    The book is basically BHL’s intellectual autobiography and bears witness to his vast knowledge and intense participation in defining and shaping the political and moral backbones of our times. Unfortunately, it lacks originality of thought and depth of perceptiveness. (See BHL’s and Houellebeck’s “experiment with confessional literature” in Harper’s: Hou )

  • Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
    2019-03-25 05:15

    I saw the last 2 minutes of this guy on Charlie Rose last night and almost immediatley wrote down the name of his book so I'd remember to look it up today. It sounds very similiar to Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman which I absolutely loved. I'm very excited to read this.

  • Robert Vazquez Pacheco
    2019-03-15 01:09

    Fascinating.Very intelligent and thought-provoking especially since I believe as an American that we really don't have a "Left" to speak of. Blistering critique of Sarkozy and an illuminating look at French political thought.

  • Chris Logan
    2019-03-14 04:06

    Levy's intention and spirit is more to be admired than his execution. Reads like a compilation of half-edited notes. Problem in the translation? Worth a look.

  • Max Tzinman
    2019-02-23 03:05

    Very good, clarifying! Only problem: I get the impression that the translation is quite weak...

  • david evans
    2019-03-05 04:03

    incisive analysis of the left's continuing infatuation with totalitarianism, and its intellectual hypocrisy -- requires some knowledge of French politics but he's a terrific stylist

  • Annie
    2019-03-20 08:15

    Does reading 40 pages of a book and realizing that you agree, and then returning it to the friend you borrowed it from count as "reading?"

  • Jessie
    2019-03-06 01:09

    Thought-provoking and complex. Really worth the time invested in it, especially if you're at any sort of psycho-philosophical-political crossroad...

  • Nathaniel
    2019-03-18 07:12

    BHL is a pretty lousy writer

  • Teri L.
    2019-03-15 05:17

    Interesting ideas, but rambling and difficult to follow.