Archive

Bruce Robbins

9 January 2014

You don’t have to disagree with Chibber’s premise—the premise that all human beings are “subject to the same basic forces and are therefore part of the same basic history”—in order to have serious misgivings about the particular history he deduces from it. More…

23 December 2013

How do you tell the history of the world? Not long ago this question would have seemed naive. The only people enthusiastic about universal history were complacent idiots who thought that history had ended with the cold war and the twin triumphs of democracy and globalization, or that it was moving toward an ever fuller manifestation of the glory of the Western way of life. Raining on their parade felt like a civic duty. More…

Originally published in Issue 18: Good News

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24 January 2011

In taking up the topic of the Arabs and the Holocaust, Gilbert Achcar, a Lebanese leftist who teaches at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, is choosing to venture out from the pro-Palestinian lines just at the point where all the Zionist guns are already aimed. His book admits the worst about his fellow Arabs and goes on as it can from there. It’s hard to tell whether the undertaking is very brave or very foolhardy. More…

8 December 2010

There’s no way around it: Commonwealth is an irritating book. It shoves injustice in your face and then, having gotten your attention, refuses to hold still and look at the war or suffering or whatever, but instead soars so high into an atmosphere of self-generated abstraction that very soon you can no longer recognize any earthly landmarks at all. More…

4 August 2009

Books on atheism have been selling like—well, like spiritual self-help books. The unexpected publishing success of Dawkins and Dennett, Hitchens and Harris has left some of us, at least on the more religious side of the Atlantic, fantasizing that we might be at the dawn of a secular New Age. More…

5 July 2007

Hope is often associated with religion, but in Rorty it was adamantly and unrepentantly secular. His critics often declared that the “irony” he championed, a way of holding one’s beliefs lightly, was the posture of an elitist. But holding your beliefs open to unending contestation, never giving in to the flat declarative certainties of those around you, must have been unusually hard work. More…

13 December 2006

Robbins apparently believes that we only do things in the service of our own interests and therefore, if we’re to act on behalf of other people, we have to rig up some mechanism (call it culture, call it heritage) to convince ourselves that at least some of the others really are us and so their interests really are ours. And I’m the individualist! More…