At least I don’t have to do the dance class this morning. A visiting dance troupe is giving a workshop during class. This frees me up to prepare the pasta and continue cleaning the serving dishes and utensils before jumping in the car and driving to Detroit Metro Airport to pick up lovely daughter Sarah.
So I’m sipping coffee and preparing myself to start cleaning the kitchen.
Received my used copy of Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century by Tony Judt yesterday.
As is often the case, this thinker came to my attention via his obit (link).
I interlibrary-loaned several of his books and became quite impressed with his grasp of history.
He has helped me understand quite a bit what is going on in the politics of the world and the USA. So I have purchased a couple of his books.
I read several of the essays in Appraisals in the library copy. Yesterday I started reading the introductory essay, “The World We Have Lost.” Here’s a sampling of passages I made note of in it:
“Until the last decades of the twentieth century, most people in world had limited access to information; but within any one state or nation or community they were all likely to know many of the same things, thanks to national education, state-controlled radio and television, and a common print culture. Today, the opposite applies. Most people in the world, outside of sub-Sarharan Africa have access to a near infinity of data. But in the absence of any common culture beyond a small elite, and not always even there, the particular information and ideas that people select or encounter are determined by a multiplicity of tastes, affinities, and interests. As the years pass, each one of us has less in common with the fast-multiplying worlds of our contemporaries, not to speak of the world of our forebears.
Speaking of the fact that the USA essentially avoided the direct terrible consequences of war in the twentieth century, Judt writes: “[T]he United States today is the only advanced country that still glorifies and exalts the military, a sentiment farmiliar in Europe before 1945 but quite unknown today. America’s politicians and statesmen surround themselves with the symbols and trappings of armed prowess; its commentators mock and scorn countries that hesitate to engage themselves in armed conflict. It is this differential recollection of war and its impact, rather than any structural difference between the U.S. and otherwise comparable countries which accounts for their contrasting responses to international affairs today…
For Washington, war remains an option—in this case [Iraq] the first option. For the rest of the developed world it has become a last resort.”
Anyway, I find this guys thinking and analysis very cogent, informative and helpful.