Saturday, August 18, 2007

Reading Arendt in Caracas

The Nation magazine shows its true class colors again.

Elisabeth Young-Bruehl article in The Nation online (17 August 2007), "Reading Arendt in Caracas,"1 is very much in line with The Nation's previous anti-Chavez article: Joaquín Villalobos, "Revolution in Venezuela?" The Nation, 9 July 2007 (see, also, letters to The Nation regarding this article). It is surely the case that Hugo Chavez and Chavistas are not liberal in the way that Hannah Arendt2 and her fellow New York intellectuals would have desired and many petit-bourgeois university students in Venezuela and The Nation do today. Good for Venezuela. No authentic social revolution in the interest of the poor majority can be a politically liberal one, least of all in the global South.

1 The title of the article is a variation of Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran which has been incisively criticized by Hamid Dabashi: "Native Informers and the Making of the American Empire," Al-Ahram Weekly (No. 797), 1-7 June 2006. Recall, also, that Dabashi, too, was attacked in The Nation recently for his failure to toe the liberal party line: Janet Afary and Kevin B. Anderson, "The Iranian Impasse," 16 July 2007.
2 Reuven Kaminer, an Israeli leftist, says that Arendt's worst writings -- about the faulty concept of "totalitarianism" -- have been lauded while her best ones -- especially about her skepticism about Zionism -- have been ignored: "On the Concept 'Totalitarianism' and Its Role in Current Political Discourse," MRZine, 15 August 2007.

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