A Light unto the World?

Posted on by David Gelber

Jonathan Israel’s latest book claims to be ‘an overview of the revolutionary process in the Western and colonial worlds down to the 1850s viewed from the particular perspective of the American revolutionary example, experience and ideas’. And so, in part, it is. It covers the stories of the North American, French and Haitian revolutions, the […]

Never Had It So Good

Posted on by David Gelber

‘Don’t confuse pessimism with profundity,’ warns Steven Pinker at the end of a book he knows will have many confusing positivity with shallowness. Outside of California, where belief in the almost spiritual power of technology not just to save humanity but massively to improve it reigns, the cognoscenti revel in pessimism. Any suggestion that the state of mankind might actually have been getting better over time is dismissed as the discredited Whig version of history. Defenders of reason are accused of a faith more naive than that of religious believers, who at least understand the pitiful, fallen state of humankind

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RLF - March