Western democracies have been living through a strange period – a suicidal period. An appropriate level of self-criticism long ago morphed into self-distrust, then into a form of self-flagellation. A time emerged when, as the Australian writer Roger Sandall observed, inhabitants of Western democracies were taught that they had been born into guilt whilst everyone else had been born into innocence. Of course it was not only Western democracies that suffered for this.
For the period to end it had to first be critiqued – opened up and understood in all its absurd glory. The job might have been best performed by a pathologist but, as Pascal Bruckner demonstrates, a philosopher is more than able to do it.
Amid the dross and hyperbole of the publishing world it is not often that a reviewer gets to say this about a volume, but The Tyranny of Guilt is one of the landmark books of our time. With humour, depth, breadth, restraint and great insight Bruckner diagnoses an