English socialism

What were the social conditions that led many English intellectuals in the 1930s to engage in fundamental critique of the society in which they lived? Why was social criticism so profound and sustained in Britain from the time of Carlyle and Engels to the surge of English socialism in the 1930s? The answer, of course, …

HB Acton’s version of Marxism

H. B. Acton gained celebrity with the publication of Illusion of the Epoch in 1955, supposedly as a serious philosopher's even-handed exposition of the philosophy expressed in Marx's writings. Acton was not an especially influential philosopher, and he certainly does not stand in the first ranks of post-war British philosophy. He taught philosophy at the London School …

Philosophy after the Holocaust

The sustained, extended atrocities of the twentieth century -- the genocide of the Holocaust, the Holodomor, totalitarian repression, the Gulag, the Armenian genocide, the rape of Nanjing -- require new questions and new approaches to the problems of philosophy. What are some of those new questions and insights that philosophers should take up? How can …

Soviet atrocities in Ukraine, 1941

In light of the horrific information now available about atrocities committed in Ukraine by occupying Russian forces in towns such as Bucha -- rape, torture, summary execution, as well as mass deportations to "filtration camps" -- it is grimly important to recognize that there was a prior period of fantastic brutality and atrocity committed by …

Infrastructures of evil

Politicians, generals, corporate directors, and ordinary men and women had a direct relationship to the evils of the twentieth century. Individuals, soldiers, CEOs, and government administrators did various things that we can now recognize as fundamentally evil. So we might be tempted to summarize the evils of the past as "large numbers of people doing inexcusable things …

How will Russia’s fascist aggression end?

Ukraine has demonstrated a truly singular level of competence and commitment in its armed resistance to Russia's war since February 24. Much credit goes to President Zelenskyy. And much of the world -- including especially the NATO partners -- have been decisive and forthcoming in material support for Ukraine's ability to continue to resist, and …

Evil consequences of totalitarian ideologies

It is evident that human beings create evil; but human beings are often driven and dominated by totalitarian ideologies that make great evils possible. One of those ideologies of the last century was Stalinism — the view that the success of Soviet Communism is the highest good; any sacrifice is justified; those who stand in …

Tolstoy’s characterization of Napoleon as lawless brigand (Putin)

One of Leo Tolstoy's characteristic beliefs about history in War and Peace is the idiocy of the notion of "great men" who make history. In this light his characterization of Napoleon as a lawless, aimless, and murderous brigand is revealing. And his description is oddly striking when we consider the current world's tinpot Napoleon seeking dominion over …

Tolstoy’s philosophy of history

Isaiah Berlin's essay The Hedgehog and the Fox is a particularly interesting combination of philosophical analysis and literary criticism. Berlin is a brilliant interpreter of nineteenth-century Russian thought, and Tolstoy's War and Peace is one of the most important novels of that period. In "The Hedgehog and the Fox" Berlin provides a close study of the philosophy of history …

Can Nietzsche support a decent political philosophy?

Nietzsche's anti-moralism is a key theme in his philosophy and civilizational criticism. He regarded traditional European morality as "herd morality", the deplorable consequence of Christian values of subordination and ressentiment. It is hard enough to find in Beyond Good and Evil or Genealogy of Morals a basis for criticizing even the most grotesque examples of interpersonal brutality and violence, and …

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