When the Facts Change: Essays, 1995-2010

When the Facts Change: Essays, 1995-2010

Tony Judt

Language: English

Pages: 400

ISBN: 0143128450

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A great thinker’s final testament: a characteristically wise and forthright collection of essays spanning a career of extraordinary intellectual engagement
 
In an age in which the lack of independent public intellectuals has often been sorely lamented, Tony Judt played a rare and valuable role, bringing together history and current events, Europe and America, the world as it was and as it is with what it should be. In When the Facts Change, Tony Judt’s widow and fellow historian Jennifer Homans has assembled an essential collection of Judt’s most important and influential pieces written in the last fifteen years of his life, when he found his voice in the public sphere. These seminal essays reflect the full range of Judt’s concerns, including Europe as an idea and in reality; Israel, the Holocaust, and the Jews; American hyperpower and the world after 9/11; and issues of social inclusion and social justice in a time of increasing inequality.

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constrained by the stalemate of the cold war, confined to grand-sounding “resolutions.” Since 1990, however, the UN and its agencies have acquired an enhanced role and a special sort of international legitimacy as the world’s peacemakers, peace builders, and peacekeepers—to the point (unimaginable a few decades ago) that for hundreds of millions of people worldwide, the propriety of the American invasion of Iraq hinged upon Washington’s success or failure in getting the support of a second

ideal has morphed into a bastion of arrogance and, too often, inaction.”* But this emollient humbug is soon displaced by a breathless “investigation” of the UN’s catalogue of crimes. The UN is “rife with abject incompetence.” “UN ambassadors and staff enjoy luxurious and tax-free Manhattan lifestyles and other perks.” There is much prurient attention to reports of “peacekeepers . . . raping and having sex with twelve-year-old girls”—summarized on the dust jacket as “how UN workers have repeatedly

do lead Europe, where should they take it? And of what Europe are they the natural leaders—the West-leaning “Europe” forged by the French, or that traditional Europe of German interests, where Germany sits not on the eastern edge but squarely in the middle? A Germany at the heart of Europe carries echoes and reminders that many people, Germans perhaps most of all, have sought since 1949 to set aside. But the image of a Germany resolutely turned away from troubling Eastern memories, clinging

come. It would be pleasing—but misleading—to report that social democracy, or something like it, represents the future that we would paint for ourselves in an ideal world. It does not even represent the ideal past. But among the options available to us in the present, it is better than anything else to hand. In Orwell’s words, reflecting in Homage to Catalonia upon his recent experiences in revolutionary Barcelona: There was much in it that I did not understand, in some ways I did not even like

as is the related claim that it was these rivers of foreign cash, rather than the unprecedented productivity of the new high-tech sectors, that drove the prosperity of the 1990s.17 What is clear is that for all its recent allure, the American model is unique and not for export. Far from universalizing its appeal, globalization has if anything diminished foreign enthusiasm for the American model: the reduction in public ownership of goods and services in Europe over the past twenty years has

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