[Marxism] Michael Walzer?

Calvin Broadbent calvinbroadbent at hotmail.com
Fri Oct 28 04:31:29 MDT 2005

Can anyone possibly give the lowdown on American philosopher Michael Walzer. 
This guy is big amongst academic liberals and pseudo-leftists.

>From the little I have read, Walzer's moral-political philosophy contends 
that since everyone is endowed with (what about accorded?) different talents 
and aptitudes, the 'pluralistic' society ought to recognise that 
egalitarianism is a recipe for tyranny.

Walzer is a theorist and defender of 'just wars' (has he read Aquinas?). 
When the United States was bombing Afghanistan to hell in 2001, and 
potentially starving to death hundereds of thousands of people (goodness 
knows how high the death toll was in the event), Walzer had this to say:


'Leftist opposition to the war in Afghanistan faded in November and December 
of last year, not only because of the success of the war but also because of 
the enthusiasm with which so many Afghanis greeted that success. The 
pictures of women showing their smiling faces to the world, of men shaving 
their beards, of girls in school, of boys playing soccer in shorts: all this 
was no doubt a slap in the face to leftist theories of American imperialism, 
but also politically disarming. There was (and is) still a lot to worry 
about: refugees, hunger, minimal law and order. But it was suddenly clear, 
even to many opponents of the war, that the Taliban regime had been the 
biggest obstacle to any serious effort to address the looming humanitarian 
crisis, and it was the American war that removed the obstacle. It looked 
(almost) like a war of liberation, a humanitarian intervention.'

How much of this happy clappy stuff is pure fantasy (smiling women, 
beardless men, boys playing soccer, tea and crumpets), I do not know. But 
surely the 'humanitarian crisis' was imposed upon the people of Afghanistan 
by the American embargo, and the refugee crisis was the direct product of 
the American onslaught?

In the same article, Walzer decries the 'self-hate' of the American left, 
wishes Americans could take a leaf from Orwell's book (who, apparently, was 
an English, (ne British!?) patriot, but was also anti-imperialist). Walzer 
later contends that the idea of a civilising imperialist mission never got 
off the ground in America. Manifest destiny?

Anyway, I would appreciate anyone's input on this guy. As I say, he is very 
popular in North Western academies to which the idea of structurally imposed 
inequality, and racial oppression appears anathema.

MSN Messenger 7.5 is now out. Download it for FREE here. 

More information about the Marxism mailing list