The Fear of Barbarians

The Fear of Barbarians

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Contemporary forms of tension and conflict among nations cannot be described in terms familiar to twentieth century history, but neither can they be reduced to a 'clash of civilizations'. The world today is not divided between an enlightened West and the dark forces of Islam. To avoid the negative impact of these Manichean images we need a much more nuanced view. In this new book Tzvetan Todorov offers an original analysis of the new landscape of fear and resentment that characterizes our world today. He starts by redefining the notions of barbarism and civilization as universal moral categories and explains how they apply to the plurality of cultures; and he distinguishes carefully between various forms of collective identity - cultural, civic and ideological. These conceptual tools enable him to shed fresh light on the current struggle against terrorism and the tensions between communities within Western countries. He invites us to overcome our fears - for fear is a dangerous motive and risks producing an evil that is worse than the evil we initially feared. The fear of the barbarians can turn us into barbarians. Richly illustrated with examples ranging from Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib to the murder of Theo Van Gogh and the Danish cartoons, this powerful plea for civilized values will be essential reading for anyone concerned with the key challenges facing the world more

Product details

  • Hardback | 200 pages
  • 162 x 230 x 22mm | 522g
  • Polity Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 074564709X
  • 9780745647098
  • 2,172,359

Table of contents

Introduction: Between fear and resentment Notes to introduction 1. Barbarism and civilisation Being a barbarian Being civilised From civilisation to cultures An Enlightenment heritage Judging cultures Technology and works of art A dream of Enlightenment Civilisation and colonisation Some misunderstandings Notes to chapter 1 2. Collective identities The plurality of cultures Culture as construction The functions of culture States and nations The fragile State A State without culture? Moral and political values A ministry of identity Culture and values Notes to chapter 2 3. The War of the Worlds Make love or war? Religious wars and political conflicts Men like us? The Manichean vision Islamism and totalitarianism The war on terrorism The end and the means Torture: the facts Torture: the debate Notes to chapter 3 4. Steering between the reefs Murder in Amsterdam The anti-Islamic combat The Danish caricatures The reactions A few reflections The Pope's speech By way of Islam Notes to chapter 4 5. European identity In search of an identity Plurality as the basis of unity Forms of coexistence The cosmopolitan model Europe in the West The frontiers of Europe Notes to chapter 5 Beyond Manicheism Acknowledgmentsshow more

About Tzvetan Todorov

Tzvetan Todorov is an independent scholarshow more

Review quote

'Fascinating and important' New York Review of Books 'This work is more than a masterpiece, it is a treasure. Profound erudition, eloquence, formidable common sense, a brilliant refutation of Western and non-Western- "terrible simplifiers", this beautiful defense of humanism, pluralism, tolerance, this eloquent critique of manichaeisms and inhumanity (including torture) is, in my opinion, the best of Todorov's many books, the summary and summa of his work. In less than 200 pages, it is the most irrefutable defense and illustration of the values of the Enlightenment and of their immense relevance to the present condition of the world.' Stanley Hoffmann, Harvard Universityshow more

Rating details

169 ratings
3.84 out of 5 stars
5 26% (44)
4 44% (74)
3 21% (35)
2 8% (13)
1 2% (3)
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