The Corner

Re: Wolin Article

From a reader:

Jonah’s post on the Richard Wolin article in the CHR is a bit misleading. Wolin himself does not “fetishize” the third world; indeed the whole article is extremely critical of Honderich (the pro-terrorist author whose book Wolin reviews), and one of the specific criticisms makes basically the same point Jonah did. Wolin: “What makes [Honderich’s] argument problematic is its blanket refusal to acknowledge any indigenous causes of third-world poverty, be they geographic, climatological, regional, sociological, or political. Rather than promote intelligent reflection on the causes of global social injustice, Honderich is interested in playing a simple blame game.” Wolin does conclude that Honderich’s book is not necessarily anti-Semitic but that the tactics Honderich seeks to legitimize “flirt with a discourse of genocide whose historical resonances are all too familiar and disturbing.”

My response This strikes me as a fair criticism. I wasn’t trying to say that Wolin endorses Honderich’s views, rather I was just trying to illuminate this often-mouthed cliche that we all agree rich nations “bear responsibility” for third world poverty. That read like a categorical statement to me. He probably should have said “bears some responsibility” or has “some obligation.” Nevertheless, I was too quick to jump on the first part without giving Wolin credit for the last part.

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