I half-followed the brouhaha over various weeks in the Letters pages of the London Review of Books about John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s article, “The Israel Lobby”. (Links to the correspondence that the article provoked can be found on the LRB site, at the end of Mearsheimer and Walt’s article.)

LRB debateAnyhow, in response, the LRB organized a debate at Cooper Union, entitled “The Israeli Lobby: Does it Have Too Much Influence on US Foreign Policy?” Thanks to ScribeMedia, the entire debate can now be viewed online. I recommend it.

Panelists at the debate were John Mearsheimer, Shlomo Ben-Ami, Martin Indyk, Tony Judt, Rashid Khalidi, and Dennis Ross, with Anne-Marie Slaughter as moderator.

Just one small thing I noted, which could perhaps be added to Charlotte Street’s Notes on Rhetoric, is that Mearsheimer and Walt are repeatedly accused of “selective quotation.”

While I guess I understand what is meant by this accusation, in fact it is nonsense, a tautology. Of course quotation is selective. Even when an entire article or speech or discourse is quoted, that too is a selection. We may not like or may disagree about the principles of selection, but the charge of selectivity is itself bogus.


I just received the latest issue (134) of Radical Philosophy. Though there is doubtless much else in this issue that’s worth reading, let me point you to David Murray and Mark Neocleous’s reaction to the news that Karl Marx was voted the greatest philosopher of all time. This is how their piece ends:

Marx did not win this poll at all. It was won by “Marx.” It was a shadow Marx, a spectral Marx, who was voted the Greatest Philosopher of All Time. The Marx who won this poll was an alternate being, a spectral being which exists in the ideological world, a figure in the phantasmagoria constructed by those who benefit most from having others buy this particular icon. “Marx” won, and so Marx–and Marxism–lost. Far from celebrating this as a victory, then, and enjoying the furious protestations of the conservative press, we should actually see it as a defeat. There must always be the shamshow of opposition, of a criticism that never takes to arms. (60; emphasis in original)

Of course it’s true that on the other hand, by way of Derrida, we might consider that Marx (and Marxism) has always been spectral, and that this is in part his (its) power. But still.

new left review

A satisfied customer writes…

I doubt anybody has been waiting with very bated breath for the second installment of my thoughts on Arrighi’s “Hegemony Unravelling”.

But I, at least, have been waiting for the relevant issue of the New Left Review. And as of yesterday it had yet to arrive.

I therefore emailed the NLR, asking if somehow my subscription had lapsed. They replied almost immediately telling me that no, I was paid up, promising to (re)send issue 33 straightaway, making efforts to ensure that delivery of issue 34 would be expedited, and informing me of the code by which I could access articles from their website.

It so happened, by strange coincidence, that today issue 33 finally turned up.

Still, full marks to the journal’s subscription department for customer service.

So subscribe. You won’t be left in the lurch.