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Magazine Roundup

Le Monde des livres | Tygodnik Powszechny | The Economist | Le Nouvel Observateur | Nepszabadsag

Le Monde des livres 08.02.2007 (France)

Recent weeks have witnessed a growing rumble of discontent among friends and followers of Pierre Bourdieu. This was provoked by linguist and philosopher Jean-Claude Milner who, on Alain Finkielkraut's radio programme "Repliques", accused the sociologist of anti-Semitism. On February 8, a number of intellectuals wrote to the Liberation to protest against these "absurd and ludicrous" accusations. Jean Birnbaum summarises Milner's arguments, which fire directly at two of Bordieu's books, "The Inheritors: French Students and Their Relations to Culture" and "State nobility. Elite Schools in the Field of Power". According to Birnbaum, Milner's "objective was to provoke thought", because of what he considers are the "disastrous" consequences of Bordieu's theories on young immigrants. He quotes Milner: "The astonishing thing about Bourdieu is his general style, his use of rhetoric which involves twisting the meanings of words. He describes as 'inheritors' groups that have no inheritance and uses the term 'state noblesse' for something that has nothing to do with noblesse. I myself am an example of what he calls meritocratic elitism. But what inheritance he is referring to? My parents had no money, and French was not their mother tongue!"

Tygodnik Powszechny 12.02.2007 (Poland)

Since Archbishop Wielgul of Warsaw confessed to having collaborated with the communist police, Poland has turned the spotlight on its communist past. Conservative politicians and newspapers are flocking to point the finger at Adam Michnik, the one-time leading dissident and now editor-in-chief of the influential Gazeta Wyborcza, for having stonewalled lustration processes in cahoots with the (post) communists. Michal Olszewski declares: "The day of reckoning is here. Gazeta Wyborcza and Michnik himself, with their strategy of national reconciliation and forgiveness, are on the defensive. All the talking is now being done by people who have had enough of differentiation and who like things black and white. Communism was bad, the failure to address the communist past in 1989 was bad. The time has come to take revenge on Michnik for all the real and alleged misdemeanours."

The Economist 12.02.2007 (UK)

The Economist finds Ayaan Hirsi Ali's autobiography as fascinating as it is problematic. "Read as a modern coming-of-age story set in Africa, the book has a certain charm. Read as a key to the thinking of a woman who aspires to be the Muslim Voltaire, it is more problematic. The facts as Ms Hirsi Ali tells them here do not fit well either with some of the stories she has told in the past or with her tendency in her political writing to ascribe most of the troubles of the Muslim world to Islam." Follow the multicuralism debate launched by Pascal Bruckner here.

Le Nouvel Observateur
08.02.2007 (France)

To mark the publication of his book "A Sultan in Palermo" in France, Pakistani author, journalist and filmmaker Tariq Ali talks in an interview about Islamism, Iraq, and his youth in London in the 60s where he mingled with the likes of Mick Jagger and John Lennon. Things look black for Iraq, he states: "In my opinion, the Kurdish areas in the north will separate and come under Israeli/American protection. A major part of the south will become an Iranian protectorate, while the middle will be dominated by the Saudis or by Syria. The times of an independent Iraq with its own territorial sovereignty are over. Like Afghanistan, the country is a veritable time bomb."

Nepszabadsag 10.02.2007 (Hungary)

Political scientist Laszlo Lengyel has read the new book of essays by Adam Michnik, and agrees with Michnik that Western Europe has "lost interest in our region". "Far from taking an active part in shaping Europe, we are still very much an outsider, be it a reverential or a sceptical one.... It's not easy to go on beseeching Europeans in Brussels or other European capitals to help protect Europe's periphery from the barbarians, and at the same time to see their cold calculating looks and indifferent smiles. It's as if they were saying: Dear Central Europeans, handle your barbarians yourselves, we've got enough problems! Michnik hates the Poland which seeks to be the historical 'guarantor' of Western Europe, which puts demands on Europe and the world, but itself supposedly has no debts. Michnik has no time for the Poland – and the Central Europe – that sees only its own suffering, and wants to have all its sins absolved. Michnik wanted Poland to become a normal country. Now he stands there, still on the periphery, and must continually point to the special, other Poland, just to attract people's attention at all. As a Central European it's impossible to become a member of the inner circle of the European club. Our enterprises, newspapers and opinions remain forever Polish or Hungarian. We will never sit on the management boards in Munich, Paris or Milan, we will never belong to the decision makers. All we have is the choice of remaining at home as vice regents, or of emigrating. Europe, take care that after having won us, you don't lose us just as fast! - let's talk european