A New Master Narrative? Reflections on Contemporary Anti-Americanism

  • Tony Judt
Part of the The CERI Series in International Relations and Political Economy book series (CERI)

Abstract

“Anti-Americanism” is the master narrative of the age. Until quite recently, political argument—first in the West, latterly everywhere— rested firmly, and, for most people, quite comfortably, upon the twin pillars of “progress” and “reaction.” The idea of progress encapsulated both the moral confidence of the Enlightenment and the various and ultimately conflicting political projects to which it gave rise: liberalism, democracy, socialism, and, in the twentieth century, communism. Each of these heirs to the Enlightenment project had a confident story to tell of its own origins, its desirability, its necessity, and ultimately its grounds for confidence in impending victory. Each, in short, was not merely a narrative of human progress but a master narrative, aspiring to contain within itself and, where necessary, explain away all other accounts of modernity.

Keywords

Europe Income Assure Expense Egypt 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Lawrence F. Kaplan and William Kristol, The War over Iraq. Saddam’s Tyranny and America’s Mission (Washington: Diane Pub. Co., 2003), pp. 120–121.Google Scholar
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    See Robert Kagan, Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order (Knopf: New York, 2003), and my review in The New York Review of Books, vol. 50, no. 6, April 10, 2003.Google Scholar
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    We are back in May 1944, when Hubert Beuve-Méry, future founder and editor of Le Monde, could write that “the Americans constitute a real threat to France… . [They] can prevent us accomplishing the necessary revolution, and their materialism lacks even the tragic grandeur of the materialism of the totalitarians.” Quoted by Jean-François Revel in L’Obsession anti-américaine (Paris: Plon, 2002), p. 98.Google Scholar
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    Michael J. Mazarr, “Saved from ourselves?” in What Does the World Want from America? edited by Alexander T.J. Lennon (from MIT Press, Boston, November 2002), p. 167; first published in The Washington Quarterly, vol. 25, no. 2 (spring 2002).Google Scholar

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© Tony Judt and Denis Lacorne 2005

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  • Tony Judt

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