|AFTER THE TERROR
by Ted Honderich
Edinburgh University Press
22 George Square, Edinburgh
2002 hardback 0 7486 1667 5
2003 paperback 0 7486 1668 3
Judgements in some English-language reviews
3 pre-publication endorsements
200 German reviews & articles not included
"In the flood of literature on terrorism, this essay stands out as unusual,
and unusually enlightening and provocative. It guides the reader, lucidly
and forcefully, from basic ideas about a good and decent life to
contemplation of concrete and immediate issues that are or should be at the
center of attention. It is a compelling and impressive contribution to
thinking about problems that are complex, painful, and urgent."
Prof. Noam Chomsky endorsement
"Honderich is a symptom of a poisonous, unapologetic hatred of Israel that is now part of maintstream campus culture. ... William F. Buckley once said that he'd be better off living in a country governed by the first 100 names in the Boston phone book than by tenured members of the Harvard faculty. He's still right. A five-year-old child has the sense to know that slaugtering innocent civilians is wrong. To convince yourself otherwise, you have to spend years hanging around a university."
Jonathan Kay, National Post
"Everyone who was appalled by the events of September llth 2001 must read
this book. You are stopped despite yourself, and held until the tale is finished. You are addressed personally, in urgent, passionate talk. Not everyone will like his conclusions, yet even those who are prepared to take no responsibility for the Terror are bound to reflect... ...brisk moral and original philosophy"
Baroness Mary Warnock endorsement
"unusual and unusually enlightening and provocative"
ABC Network News
"It is unusual to find philosophers getting into the debate on current events; most of them are safely ensconced in their ivory towers pondering questions of higher importance. It is therefore gratifying to find some philosophers in the trenches tackling questions pertinent to all of us -- trying to understand current events and to untangle the meaning of propaganda-frayed language."
Jeffrey St. Clair, CounterPunch
"There are many kinds of books about September 11 ....To get to the heart of the questions, you could do worse than read the philosopher Ted Honderich's essay ... Honderich doesn't lecture, he enquires."
Erica Wagner, The Times
"It is a relief to turn from the highly wrought aphorisms of Baudrillard, even if there are insights here and there, to Honderich, whose strength is a careful, dogged probing of injustice, inequality and moral responsibility. No reflections on the precognitive aspects of Hollywood disaster movies or on the nature of images for Honderich. ...he makes it new and he makes the reader see it anew by the way he keeps his inquiry open, not letting himself or the reader leap ahead, by his concentration on the moral issue, and by his sharp eye for the constant inclination of the privileged to prefer those theories which let them off the hook."
Martin Woolacott, The Guardian
"Honderich's brilliant After the Terror attempts to provide the conceptual and moral tools for self-perception and resolution to change, to make moral contemplation a matter of the living present and future. His provocative conclusions are likely to raise much more than a few eyebrows, especially in western societies, which he describes bluntly as 'ignorant, stupid, selfish, managed and deceived for gain, self-deceived, and deadly'."
Tanweer Akram, Bangkok Post
"Few academic philosophers have the guts or the sensitivity of Ted Honderich. ... No publication I know captures the background sense of moral reasoning shared by today's international progressive movement better than this one. Nor are the subtle but deadly shades of culpability among dominant western societies more searchingly revealed."
Douglas Doepke, Amazon Reviews
"In his provocative and chatty After the Terror, Honderich...aims to defend a moral framework grounded in what he calls the Principle of Humanity. ... This is both a challenging and rewarding book, to be read by anyone who wants to think more intelligently about morality in general and about the morality of September 11 and its aftermath."
Prof. Anthony Skelton, Literary Review of Canada
"September 11 woke up certain elements in the West from their dogmatic presuppositions about the West and the 'others'. But this awakening only provoked the bombing of Afghanistant and Iraq and an increase in the number of bad lives, as a kind of negative consequentialist morality. Honderich's After the Terror, on the contrary, is an insightful and alternative analysis and set of prescriptions about how to proceed."
Lansana Keita, Quest, An African Journal of Philosophy
"This is an unpalatable but rigorously argued view. Even its detractors will readily take it on after reading such an erudite, urgently written volume."
Noah Richler, National Post
"Honderich said he was surprised to arrive in Canada and read Prime Minister Jean Chretien's controvesial comments that Western nations are looked upon as 'arrogrant, self-satisfied, greedy, and with no limits' -- a view he shares. The Prime Minister's observations were a response to the 'terrible moral alarm clock of Sept 11', he said."
Leslie Scrivener, Toronto Star
"In these bad times, when many intellectuals have become the spear-carriers of the new order, reading the words of Ted Honderich is a rare delight. This uncompromising and courageous philosopher continues the dissenting tradition of Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre, more needed now than ever before."
Tariq Ali endorsement
"The book is bound to offend those who find repulsive the notion that there is any moral equivalence in the motives of the terrorists and and the extent to which the West (and particularly the United States) might have been responsible for the circumstances that motivated them."
Geoff Kitney, Sydney Morning Herald
"If you like leftish moral philosophy and can put up with intellectual sleight of hand, you can turn to Ted Honderich, whose After the Terror claims that your knowledge of and refusal to do much about the abbreviated, debilitated, fearful 'bad lives' of the poor south makes us morally responsible for the terror they throw up."
Dominick Donald, The Guardian
"... the anti-war cant that abounds, especially on the academic left. An example of the latter is After The Terror, by Ted Honderich...a fossil of the European armchair gauche, who holds a distinguished chair in philosophy at London University..."
Tunku Varadarajan, Wall Street Journal
"Professor Honderich has tried to stick closer to the really big issues. Instead of anecdotes and vox pops, his book is filled with abstract argumentation about moral philosophy, the nature of democracy, the definition of political violence, and so on. As result, this book is able to be bad in a much more serious way. Indeed, I think it is one of the worst books I have ever read. ... By this point, readers may be wondering whether Professor Honderich believes that Osama bin Laden, in attacking the World Trade Center, was trying to persuade the West to feed Africans. The answer seems to be 'yes'. But he cannot quite bring himself to say this.... It is just bewildering, and deeply depressing, to think that an emient professor of philosophy can produce this sort of stuff. Not spending £15.99 on this book is one act of omission we should all feel impelled to commit."
Noel Malcolm, All Souls College Oxford, The Sunday Telegraph
"... a sledgehammer to some of the assumptions presented in public debate ... Honderich's contribution to the debate surrounding the events of 11 September 2001 and its aftermath is therefore welcome and vital. ... profound ...."
Michael Rowson, Medicine, Conflict and Survival
"On p. 151 Honderich writes: 'Palestinians have exercised a moral right in their terrorism against the Israelis'. Even if he is correct in this assessment (and I am by no means convinced that he is -- or that he isn't) he devoted only half a page to explaining a judgement that has provoked volumes from others. If anything in this book can be said to be provocative verging on the irresponsible, I think it is this judgement. (I say this without intending any support for the decision of Honderich's German publisher to refuse to print further copies of the book. so much of the book is persuasive and compelling... ...not many Americans will find Honderich's analysis -- or at least that part which consists of his criticism of our 'democratic' politics and our capitalistic economy -- much to their taste. ... a significant contribution ... written in an engaging, informal style a sort of ongoing debate between two voices ... few books on such weighty topics have been written with comparable style and ease. Whatever its limitations, it is a fine example of applied philosophy from which even his critics will learn much."
Prof. Hugo Adam Bedau, Philosophy and Phenomenological Review
"We could sense the forces mobilizing against civilization. Not just those outswide of it -- murderous and grubbing in the sand -- but those within in. Apart from crazies like Noam Chomsky and Susan Sontag, people were choosing their sides. Ted Honderich an old socialist professor of mine who directed my MA thesis in London, ended up writing one of the seminal works on terrorist apologetics afer 9/11."
Max Borders, TCS Daily
"I hope this university is as ashamed of itself as I am for having paid good money to bring this speaker to campus. Honderich claimed that the Palestinian suicide bombngs in Israel cn bemorally rationalized in prt because 'Palestinians have bad lives. Such illogic is despictable.
Raffi Bilek, Brown Daily Herald
"The attack on the twin towers was wrong, according to Honderich, because there was no reasonable expectation that it would do any good, only a certainty that it would desrtroy lives. Is that all? ... Other parts of this book are simply splendid: the chapter on the limitations of liberal democracy, and the section demolishing the claims of capitalism in a matter of ten pages, devastatingly put paid to any idea tht we can justify the war on terrorism as a defence of our superior 'way of life'. And the whole book is a marvellous example of what good philosophy can do to puncture the compacency of received moral and political ideas."
Prof. Richard Norman, New Humanist
"Honderich's starting point is an uncontroversial specification of what goods make for a good life and a description of the millions who lead bad lives in lacking them, including the Palestinians. ... Honderich's is a passionate, protracted and closely reasoned argument, whose uncomfortable conclusions can only be resisted, it seems to me, if his plausible ethical premises can be.... Michael Ignatieff's book [The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror] is very different. Honderich's exasperation issues in ethical entreaty; Ignatieff's alarm, in political admonitiions. And Ignatieff exhibits all the conventional responses that Honderich despises."
Prof. Paul Gilbert, Philosophical Books
"Here, in brief, are some of the best among the dozens of books on Sept. 11 ... Ted Honderich...situates 9/11 in a general moral inquiry about the nature of terrorism...."
Globe and Mail
"Was Oxfam right to turn down Honderich's donation? No. ...I suspect Oxfam has reacted to a vocal pro-Israel minority and concerns about potential damage to its future fund-raising. All NGO's working in Palestine are well aware of this lobby, which complains on a daily basis about any support given to the opposition."
Rob Cartridge, War on Want, Third Sector
"Now I happen to take issue with some of Professor Honderich's conclusions ... But what in God's name is Oxfam doing refusing Professor Honderich's money for its humanitarian work? Who was behind this?"
Robert Fisk, The Independent
"It may be for us, the public, robustly to inform charities that if they cave in to blackmail, the rest of us will turn our backs. Two years ago was another troubling case: Oxfam's refusal of £5,000 from Professor Ted Honderich.... Professor Honderich believes that it was scared by a threat from a Canadian newspaper to run a piece sayingit took money from terrorist sympathisers."
Libby Purves, The Times
"A British charity has stepped in to accept a donation that Oxfam controversially rejected because the money was linked to a book defending the Palestinians' right to carry out suicide bombings. Medical Aid for Palestinians has welcomed the £5,000 donation. ... MAP will also get the equivalent of 1% of sales revenue from the publisher, Edinburgh University Press."
Owen Bowcott, The Guardian
"Suhrkamp is now publishing...a political-philosophical tract propagating anti-semitic anti-Zionism, thereby justifying the murder of Jewish civilians in Israel and so, according to the strict moral logic of Honderich, recommending other people to do precisely that (viz. kill Jews). ... I therefore urge you to take Honderich’s book off the market immediately."
Mischa Brumlik, Frankfurter Rundschau
"I recommended Honderich’s book to Suhrkamp ... my respected English fellow-philosopher brought quite a different perspective to bear. The text reveals the passion for justice felt by an old social democrat who has thought long and hard about the real and actual consequences of a monstrously uneven distribution of the world’s goods
... Brumlik raises the charge of anti-semitism against Honderich. ... I can find nothing in the text to justify Brumlik’s charge."
Prof. Jurgen Habermas, Frankfurter Rundschau
"An open letter from Prof. Dr. Ted Honderich to the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main, by way of the Frankfurter Rundschau:
Mischa Brumlik, the director a Holocaust institute and I understand a professor in your university's institute for general education in science declares me to be an antisemite. This is because in my book I defend the moral right of the Palestinians to their resistance to the state of Israel, as the state of Israel defends its moral right to the killing of Palestinians.
The charge of antisemitism outrages me. I could not believe my eyes. How did the editors at the presses of the University of Edinburgh and Columbia University in New York, as well as Suhrkamp Verlag, fail to see my antisemitism?
No one who has not already joined the New Zionism can read my book and declare any such thing. No doubt the charge will now have some psychoanalysis added to it to take into account the fact that I have had a Jewish wife, refused to lecture in Germany on account of the Holocaust, etc.
The audacious stupidity of the charge of antisemitism gives rise to a complacency on my part about every sentence in Brumlik's letter.
It is despicable, too, to engage in personal slurs of association having to do with people whose politics I do not share. It is dishonourable to attempt to bring pressure on a publishing house of outstanding international repute.
This terrible disservice to truth and decency is not consistent with academic principle. I therefore ask you to consider the dismissal immediately of Mischa Brumlik from his post with you.
Prof. Dr. Ted Honderich"
"In recent weeks a publishing scandal involving charges of anti-Semitism has dominated the feuilleton sections of leading German dailies. ... At the center of the maelstrom in Germany is a slim volume by the philosopher Ted Honderich....
Was Honderich's endorsement of Palestinian suicide bombing anti-Semitic?
Richard Wolin, Chronicle of Higher Education
"A leading radical philosopher, who has been compared to Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre, and praised by Noam Chomsky, says Palestinian 'terrorism' is a moral response to Israel ethnic cleansing. Ted Honderich...plans to take the same message to the Edinburgh International Festival on Thursday, where tickets to hear his speech have already been sold out."
"There is emeritus professor Ted Honderich producing a book about the new terrain of morality mapped out in the wake of September 11. ...there is a new diversity in British academic philosophy -- it doesn't just consist of white men puffing pipes and meditating on the predicate calculus...."
Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian