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Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

The Final Solution: A Story of Detection by Michael Chabon

American Education: A History by Wayne J. Urban

Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich by William L. Shirer

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Credential Society: A Historical Sociology of Education and Stratification by Randall Collins

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Member: jklugman

CollectionsYour library (1,679), Currently reading (9), To read (1), Read but unowned (142), All collections (1,679)

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Tagshome (1,047), unread (650), read (474), sociology (387), fiction (353), office (344), comics (313), NI (288), not owned (230), education (151) — see all tags

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About meAssistant professor in sociology.

GroupsSocial science, Spies & Spy Fiction

Favorite authorsMartin Amis, Paul Avrich, John le Carré, Erich Kästner (Shared favorites)


Favorite bookstoresBarnes & Noble Booksellers - Philadelphia - Walnut Street, Borders - Philadelphia - Avenue of Arts, Fat Jack's Comic Crypt, Penn Book Center

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LocationPhiladelphia, PA

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URLs /profile/jklugman (profile)
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Member sinceSep 19, 2005

Currently readingCatholic Schools and the Common Good by Anthony Bryk
Mendelssohn Is on the Roof: A Novel by Jiri Weil
Ethnicity, Social Mobility, and Public Policy: Comparing the USA and UK by Glenn C. Loury
Border Identifications: Narratives of Religion, Gender, and Class on the U.S.-Mexico Border (Inter-America Series) by Pablo Vila
The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the Dark Ages 400-1000 by Chris Wickham
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We are definitely in agreement about Barber's naivete. He was an easy mark both for the Libyan regime's self-promotion efforts and (you may disagree) Jon Wiener's effort to weave a morality play. Barber's motives probably were as grandiose and untethered as was his weird prose in Jihad vs. McWorld, but he was not Qaddafi's willing henchman. No less important, Barber's thesis that we should "deal with" Qaddafi through dialogue was not incorrect. If the objective is to unseat an autocrat and establish a more broadly based government, dialogue is a necessary but not sufficient step.

You mention efforts to portray Qaddafi as "forward-thinking" as if it were all a ruse, and in fact he was committed to — I don't know, backward thinking? But even ideological autocrats are not that easily summarized. Qaddafi was a brilliant, visionary demagogue with limited experience, too much power, and no critics. Threats and air raids only made him more rigid. It's hard to persuade such a person that his destiny is not identical with the destiny of the nation. But it can be done, through a combination of trust building and pressure to change — pressure, not threats, by and on behalf of Libyans, not Americans.

Benjamin Barber was not a good choice for such sensitive work. But I don't think it was unethical for Monitor to pay him or for him to accept, as long as he didn't hide it. No harm was done. Saif Qaddafi's turn toward slaughter was an unforeseeable disaster, not the result of an evil plan. Wiener's use of Sanusi to smear Monitor Group is cheap innuendo, sort of like accusing a doberman owner of fascism. So while my opinion of Barber hasn't changed much — he's giddy and naive — my opinion of Wiener has declined a good deal.

I'm glad you sent me that link. This whole controversy would have passed me by otherwise.
Actually I'm more sympathetic to Barber (and to Joseph Nye in the original piece by Jon Wiener) than to the claim in the piece's title, "Professors paid by Qaddafi," which distorts the facts of the case.

I have Wiener's book [Historians in Trouble], which contains valuable reporting, but I think he's guilty at times of snap judgments and special pleading. This is one of those cases: Wiener emphasizes the fact that Qaddafi's brutal henchman Sanusi approved of what Monitor Group was doing, while Barber emphasizes the role of Saif Qaddafi's foundation at a time when the younger Qaddafi was thought to be sincere about seeking reform. (I know from other reading that Saif really did work closely with Human Rights Watch, but once the rebellion began he fought ruthlessly to suppress it.)

Barber and the others named by Wiener were right to take an opportunity to engage with Libyans, and as long as the relationship with Monitor Group was disclosed, there was nothing unethical about it. Barber's judgment of Qaddafi may have been as superficial as his other efforts, but it's a smear to imply that he took money directly from the dictator. Besides, what alternative would Wiener have preferred? Isolation? Scolding? Bombing? The brutal civil war in Libya happened despite efforts to engage the Qaddafi regime, not because of them.

Barber's biggest mistake, I think, was to talk at length with a reporter like Wiener without first sizing him up by reviewing his past work. Wiener was looking for characters in a morality play, and the naive Barber stepped into the role of paid henchman to a Dark Lord. It makes great theater, but lousy history.
Thanks, I appreciate the compliment. Jihad vs. McWorld is a complete mess of a book, but it attracted an astonishing amount of media attention when it first appeared. It did leave me with the impression that Prof. Barber must be an entertaining lecturer. But entertainment ≠ enlightenment. In fact the two are nearly opposites.
So I just bought a book today called "Dark Tide," about a molasses tank that exploded in Boston in the early 1900s and sent a tidal wave of molasses through the city--I am not joking. It looks like a really good book, if you are into books on American history. It's gotten really good reviews.
Was Goodis from Philly? Also look at
Geoffrey Homes (Build My Gallows High),
and Wade Miller (Badge of Evil - AKA
Touch of Evil).
Have you read Charles Williams, Horace McCoy, Dorothy B Hughes,
P. Highsmith, Simenon? More old favorites in addition to Goodis.
What does "Black Lizard" mean?
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