15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
The Suicide of Reason,
This review is from: The Suicide of Reason: Radical Islam's Threat to the West (Hardcover)
The historian Allan Nevins argues that one of the "causes" of the American Civil War was the general failure to imagine how horrible such a war would be. He suggests someone needs to think of the worst. Lee Harris, author and frequent contributor to Policy Review and the Wall Street Journal, claims this is the reason for writing this book.
The Suicide of Reason illustrates how the western world and the Law of Reason may be causing its own demise and facilitating a return to the Law of the Jungle. It questions the U.S. national policy of promoting democracy abroad. It challenges the liberal AND conservative aspects of President Bush's policies. It examines world politics through a realist lens. The greatest challenge to the liberal West is: Can Reason save us?
Harris's book is broken into five major sections. The first section gives a background of Fanaticism and Reason. It explains how the two schools of thought were formed. He examines the French and Spanish Revolutions and demonstrates how they each moved through the Law of the Jungle and the Law of Reason.
The second section explores the politics of Reason and Hobbesian theory. How did early man, caught up in the struggle for survival, become transformed into rational actors? How did we learn to hold our tongues or fists, to take each other seriously, and appreciate each others' point of view? How did we learn to stand in line?
Next, Harris explains Condorcet's Tenth Stage of Reason and the institution of education. Public education, in a secular state, weans the child away from the superstitions, prejudice, bigotry, and fanaticism of the parent. Education in a non-secular state can be used for indoctrinate into radicalism, tribalism or jihad.
The fourth section examines fanaticism and how jihad can actually be logical. Politicians claim that moderate Muslims should denounce jihad and terrorism. Harris argues there is no incentive for this to happen. Jihad and terrorism have proven to be effective at promoting Islam throughout the world and time. Why would rational Muslims denounce actions that are helping Islam grow throughout the world?
The last section questions how Western society can survive and explores a possible New World Order. He argues that American policy makers have confused populism with liberal democracy. Populism is the politics of the tribal mind, whereas democracy is the politics of the rational actor. How can the election of Hamas to leadership among the Palestinians be considered a liberal democracy? Populism is nearly a return to the Law of the Jungle.
This book makes no effort to be politically correct. Lee Harris compels policy makers to evaluate National Strategy and U.S. actions in the Middle East. He looks at the "Long War" and presents his view from a societal context. I recommend this book for any reader who wants a differing and challenging view of the "Long War" and radical Islam.