Something is profoundly wrong with the way we think about how we should live today.
In Ill Fares The Land, Tony Judt, one of our leading historians and thinkers, reveals how we have arrived at our present dangerously confused moment. Judt masterfully crystallizes what we’ve all been feeling into a way to think our way into, and thus out of, our great collective dis-ease about the current state of things.
As the economic collapse of 2008 made clear, the social contract that defined postwar life in Europe and America – the guarantee of a basal level of security, stability and fairness -- is no longer guaranteed; in fact, it’s no longer part of the common discourse. Judt offers the language we need to address our common needs, rejecting the nihilistic individualism of the far right and the debunked socialism of the past. To find a way forward, we must look to our not so distant past and to social democracy in action: to re-enshrining fairness over mere efficiency.
Distinctly absent from our national dialogue, social democrats believe that the state can play an enhanced role in our lives without threatening our liberties. Instead of placing blind faith in the market—as we have to our detriment for the past thirty years—social democrats entrust their fellow citizens and the state itself.
Ill Fares the Land challenges us to confront our societal ills and to shoulder responsibility for the world we live in. For hope remains. In reintroducing alternatives to the status quo, Judt reinvigorates our political conversation, providing the tools necessary to imagine a new form of governance, a new way of life.
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Tony Judt was born in London in 1948. He was educated at King's College, Cambridge and the École Normale Supérieure, Paris, and has taught at Cambridge, Oxford, Berkeley and New York University, where he is currently the Erich Maria Remarque Professor of European Studies and Director of the Remarque Institute, which is dedicated to the study of Europe and which he founded in 1995. The author or editor of twelve books, he is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, The New Republic, The New York Times and many other journals in Europe and the US. Professor Judt is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and a Permanent Fellow of the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (Vienna). He is the author of Reappraisals: Reflections On The Forgotten Twentieth Century and Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945, which was one of the New York Times Book Review’s Ten Best Books of 2005, the winner of the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Book Award, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
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