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Spectrum: From Right to Left in the World of Ideas.

SPECTRUM: FROM RIGHT TO LEFT IN THE WORLD OF IDEAS

By Perry Anderson

Verso, 2006

OUR SHARED SENSE of the state's proper role and responsibilities is in a parlous state. After Katrina, the federal government looked to private charity for responses to the crisis. Americans too often cede the state's responsibilities of care and concern, especially to communities of color, as Katrina graphically demonstrated.

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This crisis is not merely political. Common understandings of justice and the demands we fairly make of the state and each other have collapsed. Perry Anderson's new collection of essays on twentieth century political thought suggests how this happens and hints at responses as it tills the rich soil of the last century's intellectual trends. Anderson was an early editor of New Left Review and today is a professor of history and sociology at UCLA. The essays collected in Spectrum, prepared over an extended period, provide incisive portraits of critical intellectuals Friedrich von Hayek on the right to Eric Hobsbawm on the left.

Rare among American thinkers, Anderson explains the strength of the intellectual right, critiques the weakness of the so-called center and draws on the Global South as a source of innovative ideas. This collection includes an insightful essay on Gabriel Garcia Marquez, while a previous collection (A Zone of Engagement) took on the Brazilian Roberto Unger.

Despite his writings for New Left Review and The Nation, Anderson remains less known than he deserves. By providing an invaluable guide to the state of political thought today, Spectrum should, by rights, be the start of a resurgence of new interest in his rich and rewarding work.
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Article Details
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Author:Huq, Aziz
Publication:Colorlines Magazine
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2006
Words:272
Previous Article:Achieving Blackness: Race, Black Nationalism, and Afrocentrism in the Twentieth Century.
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