This section contains chapters written in the early twenty-first century. In one chapter Willis confronts the “mantra” that desiring peace is an amulet against a predatory world—a powerful rejection of the post-9/11 fetish for first principles; another provokes the left to examine its rage at Israel. In the wake of 9/11, the text observes that psychopathology drives Islamic fundamentalism, and that anyone motivated to kill for a promise of penetrating virgins in heaven has taken sexual repression to its logical conclusion. In addition, the text embraces the “political stand” that critic Susan Sontag demanded from intellectuals while remaining cognizant of its limits; offers a reading of Thomas Frank’s book What’s the Matter with Kansas?; considers the utopian dimension of politics and Russell Jacoby’s views on utopianism; and criticizes the cosmopolitan writers who hoped something beneficial might come out of 9/11.
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