Paul Berman

Paul Berman's writings on political and cultural issues have appeared in the New Republic, the New York Times Book Review and Slate. He is the author of Terror and Liberalism and
Power and the Idealists: Or, The Passion of Joschka Fischer, and its Aftermath.

Recent Articles

Confound It

Eric Alterman is charmingly courteous in introducing his criticisms, and he announces an intention to pull his punches (which, by the time he's through, makes me wonder what an unpulled punch might be), but then, having worked his way through the formalities, he delivers his verdict: "Paul's review does an extreme disservice to the truth -- and a massive favor to its enemies -- with his faulty reading of the never-ending, but almost entirely bogus controversy over whether Stone ever willingly spied for the Russians or cooperated with the KGB in any way. He did not, and it is a damn shame that Paul implies otherwise" -- and so forth, all in reference to something I have written in The New York Times Book Review about I.F. Stone. Such is Eric Alterman's judgment. My eyes light on that peculiar phrase, "almost entirely bogus." Why the "almost"? Because there is a problem here. Stone has been accused of having, in Eric's words, "cooperated with the KGB." Eric says, "He did not." I will...

Terror and Liberalism

The present war, if that is the correct word, may very well be, as President Bush has observed, a war of a new kind--the "first war of the twenty-first century." But in one important respect, the present war also appears to be--and this, too, the president has hinted at indirectly--a war of an old kind, perhaps even the last war of the twentieth century. The terror assault was an astonishing event, but also a familiar event. And so it is possible, by glancing at the century that has just passed, to hazard a few guesses about the torrent of events that is already pouring over us. The pattern of war in the twentieth century, the pattern that long ago became old and familiar, was established in the aftermath of World War I. For a hundred years before that war, the Western countries had indulged in a comforting sentiment of historical optimism, serene in the conviction that rationality and order were steadily progressing and would go on doing so into the future, and modernity was going to...

Essay: Labor and the Intellectuals

Despite reciprocal indifference, labor unions and liberal intellectuals can still enliven one another.

I n the fall of 1996, Columbia University held a famous teach-in on the suddenly popular topic of relations between intellectuals and the labor movement, and because my name figured on the advertised list of speakers, the National Writers Union called me to express the hope that, somewhere in my talk, I might give the union a friendly mention. The National Writers Union? I was happy to comply. The teach-in got underway. My turn at the mike arrived. Instantly I proclaimed myself a member of the union in question. Better: a charter member. To be honest, I have never been an especially active or useful member of the National Writers Union, apart from paying my dues. I have even wondered about those dues, sometimes. The National Writers Union puts up a good fight, but it is not yet a very powerful force in the world of writing, and the benefits that come showering down upon its dues-paying rank and file are less than vast, relative to the dues. And when I tally up the short-term...