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Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left

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A devastating critique of New Left thinking
In Fools, Frauds and Firebrands, Roger Scruton first surveys and then deconstructs the golden idols of left wing thought from the 1960s to the present day. He dissects the hollow works of Hobsbawm and E. P. Thompson, Galbraith and Dworkin, Sartre and Foucault and exposes the lack of coherence in the works of Althusser, Lacan, Deleuze, Badiou and Zizek.

Scruton ponders why the humanities have become so unambiguously aligned to the left, and reveals how fully such thinking has seized the academy in its grasp. In this provocative, compelling and highly entertaining book he explains why empty rhetoric abounds over careful analysis and blatant nonsense over respectable logic, in a shattering demolition of some of today's most fashionable philosophers.

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Review:

Eminent British philosopher and polymath Scruton gives a sharp-edged, provocative critique of leading leftist thinkers since the mid-twentieth century ... complex and erudite (Publisher's Weekly US)

Caustic, highly recherché, and simply great fun to read for the questing intellectual soul. (Kirkus Reviews)

From the standpoint of a serious conservatism, it honestly assesses the political and philosophical contributions of the Left. The book also addresses what is likely our most pressing question: 'Can there be any foundation for resistance to the leftist agenda without religious faith?' (Catholic World Report)

Since he no longer has a university career to protect, Scruton can now tweak the nose of academic leftism to his heart's content. Scruton is at his best, (and funniest) when trying to make sense of [Alain] Badiou's weird confection historical materialism and Platonic mathematical theory (Jonathan Derbyshire Prospect)

The book is a masterpiece ... In crisp, sometimes brilliant prose, Mr. Scruton considers scores of works in three languages, giving the reader an understanding of each thinker's overarching aim and his place within the multifaceted movement known as the New Left. He neither ridicules nor abuses the writers he considers; he patiently deconstructs them, first explaining their work in terms they themselves would recognize and then laying bare their warped assumptions and empty pretensions. (Barton Swaim Wall Street Journal)

I enjoyed this immensely, both for Scruton's dry, British wit as well as for the sheer breadth of intellectuals covered in his survey (Against the Grain Blog)

Highly recommended (Powerline US Blog)

Here Scruton thoroughly and fairly debunks the ostentation, obfuscation, and terrible writing and downright deceitfulness of much of postwar Marxist-inspired philosophy. For Scruton the culprits are mainly from France and Germany-beginning with Sartre and carrying through to Foucault, Habermas, Althusser, Lacan, Deleuze, Gramsci, and Said-and he carries the attack forward to Badiou and Zizek. Even Galbraith and Dworkin take a few hits. Scruton writes from the perspective of an old-school conservative. His sympathies are with the virtues of the countryside and historically rooted associations of every sort, from churches and the US Constitution to volunteer fire departments, brass bands, and the local Grange. His personal point of view could be called sentimental . but his arguments against his foes are substantial and deep. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. (CHOICE)

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What does the Left look like today and how has it evolved? Is there any foundation for resistance to its agenda without religious faith?

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9781472935953: Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left

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