Princeton University Press £20.95 (256pp) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030

The Tyranny Of Guilt: An Essay On Western Masochism, By Pascal Bruckner, trans by Steven Rendall

We all believed in multiculturalism. Didn't we? That was before Islamic fundamentalism was broadcast from British mosques and we got used to seeing a rise in burkhas and blacked- out women on our streets. And what were we to think when our feminist friends celebrated the veil as a symbol of anti-imperialism and a way of turning off predatory males? And how could we remain silent when the Left celebrated the sight of the planes flying into the Twin Towers ? At Ground Zero how could we listen when they dismissed the three thousand murdered office workers, police and fire fighters' deaths with, 'America had it coming!'? And where was their outrage at the Madrid and London bombings? Unable to recognise the war when it came, the Left continued to blame the innocent for being the victims of the jihadist. What if they, what if we, got it wrong?

Pascal Bruckner is a prize-winning novelist, philosopher and essayist and, although he writes from a French perspective, his analysis of the current intellectual zeitgeist questions both sides of the Channel.

The core of his argument is to accuse Europe of willing collaboration with Islamic fundamentalists seeking to destroy the liberal freedoms we have taken centuries to achieve. He argues that Europe has never recovered from its own barbarity and that now it seeks to cleanse its original sin with a new Eden; even if this Paradise has 70 waiting virgins. The Left has cynically used political Islam for its own ends but, in its naivity, has not realised what collaboration means.

Bruckner points out that now we have started to erode our individual rights, for example to satirise all religions, because we are so terrified of offending minority interests. He mentions the establishment of Women-Only swimming pools as the first step to a sexual apartheid. A true egalitarian he wants those born into minorities to have the same rights as the rest of Europe's citizens. And if that means the rights to eat pork, drink alcohol, dress as one wishes or be a homosexual, then so be it.

Bruckner doesn't see the problem as French-only, noting that Islamo-Leftism emanated from the British Socialist Workers Trotskyites and fanned out Europe-wide. They saw Islam as a process to "spearhead a new insurrection in the name of the oppressed". To the Left Wing intellectual, who no longer knows how to understand the world and whose Communist gods have all died, there is no more hope. Their current focus now is the devil incarnate – the US and its pariah Israel. There is a convergence of views between the European Left, and the Iranian mullahs. In their world the Jew has become the Nazi, the Palestinian the Jew and radical Islam is now the victim of Western democracy and not its executioner. But is his prognosis fatal? Bruckner condemns centuries of European persecutions of minorities but also points out that European enlightened thinking has also allowed for the admission of guilt, reparation and a desire to start anew. Europe engaged in slavery but it also stopped it. Where are the voices clamouring for the end of slavery today? he asks. And who dares reveal how much slavery was part of African and Arab world trade. Bruckner shows how selective we are about teaching history and how our media is obsessed with only one struggle (Israel/ Palestine) while ignoring others (Sudan/Dafur). The essay, translated into clear American English, is provocative, scholarly and accessible. His critique of the Politics of Identity is wide-ranging and convinces us that a return to the values of citizenship is the only way back to sanity. It's not that we have to diminish culpability but that all nations should look at their own past, learn from it and advance.

Bruckner urges readers to resist censorship, reminding us that any staging of Voltaire's 1741 play, Mohammed the Prophet, today , would need police protection.

Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
'Africa' will be Angelina Jolie's fifth film as a director

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
books
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
One Direction go Fourth: The boys pose on the cover of their new album Four

Review: One Direction, Four

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
'Game of Thrones' writer George RR Martin

Review: The World of Ice and Fire

books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Bean will play 'extraordinary hero' Inspector John Marlott in The Frankenstein Chronicles
tvHow long before he gets killed off?
Arts and Entertainment
Some like it hot: Blaise Bellville

music
Arts and Entertainment
A costume worn by model Kate Moss for the 2013 photograph

art
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Len Goodman appeared to mutter the F-word after Simon Webbe's Strictly performance

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T makes his long-awaited return to the London stage
musicReview: Alexandra Palace, London
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 back in 2001 when they also supported 'Children in Need'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth rejoins Tess Daly to host the Strictly Come Dancing Children in Need special
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan plays Christian Grey getting ready for work

Film More romcom than S&M

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Review: The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
The comedian Daniel O'Reilly appeared contrite on BBC Newsnight last night

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
The American stand-up Tig Notaro, who performed topless this week

Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars

Arts and Entertainment

TVNetflix gets cryptic

Arts and Entertainment
Claudia Winkleman is having another week off Strictly to care for her daughter
TV
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Children in Need is the BBC's UK charity. Since 1980 it has raised over £600 million to change the lives of disabled children and young people in the UK

TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his winning novel

Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination

Arts and Entertainment
Bryan Cranston will play federal agent Robert Mazur in The Infiltrator

Books
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

    Immigration: Obama's final frontier

    The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

    Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

    You know that headache you’ve got?

    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

    Scoot commute

    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
    Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

    The Paul Robeson story

    How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
    10 best satellite navigation systems

    Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

    Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
    Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

    Paul Scholes column

    England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

    Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
    Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

    Frank Warren column

    Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
    Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

    Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

    Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
    Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

    'How do you carry on? You have to...'

    The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

    'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

    Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
    Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

    Sir John Major hits out at theatres

    Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
    Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

    Kicking Barbie's butt

    How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines