Fools, Frauds and Firebrands review – a demolition of socialist intellectuals. Steven Poole for The Guardian (December 15)
The New Left is rather old news. Hence the title change for this new version of Roger Scruton’s critique of rampant intellectual socialism, which was originally published in 1985 as simply Thinkers of the New Left.
Since then, RD Laing and Rudolf Bahro are out; Jacques Lacan, Gilles Deleuze, Edward Said, Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek are in. Scruton is brilliant at the patient demolition, in sorrowful yet witty tones, of wobbly conceptual edifices. Yet the zingier, more knockabout new title promises more fury than the book supplies. The only outright “fool” here, in Scruton’s view, is the psychoanalyst Lacan; and only the Austro-Hungarian Marxist critic György Lukács is judged downright wicked. The rest, Scruton diagnoses mainly as wrong though very clever, or wrong and not very clever, or just shatteringly boring.
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