Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism

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Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism

By Bernard-Henri Lévy
Random House, 2008
256 pp. $25.00
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Lévy burst onto the French intellectual scene in 1977 with the publication of , a denunciation of the French left's indulgent attitude toward communism and the Soviet Union. Now, more than 30 years later, updates that critique. The inspiration for the book was a phone call the author received in early 2007 from Nicolas Sarkozy, then a center-right presidential candidate, asking Lévy if he would follow other French left-wing intellectuals in supporting Sarkozy's candidacy. Lévy's answer was that he could not abandon his political "family" -- the left that had stood behind Alfred Dreyfus, fought (like Lévy's father) in the Spanish Civil War, opposed colonialism, and defended social progress in France. But in confronting why he could not support Sarkozy, Lévy also feels the need to describe what is wrong with the modern French left, chastising it for its antiliberal, anti-European, anti-American, and anti-Israeli (if not anti-Semitic) attitudes. is marked by the traits for which the author is well known -- self-importance, stream-of-consciousness prose, and the liberal use of metaphors, rhetorical questions, and philosophical references. Nonetheless, his challenge to the left deserves attention.