Tomgram: Jonathan Schell: A Niagara Falls of Post-9/11 Violence

By: Tuesday July 22, 2014 6:59 pm

In December 2002, finishing the introduction to his as-yet-unpublished book The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People, Jonathan Schell wrote that the twentieth century was the era in which violence outgrew the war system that had once housed it and became “dysfunctional as a political instrument. Increasingly, it destroys the ends for which it is employed, killing the user as well as his victim. It has become the path to hell on earth and the end of the earth. This is the lesson of the Somme and Verdun, of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, of Vorkuta and Kolyma; and it is the lesson, beyond a shadow of a doubt, of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

More than a decade later, that remains a crucial, if barely noticed, lesson of our moment. Jonathan Schell died this March, but he left behind a legacy of reporting and thinking — from The Real War and The Fate of the Earth to The Unconquerable World – about just how, as the power to destroy ratcheted up, war left its traditional boundaries, and what that has meant for us (as well as, potentially, for worlds to come).

 

In Memoriam: Jonathan Schell (1943-2014)

By: Monday March 31, 2014 4:14 pm

Given the role Vietnam played in his life, in mine, and in this country’s, I thought it might be appropriate to look not to his last words, but — in a sense — to his first words. So, today, I’m returning us to the young Jonathan Schell, the boy who, knowing so little but so terribly open, landed in Vietnam in 1966.

The NSA Deserves a Permanent Shutdown

By: Monday September 30, 2013 6:23 pm

To the people in control of the Executive Branch, violating our civil liberties is an essential government service. So — to ensure total fulfillment of Big Brother’s vast responsibilities — the National Security Agency is insulated from any fiscal disruption.

The NSA’s surveillance programs are exempt from a government shutdown. With typical understatement, an unnamed official told The Hill that “a shutdown would be unlikely to affect core NSA operations.”

Late Night FDL: Times of Illusion

By: Thursday April 25, 2013 8:00 pm

On the rather surreal occasion of the opening of something solemnly called the George W. Bush “Library,” I was inexorably drawn not to my personal Bush Library of 92 infuriating volumes, but the somewhat smaller 60 or so in the Nixon section.  As I listened to snippets of Village homilies and President Obama predictably joshing chummily about the “clubhouse,”  I was reminded of Jonathan Schell’s masterful recounting of the Watergate era, The Time of Illusion. 

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