tony judt and the crappy generation


If Judt had merely been an anti-Communist “cold warrior”, in the stale vocabulary of another age, he might have gloated over the disintegration of the structure Lenin and Stalin had built. To the contrary, he saw that the downfall had “undermined not just communism, but a whole progressive narrative of advance and collectivization”. Judt now became a ferocious critic of “Bush’s useful idiots”, the so-called liberal interventionists who had provided supposedly enlightened cover for brutish policies. He was dismayed by the self-evisceration of the democratic Left, exemplified by New Labour, and he saw that the historical background to this disturbing loss of moral confidence was “in large measure the collapse of the old Left, with all its faults, and the attendant ascendancy of the soft cultural Left”. At the very end of his life, Judt said that he was “more or less the same age as George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Gerhard Schröder, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown – a pretty crappy generation, when you come to think of it . . . a generation that grew up in the 1960s in western Europe or in America, in a world of no hard choices, neither economic nor political”.

more from Geoffrey Wheatcroft at the TLS here.