Norman Geras: 1943-2013


I've been meaning to post about Geras's death. I didn't always agree with him, but then I don't always agree with Abbas or Morgan. But I did respect his mind. Ben Cohen in Tablet:

There is one memory of Norman Geras–the distinguished academic, prolific author and blogger, and doughty fighter against anti-Semitism and racism, who passed away in England earlier today–that has stayed with me for the last twenty-five years. It was a dreary afternoon in the northern English city of Manchester, late in 1988. About twenty students, nearly all of us professed Marxists, had gathered for Geras’s weekly university seminar on Marxism. As we discussed how class interests manifest in politics, one participant, who clearly wasn’t a Marxist, opined that not every owner of the means of production was hellbent on class warfare. Could we not accept, in his inimitable phrase, that there were “cuddly capitalists?”

Immediately, there were dismissive grunts and sycophantic glances in Geras’s direction. Surely the great Professor, on whose every word we hung, would rip this insolent pawn of the hated bourgeoisie a new one? But Norman Geras was not that kind of man. He answered with clarity and sympathy, artfully guiding the student through whatever text it was we were examining. In those few moments, the aspiring revolutionaries in his classroom were taught a salutary lesson on the enduring bourgeois values of respect, tolerance and kindness.

More here.