Enzensberger takes on Jihad

Hans Magnus Enzensberger, poet, essayist and anthologist, has just published a booklength essay on radical Islam, Schreckens Männer, (Suhrkamp Verlag). I have not yet read the book, only just perused a longish interview with HME in the center-right German weekly Die Zeit. The book is clearly an extension of a 2005 essay, “The Radical Loser,” published in the weekly Der Spiegel (an English version put up by signandsite can be found here). Although early on a recognizable lefty, HME (maybe to differentiate himself from the other elder post-war literary heavyweight, Günter Grass, who has loudly kept faith with the left) long ago drifted toward a center-right position, that rhymes well with his patrician demeanor. From what I can gather from the interview, HME’s essay moves from the analysis of the individual psychology of a fundamentalist Islamic terrorist to general conclusions about a culture HME sees as that of vengeful losers. Not having the book, I can only wonder how much, if at all, HME engages Abdelwahab Meddeb’s excellent booklength essey, The Malady of Islam. Will try to get into more detail once I’ve gotten ahold of HME’s book. Meanwhile, here is the English-language summary (well, they pick just one little point — RAF is not the Royal Air Force but the Rote Armee Fraktion, better known as the Baader-Meinhoff gang) of the Zeit interview brought to you by the good people from signandsight:

“When it comes down to it, the death cult is not exactly a vital strategy. The day will come when people tire of it.” But until that day, Hans Magnus Enzensberger talking to Josef Joffe about his essay ‘The radical loser‘, sees hard times approaching. “Every form of resistance has an internal price for our societies. We lose something by implementing it. But when the conflicts come to a head and become deadly, this is a price which society has always been prepared to pay. I do not yet want to talk about a war like the US government. But it is a very real conflict. Of course I am annoyed by the security measures in airports. But it was those stupid RAF people that brought that on us.”

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