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The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  209 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Fascism, communism, genocide, slavery, racism, imperialism--the West has no shortage of reasons for guilt. And, indeed, since the Holocaust and the end of World War II, Europeans in particular have been consumed by remorse. But Pascal Bruckner argues that guilt has now gone too far. It has become a pathology, and even an obstacle to fighting today's atrocities. Bruckner, o ...more
ebook, 264 pages
Published February 1st 2010 by Princeton University Press (first published 2006)
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May 06, 2012 Szplug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite excellent in its erudite and stinging execution, this necessary essay expounding upon the modern era's debilitatingly pervasive Cult of Culpability, and its attendant spiritual morbidity, aligns itself remarkably well as a complementary companion piece to Walter Russell Mead's God and Gold. Much as in the work that I've read of Chantal Delsol, Bruckner, a kindred French thinker, focusses the majority of his powers of observation upon his homeland—yet not only does his gaze allow itself to ...more
John David
Jul 21, 2013 John David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a powerfully argued, in many ways persuasive, intelligent book that I thought I would end up disliking because of Bruckner’s reputation as a political gadfly in Europe. The subject of the book would also put off a certain kind of American reader who might openly identify with the terms “liberal” or “progressive.” In a time when the French thinker can sometimes be more identified with the obscurantism of someone like Jean Baudrillard, Bruckner much more closely resembles someone like Ray ...more
Jim Coughenour
From existentialism to deconstructionism, all of modern thought can be reduced to a mechanical denunciation of the West, emphasizing the the latter's hypocrisy, violence, and abomination. In this enterprise the best minds have lost much of their substance.

Thus begins Pascal Bruckner's entertaining, occasionally brilliant denunciation of the denunciators – who are, more or less, all of us.

It would be easy to lump Bruckner in with disillusioned Anglo-American liberals such as Paul Berman or Christ
Jan 10, 2015 Pieter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politiek
Guilt must be the Christian principle par excellence. Obviously it is a healthy element that helps to discipline both individuals and societies. But as Aristoteles has taught us, a virtue should be moderate. The current European is paralyzed by guilt, masochism and fear. Both the left (Aragon, Chomsky) and Third World countries help to exploit this feeling. The former because they thrive on chaos, the latter mostly for financial reasons. Paradoxically, millions immigrants still want to invade th ...more
Michael Morgan
Mar 08, 2011 Michael Morgan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent critique of cultural relativism, western guilt, and multiculturalism. While western society has produced injustices (colonialism, slavery, racism, massacre) it has also produced the antidotes - antislavery and abolition, anticolonialism, the belief in equality before the law, liberty, antiracism. The attitude that guilt over past western injustices should be atoned for by being uncritical towards other cultures is wrongheaded - it is atrophying for ourselves and also takes away the ...more
Max Karpovets
Достатньо цікава та інколи несподівана збірка відомого французького письменника та есеїста. "Тиранія покаяння" вийшла у відомому російському вид. ім. І. Лімбуха, що спеціалізується на такому типі письма (і не тільки). Тут і легкість подачі матеріалу, і достатньо гостра ерудиція, а також щемкий інколи гумор, оскільки йдеться насамперед про досвід тоталітарних режимів, сліди яких торкались/торкаються українських земель. Найбільш цікавими видались авторські роздуми про долю Європи, зокрема у світлі ...more
that cute little red-eyed kitten
In some ways, Bruckner is quite a mouthful. Combined with very learned references comes a very polemical style (I'm not sure when I might have read the word "plebeian" used non-ironical earlier, but it's not often and it's not recent). In Norwegian, when someone is put in his place, we say that that someone gets "to know where David bought the beer" - I don't know an English equivalent. In this book, Bruckner tells France, Europe, USA, the West and the rest of the world for good measure, "where ...more
Jan 04, 2011 Derrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quite simply, this book is masterful and eloquent, and it translates beautifully from its original French. Pascale Bruckner's many talents are showcased here: at once, France's leading intellectual is a painter with words, a globalist philosopher, a left-leaning journalist. His tone is kind and compassionate one moment, scathing and sarcastic the next. Ultimately, Bruckner makes a case for unity between America and the European Union, while also detailing the cultural incompatibilities that sepa ...more
Feb 08, 2015 Dasha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Брюкнерівські тлумачення філософії політичних рішень Європи і США
Жодна сила не здатна знищити дух народу чи то ззовні, чи то зсередини, хіба що він сам уже позбавлений життя, хіба що сам уже занепадає. Гегель
Dec 26, 2010 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of incisive phrasing and humor in this very serious book about how Western multiculturalism sells out Western values while denying full personhood to minorities. Protecting minority culture in the West creates "a legal apartheid in which we find the wealthy once again explaining tenderly to the poor that money won't make them happy: let us shoulder the burden of freedom, of inventing ourselves, of the equality of men and women; you have the joys of custom, forced marriages, the veil, polyga ...more
Sep 11, 2015 Leonardo marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Cuando Bruckner dice que «Estados Unidos es más vulnerable de lo que cree y Europa menos débil de lo que piensa», habría que tener cuidado con la asimetría que hay en esta oposición: creer versus pensar (es decir, saber). La excesiva confianza en uno mismo es una cuestión de creencia, una escasa confianza en uno mismo es una cuestión de conocimiento: Estados Unidos cree en sí mismo demasiado, Europa no conoce su verdadera fuerza. Esta dualidad se corresponde con la pareja acción versus reflexión ...more
Kate Belobrova
Oct 11, 2015 Kate Belobrova rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Обожнюю книги, які потрібно читати з блокнотом і ручкою, щоб записувати усі невідомі події, історії та теорії, про які потрібно буде додатково почитати.

"Каяття визнає провину, щоб краще відокремитися від неї, насолодитися милосердям одужання. Докір сумління зберігається внаслідок хворобливої потреби відчувати від нього гризоту."

"В Римі є мечеті, а от чи є церкви у Мецці, Джидді чи Ер-Ріяді?"

"Не довіряйте тому, хто цінує чуже тільки внаслідок зневаги до свого: адже огида, яку він спрямовує на себ
Vasil Kolev
Feb 11, 2015 Vasil Kolev rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: must-read, pysch, politics
This book isn't easy to rate.

It's writing style is close to horrible - maybe because its original language is French, and maybe because the author likes overly poetical and complex sentences too much - which make the book pretty hard to read.

Most of the ideas are sound and have good footing, although there are some omissions - for example, there should've been more on the practical censorship implemented with "forbidden" topics, "hate speech" and such vague definitions of things that are illegal
Un livre inutile, brulot trop partial et trop haineux dont les quelques bonnes idées sont noyées dans une rage pro- américaine et pro-israelienne qui ne rajoute rien à aucun débat.
Sep 02, 2010 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much wisdom here but not likely to convince those holding opposing views...
Cet essai est intéressant et propose une approche mettant dos à dos les Etats Unis et l'Europe au travers de leurs histoires, ainsi que l'Europe et les pays du "sud", l'occident et l'orient. Les idées de l'auteur restent présentées avec un seul partie pris : celui de l'amélioration globale au travers d'une meilleure compréhension des civilisations. La focale principale étant, comme le titre l'indique, la pénitence, il est intéressant de tenter de remettre chaque partie face à ses responsabilités ...more
Aug 18, 2011 Amari rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read fairly happily until page 31. I thought, until that moment, that perhaps the translation was inadequate to convey the subtleties of Bruckner's arguments, but suspected that the fault lay with Bruckner himself. Indeed it appears to me that he is slightly mad.

The premise here is that the West isn't only bad, and that it's not only Western governments that have inflicted evil. I agree and enjoyed the beginning of this wild and provocative ride. But only sentences after arguing that forcing b
Requiem and warning. Mr. Bruckner calls for Europe, France in particular, to recover its pride and elan in order to stop what he sees as the slow decay of liberal-democratic values. His points and facts are impressively marshaled and his erudition is evident, but to call this an essay is misleading. It's one extended jeremiad with little organization to it. Nevertheless, I recommend it for the object lessons it provides. What happened to Europe can certainly happen to America. Some would argue t ...more
Jakey Gee
Mar 13, 2015 Jakey Gee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Superb. About ten pages in, I gave up highlighting the 'YES! YES!' sections.

Splendid examination of anti-Americanism, anti-Israel, antisemitism and identity politics. And so refreshing that it's not one of 'ours' - the French angle is really welcome and provides a fresh set of examples. The story stands, of course, post Charlie Hebdo.

Manna for the Eustonite. (Secular) God Bless America.
Edward Podritske
Jan 01, 2014 Edward Podritske rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a challenging intellectual achievement to have identified the unwarranted guilt and self-deprecation that is characteristic of most of western culture, not just Europe.

Bruckner appears to slip into a sort of fundamental mysticism at times but one does not have to accept and certainly should disregard any arguments made from this sort of conception. This does not take away significantly from the overall value of this collection.

Bruckner is right. Europe and America need to shrug off the b
Sep 25, 2015 Don rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
I can't say I agreed with more than about 6% of what he had to say, but it was a fascinating read.
Andreea Gherman
Aug 14, 2015 Andreea Gherman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Giorgos Pappas
Aug 14, 2013 Giorgos Pappas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bruckner some times takes a too black and white view of France, The USA and Europe. The interest of the book lies in the fact that this outlook of the european tendency to flagellation is in many ways outside the orthodox view of Europe. At a time that the european project faces it's harshest criticism due to the financial crisis, the book gives a much needed opportunity to think what we have achieved and not what we failed on, what binds us and not what separates us.
Dec 19, 2013 Fabián rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The first four or five chapters are the best.
I did not care much about the chapter about France, but it would not have been truthful to the book not to be particular about one's own country.
The style makes it a little hard to read.
Mar 09, 2011 Krishan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book follows in the line of Paul Berman and Nick Cohen's writings about the horrible cooperation between the Islamist far Right and the western far Left. Brilliant.
Jul 29, 2011 Janina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Erudit et brillant. Toutefois, la fin est un peu décevante.
Jun 28, 2012 Alejandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thought provoking and polemic stances.
Oct 22, 2012 Alfons rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Explains for me much of contemporary thought in Western Europe.
History lesson in the Netherlands was mainly a moral lecture on how bad the Dutch army was during colonial times (even Zinn wouldn't agree with the format as he states that history should not be scholarly lecture on morals). Bruckner puts this in perspective. He also illustrates negative effects of on society of both regimes omitting to confess sins (France in the case of the Pied Noirs) and regimes that overdo it.
Jasmine marked it as to-read
Aug 27, 2016
Domy Cara
Domy Cara rated it really liked it
Aug 26, 2016
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After studies at the university Paris I and Paris VII, and then at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, he became maître de conférences at the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris, and collaborator at the Nouvel Observateur.

Pascal Bruckner began writing in the vein of the so-called "nouveaux philosophes" and counts among their best known French proponents. He published Parias (Parias), Lunes de
More about Pascal Bruckner...

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“We are not afraid of death,” the suicide bombers say to show their superiority to ordinary people. But they are afraid of life, constantly trampling on it, slandering it, destroying it, and training children still in their cradles for martyrdom. Observers have noted that the photos of terrorists taken a few hours before they made their attacks show people who are serene and at peace. They have eliminated doubt: they know. It is the paradox of open societies that they seem to be disordered, unjust, threatened by crime, loneliness, and drugs because they display their indignity before the whole world, never ceasing to admit their defects, whereas other, more oppressive societies seem harmonious because the press and the opposition are muzzled.
“Where there are no visible conflicts, there is no freedom,” Montesquieu said.”
“We are not going to confine women to the home, cover their heads, lengthen their skirts, or beat up gay people, prohibit alcohol, censure film, theater, and literature, and codify tolerance in order to respect the overly sensitive whims of a few sanctimonious persons.” 0 likes
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