About me and BlauBlog

This blog is about politics, philosophy and history — and how to do them well, in terms of thinking, writing and teaching.

I’m more interested in how we think than what we think: this blog will not contain a lot of party politics or ideology!

I was an undergraduate at Cambridge and did my PhD in Oxford. I’ve taught at Oxford, at Queen Mary University of London, and at Manchester. I’m now Professor of Politics at King’s College London.

I did my PhD in political science (elections). I now work on history of political thought (especially Hobbes), and other issues in political theory/philosophy, including corruption, democracy and rationality. I have published a lot on methods of interpretation in the history of political thought, and am becoming increasingly interested in the methodology of political theory more generally, including making connections between the sciences and humanities.

Adrian Blau Small

Click here for my university webpage.

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  1. midcenturyart@yahoo.com

     /  April 23, 2016

    I read your post from a few years back on old Jacques Derrida and 9/11. I read most – or perhaps all of the posts and it seemed that all of the esteemed and incredibly well-educated men and women who posted were unaware of the significance of the 9/11 date. Perhaps the ones who claimed to be historically aware should be sent back to school. It was chosen for a reason and that is why referring to it by the date makes perfect sense, post-structural analysis be damned.

    The 9/11 date was chosen because that was the date that the Turks were turned back at the Gates of Vienna. As someone who has some historical awareness, I was in Vienna for the 500th anniversary celebration of the event back in 1983, when I was in my 20s. That was the day King Jan Sobieski, a Pole of course, riding to Wien’s relief, saved Vienna and Europe. This event would not be celebrated today, too dangerous of course and King Jan’s victory is being reversed as I write. There is a large sculpture of Saint John of Capistrano with his foot on a dead Turk on the cathedral in Vienna, reflects the Siege of Vienna and the survival of Christendom.

    Things like this do not matter to most on the left because they chose to discount the religious motivations and goals of the Islamists. The Islamists intend to create a worldwide caliphate, so reversing and avenging losses like Vienna in 1483 or Leptanto in 1571 have significance to them. Whether their dreams of Islamic hegemony are realistic or not, is of course, besides the point. Jihad is what motivates them and waging war on the United States and the West, in any way possible is Allah’s will.

    Now of course, simply writing August, 1914, should need no explanation, unless of course you are a post-modernist. To most of we normally witted individuals, it conjures up images of saber rattling, mobilization, then the start of a disastrous war. If I type “1066,” most of us know that means a turning point in world history, the Norman Conquest. If we type “December 7th” or “Pearl Harbor,” it represents another turning point. If we type May, 1940, any literate Frenchman who is not a post-structauralist would know what it represents.

    The date 7/11 means something to most Londoners, as does 3/11 to Spaniards. 9/11 should simply be another turning point in history, when most of us came to terms with just how destructive asymmetrical Islamic terrorism could be, a morning when we saw the world change. It doesn’t really require any literary analysis, any more than the gang rape of thousands of young Muslim and Christian girls in Syria and Iraq today or the destruction of the very roots of Western Civilization in the Fertile Crescent calls out for it. When I see them toss a suspected homosexual off a building, somehow, some sort of literary analysis and intellectual back-and-forth, like a series of tennis volleys is the last thing from my mind, but that’s just me. So, when I heard the thud of the people who jumped off the buildings to avoid being burned alive, my thoughts were about how to stop more similar events, not to put my own intellectual spin on it, or to try to parse the meaning of the term 9/11.

    The writings of Sayyid Qutb, سيد قطب‎,the Muslim Brotherhood philosopher,who chose America as Islam’s enemy and impediment in the 1940s, long before any of the stock excuses were operable makes fascinating reading. They are available in Arabic as well as English. After Nassar gave him his just deserts, his brother fled to Saudi Arabia, where he popularized his brother’s work and forever cemented the relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Wahhabis. Ever since their has been hell to pay. One of Muhammed Qutb’s acolytes in Saudi Arabia in the 1970s was a rich young Saudi named Osama bin Laden. There you have the roots of 9/11.

    Muslim radicals have a core philosophy and an abiding faith that they are carrying out Allah’s wishes. The fact that western intellectuals want to ignore this or attempt to award them motivations much closer to their own hearts does not make it any less true. Thanks

    • Thanks, but you’ve missed the point of the debate, which is about why the date is called what it is, not why it was chosen for an attack.

      • Ulterior motives are numerous, normal, and almost never stated. Promoting the career of the research, qualifying for a degree, making money, getting famous, attacking an enemy’s theory. So hidden pretexts are the norm, and not unethical or aberrant.Hidden pretexts are not unethical?The oath of Hippocrates does not say “I will do what’s best for my patient as long as it benefits me too, and the patient understands I have a hidden agenda anyway so it’s OK.”In fact, your view on this issue leans highly to the left, i.e., seems highly characterized by moral relativism. It is certainly quite alien to medical or Judeo-Christian traditions.


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