The Browning of America

To the editor:
I sincerely hope Edward Glaeser’s article [“Green Cities, Brown Suburbs,” Winter 2009] was tongue-in-cheek. It depends upon viewing CO2 as a “pollutant,” which it certainly is not. It is a basic necessity for all life on Earth and is no more detrimental than oxygen.

Robert LeFevers
Katy, TX

To the editor:
Professor Glaeser leaves out one crucial thing. Skyscrapers may be energy-efficient, but they require an absolutely reliable and constant source of electricity to power elevators and pump water as well as to heat and cool. Indeed, no other form of housing becomes so completely useless in the absence of reliable electricity. It seems to me that before saying “build more skyscrapers,” we need to focus on the electrical supply system—“the grid”— which may (as with so much of our urban infrastructure) be in perilous condition.

Francis Morrone
Brooklyn, NY

A Little Understanding, Too

To the editor:
I disagree that Islamic people are not as forgiving and are deficient in irony, as your article [Roger Scruton, “Forgiveness and Irony,” Winter 2009] seems to suggest. Consider the portrait of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice. You miss the point if you don’t grasp the disaffection of those who experience deliberate persecution; you will not understand the fury this unleashes in the world. Terrorism is an emotional and spiritual disease that calls for an honest and dispassionate diagnosis.

Niaz Butt
Islamabad, Pakistan

The Idea of It

To the editor:
Theodore Dalrymple [“The Persistence of Ideology,” Winter 2009] describes my 1960 volume, The End of Ideology, as heralding the death of ideology and arguing that “the political question that had agitated humanity since the time of Plato” had been solved.

Not at all. I was writing about the movements that had their sources in the English Revolution (the Levellers, the Diggers, and the Fifth Monarch Men); those in the French Revolution (the Jacobins and the Babeufists); and those in the Russian Revolution—in other words, the modern movements that sought to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

But I was not naive. I did not think that this would be the end of all ideologies. In my book, I said that while the old nineteenth-century ideologies were exhausted, new ideologies of Pan-Arabism, nationalism, ethnic allegiances, and others were coming. See page 403, and the afterword in the Harvard 1988 edition, for a further elaboration of my argument.

People have been misled by my title, as Quentin Skinner was in the past and, to some extent, Theodore Dalrymple is today. More so, too, Francis Fukuyama, whose quasi-Hegelian apocalypse has blinded us further.

I should point out that my teacher and master was Raymond Aron, the most sober political theorist I have ever known.

Daniel Bell
Professor Emeritus
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA

To the editor:
Ideology will never die while a large proportion of the population needs an ideological “blueprint” as a crutch. Rather than take responsibility for their own lives, they find it so much easier to cling to an ideology that provides all the answers and a plan for the future. Personal responsibility is the antithesis of ideology.

Brian Wimborne
Canberra, Australia


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