THE UPRISING IN EGYPT, which followed soon after the toppling of the old regime in Tunisia, succeeded in bringing down Hosni Mubarak on February 11, the 32nd anniversary to the day of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. Already, before this timely coincidence, comparisons between the Iranian Revolution and the revolts gripping the Arab world had started to be made. But other historical similarities offered themselves: the various “color revolutions” in Eastern Europe and former Soviet Central Asian states and Lebanon in recent years, and the collapse of Communism in the Soviet bloc and beyond (the former Yugoslavia) starting with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Behind these revolutions on the pattern of 1989 stood the event of which 1989 itself had been the bicentennial, the great French Revolution of 1789. The Bastille is to be stormed again, anew. Who would not welcome this?
On February 19, 2011, Chris Mansour of Platypus interviewed Robert Hullot-Kentor, noted Adorno translator and author of Things Beyond Resemblance: Collected Essays on Theodor W. Adorno. What follows is an edited transcript of the interview.
MOISHE POSTONE ONCE REMARKED about the German left: “No western Left was as philo-Semitic and pro-Zionist prior to 1967. Probably none subsequently identified so strongly with the Palestinian cause. What was termed ‘anti-Zionism’ was in fact so emotionally and psychically charged that it went far beyond the bounds of a political and social critique of Zionism.” Postone’s diagnosis, that the Israeli-Arab conflict served as a projection-screen for the psychological needs of the German left, is just as valid for the new political current which, since the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in autumn 2000, has come to identify itself completely with the state of Israel.