Tony Judt

(Tony Robert Judt)

Tony Judt
Tony Judt
  • Born: January 2, 1948
  • Died: August 6, 2010
  • Nationality: English, American
  • Profession: Historian; Erich Maria Remarque Professor In European Studies At New York University

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Quotes
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It ought not to be beyond the intelligence of even the most hidebound local politician to see the benefits of imaginative compromise. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
American social arrangements, economic arrangements, the degree of inequality in American life, the relatively small role played by the government in American public life and so forth, compares to exactly the opposite conditions in most of the European societies. Life ;Government
Apparently, the line you take on Israel trumps everything else in life. Life
As citizens of a free society, we have a duty to look critically at our world. But if we think we know what is wrong, we must act upon that knowledge. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Society
At a certain point, to remain slightly tangential to wherever I was became a way of 'being Tony': by not being anything that everyone else was.
But I'm English. We don't do uplifting.
For Europe to play a part in the world on the scale of its wealth and its population and its capacities, Europe has to be united in some way, and Europe is not united.
Healthcare reform is a paradigmatic case. It is self-evidently necessary and inevitable and has been on the agenda for 35 years, and the political class seems completely unable to respond to it.
History always happens to us and nothing ever stays the same. History
History can show you that it was one pile of bad stuff after another. It can also show you that there's been tremendous progress in knowledge, behaviour, laws, civilisation. It cannot show you that there was a meaning behind it. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;History
How should we begin to make amends for raising a generation obsessed with the pursuit of material wealth and indifferent to so much else?
I believe that if we think back to the period from F.D.R. through, let us say, Bush I, until the end of the Cold War, we lived through an artificial period in which American interests and European interests essentially dovetailed. War & Peace
I can still boss people around. I can still write. I can still read. I can still eat, and I can still have very strong views.
I do think we're on the edge of a terrifying world, and that many young people know that but don't know how to talk about it.
I don't believe in an afterlife. I don't believe in a single or multiple godhead. I respect people who do, but I don't believe it myself. Respect
I don't believe that one should have one-size-fits-all moral rules for international political action.
I don't much mind being expelled from communities.
I don't want to be the passively alert vegetable in the corner that takes in everything but can't communicate, which I think would suck a lot of life out of my family without giving very much to me. Life ;Families, Children & Parenting
I grew up in a world where the social democratic state was the norm, not the exception.
I just like being on my own on trains, traveling. I spent all my pocket money travelling the London Underground and Southern Railway, what used to be the Western region, and in Europe as much as I could afford it. My parents used to think I was going places, but I wasn't, I was just travelling the trains. Money, Coins & Minting
I know exactly how and where I am going to die. The only question is when.
I see myself as, first and above all, a teacher of history; next, a writer of European history; next, a commentator on European affairs; next, a public intellectual voice within the American left; and only then an occasional, opportunistic participant in the pained American discussion of the Jewish matter. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;History
I started work on my first French history book in 1969; on 'Socialism in Provence' in 1974; and on the essays in Marxism and the French Left in 1978. Conversely, my first non-academic publication, a review in the 'TLS', did not come until the late 1980s, and it was not until 1993 that I published my first piece in the 'New York Review.' History ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I think Bush was seen as someone who was disentangling America from the connections that it had with the outside world, that it found encumbering for domestic purposes.
I think if I'm controversial it's not because I set out to be. It's because I've never felt comfortable being part of someone else's mainstream community.
I was born accidentally. I lived accidentally in London. We nearly migrated to New Zealand. So much of my life has been a product of chance, I can't see a meaning in it at all. Life
I was born in 1948, so I'm a '60s kid, and in the '60s everyone talked all the time, endlessly, about socialism versus capitalism, about political choices, ideology, Marxism, revolution, 'the system' and so on. Time
I went to live on a kibbutz, and I'd idealized the world of collective, agrarian work, where everyone was equal, everyone contributed, that all this awful European intellectual stuff just fell away. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I would say that I have become more radical as I have gotten older. I started out very radical when I was young, like most people, but I became less actively politically engaged in the middle of my life. Life
If we have learned nothing else from the 20th century, we should at least have grasped that the more perfect the answer, the more terrifying its consequences. Incremental improvements upon unsatisfactory circumstances are the best that we can hope for, and probably all we should seek. Hope
I'm not sure I've learned anything new about life; but I've had to think harder about death and what comes after for other people. Life ;Death
I'm regarded outside New York University as a looney tunes leftie, self-hating Jewish communist; inside the university, I'm regarded as a typical, old-fashioned, white male liberal elitist. I like that. I'm on the edge of both; it makes me feel comfortable.
In the grip of a neurological disorder, I am fast losing control of words even as my relationship with the world has been reduced to them.
It does irritate me when I am described as a controversialist and commentator on Israel.
It would be suicide in the American academy to show too early an interest beyond your doctoral specialization: charges of everything from charlatanry to ambition would be levied and tenure denied. I've seen this first-hand.
I've lost count of the interviews I've done about my illness and its relationship to my ideas and writing.
Judaism for me is a sensibility of collective self-questioning and uncomfortable truth-telling. I feel a debt of responsibility to this past. It is why I am Jewish.
My history writing was based on what I saw in strange, exotic places rather than just reading books. History
Nationalist, anti-European, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim public political figures, seem a worrying picture of a possible European future. We could still fall back into pre-Europe... and it worries me. Future
No one wants to live in a wheelchair unable to talk, only winking once for yes and twice for no. It's perfectly reasonable that there will come a point where the balance of judgment of life over death swings the other way. Life ;Death
Obviously a primary liberal conviction is that we should be tolerant of other peoples' convictions. But if we believe in something, we had better find ways to say so convincingly.
Popularizing - much less venturing beyond one's secure turf - was frowned upon for many years. I think I probably internalized the prohibition, even though I was - and knew I was - among the best speakers and writers of my age cohort. I don't mean I was the best historian - a quite different measure.
Reality is a powerful solvent.
Social democracy does not represent an ideal future; it does not even represent the ideal past. Future
Social democrats are characteristically modest - a political quality whose virtues are overestimated. We need to apologise a little less for our shortcomings and speak more assertively of achievements. That these were always incomplete should not trouble us.
The people whose necks hurt when I write about the Middle East tend to live in Brooklyn or Boca Raton: the kind of Zionist who pays another man to live in Israel for him. I have nothing but contempt for such people.
The pleasures of mental agility are much overstated, inevitably - as it now appears to me - by those not exclusively dependent upon them.
There is nothing to be said for being crippled. You don't see the world better or clearer, nor do you develop some special set of skills by way of compensation.
We are not merely historians but also and always citizens.
We have responsibilities for others, not just across space but across time. We have responsibilities to people who came before us. They left us a world of institutions, ideas or possibilities for which we, in turn, owe them something. One of the things we owe them is not to squander them. Time
We need to learn... how war brutalises and degrades winners and losers alike and what happens to us when, having heedlessly waged war for no good reason, we are encouraged to inflate and demonise our enemies in order to justify that war's indefinite continuance. War & Peace
We need to start talking about inequality again; we need to start talking about the inequities and unfairnesses and the injustices of an excessively divided society, divided by wealth, by opportunity, by outcome, by assets and so forth. Society
What has gone catastrophically wrong in England and the States is that for 30 years we've lost the ability to talk about the state in positive terms. We've raised a generation or two of young people who don't think to ask, 'What can the state do that is good?'
What I am against is false optimism: the notion either that things have to go well, or else that they tend to, or else that the default condition of historical trajectories is characteristically beneficial in the long-run.
When you are in my classroom, you get everything from me. But you bloody well better give everything too.
Why is it that here in the United States we have such difficulty even imagining a different sort of society from the one whose dysfunctions and inequalities trouble us so? Society
Words can make the illness a subject I can master, and not one that one simply emotes over.
You don't have to be Jewish to understand the history of Europe in the 20th century, but it helps. History