I obviously haven't had a chance to read Hind's 
book yet, and it certainly looks interesting, but 
unless the publisher's blurb is misleading 
(certainly quite possible), it seems to greatly 
oversimplify the complex legacies of the 
Enlightenment. Just two quick points.

(1) While I would agree that people like Hitchens 
and Amis violate the values of much Enlightenment 
thought, some major Enlightenment figures 
defended slavery and colonialism.

(2) Jonathan Israel has argued (pretty 
conclusively, to my mind) in two brilliant books 
(Radical Enlightenment and Enlightenment 
Contested), that there were two very distinct 
currents of Enlightenment thought--a moderate one 
(associated with Locke, Newton, Voltaire, etc.) 
and a radical one (stemming from Spinoza). The 
radical current championed not just science, but 
materialism, radical republicanism and, yes, 
militant atheism. (It is debatable, to say the 
least, whether Spinoza embraced materialism or 
atheism, but that is how his works were 
interpreted by critics and sympathizers alike, 
and defenders of radical Enlightenment ideas were 
typically referred to as 'Spinozists.) Israel's 
books chart the complicated relationship between 
these two strands of Enlightenment thought.

I agree that the biggest threats to reason 
"reside in our state and corporate 
bureaucracies," but that doesn't mean that 
religious fundamentalisms don't also pose a 
threat (frequently because they are allied in 
contradictory ways with state and corporate 


At 9:56 AM -0500 7/2/07, Carrol Cox wrote:
>-------- Original Message --------
>Subject: [Marxism] NEW TITLE: In defence of the Enlightenment an
>atheistchallenges Hitchens and Dawkins...
>Date: Mon, 02 Jul 2007 14:33:16 +0000 (GMT)
>From: Rowan Wilson <[log in to unmask]>
>Reply-To: Activists and scholars in Marxist
>tradition<[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask]
>THE THREAT TO REASON How the Enlightenment was hijacked and how we can
>reclaim it
>Dan Hind
>PUBLISHED 2nd JULY Hardback $26.95 / £14.99 / $33.50CAN ISBN: 978 1
>84467 152 6
>·        In the wake of September 11th 2001, the incidence of the phrase
>‘Enlightenment values’ in the British press has quadrupled, often
>appearing in articles discussing the challenge posed to Western
>societies by religious fundamentalism. An exciting new voice, Dan Hind
>reveals the use and abuse of the Enlightenment by hawks, militant
>atheists, scientific evangelists and philosophical conservatives.
>·        Dan Hind argues that the real threats to reason aren’t wacky or
>foreign or stupid; they reside in our state and corporate bureaucracies
>- and, one way or another, they probably pay your salary.
>·        He shows how commentators from Christopher Hitchens to Martin
>Amis have used a false version of the Enlightenment to oppose a modern
>civilised ‘us’ to a reactionary barbaric ‘them’, so justifying the War
>on Terror.
>·        He demolishes the claim of fundamentalist atheists, such as
>Richard Dawkins, that faith is incompatible with reason.
>·        Science is hailed as the great achievement of the Enlightenment
>and science evangelists attack the spread of “pseudo” science such as
>alternative medicine. Hind argues that mainstream medicine cannot be
>separated from the market and can indeed be far more duplicitous than
>alternative medicine - with murderous results.
>·        He makes a passionate plea to return to Kant’s vision of an
>Enlightened public realm – for public debate beyond the constraints of
>the market and state interests.
>Dan will be 'blogger in residence' on influential literary website
>readysteadybook all this week ( He has an
>editorial in today’s Guardian ‘comment is free’ site:
>See Dan’s own blog here:
>'The Threat to Reason' is available in all good bookshops or on our
>For more information contact:
>Rowan Wilson Sales and Marketing Manager Verso
>6 Meard Street London W1F 0EG Phone: 020 7437 3546 Fax: 020 7734 0059
>email: [log in to unmask]