Intimate Strangers: Arendt, Marcuse, Solzhenitsyn, and Said in American Political Discourse
Andreea Deciu Ritivoi
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Hannah Arendt, Herbert Marcuse, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Edward Said each steered major intellectual and political schools of thought in American political discourse after World War II, yet none of them was American, which proved crucial to their ways of arguing and reasoning both in and out of the American context. In an effort to convince their audiences they were American enough, these thinkers deployed deft rhetorical strategies that made their cosmopolitanism feel acceptable, inspiring radical new approaches to longstanding problems in American politics. Speaking like natives, they also exploited their foreignness to entice listeners to embrace alternative modes of thought.
Intimate Strangers unpacks this "stranger ethos," a blend of detachment and involvement that manifested in the persona of a prophet for Solzhenitsyn, an impartial observer for Arendt, a mentor for Marcuse, and a victim for Said. Yet despite its many successes, the stranger ethos did alienate many audiences, and critics continue to dismiss these thinkers not for their positions but because of their foreign point of view. This book encourages readers to reject this kind of critical xenophobia, throwing support behind a political discourse that accounts for the ideals of citizens and noncitizens alike.
property of Palestinians or the Israelis? As Amahl Bishara has shown, “The pairing of homeland and homes may seem transparent at first,” because “the house is idealized as stable and unchanging.” However, “domestic presence can exceed [it] in important and underrecognized ways.”100 While Weiner was looking for documents attesting to legal ownership of the house—and ignoring, of course, the dependence of such documents on the legitimacy of the authority that would have issued them—for Said
Arendt as, 250; Marcuse as, 250; Said as, 250; Solzhenitsyn as, 159, 161, 174, 179, 180, 182, 185, 186, 188, 189, 192, 193, 250. See also jeremiad public discourse. See foreign intellectuals, American public discourse of; political discourse Question of Palestine, The (Said), 200, 201, 221, 224, 227 race, and U.S. immigration, 38, 266n10 racism: American intellectuals on, 82; Arendt on, 75–81, 83–85, 271n68. See also segregation radicalism: Marcuse and, 109–13, 126, 128–40, 144, 146, 152.
exemplary, “ideal” Jew whose Jewishness is deemed innocuous, reduced to an exotic feature. Thus, the parvenu is faced with a paradox, well captured by Lisa Jane Disch: “The parvenu views membership as a problem to be solved by performing the inherently contradictory role of the individual ‘exception Jew’—one who is both Jew in the sense of having exotic appeal and non-Jew in the sense of honoring no cultural traditions and displaying none of the ‘undesirable traits,’ stereotypically associated
it by way of justifying their disagreement with his ideas. MacIntyre depicts this style as that of the “professoriate in imperial Germany,” thus stressing at once its foreignness, elitism, and anachronism. Although he conceded that such style sounds “less offensive in English” than in German, MacIntyre implicitly drew attention to the negative aspects of Marcuse’s voice. “Its very strangeness lends to it a certain charm,” MacIntyre submitted, and the condescension again only emphasizes his
Russian. Americans associated communism with Russians, not just with the Soviet Union. In America, Solzhenitsyn would have to reckon with the “widespread American tendency to view Russians as ‘Oriental’ and incapable of changing their national character.”10 In the early part of his stay in America, the balance between his universal prophet persona and his Russianness swayed the reception of his ideas in predictable ways. Those sympathetic to his views tended to ignore his nationality while the