Paul Berman has written dreadful and nonsensical stuff; he's thought World War I a function of nihilism, has connected Leopold’s murderous rule of the Congo to Rimbaud. It seems never to have occurred to him that Leopold's rapacious rule of the Congo had more to do with pronounced greed — for tusks then rubber.
Berman's the kind of ex-Marxist who will twist himself into any shape to avoid giving "material conditions" any role it all in shaping history.
I could go on about this, but maybe Berman's over all that. Enough anyway, that I didn't shudder when reading this.
What does Maoism have to do with Islamicism, he asks?
This is the human capacity to succumb to contagions of political insanity—contagions that may get started anywhere at all and, in the name of one or another crazy idea, or in response to some kind of beautiful image, may spread with explosive speed to all points of the compass.