The historian Ramachandra Guha remembers Benedict Anderson, as a scholar, teacher and friend:
Benedict Anderson, who died earlier this week, aged 79, was the last of the great polymath social scientists. He was at once a political scientist, historian, sociologist, literary theorist, and biographer. He was also formidably multi-lingual, knowing half-a-dozen European languages and some four or five Asian languages too.
In the range of his learning, in his ability to so effortlessly cross disciplinary, temporal, and geographical boundaries, Benedict Anderson had only two peers: Ernest Gellner (1925-1995) and Eric Hobsbawm (1917-2012). Gellner and Hobsbawm were European Jews forced to emigrate to England in the wake of the rise of the Nazis. Anderson was Irish, the son of a colonial official who served in, among other places, Yunan, Manchuria, and Shanghai. He himself studied at the University of Cambridge, before moving further west, to Cornell University in upstate New York, where he taught for some 35 years.
Hugo Chavéz, the president of Venezuela, has died in a military hospital after a long battle against cancer, Reuters has reported, prompting a wave of mourning in the country he ruled since 1999 with a globally distinctive and influential style of leadership.
The symbol of Latin American socialism succumbed to a respiratory infection on Tuesday evening, 21 months after he first revealed he had a tumour. He had not been seen in public for three months since undergoing emergency surgery in Cuba on 11 December.
He will be given a state funeral in Caracas, likely to be attended by millions of supporters and leftwing leaders from across the globe who have been inspired by Chavéz's doctrine of "Bolivarian 21st-century socialism."
Verso NY found itself in a strange situation last night: we were putting the finishing touches to our new book on the Occupy movement, written and edited by our comrades at n+1, at the very moment that NYPD were evicting Liberty Park. While doing so, the city authorities threw the 5,000-book People’s Library into a sanitation truck—joining, in their own sordid way, a tradition that stretches from the the sacking of the libraries of Alexandria and Baghdad, through the Nazis burning Jewish books, to the destruction of libraries in Sarajevo and Baghdad in 1992 and 2003.
The Occupy movement has now spread its roots across the globe, with over 100 occupations in the US alone—and brutal evictions in other cities have tended to lead to new, stronger encampments, often within twenty-four hours. As I write this post, lawyers are fighting the city and NYPD in court, to allow protesters back in, with their belongings. The OWS general assembly met in Foley Square last night—and a new poll shows that a clear majority of New York voters support the 24-hour occupation. The Writers and Artists Affinity Group is planning to help restock the People’s Library, and Verso will of course be contributing (once again) a lot of books. As the protesters chanted last night: “You can't evict an idea.”
Occupy! will be published on December 17th, the three-month anniversary of OWS. Free, as far as possible, at your local occupation; on sale, for $14.95 or £9.99, everywhere else. You choose!