Is there reason to hope today? With this question Ronald Aronson confronts the sources of today's widely shared sense of cynicism and crisis: Auschwitz, the Stalin dictatorship, the Vietnam War and the threat of a final nuclear catastrophe.
In a series of interlinked studies based on deep historical research, Aronson explores the intentional structures and social sources of the Nazi, Stalinist and bourgeois-democratic catastrophes. In each case he asks and answers the central yet most perplexing question: Why? In the process he develops a new insight into our disastrous century, which insists on the central role of morality yet rigorously traces the social logic of the unreason that dominates the world. This unusual synthesis of history, philosophy and political theory then presents sustained meditations on the dynamics of power and evil today.
Moving from the recent past to the present, Aronson uses the concept of the dialectics of disaster to illuminate the deep structure of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the technological madness of the nuclear arms race. In a moving conclusion, he returns to his opening question, pointing to the only way of recreating an authentic hope beneath the Doomsday mushroom cloud. Achieving a unique moral, intellectual and political balance in areas where hysteria and cynicism are endemic, The Dialectics of Disaster is a major contribution to our understanding of the twentieth century.