Evil in Europe: Racism, Antisemitism, Terrorism and Nationalism

Evil -  Michel Wieviorka   Ethics, Politics, Culture

Xenophobia used to be associated with the trade-union protectionist Left but is now associated with the Right; Jews and Israel used to be courted by the non-Communist Left which is now suspicious of both and are now more likely to be courted by the Right; terrorism politics used to come from the Left but is now more likely to be come from the Reliious Right; and nationalism used to be a force for progress but has become a force for regress. The world seems to have turned upside-down.

In contrast to traditional systems of thought which regarded evil as a supernatural force that explained human misfortune, Michel Wieviorka develops a sociological analysis of evil phenomena. His aim is to explain evil, to reveal its social, political, and cultural sources, and to clarify the processes through which the present-day forms of evil – terrorism, violence, racism, and active hatred – are constituted.

Wieviorka argues that evil dramatically changed in modern Europe in the mid-eighties. Terrorism, anti-Semitism, racism and nationalism are not as they were in the recent past and he shows how their renewal poses a formidable threat.

Michel Wieviorka is Professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. The lecture was recorded on 23 November 2015 at the LSE.

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