Whenever I read critiques of Modernity and the Holocaust (1989), by far Bauman’s greatest work, I hope to find a complete and definitive refutation of every step of the argument. And this classic work, which even today retains its devastating provocative charge, should be regarded as the book to be refuted, since its thesis could not be more deeply disturbing. The recent spate of Bauman critiques, which I cannot review here, reflect the continuing power of this thirty-year-old essay. And some of the recent critiques believe that Bauman’s thesis has been well and truly buried. I doubt it. The essence of the thesis is that it is a grave error not only to disassociate the Holocaust from the conceptual frame of modern civilization but also to regard more of the latter as the antidote to such an event.

I come at this work from...

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