[first published in the Jewish Chronicle]
Following the news of the untimely death at the age of 70 of thinker, teacher, writer and pioneering blogger Norman Geras, I have been re-reading his essay, The Contract of Mutual Indifference, first published in 1998.
It is a masterpiece of the form—just over 80 pages of knot-tight argument on the ability of human beings to live their lives in apparent contentment even when living alongside others who suffer.
[first published on Andrew’s blog]
I don’t quite remember how I began reading the weblog of Norman Geras. I know it was before I began my Master’s in 2006, because perhaps his greatest book, The Contract of Mutual Indifference, was on the course reading list. It must have been before that, because I remember it taking several months before I realised that this Norman Geras with the weblog was the same Norman Geras who appeared on my university reading list. I was so taken aback that I emailed him to check that I hadn’t made a mistake. “I’m only surprised,” he wrote, “that you didn’t see the Norman Geras connection earlier”.
Leftwing theorist and pioneer blogger with a mission to take on political orthodoxy
[first published in the Guardian]
Norman Geras started Normblog in order to engage with a wider audience. It was a runaway success. Photograph: Graeme Robertson
Norman Geras—professor emeritus of government at Manchester University, philosopher, cricket fan, country music lover, Marxist, liberal socialist, democrat, political blogger behind the influential Normblog—has died of cancer aged 70. His interests were rich and varied, but his thought and writings form an integrated whole. He was centrally and always a man of the left, but one who became a scourge of those parts of left/liberal opinion which, in his view, had slid away from commitment to the values of equality, justice and universal rights, and in so doing ended up by excusing or condoning racism and terrorism.