GUEST LECTURE: Prof. Richard Wolin (CUNY)

5 June 2013, 6.30pm at the CCLS Lecture Theatre (Queen Mary, University of London, Lincoln’s Inn Fields Campus)

Prof Raphael Gross (Director of the Leo Baeck Institute London) and Prof Jeremy Jennings (School of Politics and International Relations, QMUL) have pleasure in inviting you to our forthcoming lecture: 
Prof Richard Wolin (City University of New York)

“Apocalypse Now: Walter Benjamin and the Legacy of Jewish Political Messianism” 
How can one explain the fact that Walter Benjamin’s youthful essay on political violence, “The Critique of Violence” (1921), has, among representatives of the post-political “academic left” (Derrida, Zizek, Agamben), acquired canonical status? What did Benjamin mean when, referring to the Old Testament (Numbers 16, 1-32), he praised the expiatory powers of “divine violence,” which, as he puts it, “strikes privileged Levites, strikes them without warning . . . and does not stop short of annihilation”? Lastly, how might one explain the uncanny fact that, some fifty years later, Benjamin’s political Messianism became a significant intellectual point of reference among left-wing terrorists, such as the leaders of Germany’s Baader-Meinhof Group?

Richard Wolin is Distinguished Professor of History and Political Science at the GraduateCenter of the City University of New York. Among his books, which have been translated into ten languages, are: Heidegger’s Children: Hannah Arendt, Karl Löwith, Hans Jonas, and Herbert Marcuse, The Seduction of Unreason: the Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism and The Wind From the East: French Intellectuals, the Cultural Revolution and the Legacy of the 1960s which was recently named by the Financial Times as one of the ten best History Books of 2012. He frequently writes on intellectual and political topics for the New Republic, the Nation, and Dissent.
The Lecture will be held at the CCLS Lecture Theatre (The Centre for Commercial Law Studies), 69 Lincoln’s Inn Fields WC2A 3JB London and will begin at 6.30pm.
Admission is free but places must be reserved in advance by contacting Leo Baeck Institute London (e-mail at: or phone 44 (0) 20 7882 5690)
Underground: Holborn