The Democratic Ideal and the Shoah (2010)

Shmuel Trigano

Is the Shoah a unique event or just one of the many genocides that have occurred and continue to occur in modern history? In The Democratic Ideal and the Shoah, Shmuel Trigano begins with the hypothesis that the Shoah must be understood in both universal and singular terms: Insofar as it addresses the meaning and value of modernity, it is solely because the singular experience of the Jews is at its center. Drawing on history, political philosophy, hermeneutics, and psychoanalysis, Trigano argues that the attitude of democracy towards the Jews is key to understanding the very nature of democracy and the democratic ideal, and he postulates that the anti-Semitism that has haunted modern times is the same spectre that has haunted democracy throughout history in the form of nationalism, totalitarianism, and now multiculturalism. Can democratic theory rid itself of the dilemma between universality and particularity, between collectivity and individuality? This is the ultimate question addressed by this book.