Glucksmann was a leading voice of an emerging generation of thinkers, the New Philosophers. His writings not only renounced Marxism but also accused it of providing a theoretical foundation for some of the large-scale massacres of the twentieth century. Aron had always made this charge, though less forcefully. French classical liberals, alongside Aron, tended to be pessimistic, worried about the likelihood of the USSR’s eventual victory over democracy. But Glucksmann—similar to neoconservative Americans in this regard—believed Communism could be beaten with human rights, pitting morals against suffering.
From then on, across a range of essays (including for City Journal, to which he regularly contributed) and books (including The Master Thinkers, on the roots of totalitarianism in German thought, and his autobiography, Une rage d’enfant), Glucksmann became the voice of all victims of every totalitarian ideology, up to and including Islamism, which he identified as a form of fascism in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in New York. But another opponent of human rights also reared its head, one that Glucksmann had not predicted: cultural relativism. The West chose not to intervene in support of the Chechens while the Russians were crushing them because, well, the Russians aren’t like us, you see. We could never impose our humanist ideals upon them. Glucksmann found himself at a loss before this hypocrisy, which, more often than not, served as a mask for realpolitik. He refused ever to accept realpolitik or moral evasions. The West, he lamented, tended to rally to the cause of human rights when faced with weak regimes but stood idly by when confronted with powerful governments, such as those of the Russians or the Chinese.