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  • Hardcover
  • 242
  • Black Mass Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia
  • John N. Gray
  • English
  • 15 July 2019
  • 9780374105983

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Black Mass Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia

John N. Gray å 6 Download

Osopher and critic John Gray explains how utopian ideals have taken on a dangerous significance in the hands of right wing conservatives and religious zealots He charts the history of utopianism from the Reformation through the French Revolution and into the present And most urgently he describes how utopian politics have moved from the extremes of the political spectrum into mainstream politics dominating the administrations of both George W Bush and Tony Blair and indeed co. Sometimes I just have to read Gray to get centred This is largely an interpretation of the fairy stories inhabiting many of the key players in the disastrous and wicked decision to invade Ira As ever the whole is interpenetrated with a hatchet job on neo enlightenment myths ofprogress

Free download ↠ PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB å John N. Gray

For the decade that followed the end of the cold war the world was lulled into a sense that a consumerist globalized peaceful future beckoned The beginning of the twenty first century has rudely disposed of such ideas most obviously through 911and its aftermath But just as damaging has been the rise in the West of a belief that a single model of political behaviour will become a worldwide norm and that if necessary it will be enforced at gunpoint In Black Mass celebrated phil. Picking up where he left off in his genuinely iconoclastic book Straw Dogs John Gray turns his attention to the ineluctably human penchant for utopia and apocalyptic fantasy His style here is less abrasive but no less bracing A British commentator recently wrote of Gray He is so out of the box it is easy to forget there was ever any box which fairly describes the intellectual jolt he'll deliver to readers dulled by boxy thinkingThe previous reviewer has done a decent job of describing the argument but any summary misses the electricity that hums in Gray's sentences Gray's unsparing synopsis of the neo conservative fantasy that led to the debacle in Ira will have patriotic Americans grinding their teeth in fury at the waste of American and Irai lives and the betrayal of American ideals He also lambasts liberals who delude themselves about inalienable human rights and minces no words about born again Christians who've sanctioned and supported the torture and carnage – which leads him to a grim conclusion Liberals have come to believe that human freedom can be secured by constitutional guarantees They have failed to grasp the Hobbesian truth that constitutions change with regimes A regime shift has occurred in the US which now stands somewhere between the law governed state it was during most of its history and a species of illiberal democracy The US has undergone this change not as a result of its corrosion by relativism but through the capture of government by fundamentalism If the American regime as it has been known in the past ceases to exist it will be a result of the power of faith pp 168 169Gray is explicit about the folly of religious myths but he accepts that the mass of humankind will never be able to do without them just as he dismisses militant atheism as a by product of Christianity mocking its pretensions at evading the conundrums of theology He's eually clear on the ineradicable future of terrorism Nothing is human than the readiness to kill and die in order to secure a meaning in life p 186 Following the bleak logic of these observations to their conclusion he can only advocate a clear eyed realism about the nature of human being which he confesses may in turn be a self deceiving hope a shift to realism may be a utopian idealAs I read Black Mass I couldn't help recalling the work of William Pfaff who as a political analyst practices the realism Gray recommends and whose fine study The Bullet's Song examines the redemptive utopian violence as it was envisioned by a rogue's gallery of 20th century artist intellectuals Neither of these books are comfortable reading; neither offer a panacea because as Gray puts it there are moral dilemmas some of which occur fairly regularly for which there is no solution Black Mass – despite its silly title – is one of the most stimulating books I read in 2007

characters Black Mass Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia

Ming to define the political centre Far from having shaken off discredited ideology Gray suggests we are than ever in its clutchesBlack Mass is a truly frightening and challenging work by one of Britain's leading political thinkers John Gray is the author of many critically acclaimed books including Straw Dogs and Al aeda and What It Means to Be Modern A regular contributor to The New York Review of Books he is a professor of European thought at the London School of Economics. If anyone knows of a writer functioning at this level on these topics and related especially environmental issues please let me know Brilliant ‘Hannah Arendt also portrayed totalitarian states as impersonal machines in which individual responsibility was practically non existent’ P 53‘Less well known is the work of Ilya Ivanov who in the mid twenties was charged by Stalin with the task of cross breeding apes with humans Stalin was not interested in filling the world with replicas of Aristotle and Goethe He wanted a new breed of soldier – ‘a new invincible human being’ highly resistant to pain that needed little food or sleep horse breeder Ilya Ivanov travelled to a West Africa to conduct trials impregnating chimpanzees humans were impregnated with ape sperm A number of experiments were attempted but unsurprisingly all of them failed’ P 58‘For the most part western opinion saw in the Stalinist Soviet Union an image of its utopian fantasies and it projected the same image on to Maoist China where the human cost of communism was even greater Some thirty eight million people perished between 1958 and 1961 in the Great Leap Forward’ P 70‘What the Nazis owed to the Romantics was a belief also shared by many Enlightenment thinkers – the idea that society had once been an organic whole and could so be again at some time in the future’ P 78Remind you of anyone Make America great again The fantasy of the good old days‘No society has ever been a harmonious whole and with its suspicion of conflict and diversity the idea of organic community is always liable to be used against minorities’ P 79uote from Oliver Roy‘The figure of the lonely metaphysical terrorist who blew himself up with his bomb appeared in Russia at the end of the nineteenth century The real genesis of al uaeda violence has to do with a Western tradition of individual and pessimistic revolt for an elusive ideal world than with the Koranic conception of martyrdom’ P 97‘If the débâcle in Ira has undermined these hopes of worldwide liberal democracies the rise of authoritarian Russia and China has shattered the assumption that post communist countries are bound to take western institutions as their model Yet despite this refutation by history the myth that humanity is moving towards adopting the same values and institutions remains embedded in western consciousness’ P 104‘The hideous facts of life in Ira refute the post modern dogma that truth is a construction of power’ P 148Leo Strauss uote‘the philosopher ceases to be a philosopher when certainty of a solution becomes stronger than his awareness of the problematic character of the solution’ P 187‘They omitted to consider the possibility that these defectors might have been dispatched to foster the belief which some of them may have believed to be true that Saddam had an active weapons program when in fact he did not Insofar as it projected an image that enhanced his power in Ira and throughout the Arab world it was a belief that served Saddam’s interests’ Pp 200 201Good to see the work and sentiments of Dr David Kelly expressed British scientist charged with investigating WMDs who suicided after not being listened to being made a scapegoat Saddam was playing a dangerous game and it suited the Bush regime perhaps to exploit his lack of a denial about having WMDs‘A predictable effect of the war was to demonstrate to ‘rogue states’ around the world that they would be better off having the WMD that Saddam lacked – otherwise like Ira they would be vulnerable to American attack’ P 211‘A report by the US Department of Energy entitled Peaking of World Oil Production Impacts Mitigation and Risk Management which was released in February 2005 concludes ‘The world has never faced a problem like this Without massive mitigation than a decade before the fact the problem will be pervasive and will not be temporary Previous energy transitions wood to coal and coal to oil were gradual and evolutionary; oil peaking will be abrupt and revolutionary’ P 213‘Much that is dead doesn't today as terrorism was viewed in the past as insurrection or civil conflict and recognized to be part of struggles that are local in nature Techniues such as the bombing of government buildings and the assassination of public officials are the stock in trade of national liberation struggles and were employed in places as diverse as Palestine and Malaya under British rule French Algeria and Vietnam during American occupation Terrorist techniues are used because they are cheap and highly effective They are normally employed on a large scale over extended periods only in circumstances of severe conflict when other methods have failed In other words terrorism is often a rational strategy’ P 247‘In the first rigorous empirical study of the subject Dying to Win The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism Robert Pape analysed all known cases between 1980 and 2004 and found that over 95 per cent of all incidents had clear political objectives’ P 249‘The danger of Islamic terrorism is real but declaring war on the world is not a sensible way of dealing with it Except in a few countries – such as Saudi Arabia Israel and Ira – terrorists pose a security problem rather than a strategic threat There is no clear enemy against which war can be directed or any point at which victory can be announced As has often been noted disabling terrorists is a type of police work that reuires support from their host communities It is not facilitated by futile wars in Islamic lands or by discriminatory policies targeting Muslims in western countries While concentrated military action may sometimes be effective – as in the destruction of training bases in Afghanistan – conventional military operations are usually counter productive Enhanced security measures and continuous political engagement are the only strategies that have ever brought terrorism under control’ P 252‘Nothing is human than the readiness to kill and die in order to secure a meaning in life’ P 263‘humanity cannot advance or retreat for humanity cannot act there is no collective entity with intentions or purposes only ephemeral struggling animals each with its own passions and illusions’ P 265‘Realism reuires a discipline of thought that may be too austere for a culture that prizes psychological comfort above anything else and it is a reasonable uestion whether western liberal societies are capable of the moral effort that is involved in setting aside the hopes of world transformation’ Pp 272 273‘The heady certainty of faith which sees every crisis as a heaven sent opportunity to save humanity is ill suited to dealing with dangers that can never be defused In times of danger stoical determination and intellectual detachment are useful ualities and at its best realism embodied them’ P 274‘Classical warfare Clausewitzian remains a major evil but even when it is total it can be ended by agreement – diplomats can meet negotiate a settlement and declare peace No such agreement can be reached with global terrorist networks which may be internally divided and lack negotiable goals’ P 283As the writer and psychoanalyst Adam Philips has written ‘Clearly apocalyptic thinking is nostalgia at its very worst’ The effect of seeking refuge in an imaginary future harmony is to bind us to the conflicts of the past’ P 292I love the Sunday Telegraph review uote on the back of the book 'A load of bollocks Could hardly be bonkers if it was crawling with lizards' They are a conservative British newspaper It's sad there are enough people with those kind of views for that paper to function Books like this are an antidote even if Telegraph readers never read it maybe the readers of this book can find a way to communicate the ideas to the less intellectually fortunate Maybe as a comic strip

About the Author: John N. Gray

John Nicholas Gray is a English political philosopher with interests in analytic philosophy and the history of ideas He retired in 2008 as School Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics and Political Science Gray contributes regularly to The Guardian The Times Literary Supplement and the New Statesman where he is the lead book reviewer