John Gray

If Aristotle could have imagined the Captain’s mission of giving everyone freedom to live as they choose, he would have reacted with incredulous contempt.

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Was Nietzsche Right About Religion?

The ghost at the atheist feast

Two new books about the ghost at the atheist feast

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Malcolm Gladwell Is America's Best-Paid Fairy-Tale Writer

The heavily-footnoted uplift of 'David and Goliath'

What do you get when you read a book that reinforces your beliefs while making you feel nonconformist? 

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Margaret Thatcher's Unintended Legacies

She wanted a conservative, middle-class England. She delivered anything but.

She wanted a return to a conservative, middle-class England. The country she created is anything but.

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Sometime in the early 1970s I had an illuminating conversation with an expert on Soviet affairs. We ended up discussing Solzhenitsyn, and the expert expounded the view that the writer illustrated the emergence of liberal values in opposition to Soviet totalitarianism. I disagreed. Certainly Solzhenitsyn was anti-totalitarian, but that did not make him any sort of liberal.

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The Triumphalist

The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution By Francis Fukuyama    (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 585 pp., $35) Ideas about what it means to be modern are soon dated. Not so long ago theories were in vogue claiming that a “scientific-technical revolution” was under way that would lead to a single type of government spreading throughout the world. Originally promoted by Daniel Bell in the 1950s, the theory of convergence suggested that the Soviet Union would evolve to become like the advanced industrial societies of the West.

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Why Marx Was Right By Terry Eagleton (Yale University Press, 258 pp., $25) How to Change the World: Tales of Marx and Marxism By Eric Hobsbawm (Yale University Press, 470 pp., $35) An intellectual revival of Marxism is one of the predictable consequences of the financial crisis. In the twenty years before the storm broke, the Marxisant intelligentsia was more marginal in politics and culture than it had ever been.

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The Free-Floater

Ernest Gellner: An Intellectual Biography By John A. Hall (Verso, 400 pp., $49.95) John A. Hall concludes his account of Ernest Gellner by observing that his outlook on the world was austere. “But therein lies its attraction,” he goes on. “Not much real comfort for our woes is on offer; the consolations peddled in the market are indeed worthless.

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