What Price Utopia?

Scott McLemee in the New York Times Book Review:

Mclemee190As the march of events has lurched in unexpected directions over the past three decades, many a political thinker has been thrown off track and hurled into confusion, if rarely into silence. But not John Gray. He has usually been a little ahead of the zeitgeist, waxing contrarian about whatever consensus is about to form. Gray has been called a chameleon. If so, he belongs to a very peculiar species: one with precognition, able to change colors before landing on whatever patch of landscape lies just around the corner.

In the early 1980s, Gray, who teaches European thought at the London School of Economics, was the most capable defender of Friedrich von Hayek as a social philosopher rather than just a propagandist for free-market policy. But he later became decidedly critical of any notion that the future belonged to liberal democracy. In 1989, as the Soviet Union was reforming itself out of existence, he wrote that this would not inaugurate “a new era of post-historical harmony” but rather “a return to the classical terrain of history, a terrain of great-power rivalries, secret diplomacies, and irredentist claims and wars.” Over the following decade, he advanced a critique of globalization that sounded, at times, profoundly anticapitalist, if by no means Marxian.

More here.