Rowan Williams at The New Statesman:
One of the most vacuous idioms we use about our moral and social debates is the idea of being “on the side of history”. The plain meaning of this is that “history” – the record of human actions – has an inevitable trajectory, and we had better get on board with it or suffer the consequences.
Readers of this magazine will know from John Gray’s regular and well-aimed diatribes on this subject that such language is a clumsy adaptation of religious notions of a purpose at work in human affairs. In this world-view, the only significant question is who is predestined to win, so that we can align ourselves safely with tomorrow’s orthodoxies and power systems.
One thing in common between the two very different books under review is that they both – despite occasional lapses – implicitly challenge any notion of history having a “side”.