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False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism Paperback – 30 Nov 1998

4.1 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books; 2nd Revised edition edition (30 Nov. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 186207237X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862072374
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 423,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Back in the 1980s, capitalism seemed ready to finally inherit the earth. According to the likes of Francis Fukuyama, in his infamous book The End of History, history was coming to an end with the triumph of western capitalism, witnessed by the dramatic collapse of the Soviet Bloc and the growth of the global free market. Subsequent events, from the downfall of Mrs Thatcher to the recent financial unrest in Southeast Asia, have seriously questioned the validity of Fukuyama's arguments (not to mention other luminaries of the New Right). However, John Gray's wonderful False Dawn is the first book to convincingly dismantle the economic and historical presumptions of the 1980s, as we head into political and financial uncharted water.

Writing with great economy and accessibility, Gray's argument is concise but portentous: the unfettered global free market economy will not spawn a self-regulating utopia, but increasing social instability and economic anarchy. With an impressive breadth of economic and social history, False Dawn convincingly argues that "the free market is a rare, short-lived phenomenon", a specific product of English nineteenth-century social engineering, from whose cycles of boom and bust we still have much to learn. Even more provocatively, Gray argues that "democracy and the free market are competitors rather than partners." The failures of the free market, from pre-war Europe to the collapse of the Mexican economy in 1994, have persistently shown that democratic state intervention is required to place checks and balances upon the erratic cycles of boom and bust which has characterised the relatively short history of the free market.

Arguing with great passion and conviction, Gray explores the emergence of the belief in the global free market, via the increasingly discredited philosophy of the European Enlightenment, through the rise and fall of the free market in England from Palmerston to Thatcher. The book then analyses the potentially catastrophic investment in the free market coming out of the USA, the recent "Anarcho-capitalism" of post-communist Russia, and the crisis in the markets of Southeast Asia. Avoiding calls for a return to socialist planning, False Dawn is a refreshing and challenging polemic. Nevertheless, it offers few solutions to what Gray sees as "the deepening international anarchy" as free markets spiral out of control. While False Dawn may expose the shortcomings of contemporary global capitalism, it remains to be seen whether or not its arguments provoke more concrete solutions to the chronic instability of the free market. --Jerry Brotton

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

This brilliant book really appealed to my nihilistic streak, John Grey has the vision, knowledge and most importantly the swagger to carry off a work with such a negative pessimistic outlook. Some may find it depressing, but I found it a clarifying and educating read. It really is essential for anyone contemplating the politics of the 21st century.
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John Gray is a sober,non-dogmatic, magnificent political philosopher, with a vast knowledge of the plural spheres of the human affairs, be it political economy, political philsophy, economics, ethics and so on. Everything he says as a reason to be heard.
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I'm a Japanese, and studying translation from English to Japanese. I subscribe to Economist for a decade. My teacher is a famous tra slator who has translated "Commanding Heights" into Japanese last year. I think this book is more interesting than that, and want it to be read by more people in Japan. At first I could not undestand by fast reading, so I traslated it. Now I can have the meaning of this book and find it very instructive to Japanese people who believe in the free market and universal globalism. Now we have many miserable stories around us. Japan has scare resources and small lands but we have managed to keep living. So I want this book known to all people in Japan.
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I never found time to read John Gray's book, which I bought the best part of a decade ago, until I rediscovered it during a recent house move. Reading this first edition now, some 13 years after its publication, it is striking how prescient this book has proved to be; even the new edition (published 2009) predates the extraordinary events of the past two years, but those events have largely served to vindicate the clear and forthright opinions and predictions Gray made back in the heady days when New Labour came to power and all seemed well with the world economy.

A number of other reviewers have posted some excellent comments on both editions of this important book, so I will not rehearse all that they covered. It is worth stressing, however, that this is not the shrill polemic of a dyed-in-the-wool socialist; Gray's starting point appears to have been firmly within the "global market economy concensus", which almost all countries, politicians and businesses subscribe to, but whose fundamental tenets are rarely challenged or questioned. Gray started doing so when he found that things did not add up, and had the courage to publicise his thoughts, predictions and all, in print.

Whether you buy the first or second edition makes no odds - there are real moments of foresight in the original work that had me convinced of its genius. One of the best books I have read on macroeconomics, and certainly the most important, not to mention timely (still).
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