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A classic in Political Philosophy
on 5 November 2009
This is a slightly updated version of John Gray's book, originally published in 1998.
Given all that's gone on since he seems broadly vindicated.
The heart of Gray's thesis is that neo-liberalism has hardened into a faith which denies human and environmental realities. It's actually become a weird kind of Marxism. His other main point is that although capitalism is on the ascendency - it will take many different forms dependent on local factors (Chinese capitalism will always be dissimilar to American capitalism).
He pretty much takes apart the internal contradictions of Thatcherism/ Reaganism and the socially destructive effects of the free market (and that's its almost always imposed by state fiat), the fact that we're running hard up against global environmental constraints and the anti-social effects of letting a free market rip (1 in 200 US citizens in jail for example, largely because social cohesion has been destroyed with local labour markets).
His other major point is that the market is destabilising, and this has definitely been vindicated by recent events.
I found this book to be bracing, but ultimately a bit too pessimistic. Gray's good at laying into present mistakes but he's no better at predicting the future than anyone else. If you want a a quick guide his postscript is excellent, it condenses the whole book - very useful for students.