False Dawn: the Delusions of Global Capitalism

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Hailed by Kirkus Reviews as both “a convincing analysis of an international economy headed for disaster” and a “powerful challenge to economic orthodoxy,” False Dawn shows that the attempt to impose the Anglo-American-style free market on the world will create a disaster, possibly on the scale of Soviet communism. Even America, the supposed flagship of the new civilization, risks moral and social disintegration as it loses ground to other cultures that have never forgotten that the market works best when it is embedded in society. John Gray, well known in the 1980s as an important conservative political thinker, whose writings were relied upon by Margaret Thatcher and the New Right in Britain, has concluded that the conservative agenda is no longer viable. In his examination of the ripple effects of the economic turmoil in Russia and Asia on our collective future, Gray provides one of the most passionate polemics against the utopia of the free market since Carlyle and Marx.


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Back when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister of Great Britain, John Gray was an influential conservative thinker, whose writings helped influence the revitalization of the laissez-faire market in that country. Now, as free-market champions seek to make over the (mostly) postcommunist world in their own image, Gray has experienced a moment of apostasy. False Dawn argues that, far from bringing about economic paradise, global capitalism, left unchecked, "could well destroy liberal civilization." Gray is careful to distinguish "global capitalism" from "globalization," which he identifies as a broader tendency encompassing "the increasing interconnection of economic and cultural life in distant parts of the world." That societies around the world are coming into closer contact with each other is inevitable; that they will have to do so in a free market, particularly one largely shaped by Anglo-American economic values, is not. In fact, Gray says, pointing to the recent economic crises in Asia and Russia, such a model will not bring societies together, but may well tear them apart. "A worldwide free market," he warns, "is no more self-regulating than the national free markets of the past.... Unless it is reformed radically, the world economy risks falling apart in a replay, at once tragic and farcical, of the trade wars, competitive devaluations, economic collapses and political upheavals of the 1930s."

About the Author:

John Gray is a political philosopher and former professor of European thought at the London School of Economics. He is the author of False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism, Two Faces of Liberalism, and Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern, all published by The New Press. He lives in London.

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