The New Leviathans: Thoughts After Liberalism (Paperback)

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A bold, provocative reckoning with our current political delusions and dysfunctions.

Ever since its publication in 1651, Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan has unsettled and challenged how we understand the world. Condemned and vilified by each new generation, his cold political vision continues to see through any number of human political and ethical vanities.

In his wonderfully stimulating book The New Leviathans, John Gray allows us to understand the world of the 2020s with all its contradictions, moral horrors, and disappointments. The collapse of the USSR ushered in an era of near apoplectic triumphalism in the West: a genuine belief that a rational, liberal, well-managed future now awaited humankind and that tyranny, nationalism, and unreason lay in the past. Since then, so many terrible events have occurred and so many poisonous ideas have flourished, and yet our liberal certainties treat them as aberrations that will somehow dissolve. Hobbes would not be so confident.

Filled with fascinating and challenging observations, The New Leviathans is a powerful meditation on historical and current folly. As a species we always seem to be struggling to face the reality of base and delusive human instincts. Might a more self-aware, realistic, and disabused ethics help us?

About the Author

John Gray is the author of many critically acclaimed books, including The Silence of Animals, The Immortalization Commission, Black Mass, and Straw Dogs. A regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, he has been a professor of politics at Oxford, a visiting professor at Harvard and Yale, and a professor of European thought at the London School of Economics. He now writes full-time.

Praise For…

"[Gray's] is a calm, exacting voice, which does not rise above its measured tone even when he is relating the most egregious excesses of the past or delivering the direst predictions for the future. No Cassandra has ever spoken with such studied reserve, which makes his message all the more persuasive . . . Gray displays his accustomed mastery in the examples he adduces in support of his contentions . . . The New Leviathans is a sober and sobering reminder of what we lose when we abandon traditional liberalism in favor of new and exclusive certainties that are based on nothing certain." —John Banville, New York Review of Books

"Dense with provocative ideas—a solid choice for budding political philosophers." —Kirkus Reviews

"Gray is conscientiously illusionless, scrupulously refusing to believe in any of the ideals and comforting dreams that humans use to protect themselves against reality. This, perhaps, explains his popularity with my own much-disillusioned generation . . . Gray’s philosophy is the thread that joins my friends of disparate political inclinations." —James Marriott, The Times

"An elegy for western liberalism . . . a bracing thinker." —Stuart Jeffries, Daily Telegraph

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250338310
ISBN-10: 125033831X
Publisher: Picador
Publication Date: November 5th, 2024
Pages: 192
Language: English