Thursday 23 July 2020

John Gray: this is a unique historical moment, bigger than 1968 or 1989

John Gray, in a very good interview with Freddy Sayers on Unherd's Lockdown TV, sees this year as a turning point comparable to 1848 or 1917. This is much bigger than 1968, which had few consequences.

He points out that nationalism and religion brought an end to communism, not economics. By nationalism I think he includes patriotism. Eastern Europeans didn't want to be ruled by tyrants impose on them by a foreign Bolshevik power - does that make Eastern Europeans nationalists exactly?

At any rate nations, ethnic states, defeated Leninism.

He doesn't mention that the wars in the former Yugoslavia gave the people who ruled the West a horror of nationalism.

Professor Gray says that liberalism after 1989 saw nations as akin to ethnic restaurants in a shopping street, but nationalism and religion are driving the events of 2016 to the present day. 

He sees the Woke movement as a religion, which is certainly true. 

Lenin was a Westerniser and after 1991 another attempt at Westernisation failed. Now Russia defines herself against the West.
'America has probably definitively lost its position as the hyperpower and global hegemonic power'
because of Donald Trump and the riots.

I did know that history had not ended in 1989 and I did know that the Cold War kept the peace. In 1990 I saw nuclear terrorism as the big threat - I still do. I saw Islam and Christianity as natural allies against liberalism. 

John Gray points out that the West has seen itself as universal and, paradoxically, the Woke movement thinks its ideas are universally applicable. Now he thinks we live in an era of rival civilisational powers, which include India and China. Even after Putin goes Russia will not become Western but something Russian. 

Does Europe want to be European (and predominantly culturally Christian)? Or to be a globalist, post-Christian confederation of immigrant societies, based on values?

1 comment:

  1. He sees the Woke movement as a religion, which is certainly true.

    That's a popular idea on the Right but I think it's only true up to a point. Political ideologies can be seen as substitutes for religion but they're not quite the same thing.

    Religion is about divine justice and eternal bliss in the hereafter.

    Political ideologies are about human justice, and creating Heaven right here on Earth. That's a humanistic approach. It's a brief that we can create Heaven by our own efforts, and that we and we alone can determine what is just and good. It's an explicit and fundamental rejection of the very foundations of religion.

    To my way of thinking that's such a fundamental difference that it's enough to make me cautious about accepting the idea that political ideologies are religions. They are anti-religions. They are perhaps movements that superficially resemble religions but the differences are great enough to make them a different kind of phenomenon. A substitute for religion is not a religion. Money, power, sex, consumer goods are all used as substitutes for religion, m but they're not religions.

    Mind you, you could argue that many if not most of the modern churches are no longer real religions either, but substitutes for actual religion. That may be why the idea that religion and political ideology are basically the same have become so popular - few of us have any experience of actual religion.

    Yes, I know I'm nit-picking and I apologise!