The New Leviathans
Thoughts After Liberalism
Author: John Gray
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?
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
In The News
"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