Al Qaeda and what it Means to be Modern

Framhli­ kßpu
Faber, 2003 - 145 sÝ­ur

'The suicide warriors who attacked Washington and New York on September 11th, 2001, did more than kill thousands of civilians and demolish the World Trade Center. They destroyed the West s ruling myth.'

So John Gray begins this short, powerful book on the belief that has dominated our minds for a century and a half - the idea that we are all, more or less, becoming modern and that as we become modern we will become more alike, and at the same time more familiar and more reasonable. Nothing could be further from the truth, Gray argues. Al Qaeda is a product of modernity and of globalisation, and it will not be the last group to use the products of the modern world in its own monstrous way.

Gray pulls up by the roots the myth that the human condition can be remade by science and progress or political engineering. He describes with mordant irony the rise of Positivists, the strange sect that put science and technology at the centre of the cult and developed a religion of humanity. Through their influence on economists, politicians and biologists, they still powerfully affect the way we think. Gray looks at the various attempts to remake humanity, from the Bolshevik and Nazi disasters to the utopian experiments of modern radical Islam and the dreams of the prophets of globalisation. And he gives a scathing account of the real sources of conflict in the world, of American power and its illusions, and of the ways in which cultures will resist the reshaping we might wish on them.

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LibraryThing Review

Ums÷gn notanda  - horacewimsey - LibraryThing

Read this for an undergraduate political science class. A very good read. Short and to the point, this book gets to the bottom of the situation really quickly and lets us know that we're dealing with a different people here and one that we're not likely to sway quickly if at all. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

Ums÷gn notanda  - jguy7500 - LibraryThing

An interesting read, showing how Al Qaeda is a product of the modern world. It also goes into the history of "modern", and how the ideas behind the modern, Western, world evolved. That makes for a ... Read full review

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Um h÷fundinn (2003)

John Gray was born on April 17, 1948 in South Shields, England. He received a B.A., M.Phil., and D.Phil. from Exeter College, Oxford. He taught at several universities including the University of Essex, Jesus College, Oxford, and the University of Oxford. He retired as Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2008. He contributes regularly to The Guardian, The Times Literary Supplement and the New Statesman, where he is the lead book reviewer. He is the author of several books including False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals, Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and The Death of Utopia, and The Immortalisation Commission: Science and the Strange Quest to Cheat Death.

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