Post-Liberalism: Studies in Political Thought
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John Gray has become one of our liveliest and most influential political philosophers. This current volume is a sequel to his Liberalisms: Essays in Political Philosophy. The earlier book ended on a sceptical note, both in respect of what a post-liberal political philosophy might look like, and with respect to the claims of political philosophy itself.
John Gray's new book gives post-liberal theory a more definite content. It does so by considering particular thinkers in the history of political thought, by criticizing the conventional wisdom, liberal and socialist, of the Western academic class, and most directly by specifying what remains of value in liberalism. The upshot of this line of thought is that we need not regret the failure of foundationalist liberalism, since we have all we need in the historic inheritance of the institutions of civil society. It is to the practice of liberty that these institutions encompass, rather than to empty liberal theory, that we should repair.
of glasnost is extraordinarily risky for the Soviet leadership. Indeed, however it was conceived - and a Leninist interpretation of its inception seems by far the most plausible - the current Soviet policy confronts difficulties and hazards far greater than any that the Soviet regime has ever faced in peace time. So as to theorize these phenomena, we need to abandon the blinkered perspective of Kremlinology, which has dominated Soviet studies for lack of any disciplined theoretical alternative.
It would, above all, need to confront the repressed possibility that the Gulag represents an unavoidable phase in socialist construction rather than a contingent incident in Soviet (and Chinese) experience. In order to face these hard questions, a new Marxism would demand a purer and more self-critical method of thought than any varit:ty of Marxism has so far achieved. It would need to engage directly with the moral theory of justice and exploitation and to abandon the forlorn pretence that it
given the coup de grace to the Habsburg Empire. As a consequence of Europe's two civil wars, no institutional framework is easily conceivable within which Central Europe could become again a political reality. The empire of the Habsburgs is a nostalgist's dream, and many questions surround the prospect of a neutral, unified Germany: what would be its borders? And its relations to Poland and Czechoslovakia? The darker side of the dissolution of the post-war settlement is in the prospect of most of
individually free to live on the guaranteed income, he suffers with the rest from a form of collective unfreedom. Like the collective unfreedom suffered by proletarians under capitalism, the collective unfreedom of socialist workers in respect of the guaranteed income is suffered by them as individuals. It is not a group unfreedom. 'A person shares in a collective unfreedom when, to put it roughly, he is among those who are so situated that if enough others exercise the corresponding individual
institutions? They might do so, if (once again with Kant) it were supposed that only one set of practical maxims would emerge from an application of the categories of our understanding. So far as I am aware this heroic supposition is not one that Cohen has endorsed, but without it, the results of the analysis of ordinary language are likely to be inconclusive or merely conservative. Finally, even if such criticisms could be countered, the archaic Rylean methodology which (at least in his work on