Sunday, October 18, 2009

False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism, by John Gray

First published in 1998, False Dawn pretty much predicted the current economic crisis, and Nassim (Black Swan) Taleb has even declared it “a prophetic book”. We can now read sentences such as “How would America’s fractured society cope with a collapse in the stock market such as occurred in Japan in the early 1990s?” with a sense of proleptic irony. In a new Foreword John Gray reminds us that “America’s position is much worse than that of Japan in the 1990s” and insists that globalisation has undergone “an irreversible collapse”. Given his prescience in the past, his predictions are well worth reading: with the US in permanent decline, a period of “disorderly globalisation” has begun, complete with “resource wars” (oil, water, land) and accompanied by the rise of the far right everywhere. And then, with a nod to James Lovelock, he concludes that all this will eventually be “derailed by a backlash from the planet”. All humankind can do now, says Gray, is prepare for a “sustainable retreat”.

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