Social cohesion

Utopianism has come a long way from being religious then radical, then secular, and finally to mainstream. The “belief that a single economic system was coming into being throughout the world” (74) was the prominent sentiment throughout the 1980s in Western governments has given a new political ideal that resulted in neo-conservatism as embodied in leaders like Tony Blair, whose dangerous assertion: “I only know what I believe” (93), leaves much to be desired in terms of factuality and rationalism.

Gray asserts that “unlike neo-liberals, who are usually secular in outlook neo-conservatives view religion as a vital source of social cohesion” (96), which in modern politics is a step backwards from what seems rational and as a cause and precursor to the leading of “the UK into a ruinous war” (96) with Iraq. Using Britain as an example, Gray shows that George W. Bush echoes “Blair’s convictions” of neo-democracy and fundamentalist Christianity by taking “Britain into war five times”, (97) “in the span of 6 years. ” (97) Eventually, this “pseudo-reality” (103) in Britain of righteousness in modern invasions has become mainstream throughout most of ‘the West’.

The current apocalypse about to happen has stemmed from “faith-based politics” (117) and its relation to Americas’ “apocalyptic myths” (117) of Islam and the “‘war on terror'” (117). The current mainstream American political idea that “‘western liberal democracy’ is ‘the end point of mankinds ideological evolution'” (125), has had a wide-ranging effect on America, which has led to the “systematic rejection of empirical evidence” (139) by the intelligence agencies such as the CIA. The end of empirical evidence as a cradle of foreign policy came strikingly when upon being unable to detect a “Soviet non-acoustic anti-submarine system” (138), a CIA team regarded it to exist because they “viewed the absence of evidence as evidence in favour of its view.” (138) America is now reliant on “doctrines and faith-based intelligence” (143) rather than reason and rational deduction unlike the current system of jumping to conclusions for religious and political gains when it is convenient to do so.

As Maximilien Robespierre once said that it is easy “to believe that it suffices for people to enter weapons in hand, among a foreign people and expect to have its laws and constitution embraced” (146), and that “no one loves armed missionaries”(146), and ‘armed missionaries’ is what America in the lead of a war of ideas has become. For some reason America chose Iraq, the “the only state in the Gulf [of Persia] not ruled by Islamic Sharia law, but by a western-style legal code, and implacably hostile to Islam” (154) to wage war against and change the nation from a stable dictatorship to a democracy, which failed due to a lack of internal cooperation from the citizens of Iraq.

“Any country can achieve democracy, and any can lose it” (170), is the current situation of America, where in attempting to spread American-style democracy, it has compromised its’ own from within. Wherever America sets its foot attempting to spread its’ ‘utopia’, it leaves in its wake “another failed state” (182), since this phenomenon is ongoing and “the apocalypse failed to arrive, [and] history went on as before but with an added dash of blood” (183); which is merely a “symptom of a mentality” (183) promoted by modern utopians.

At the end of the novel and the end of modern history, it seems that no matter how utopia is spread or implemented, there is always a problem that ends in great bloodshed, indifferent and delusional paradigms, even ‘pseudo-truths’ that ‘the Western world’ now so steadfastly believes. Gray is very crafty in showing the underlying trends of destruction involved in the history of the realisation of political ideals.

Whether ‘faith-based’ or ‘science-based’ directives are followed, a similar result follows suit. As shown, the blind acceptance of utopian ideas is corrupting in nature. But so, too, can be the blind rejection of Utopianism. After all what could be more corrupting than accepting as inevitable problems that may occur in the attempt the task of creating an impossible utopian society. For this, Gray uses the history to show that living within your means and within reality is essential to the survival of a seemingly just society, and also that history repeats itself.

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