Black Mass (2007), el último libro de John Gray

Coger la girpe tiene alguna ventaja, una de ellas es poder acabar de leer algun libro que tenías a medias, como es el caso de Black Mass: apocalyptic religion and the death of Utopia, 2007, el último libro de John Gray el ideólogo británico que tanto nos gusta en este blog y que no puedo hacer más que recomendaros a todos. Para mi es su mejor libro tras el colosal False Dawn y el indiscutible Straw Dogs, a continuación hago un remix de reviews que expresan el mio (no estoy muy fino para escribir hoy).

Del NYT

In Gray’s telling, the doctrines of Soviet Communism, Nazi racism, Al Qaeda’s technophile fundamentalism and the Bushian “war on terror” are various forms (however incompatible) of an essentially utopian impulse derived from an Enlightenment notion of progress. That notion is misguided: scientific knowledge and technological power increase over time, but there is no reason to think that politics or morality can progress in the same way. The belief in progress is just a secularized form of Christian theodicy, infecting even those minds that otherwise seem combatively atheistic. Apocalyptic impulses are coded into every ideological genome.

And it gets worse. The coming century, Gray argues, will be one of ecological disaster and resource wars; technological improvements that will be promptly turned into instruments of destruction; and mutually reinforcing tendencies toward anarchy and violent order. Hostages of the crypto-theological belief that human beings are in some sense a uniquely important part of the world, we will continue to try to impose our illusions on it until the world proves we are wrong.

En Times Online encontramos el que es seguramente el mejor review del libro, realizada por :

“But I was even more puzzled by how quickly the memory of the 20th century began to fade; that, with the threat of religious-linked terrorism, the lesson of that secular fanaticism that had cost tens of millions of lives in Russia and China – and continues to do so in Sri Lanka and Nepal – seemed to be completely forgotten. And the reason those terrors have gone into the memory hole is that they illuminate cracks and absurdities in the beliefs of the secular humanist faith in progress.” The point is that what appeared to be secular projects were as founded upon belief as any religion. The lesson was that any human project could be used to justify slaughter: “Nothing is more human than the readiness to kill and die in order to secure a meaning in life.”

That 20th-century amnesia, Gray says, led to new, faith-based utopian cults, but this time the primary one, neoconservatism, was of the right rather than the left. He shows, in Black Mass, how many of the neocon prophets were originally Trotskyists, a clear sign of the utopian linkage between Marxism and the neocons. And, most hilariously – though the comedy is very black indeed – he demonstrates the quite fantastic depths of neocon irrationality.

In the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, the neocons convinced themselves that the CIA, which was largely sceptical about the project, was too evidence-based. What was needed, they posited, was not empirical but rational analysis. So, Bush was told by a neocon CIA shadow organisation that Saddam had WMDs, not because there was evidence for it, but because it was logical that he must have them. A deranged Platonism had its finger on the trigger. Now, as Gray forecast, the Iraqis are blamed for the failure of the mission, just as the Russians were blamed for the failure of communism and Hitler blamed the Germans for the failure of Nazism. Nobody, he points out, seems ready to face the obvious conclusion: the goals of these projects were unattainable from the outset.

Perhaps Gray’s most controversial point is that the roots of modern terror lie in the western Enlightenment. Before the 18th century, he argues, wars and terrorist campaigns were not conducted as if they were mechanisms of general improvement. It was the French revolution that introduced the idea of terror as a tool of progress, and we have been living with – and dying from – that legacy ever since. Al-Qaeda, he argues, is a very modern organisation, precisely because it has learnt the lessons of the West.

Finalmente, un excelente artículo de Andrés Ortega en El País, que parece una review encubierta, aplica la teoria de Gray:

Como refleja en un magnífico libro el filósofo británico de la política John Gray (Black Mass: apocalyptic religion and the death of Utopia, 2007), los neocons bebieron del pensamiento religioso apocalíptico, que ha renacido en el mundo sea para Al Qaeda, sea para estos idealistas de la derecha americana. Para Gray, “los movimientos modernos revolucionarios son una continuación de la religión por otros medios”. Bush pensaba “no sólo que el mal existe sino que puede ser destruido”.

Para Gray, “Irak ha sido el primer experimento utópico del nuevo siglo y quizás el último”. Efectivamente, los neoconsservadores intentaron usar la fuerza para imponer la utopía. Han fracasado, ignorando el profético aviso de Robespierre en 1792, dos años antes de ser guillotinado, contra los peligros de tratar de exportar la libertad por la fuerza de las armas.

¿Qué viene después? Gray, adelantándose a lo ocurrido llamaba a recuperar la tradición perdida del realismo: “La consecución de la Utopía debe ser reemplazada por un intento de tratar con la realidad”, ya sea el terrorismo, la proliferación de armas nucleares u otros desafíos. Implica otra forma, no fundamentalista y mucho más práctica, de abordar estos problemas. Hay que insistir: no resultará demasiado atractivo, pues “el realismo requiere una disciplina de pensamiento que puede ser demasiado austera para una cultura que premia el confort psicológico por encima de cualquier otra cosa”. ¡Ay el confort psicológico! O lo que otros llaman la “pérdida del gusto por el esfuerzo”. Es algo que nos puede echar a perder a unos europeos comodones.

Y yo que me pregunto si esto no se podría comparar/relacionar con el ya mítico Clash of Civilizations de Huntington. Segun Huntington los conflictos entre príncipes dieron lugar a los conflictos entre ideologías (GF) y actualmente entre civilizaciones (que en el fondo son religiones). ¿No estará Gray diciendo que en el fondo el problema continúan siendo las ideologías que no quieren reconocer que són ideologías? ¿Y no són estas ideologías como las religiones?

Termino con una propuesta. ¿Para cuando una bibliografía recomendada de Xarxasia?

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