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False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism Hardcover – April 1, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-1565845213 ISBN-10: 1565845218

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 262 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The (April 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565845218
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565845213
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #918,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Back when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister of Great Britain, John Gray was an influential conservative thinker, whose writings helped influence the revitalization of the laissez-faire market in that country. Now, as free-market champions seek to make over the (mostly) postcommunist world in their own image, Gray has experienced a moment of apostasy. False Dawn argues that, far from bringing about economic paradise, global capitalism, left unchecked, "could well destroy liberal civilization." Gray is careful to distinguish "global capitalism" from "globalization," which he identifies as a broader tendency encompassing "the increasing interconnection of economic and cultural life in distant parts of the world." That societies around the world are coming into closer contact with each other is inevitable; that they will have to do so in a free market, particularly one largely shaped by Anglo-American economic values, is not. In fact, Gray says, pointing to the recent economic crises in Asia and Russia, such a model will not bring societies together, but may well tear them apart. "A worldwide free market," he warns, "is no more self-regulating than the national free markets of the past.... Unless it is reformed radically, the world economy risks falling apart in a replay, at once tragic and farcical, of the trade wars, competitive devaluations, economic collapses and political upheavals of the 1930s."

From Publishers Weekly

"In the 1980s capitalism triumphed over communism. In the 1990s it triumphed over democracy and the market economy." So begins The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism, the latest salvo from David C. Korten (When Corporations Rule the World). In four sections of three or four chapters each, Korten lays out how it happened and what we can do about it, using model communities that have already begun to "treat money as a facilitator, not the purpose, of our economic lives." 25,000 first printing. (Berrett-Koehler and Kumarian, co-publishers, $27.95 300p ISBN 1-57675-051-5; Mar.) Can the Net really foster, as in Bill Gates's phrase, "friction-free capitalism"? How about "robust direct democracy"? In Digital Capitalism: Networking the Global Marketing System, Dan Schiller, professor of communications at UC-San Diego, turns a skeptic's eye to the screen. After reviewing how Internet technology differs from previous forms of telecommunication (and how a "Neoliberal" agenda drove its development), Schiller examines its ever-closer ties with commerce and prognostications for educational revolution. His conclusion: "Digital capitalism has strengthened, rather than banished, the ago-old scourges of the market system: inequality and domination." (MIT, $29.95 320p ISBN 0-262-19417-1; Apr.) Oxford professor of politics John Gray has been an acknowledged influence on Margaret Thatcher, and his writings were appropriated by Britain's New Right. It was thus astonishing to U.K. readers that, in False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism, Gray does an about-face and argues against a market untethered to cultural foundations within particular societies. Updated with a chapter on the controversy it sparked on its U.K. release, the American version further stresses the all-too-apparent instability of global markets. (New Press, $25 272p ISBN 1-56584-521-8; Apr.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Steven S. Berizzi on August 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
John Gray, professor of European thought at the London School of
Economics, describes and analyzes the contemporary trend toward a
global free market in this an exceptionally provocative book. Unlike
Thomas L. Friedman's The Lexus and the Olive Tree and A Future
Perfect: The Challenge and Hidden Promise of Globalization by John
Micklethwait & Adrian Wooldridge (both of which I reviewed here in
July), this book is highly critical of the unrestricted expansion of
the international economy and integration of its markets. Indeed,
Gray begins by warning: "The Utopia of the global free market has
not incurred a human cost in the way that communism did. Yet over
time it may come to rival it in the suffering that it inflicts."
That is a very harsh indictment!
One of the great intellectual
debates of the coming decades may revolve around this question: Does
the global economy meet human needs? According to Gray, the answer is
"No." For instance, he writes: "In the United States
free markets have contributed to social breakdown on a scale unknown
to any other developed country. Families are weaker in America than
in any other country. At the same time, social order has been propped
up by a policy of mass incarceration." Gray acknowledges that,
"[t]he world-historical movement we call globalization has
momentum that is inexorable," but inexorability is not
desirability. Globalization may not be desirable because, according
to Gray: "The late-twentieth-century free market experiment is an
attempt to legitimate through democratic institutions severe limits on
the scope and content of democratic control over economic life.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The book isn't entirely convincing, having been written by a political scientist rather than an economist it has been criticised as being polemical.
But having said that the author does raise some interesting points. The book is a real eye-opener, especially to those Americans who think that nations all want to be more like the USA. Read it.
From the book:
"The perception that countries which subscribe to none of the tenets of `the American creed' are surpassing the United States is too painful to enter into public consciousness. To accept that countries can achieve modernity without revering the folkways of individualism, bowing to the cult of human rights or sharing the Enlightenment superstition of progress towards a world civilisation, is to admit that America's civil religion has been falsified.
For most Americans such a perception is intolerable. Instead, evidence of the superior economic growth, savings rates, educational standards and family stability of other countries that have repudiated the American model will be repressed, denied and resisted indefatigably. To admit this evidence would be to confront the social costs of the American free market. The free market works to weaken social cohesion. Its productivity is prodigious; but so are its human costs. At present the costs of the free market are taboo subjects in American discourse; they are voiced only by a handful of sceptical liberals. If the fact that free markets and social stability are at odds could be admitted, the conflict between them would not thereby disappear, but it could perhaps be moderated."
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
John Gray argues convincingly in this book that a single global market is largely a political project, while economic globalization is the result of the spread of new technologies throughout the world and it can go on without a free market. An unexpected consequence of globalization is that it accentuates uneven economic development within countries and between countries. This causes high structural unemployment, the fall of real wages for certain working groups and the need of two-income families. The author concludes that global capitalism is inherently unstable because a world-wide free market can not be self-regulated. Without radical reform it will fall apart as trade wars, competitive currency devaluations, economic collapses and political upheavals are bound to happen. This is an excallent analysis of the current state of global capitalism as we approach a new millennium.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By William R. Neil on August 9, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
August 9, 2010

John Gray, who has studied politics, economics and philosophy at Oxford and was a Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics until his retirement in 2008, has won praise from some unlikely places, such as Bloomberg News and from two mainstays of the Economist magazine, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. These globalization celebrators devoted several pages to Gray's career in their 2000 book A Future Perfect, tracing his path from the 1980's when he was "a member of Margaret Thatcher's informal brain trust. As the Conservative party collapsed in the 1990's however, so did Gray's faith in free markets, and he embraced a succession of alternatives, ranging from communitarianism to environmentalism and culminating in antiglobalism." Nonetheless, he remains "one of globalization's most searching critics."

We're pleased to say we've "field tested" this book in Maryland when we led a discussion in a progressive book club in Montgomery County. This was during those dark days when Democrats had their heads down, when they weren't scratching it in puzzlement, after the 2004 election. The consensus on the book was that it was not an easy read, but worth it, because people felt that they hadn't seen anything quite like it. Grey writes in a very direct style, some would say blunt, for a philosopher, in a declarative, assertive manner, stating in a paragraph of propositions what it might take another author a whole book to work up to. So the reader will still be digesting the last assertion when Grey moves on, in the very next paragraph, if not the very next sentence, to serve the next dish on his political economy menu.
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