by UnHerd
Wednesday, 22
July 2020
Video
11:07

John Gray: this moment is bigger than 1989

The philosopher puts today's political turmoil in historical context
by UnHerd

Freddie Sayers asks philosopher John Gray (see his piece today) whether we are living through a moment of great change, akin to 1989, 1968, 1917, 1848…

His answer? The changes across the world — and the retreat of the universalist ideal to reveal a world of competing civilizational zones, may be more significant for humankind than any of those previous moments.

He touches on parallels between today’s woke movement and medieval millenarianism, his break with the Thatcherites, and how the world is becoming more ‘Game of Thrones’.

Don’t miss this fascinating 45 minute tour de force, steeped in knowledge and with a sweeping context, from one of the most important thinkers of the day. Have a watch above (and apologies for the poor sound quality)…

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andrew.nellestyn
andrew.nellestyn
1 year ago

I quite enjoyed Mr. Gooch’s timely article and commend him for stepping out to share his views on civics, civility and the the importance he aptly accords respect and dignity in interpersonal and public discourse. I would add that he is indeed courageous to express himself publicly in defence of good manners and constructive dialogue. I regret having to refer to his actions as “brave” but such are the troubled times, now more frequently giving rise to anarchy, relating to the dynamics and essence of free speech, political correctness, woke and peaceful assembly, in which we live.

Yes, many issues have come to the fore, and rightly so, which cry out for resolution, relating to racism, inclusiveness, diversity, equality, justice, human rights, poverty, opportunity, geopolitics and the economy.

Only with open minds and “good manners” can we hope to move constructively forwards and realize the remarkable potential of humanity to live in harmony and create an environment accommodating to all.

Lastly, we owe the UnHerd staff a great debt of gratitude in creating an “agora” in which unfettered, and I may add, civil, expression and debate, can flower.

Thank you!

Dr. Andrew Nellestyn
OStJ CD PhD PEng
Ottawa, Canada.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago

I take my suggestions back – – keep it simple and the brand together, call it UnHerd TV.

Brian Bieron
Brian Bieron
1 year ago

I would recommend sticking with Lockdown TV because while the channel was born in the unprecedented pandemic physical lockdowns, the broader spirit is the willingness to push back against the anti-liberal proclivity of many of today’s elites to Lock Down discussion and debate, even when thoughtfully and respectfully done. That intellectual lockdown won’t be ended soon. So I turn to Lockdown TV to hear smart people who don’t follow the herd.

Joe Donovan
Joe Donovan
1 year ago

A fantastic interview. Freddie’s own erudition on display as well as his unique ability to actually listen and to synthesize what his interlocutor is saying. As for the future name, I am agnostic, but I hope that Freddie will not depart for Spotify, following on the heels of Joe Rogan’s $300 million deal with that distribution channel. If Joe can get a third of a billion, surely Freddie can get …$$$$ ???? (But it’s not about the money.)

myerscough
myerscough
1 year ago

UnLocked TV

Sarah H
Sarah H
1 year ago

That was a delight. Thankyou. To survive, “cultivate disbelief”. Wise words in tumultuous times.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

A very good interview that seems to synthesise many of John Gray’s articles here and in the New Statesman (don’t worry, I don’t buy the NS, I just read the few bits that are worth reading in the shop). Quite plainly he is correct about the world dividing into different empires of belief, or whatever one might call them, and this has been apparent for a few years now.

The more interesting question to me is the question of why liberal democracy failed to spread beyond, effectively, the Anglosphere and north-western Europe, and whether it will now collapse in on itself, as seems to be happening in the US. And then, if this does happen, with what will it be replaced?

It seems to me that liberal democracy is collapsing under its own absurdities. By this I mean the insane levels of welfare, the lack of accountability across the public and corporate sectors, the fact that we continue to give money to India and China, the importation of millions of people who don’t share our ‘values’, the fact that you can only come to power by promising all manner of free stuff to everyone. It has been largely insane for some decades now and the rest of the world can see it.

I was interested to hear that John Gray considers liberal democracy to have arisen from the western form of Christianity. This, of course, is Tom Holland’s thesis. I was somewhat sceptical, but if JG shares this belief then perhaps it is correct.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Democracy was far more prevalent in the Ancient World, at all levels, than JG gives credit for.

Holland also studiously avoids the topic, despite the wealth of evidence available. Christianity has far more in common with the Late Roman autocratic state than with anything else. This is hardly surprising as by the actions of Constantine , Theodosius and others, they created it ‘in their own image’: very,very, nasty.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Yes, I’m aware that there are those who say that Christianity is not all it’s cracked up to be.
(Well, all religion is bonkers in my view). And I once read a serious history book which blamed Christianity for the rise in ‘top down’ systems of government in the Middle Ages. Actually, I am increasingly in agreement with Julian Cope, who believes that first the Romans and then the Christians ruined Britain, which had been going along quite happily building stone circles and, perhaps, worshipping the sun, or something like that.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Julian Cope is rather similar to the late Terry Jones. A natural anarchist, and there is a lot to be said for that.

The only problem was that besides building impressive stone circles, and probably imbibing ‘magic’ mushrooms, on an industrial scale, a large number of human heads seem to have been cut off!

akcita
akcita
1 year ago

Fantastic Interview. I appreciate an unvarnished view of events with the perspective of history. It is a shame so many others merely push a narrative or an agenda.
Terrific Job.

John Threadgold
John Threadgold
1 year ago

UnScene?

Jeffrey Shaw
Jeffrey Shaw
1 year ago

Excellent review Mr. Gray. I shall seek out this film, but I am shocked that Netflix would allow the broadcast of something so enlightening.

J D
J D
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeffrey Shaw

That was the first thing I thought. Netflix is normally far too woke.

Steve Gwynne
Steve Gwynne
1 year ago

It could be argued that British manners emerged from the Common Law ethics of causing no harm, loss or damage to others. That is, do not unnecessarily intrude and impose yourself into the personal and private space of others.

The emphasis here is of course, personal space, so rather than having to constantly defend it from intrusion by others, we have the time and energy to listen and respect other people’s personal space. In this respect, manners are a collective form of defence which if accepted as the consensus, allow us much more freedom to think and feel as we really are.

This goes to the same with respecting roles. By utilising a collective form of defence, people can play their roles more effectively because they aren’t losing energy trying to defend constant personal attacks.

This is where woke liberalism comes in. It seeks to attack under the pretext of Progress and manners are therefore derided as they are a natural obstacle to attacks. Hence, labels like authoritarian or fascist or any other control word are actively seeking to undermine and soften natural defences in order to attack.

This is of course, sociopathy and liberalism more than any other personal ideology is an active facilitator of sociopathy. As such, the notion that liberalism is the ideology by which individuals can attain self realisation and enlightenment is unfortunately false since liberalism is in general heaven for the human ego.

If a person is truly seeking enlightenment, then they know, or should know, that it is the ritual of manners and right action that facilitates self realisation, not soliptic hedonism. Why, because as Niall astutely explains, good manners tempers the ego.

Is our British manners the reason for British exceptionalism and the reason for our historical ingenuity and successes. Because our manners doesn’t let the ego get too much in the way. And so therefore is it the case that the increasing British decline is because we are rapidly losing the art and science of manners. I certainly think so.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
1 year ago

I will try to watch the film but it doesn’t seem to be available on Netflix here. Agnieska Holland is a great director and I will never forget her Second World War drama “Europa, Europa”. I must say though, I was turned off by the description of a fictional scene where Gareth Jones confronts George Orwell and the great Orwell replies that if the Soviet regime is as bad as Jones claims, what hope is there. If there ever had been such an encounter, Orwell never would have responded in that fashion. What a way to treat the man who very generously waived royalties on the publication of a Ukrainian translation of “Animal Farm” by the Ukrainian scholar Ihor Shevchenko. Orwell even agreed to write a preface for this translation, and it is the only preface he ever wrote for it. Although not the first published translation of the work (a Polish version had already been published) it preceded the publication of translations into Russian, French and other languages more commonly spoken than Ukrainian. The translation was not, of course, published in the Ukrainian SSR. It was published in Munich by Ukrainian Communists who were disillusioned with Stalinism. They were Orwell’s kind of people.

David Barnett
David Barnett
1 year ago

Ancient Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times!”

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson
1 year ago

Gray tells me to develop an ability for disbelief.
No problem: let me start with global warming and men changing into women.

Chris Smith
Chris Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Lee Johnson

disprove global warming for us please.

A MacK
A MacK
1 year ago

“Lockdown TV” should remain just that.

Given we will still be locked down for a long while yet if these numpties continue to have their way.

Today’s most recent ONS death statistics confirm deaths have been within normal range since late May and have been just “average” for the last 6 weeks. No second spike since the mild relaxations, since the beach gatherings, or since the mass protests…

But yet the “What If’s” still persist in making things more difficult – lock down Leicester (no increase in deaths 7 day average, now the lowest since early March) etc., force everyone to wear a mask (kills the high street), shut down the North (on what logical basis?), force shopping online, and scare everyone witless with unlikely doomsday scenarios with no basis in fact.

And no one is telling us how the ratio of positive tests to number of tests conducted has varied since they’ve ramped up testing so much.

Presumably that would not fit with the “doom and gloom” scenario Those-Who-Wish-To-Medicalise-Life-Itself are constantly hyping elsewhere.

Actually, maybe “Apocalyptic TV” would be a better monicker…

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago

Lockdown TV to become …. ‘Interview TV’ (says what it is – no sport or drama etc.) and has a little glamour for those of us who were readers of Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine. ‘Ideas TV’ or ‘Perspectives TV’ also says what it is – and distinguishes it from the mainstream media!

Pradeep Atluri
Pradeep Atluri
1 year ago

Lockdown will not be ending, ever. It will instead become “the new normal” and its ending will seem more and more dangerous and disgusting.

Peter Kriens
Peter Kriens
1 year ago

Why would we want to grow a child in a male body? We have one sex that is imminently suited for it as made by evolution. Our technology is still so simplistic that even though we can perform certain acts, the people that are modified invariably suffer the rest of their life with hormone treatment, scars, and other effects. I sure hope no tax based funds are going to this research.

Now the baloney:

t is becoming increasingly clear that the female body is not as well understood as we once assumed. Contrary to what Mr Inglefield claims, female and male bodies are in fact highly dissimilar:

This is not becoming increasingly clear, to the far majority of the world this was common sense forever. It were the feminists & academics that have been gaslighting the hoi polloi that men and women are the same. And yes, the body includes everything above the neck.

the historic lack of attention paid to women’s unique experiences of disease has often been to their cost.

Remind me, how many years older than men do women get on average? Know from all the attention that prostate cancer is as prevalent as breast cancer?

women are not just smaller men

As most of the population has known since dawn of time. Actually, women are the default, men are a modification under the influence of testosterone of the female body as doctors can tell you.

Now do a little test. We know a gynecologists are doctors. What is the same doctor for men? You guessed it? Then how many gynecologists are there in the US and how many urologists?

The silly feministic idea that society does not take care of women is so nasty and unfair that it destroyed the pleasure of reading about this interesting subject. In almost every statistic, the majority of men end up holding the short straw. Which is ok, men are the replaceable sex. But just stop whining, it is awful.

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
1 year ago

Yes, it’s perverse; especially as the counter trend, career over motherhood, is so dramatic; and, the fraction who still wish to fulfill their biological destiny will suffice to supply species survival. Research ought logically pursue safe and fast tubal ligations

ewanmcg123
ewanmcg123
1 year ago

“A GAME OF THRONES WORLD”

“yes… like that”
l***o

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
1 year ago

It is good to develop the habit of not treating your moods, preferences and impulses as cosmic imperatives which cannot be challenged or gainsaid.

I applaud the sentiment of much of the article, but isn’t the particular set of “good manners” that you want everyone to follow just “your preference and impulse”?

This is exemplified by your face-mask example. Calling that “good manners” is a sly way to enforce a medically unnecessary act of submission onto the whole population. Reducing such a thing to “good manners” is an attempt to bypass the process of debate, and preclude any disagreement, in a thoroughly unfair manner.

In my view, the best manners involve leaving everyone to do their own thing and minding one’s own damn business as much as possible. Your view differs, and the fact of that difference is the point.

egaddington
egaddington
1 year ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

“is a sly way to enforce a medically unnecessary act of submission onto the whole population.” That is your opinion, are you an Epidemiologist? Virologist? medical Doctor? If not why do you think you are qualified to be part of a debate that involves the health of the nation?
“best manners involve leaving everyone to do their own thing and minding one’s own damn business as much as possible”
When everyone does their own thing it leads to one persons freedom being another’s purgatory such as littering, not picking up dog mess, pissing in the street because they are drunk, playing loud music, using bad language in loud and aggressive tones and talking on their mobile in the quiet carriage of the train!

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
1 year ago
Reply to  egaddington

1. I’m a statistician and former health economist. You?
2. Every single human being

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
1 year ago
Reply to  egaddington

1. I’m a statistician and former (minor) health economist. So despite your snide insinuations, I am qualified to talk about this area. You?

2. Every single human being MUST be able to take part in public discussions. The idea that only those with specific credentials should be allowed even to raise their heads in meek disagreement against the authorities is one of the most astonishingly evil and destructive ideas to have been propagated by modern society. My experience and credentials might make my views slightly more worth paying attention to, but they should never, ever prevent others from speaking up.

3. Even if I had no relevant experience, I am qualified to be part of a debate that involves the health of the nation because I am a citizen who has a stake in that debate. Not only can experts be wrong (and often are, especially in medicine), but healthcare does not exist in a vacuum: there are many other moral values, not least liberty, at stake. No one, no matter how heavily credentialed, should in any circumstances be given unaccountable power over any area of policy, least of all healthcare.

Steve Gwynne
Steve Gwynne
1 year ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Live and let live is a laudable ethics until you encounter the sociopath. Then sophistry becomes the norm whereby intrusions into one’s space have to be constantly policed with the sociopath turning that policing into allegations of harassment.

Manners on the other hand don’t require individuals to be constantly policing their environment as a result of varying grades of sociopathy because everyone is expected to respect the personal space of others.

Sociopaths much prefer a mannerless world because preserving and defending the sanctity of one’s personal space can be labelled as authoritarian.

Meanwhile, most people prefer a mannerful world because the mutual respect of one another’s sacred space means having to spend less time and energy preserving and defending it from sociopaths. So manners also facilitates a peaceful respectful environment by which we can more easily, through trust building, share our deeper selves more generously.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Gwynne

Sociopaths much prefer a mannerless world because preserving and defending the sanctity of one’s personal space can be labelled as authoritarian.

Happily this statement is entirely false in every regard. As is well documented, sociopaths frequently go into politics, where they delight in imposing rules and regulations that infringe on the people’s liberties.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
1 year ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Chris, I think that sociopaths also frequently occupy senior management positions in the civil service, where they delight in imposing rules and regulations that infringe on their employees’ liberty to express themselves on departmental issues where their views deserve to be heard.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Baldwin

Indeed. High positions in business, religion, and other organisations too. And in all such cases, sociopaths enjoy imposing conformity and silencing independent thought.

Dean Baker
Dean Baker
1 year ago

Looking forward to seeing this – more perspective would include https://www.amazon.com/Grea… “Conquest’s estimates of 700,000 “legal” executions during 1937-38 — and of the total number of other deaths thanks to the Soviet terror campaigns (“hardly lower than some fifteen million”) — were proven chillingly accurate.” — Owen Matthews, N/A, Wall Street Journal”

Steve Gwynne
Steve Gwynne
1 year ago

Interesting. I did some research on
Aleister Crowley since there is no evidence he committed much of the things he was accused of and if anything he was instrumental in shaping the Western worldview towards liberalism and individualism in particular.

This is because enlightenment or self realisation can only be realised through the individual self. Anything else is blind faith. Hence his maxim, Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. In its spiritual context, this means realising one’s true will which is always aligned with universal will or divine will. And you know it because you feel ecstasy as the kundalini rises unobstructed to the top of your head. In Christian esoteric terms, this is known as a state of grace.

This is in deep contrast to hedonism whereby, ‘If the aspirant is unprepared, he will cling to the ego instead, becoming a Black Brother. Rather than becoming one with God, the Black Brother considers his ego to be god.[73] According to Crowley, the Black Brother slowly disintegrates, while preying on others for his own self-aggrandisement.[74]’.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/

This was the fate that befell Walter Duranty. He didn’t find enlightenment, which is always through truth, but instead found his ego which became his god.

This is, as you argue, Wokeism personified. It thinks it is on the path of the true will but in actual fact is on the path of the ego will. The same can be said of Progressivism too which seeks to impose the self righteous authority of the Progressive ego.

If Progressives were enlightened, then the last thing they would be doing is deploying dualities and false dichotomies. For example, between black and white. The only possible enlightenment reading of the deployment of false dichotomies is to create so much tension and conflict between them, that people end up abandoning them out of sheer exhaustion for a more unifying category such as humanity.

I don’t think or feel that Progressives are that clever even though their hyper-ego driven tactics are heading that way anyway.

Our problem is how to reinstitute manners as described by Niall Gooch since manners not only facilitates the social basis for social enlightenment, Mahayana Buddhism for example seeks universal enlightenment as does the Christian maxim, love thy neighbour, but also prescribes duties which according to Thelema ethics are

A. Your Duty to Self: describes the self as the center of the universe, with a call to learn about one’s inner nature. Admonishes the reader to develop every faculty in a balanced way, establish one’s autonomy, and to devote oneself to the service of one’s own True Will.
B. Your Duty to Others: An admonishment to eliminate the illusion of separateness between oneself and all others, to fight when necessary, to avoid interfering with the Wills of others, to enlighten others when needed, and to worship the divine nature of all other beings.
C. Your Duty to Mankind: States that the Law of Thelema should be the sole basis of conduct. That the laws of the land should have the aim of securing the greatest liberty for all individuals. Crime is described as being a violation of one’s True Will.
D. Your Duty to All Other Beings and Things: States that the Law of Thelema should be applied to all problems and used to decide every ethical question. It is a violation of the Law of Thelema to use any animal or object for a purpose for which it is unfit, or to ruin things so that they are useless for their purpose. Natural resources can be used by man, but this should not be done wantonly, or the breach of the law will be avenged.

In this respect, if liberalism has any religious connotations as promoted by Aleister Crowley, then it is the Vajrayana Buddhist path in particular and the Hinayana Buddhist path in more general terms. The former is deeply ritualistic in which the Tantric path is from ego dependancy to self-mastery and can include many unorthodox practices including experimenting with the extremes as part of self realisation. This is the path largely embarked by deeply troubled Aleister Crowley since it is a spiritual truth that human law is not the same as divine law and no doubt for him, human law equated to the strict religious doctrines of his parent’s religion. In this respect, following true will may lead to ostensibly immoral behaviour but for the bodhisattva, this is done for entirely different reasons compared to wanton displays of sociopathy or cruelty.

The latter path is essentially individualism, but like the Lutheran path, is one that seeks a direct connection with the Divine that bypasses the Priesthood and other religious hierarchies.

In sum, liberalism certainly has tenets of a societal religion, a personal religion and the ritualistic aspects of an enlightenment journey towards self realisation but with no formal structures in place to temper and guide the ego towards its own dissolution.

This is why the culture war is already lost by Progressives. One only need do nothing and simply watch the spectacle of Woke Progressives clinging to their egos as if they are god and watch their disintegration as they prey on others for their own self-aggrandisement.

Not a vote winner by anybody’s criteria including the Wokes themselves, hence their cancel culture denialism and their culture war denialism. If they felt they were winning, then denialism would not be an option.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
1 year ago

Brilliant, Niall. It made me ashamed of myself to read it and think how often I transgress against good manners. I will try to change ways. I do see Chris Martin’s point about face masks though; sometimes insisting on manners can be just a mechanism for achieving authoritarian control. My own career started unraveling when my sociopathic director objected to my using the word “wonky” in a memo, ignoring its substance, and things deteriorated from there. On the other hand, it really would have been better manners to use the word “dysfunctional” instead. As I said, I will try to change my ways.

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
1 year ago

Some of Dr Gray’s points are fair enough, if not especially novel or insightful. But if we are now living through an especially momentous time, I’m surprised he does not have a clearer picture of where we are actually headed. Freddie mentioned tectonic plates and the idea had occurred to me as well as Dr Gray was speaking, but in the sense that the tectonic plates may be rubbing together, but at the moment there is no cataclysmic earthquake where the world looks very different after than before. In that sense, we are not living through 1989, 1939-45, 1914-18, 1789.

carlyshouse
carlyshouse
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

I don’t think it’s possible to forecast in that way, too many Black Swans, especially when we are at an obvious turning point.

David Evans
David Evans
1 year ago

Great interview. Definitely keep them coming.

One note for improvement would be to take the audio and upload that to the old podcast channel (or create something new) and then promote that on your daily/weekly email. This would be worth doing as YouTube is not a great platform for listening to long-term conversations on.

Chuck Burns
Chuck Burns
1 year ago

the title for Freddies interviews should contain words like common sense, logic, fair, balanced, reason, non-political, free press, free speech, intelligent, etc.

me1
me1
1 year ago

Has it occured to you to learn anything about the producer and writer of the screenplay? You might be surprised.

carlyshouse
carlyshouse
1 year ago

A really interesting view. I read it as also positing a tension in the Liberal view around the Other being free to think what they like as long as they accept that premise of absolute tolerance, as well as an underlying engine of (neo) colonialism, which also implies an inherent contradiction.

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson
1 year ago

Seen & Herd

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
1 year ago

UnMasked TV.

faceme
faceme
1 year ago

New name?
“ANOTHER LOCKDOWN”?

faceme
faceme
1 year ago

Or “ONE LOCKDOWN AFTER ANOTHER”…

faceme
faceme
1 year ago

Or “LOCKDOWNS TV”?

faceme
faceme
1 year ago

…TV