Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern (2020)

Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern John N. Gray Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern While many Americans view the September th terrorist attack as the act of an anachronistic and dangerous sect one that champions medieval and outmoded ideals John Gray here argues that in fact the
  • Title: Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern
  • Author: John N. Gray
  • ISBN: 9781565849877
  • Page: 321
  • Format: Paperback
Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern John N. Gray While many Americans view the September 11th terrorist attack as the act of an anachronistic and dangerous sect, one that champions medieval and outmoded ideals, John Gray here argues that in fact the ideology of Al Qaeda is both Western and modern, a by product of globalization s transnational capital flows and open borders Indeed, according to Gray, Al Qaeda s utopian zWhile many Americans view the September 11th terrorist attack as the act of an anachronistic and dangerous sect, one that champions medieval and outmoded ideals, John Gray here argues that in fact the ideology of Al Qaeda is both Western and modern, a by product of globalization s transnational capital flows and open borders Indeed, according to Gray, Al Qaeda s utopian zeal to remake the world in its own image descends from the same Enlightenment creed that informed both the disastrous Soviet experiment and the new neoliberal dream of a global free market.In this excellent short introduction to modern thought The Guardian , first published in 2003, Gray warns that the United States, once a champion of revolutionary economic and social change, must now understand its new foes He also confronts some of the faults he perceives in Western ideology the faith that global development will eradicate war and hunger, trust in technology to address the coming catastrophe of population explosion, and the belief that democracy is an infallible institution that can serve as political panacea for all.
Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern John N. Gray

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One thought on “Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern

  1. Sean

    Science makes progress humanity does not The fallacy that the advance of science inevitably leads to the advance of ethics and politics is a defining trait of modernity, argues Gray The belief, beginning in the seventeenth and reaching full flower in the 19th, that science will usher in a new age of peace and prosperity and universal i.e uniform culture and rationality is the faith of modernity.What does this have to do with al Qaeda Just as it was nay, is believed that science can remake the wo [...]

  2. J. Dunn

    A very important book The first thing I ve read that systematically gets Al Qaeda right, as far as I can tell That is, that Al Qaeda is essentially Western another breakdown in Western society in response to Modernity, in the same way anarchism or nihilism or militias or other extreme movements were It has the same vision of a revolutionary vanguard that will remake the world that Marxism, Fascism, and other radical modern political movements have had It s like a fusion of Fundamentalist Islam a [...]

  3. Patrick McCoy

    Al Quaeda and What It Means to Be Modern by John Gray is quite short, but very provocative He packs a lot of ideas into a 119 page book He manages to include several different threads The idea that modern doesn t necessarily mean liberal and secular The global aspects of the marketplace and its effects, as well as the existence of different types of successful markets The issue of resources and the social and political impact as the source of the issue The rise of unconventional warfare on the g [...]

  4. Muhammad Ahmad

    Provocative and brilliant, like all of Gray s work The philosophical argumentation is solid, but his geoplitical analysis is marred by reliance on the alarmist works of Michael Klare and James Lovelock which lend the same kind of determinism to his argument which he is criticizing in others.

  5. José MeLo

    El mensaje de anarquismo revolucionario impl cito en la afirmaci n de que todo sistema que permita que unas personas gobiernen a otras ha de ser abolido debe m s a las ideas radicales europeas que se remontan a los jacobinos que a las ideas cl sicas o tradicionales sobre la gobenanza isl mica.

  6. Joaquina Pereira

    fiquei f de John N Gray, alargou o meu conhecimento e vis o acerca do mundo politico e economico

  7. James

    It was naivety that caused me to not realise that the author of this book, John Gray, is the Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics If I had realised his economics background I would have perhaps not misinterpreted the content of the book when I bought it Although it turned out to be a better book than I had actually expected Instead of being an analysis of Al Qaeda, it was actually a brief, but incredibly insightful analysis into the economic history that shaped Al Qaed [...]

  8. Alex Zakharov

    Short, and as thought provoking as straw dogs and black mass , but in the end not as convincing.There are few related themes in the book, but perhaps the central theme is that the world becoming modern does not imply the world becoming similar The core characteristics of modernity express themselves differently in different states and are very much shaped by local culture, traditions, and philosophy And the same logic applies to values as well despite the spread of technology and modernity we [...]

  9. James

    This book is everything that is wrong with contemporary, leftist political argumentation I picked it up from the library assuming it would be about the ways in which Western policies, etc are implicated in the formation of contemporary terrorist movements People say this is true, but I wondered if the argument went further than, We support Israel or We funded the mujahideen in Afghanistan Instead, what it does is portray Islamism as the third form of totalitarianism against which noble liberals [...]

  10. Murtaza

    Although I like John Gray I wasn t a fan of this book The thesis has less to do with what the title may suggest and for the most part it is a huge exercise in dreary pessimism about the trajectory of modern societies Straw Dogs contained elements of this too but it was mixed with enough insights into the really interesting issue the continuities and mutations of pre modern thought in our modern ideologies, as well as the incoherence of many of the latter to make it a great book This on the other [...]

  11. Jason

    I cannot think of a important book to read concerning current events This book will demonstrate to you that the idea that any terrorist network is an ancient relic jostling to bring things back to the way they used to be is simply false Al Qaeda, or any group associated, are comparable in ways to Nazis, in that their goals and methods are thoroughly modern The idea of a global jihad has to do with radical elements of Islam superimposing Western ideals of enlightenment on their theology than i [...]

  12. abclaret

    Taking his cue from the Bush administration Gray argues the problem is not that Al Qaeda is struggling against modernity, but rather a lot of westerners falsely believe in the worse kind of universalism a political hang over from the enlightenment In the course of making a rather easy target of Fukuyama and his fellow travellers, he makes a straw man out of Marxism and anarchism and equates radical Islam to be its most modern adherent of their praxis, which for me was one of the most bizarre par [...]

  13. Liam89

    A brilliant scholarly and intellectual analysis of the roots of Al Qaeda that challenges the common claim that it is a medieval organisation Instead, Professor John Gray argues that, like Soviet Communism and Nazism, Al Qaeda is a very modern outfit, whose origins can be traced back to the Enlightenment, the progress of science, and the Positivist movement, and the idea that society cannot just be altered, but totally reimagined through a combination of religious fundamentalism and propaganda by [...]

  14. Kevin

    An interesting attack on what Gray sees as the modernist insistence on not just universal values but the insistence that those values defined by each new extremist group will lead to heaven on earth.Includes a thought provoking exploration of how Muslim extremism is very much a modern project Gray sees both Al Qaeda and Neo liberal Global Capitalists as heavily influenced by positivism and unwilling to see the world in all its diversity and uniqueness As a result they attempt to impose a one siz [...]

  15. Craig Smillie

    Written in 2003, the book predicts much of what has happened in the preceding decade including the financial crash so that s a good recommendation of Gray s skill as a thinker The main thrust appears to be that we need to get beyond this teleological view that there is an end in history that we as a species should be progressing towards We need to accept the fact that power struggles will always be with us so, probably in future for reasons he gives and try to deal with them in the least damagi [...]

  16. Caitlin

    I ve seen the pace of this book described as giddy, which doesn t quite capture its breakneck speed and disjointed hopping from one subject to another The style isn t my favorite, less because of pacing issues and because Gray tends towards sweep and generality that starts to seem less like his style and like poor thinking The book makes quick, almost bulleted assertions without the proof and substance to back them up which is a shame, because I get the sense that had Gray been clearer I d agr [...]

  17. Paul Bryant

    Didn t care for this because i think I disagree with his premise, which is that people have misunderstood the nature of the Islamist jihadist movement and think it s been formed to drag us back to the 13th century A lot of this seemed like dancing on the head of a pin or even a whole box of pins What was it Lenin said Philosophers have sought to understand the world The point, however, is to change it Something like that.

  18. Jessica

    Found this fascinating an interesting argument about modernity and the myths of modern thoughts projects It is helping me rethink my history curriculum, thanks to my colleague friend Lev s recommendation I am curious to know what others think if they ve read it.

  19. Kate O'Hanlon

    Clear but dense Certainly deserves time and attention than I have available to give to it.It s a credit to Gray s prescience that over 10 years since his publication his analysis seems like it could have been written only yesterday.

  20. Jon Beech

    Just great A sort of companion piece to Adam Curtis s the Power of Nightmares Or should that be the other way round

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