John Gray

From Rationalism to Ressentiment

Age of Anger: A History of the Present

By Pankaj Mishra

Allen Lane 387pp £20 order from our bookshop

There is, plainly, no logic in the unfolding of time.’ Pankaj Mishra makes this sceptical observation in order to undermine the theories of history that have inspired Western thinkers and leaders over the past two centuries or more. In the late 18th century, the Enlightenment philosophers Voltaire and Diderot celebrated the modernisation of Russia carried out under Catherine the Great as an advance towards a universal civilisation based on reason. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Marx and Lenin predicted the downfall of capitalism, but they too believed humanity was moving, via a succession of dialectical conflicts, towards a higher stage of development.

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