The Pursuit of Idealism and the Revenge of Politics
A tale of Western liberal hubris and our failure to escape from history.
The end of the Cold War announced a new world order. Liberal democracy prevailed, ideological conflict abated, and world politics set off for the promised land of a secular, cosmopolitan, market-friendly end of history. Or so it seemed. Thirty years later, this unipolar worldview— premised on shared values, open markets, open borders and abstract social justice—lies in tatters. What happened?
David Martin Jones examines the progressive ideas behind liberal Western practice since the end of the twentieth century, at home and abroad. This mentality, he argues, took an excessively long view of the future and a short view of the past, abandoning politics in favour of ideas, and failing to address or understand rejection of liberal norms by non-Western ‘others’. He explores the inevitable consequences of this liberal hubris: political and economic confusion, with the chaotic results we have seen. Finally, he advocates a return to more sceptical political thinking— with prudent statecraft abroad, and defence of political order at home—in order to rescue the West from its widely advertised demise.
History’s Fools is a timely account of the failed project to shape the world in the West’s image, and an incisive call for a return to ‘true’ politics.
David Martin Jones is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Queensland, and Visiting Professor in War Studies, King’s College London. His works include Sacred Violence: Political Religion in a Secular Age. He is a contributor to The Daily Telegraph, War on the Rocks, The Australian and The Spectator (Australia).