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).
‘David Jones argues that in its unceasing quest for utopian outcomes and despite the lessons of history, the liberal West, rather than continuing attachment to the institutions and culture underlying its prosperity and political freedom, is unwisely ceding sovereignty to transnational institutions with a bureaucratic style of management promising that ‘big data’ and ‘techtopain guidance’ will come up with utopian ‘rational solutions’ to universal problems benefiting the whole of humanity. A brave and controversial book!’ — Barbara Ballis Lal, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles
‘An earnest appeal to reform our thinking about foreign affairs. As the ‘rough beast of populism’ shambles towards Brussels and Washington, this is a book whose time is certainly now.’ — William Coleman, Associate Professor of Business and Economics, Australian National University
‘History’s Fools is a sweeping exploration of the phantasmagoria created by the post-millennial progressive mind, and the failure of transnational elites to understand the world as it really is, rather than as they wish it to be.’ — William Rosenau, New America Foundation