During the last century global politics was shaped by utopian projects. Pursuing a dream of a world without evil, powerful states waged war and practised terror on an unprecedented scale. From Germany to Russia to China to Afghanistan entire societies were destroyed. Utopian ideologies rejected traditional faiths and claimed to be based in science. They were actually secular versions of the myth of Apocalypse - the belief in a world-changing event that brings history, with all its conflicts, to an end. The war in Iraq was the last of these secular utopias, promising a new era of democracy and producing blood-soaked anarchy and an emerging theocracy instead. "Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia", John Gray's powerful and frightening new book, argues that the death of utopia does not mean peace. Instead it portends the resurgence of ancient myths, now in openly fundamentalist forms. Obscurely mixed with geopolitical struggles for the control of natural resources, apocalyptic religion has returned as a major force in global conflict.
John Gray's most recent books are Straw Dogs ('That rarest of things, a contemporary work of philosophy, wholly accessible and profoundly relevant to the rapidly evolving world' Will Self), Al-Qaeda and What It Means To Be Modern ('The most arresting account I have read of our current crisis' Ian McEwan) and Heresies ('Swiftian contempt for our latter-day priestlings, the believers in progress' John Banville).