chapter  2
Is John Gray a nihilist? (2006)
Pages 18

This chapter starts with a distinction between two sorts of political realism. There is the realism of political agents, whether officials, or participants in movements, or ordinary citizens, and there is the realism of observers of political life, whether theorists or not. The realism of the agent is not primarily cynicism, either, except where there is extreme and definitive corruption; nor should the realism of the observer be too cynical. Realism invisibly permeates the minds of collaborative political practitioners and many citizens; it seems natural, whereas critique of it appears unnatural. Public moral rhetoric is therefore one of the great obstacles put in the way of anyone's realistic understanding of political realism. The sort of political realism the chapter point to could also be called political formalism. This formalism is often unnoticed by people, including political actors. It should be noticed with shock. Formalism together with the absence of shocked attention to it is the heart of political realism.