[I read Rawls as a very very smart and intellectually honest guy, determined to resurrect Kant, avoid the aggregative problems of consequentialism, and move at least one step beyond Sidgwick. He knew how hard it was to even attempt such a success and he makes all the requisite moves to get us there, albeit without, in the final analysis, squaring the circle.
Matt Yglesias adds commentary; he notes, correctly, that for the current Left Rawls doesn't offer such an inspiring vision. I'll put it this way: if you have to work that hard to establish "Sweden is great," you should be spending more money on plane tickets.
Just to clarify, there are at least three Rawls doctrines: "Justice as Fairness," TJ, and Political Liberalism. I like the first one best, but won't cast my lot with any of the three. At the end of the day I come away thinking that it is Sidgwick (and may be Kierkegaard?) who is the central moral theorist of the last two centuries. Why I am not a Rawlsian from Marginal Revolution by Tyler Cowen]
"The central moral theorist of the last two centuries" is undoubtedly Sri Aurobindo. Abundant justifications in this regard have ably been advanced in the book, Sri Aurobindo and Karl Marx and the recent, Sri Aurobindo — A Contemporary Reader. [TNM] 11:07 AM