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« Free Reads -- Samuel Brittan | Main | The Economics of Mozart »

September 28, 2002

Free Reads -- Oakeshott

Friedrich --


One of the greatest things I've ever read is now online, readable for free: Michael Oakeshott's "Rationalism in Politics," here.

Sample passage:

Nevertheless, when he is not arrogant or sanctimonious, the Rationalist can appear a not unsympathetic character. He wants so much to be right. But unfortunately he will never quite succeed. He began too late and on the wrong foot ... Like a foreigner or a man out of his social class, he is bewildered by a tradition and a habit of behaviour of which he knows only the surface; a butler or an observant house-maid has the advantage of him. And he conceives a contempt for what he does not understand; habit and custom appear bad in themselves, a kind of nescience of behaviour. And by some strange self-deception, he attributes to tradition (which, of course, is pre-eminently fluid) the rigidity and fixity of character which in fact belongs to ideological politics. Consequently, the Rationalist is a dangerous and expensive character to have in control of affairs, and he does most damage, not when he fails to master the situation (his politics, of course, are always in terms of mastering situations and surmounting crises), but when he appears to be successful.

Very eager to hear how you react to this mind-opening essay,


posted by Michael at September 28, 2002


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