Michael Oakeshott

The Free-Floater
January 27, 2011

Ernest Gellner: An Intellectual Biography By John A. Hall (Verso, 400 pp., $49.95) John A. Hall concludes his account of Ernest Gellner by observing that his outlook on the world was austere. “But therein lies its attraction,” he goes on. “Not much real comfort for our woes is on offer; the consolations peddled in the market are indeed worthless.

Tunisia and Egypt
January 26, 2011

When one wave of revolution hits an Arab country it is very likely to hit several others. Like the revolts of the colonels. It started with a coup d’état of army colonels by Gamal Abdel Nasser (who supplanted his lackey Muhammad Naguib) in early 1953. There followed another coup of colonels in Syria which then teamed up with Egypt to comprise the United Arab Republic in 1956. The preposterous flag with two stars, one for each state, is about as deep as the union was.

The Death (and Life) of Conservatism
September 24, 2009

One of the best lines in Sam Tanenhaus’s wonderful little book on The Death of Conservatism comes in its opening chapter. Surveying intellectual life on the right in the opening months of the Obama administration, Tanenhaus concludes that too many conservative intellectuals “recognize no distinction between analysis and advocacy, or between the competition of ideas and the naked struggle for power.” Quite so, as one can see from the response (or non-response) of the right to Tanenhaus’s own book. Tanenhaus is a tough critic of the conservative movement, but he is also a deeply informed one.

All Good Things
April 12, 2009

The ordinary resources of empirical observation and ordinary human knowledge give us no warrant for supposing that all good things are reconcilable with each other.--Isaiah BerlinThis quote -- a long-time favorite of mine -- came to mind when I heard that James Dobson had conceded the religious right's defeat in the culture war. Let's assume for a moment that the right has indeed been routed (which I doubt). Dobson and his admirers and allies no doubt view the event as a terrible thing -- as definitive proof that the United States is in irreversible moral and cultural decline.

Wither Conservatism Or Whither Conservatism?
February 04, 2009

  If you haven't yet checked out Damon Linker's TNR blog, take a look.

Correspondence
July 12, 1999

Standing by her man TO THE EDITORS: I'm, neither a New Yorker nor Hillary Clintons biggest fan, but I found something troubling in Michelle Cottle's article ("The Wrong Race," June 7).