Two books

Posted by Helen Tuesday, May 04, 2010 , ,

A note about a couple of slim volumes that could be of interest to people interested in conservative history and its ramifications.

One was in the post: an IEA publication, Ludwig von Mises – A Primer by Dr Eamonn Butler, Director of the Adam Smith Institute. The book is exactly what it says: a brief introduction to one of the modern world’s greatest economists, who, despite his brilliance and the fact of being often proved right, tends to be disregarded by main-stream economists, most of whom prefer mathematical formulae and state-led solutions.

I accept that there will be many conservatives and Tories who dislike the idea of free markets but I would urge them to have a look at the book (unless they have already read so much of Mises that the thought of anything else by or about him is unbearable) if for no other reason than to sharpen their arguments.

Here are a couple of quotes from the great man himself. The first is from Bureaucracy and I cannot believe that any true conservative would disagree with it:

Representative democracy cannot subsist if a great part of the voters are on the government payroll.
Another one from Bureaucracy:
The defence of a nation’s security and civilization against aggression on the part both of foreign foes and domestic gangsters is the first duty of any government. If all men were pleasant and virtuous, no on coveted what belongs to another, there would be no need for a government, for armies and navies, for policemen, for courts, and prisons.
And finally, from Liberalism:
This is the function that the liberal doctrine assigns the state: the protection of property, liberty, and peace.
The other book I found in London Library among the new acquisitions. Its title seemed immediately attractive: Great Books, Bad Arguments and when I realized that the great books whose arguments were faulty were among my own pet hates I realized that this slim volume also had to be read. The three great works W.G. Runciman lists are Republic, Leviathan and The Communist Manifesto, all of which had a somewhat harmful effect in history, particularly the last one.

As an undergraduate I had to read and study the three last dialogues of Socrates’ life and recall being very excited when the Professor of Logic, P.T.Geach showed the many logical faults in the arguments, used by Plato in Euthyphro, particularly as much of what he said had already occurred to me in a somewhat incoherent fashion.

I shall thoroughly enjoy this book, I think, and shall post on it as it is one of interest to people who are interested in conservative history.


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