Monthly Archives: March 2017

Today’s Quote: Matthew Arnold on the human few

But in each class there are born a certain number of natures with a curiosity about their best self, with a bent for seeing things as they are, for disentangling themselves from machinery, for simply concerning themselves with reason and the will of God, and doing their best to make these prevail;—for the pursuit, in a word, of perfection. To certain manifestations of this love for perfection mankind have accustomed themselves to give the name of genius; implying by this name, something original and heaven-bestowed in the passion. But the passion is to be found far beyond those manifestations of it to which the world usually gives the name of genius, and in which there is, for the most part, a talent of some kind or other, a special and striking faculty of execution, informed by the heaven-bestowed ardour or genius. It is to be found in many manifestations besides these, and may best be called, as we have called it, the love and pursuit of perfection; culture being the true nurse of the pursuing love, and sweetness and light the true character of the pursued perfection. Natures with this bent, emerge in all classes,—among the Barbarians, among the Philistines, among the Populace. And this bent always tends to take them out of their class, and to make their distinguishing characteristic, not their Barbarianism or their Philistinism, but their humanity. They have, in general, a rough time of it in their lives; but they are sown more abundantly than one might think, they appear where and when one least expects it, they set up a fire which enfilades, so to speak, the class with which they are ranked; and, in general, by the extrication of their best self as the self to develop, and by the simplicity of the ends fixed by them as paramount, they hinder the unchecked predominance of that class life which is the affirmation of our ordinary self, and seasonably disconcert mankind in their worship of machinery.

Matthew Arnold

If you like thinking for yourself, you might like my book.

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Word of the Day: Shellacking

Shellacking

A comprehensive defeat.

If you’re interested in how to administer a shellacking to your enemies, you might like my book.

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Today’s Quote: Jefferson on the challenge of liberty

And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.
Thomas Jefferson
If you like interesting quotes from American presidents you might like my book.

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Today’s Quote: Tolstoy on groupthink

All the papers say the same thing… they are like frogs before a storm! They prevent our hearing anything else.

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Via Douglas Carswell’s intriguing new book calling for a free market revolt  against the new oligarchy of power and capital.

If you enjoy books that help you think differently, you might like mine. It’s short, fun and practical.

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This is how you get Brexit

Interesting tidbit from Douglas Carswell’s new book, about a county I know well:

…in counties like Suffolk in England, although almost six in ten people voted to leave the EU, each of the county’s seven members of Parliament (all of whom are Conservatives) backed Remain.

If you are interested in how modern political insurgency works, you might like my book.

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Today’s Quote: Bowie on going deeper

If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.

David Bowie

If you like being challenged, you might like my book.

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Word of the day: Rattening

Rattening

The sabotage of machinery or equipment in order to prevent others from working during a strike.

This word has fallen out of use. If you enjoy words that are fresh this year, you might like my book.

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Today’s Quote: 24 March 2017

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.

George Orwell

Reading my book on the other hand is quick, fun and enlivening. Buy it here

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Today’s Quote: 23 March 2017

The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.

GK Chesterton

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How To Get Free, Together

How free societies think about the common good is the great question of our time. In the wake of Brexit and Trump, while most thinkers on the left and right have descended into simplistic cheerleading or paranoid denial, a few brave souls are seriously reassessing the role of politics in an age where nations are back on centre stage. It’s vital that at least some on the classical liberal/libertarian side of the argument take up that challenge as well.

In an effort to sharpen my own thinking, I’ve been reading Michael Novak’s excellent Free Persons and the Common Good this week. Published in 1989, it’s out of print but extremely worthwhile. There can be few books that move so smoothly from quoting Ludwig von Mises to adjudicating disputes between Catholic theologians. At one point, Novak laments the want of a book studying Friedrich von Hayek’s work “in the light of the political and social thought of Aristotle and Aquinas”.

This is not a perfect book. It repeats itself and descends too deeply into minor doctrinal controversies of the time. But it is a thoughtful, provocative reminder of the liberal project’s longstanding, deep interest not just in individual freedom but in creating self-sustaining political communities built on liberty.

Today, elite power is in full and open flight from politics, resisting democratic results for higher reasons of its own. At least some libertarians are running in the same direction. And yet even as they do so, it seems that suspicion of both the common mind and the legitimacy of politics is an idea whose time has gone. 

 So it’s refreshing to read Novak’s analysis of de Tocqueville, who looked at the early American republic and saw a commitment to maximise political participation at the local level as one of its great strengths, a source of durability.

In local affairs, citizens quickly see the connection between their private interests and the general interest… the federal principle at the root of the American experiment draws as many citizens as possible into the exercise of local responsibilities.… Thus, local freedom “perpetually brings men together and forces them to help one another in spite of the propensities that sever them.”

There is much to think on in our new times. But among it all, remembering that liberty is hard-won and hard-kept may be the most important of all.

If you want some practical advice on communicating persuasively in a new age of celebrity politics, you should probably read my book.

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