The System Is to Blame: Kenneth Minogue on the Threat of Political Idealism

Kenneth Minogue seems to be heavy on my mind these days. I recently finished his newest book, The Servile Mind: How Democracy Erodes the Moral Life, and it has provided me with lots and lots to chew on (some of my initial comments are here, a full review is forthcoming).

In a video I came across last week (not connected to the book), Minogue does a fine job of outlining the threat of political idealism on our political development (what Minogue calls “civilization”). Minogue’s definition of such idealism basically boils down to any sort of excessive trust in the perfectibility of human systems. He even indicates that libertarians are often guilty of it (worshippers of the market…that sort of thing). In many ways, Minogue’s opinions align very closely with those of Thomas Sowell.

Watch the video here:

This discussion comes in the wake of what Minogue sees as modern society’s attack on libertarianism and individualism. In order to respond to such an attack, Minogue argues, we need “something more sophisticated than Hayek and Adam Smith and the glories of the free market.” The ideas offered in this video are indeed part of Minogue’s larger attempt at reaching such sophistication.

Kenneth Minogue, London School of EconomicsFor the Christian, there are plenty of good questions that arise from the views outlined by Minogue. Most importantly, we should take note of the political idealist’s belief that the virtue of a society is in any way dependent on its system(s). Is such a position or can such a position be true? Does it make any difference if we’re talking about Christian virtues as opposed to “regular” (or “natural”) virtues?

I encourage you to watch the video in full and ponder the implications of Minogue’s arguments. I’m also interested in hearing your reactions.

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  • Harry Dell

    Great video post! It’s very interesting though the threat of political idealism on our political development. It’s going to be awesome! Thanks mate!