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No magic bullet - Brooks looks back at Burke

David Brooks writes in the New York Times -

When I was a freshman in college, I was assigned “Reflections on the Revolution in France” by Edmund Burke. I loathed the book. Burke argued that each individual’s private stock of reason is small and that political decisions should be guided by the accumulated wisdom of the ages. Change is necessary, Burke continued, but it should be gradual, not disruptive. For a young democratic socialist, hoping to help begin the world anew, this seemed like a reactionary retreat into passivity.

Over the years, I have come to see that Burke had a point. The political history of the 20th century is the history of social-engineering projects executed by well-intentioned people that began well and ended badly. There were big errors like communism, but also lesser ones, like a Vietnam War designed by the best and the brightest, urban renewal efforts that decimated neighborhoods, welfare policies that had the unintended effect of weakening families and development programs that left a string of white elephant projects across the world. . .

Richard Fernandez commented on the Brooks piece -

One of the reasons government has a hard time managing complex systems is that politics treats events largely like linear systems. Politics interprets events in the context of its mythology. But if politics is in the best of times the art of lying to ourselves in the broad day, politics in crisis is the vice of lying to ourselves while we are falling off a cliff.

Adam Smith's free economy has been heavily politicized by governments in America and Britain. Many people still in government helped to create the problem. Will their latest interventions increase liberty or real prosperity? Not if Burke, Smith, Orwell or Schumacher are our guides.

Reading Governor Bobby Jindal's response to US President Obama's State of the Union, I see the ideas of Burke and Smith in action. And I believe that what Governor Jindal says about the American people could also be said about the British people.

Thanks to Instapundit for the links.

Comments (1)


The Republican Party's Big Lie

What Gov. Jindal forgets that the government that failed his state after Katrina was a Republican government. Once again Republicans try to blame Democrats for huge problems and deficits created by Republicans

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