Monday, March 12, 2012

Oakeshott and Burke - and Keynes

I believe Keynes would have approved much of post-war Oakeshott. This is based on the fact that he approved much of Burke. I wonder why they don't make conservatives like them any more? Modern conservatism is actually pretty much radical early Victorian moralistic liberalism. That is if it's anything any longer but a mindless reflection of irrational powerstructures based on stupendous concentrations of capital.

Keynes of course was a progressive and thoroughly rational. But he was so thoroughly rational that he saw much wisdom in Burke (and would have seen in post-war Oakeshott). Practice and experience really are crucial, so are local contexts and conditions which have to be taken into account whenever we attempt reforms. Where he differed from these conservative thinkers is that his focus was on pragmatic reform and progress. It is the pragmatism that leads to respect of experience and practice and local contexts.

Burke and Oakeshott formulated great truths about collective human behaviour. They lived in times that made them especially wary of progressive, rationalist thought, and went partially overboard. Burke's idealization of the painted, decadent dolls of high French aristocracy and Oakeshott's overly positive view of private enterprises are examples of that partial blindness. Keynes, as ever, exhibits very little blindness in his political thought and action. He is my ideal statesman and thinker, unifying realism and idealism, reacting rationally and respectfully to local contexts while aiming to improve them.

No comments: