Michael Oakeshott’s Cold War Liberalism

Michael Oakeshott’s Cold War Liberalism
Edited by Terry Nardin
New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015

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During the Cold War, political thinkers in the West debated the balance between the requirements of liberal democracy and national security.michael_oakeshott's_cold_war_liberalism This debate resonates in today’s East Asia and especially Korea, where an ideological-military standoff between democracy and a totalitarian system persists. The thinkers often identified as “Cold War liberals”—Isaiah Berlin, Karl Popper, Raymond Aron, Friedrich Hayek, and Michael Oakeshott—are worth revisiting in this context. Of these, Oakeshott is the least-well understood in East Asia and therefore particularly deserving of attention. Especially valuable are his ideas about the limits of rationalism in politics, the irrelevance of conventional views of liberalism and conservatism, and how constitutional democracy should be defined and defended against various forms of anti-liberal politics. In this book, leading Oakeshott scholars from around the world explore these ideas and their implications for East Asia in ten illuminating and readable essays.

“This judiciously edited collection offers a valuable assessment of Michael Oakeshott’s continuing relevance for western and non-western political thought. In addition to essays illuminating the concepts of conservatism, liberalism, constitutionalism, and liberal education that Oakeshott developed during the Cold War era, it includes timely explorations of the growing interest in Oakeshott’s thought amongst East Asian political theorists. The volume will be welcomed by general readers as well as by Oakeshott scholars.” – Noël O’Sullivan, University of Hull, UK

“This volume takes Oakeshott studies in an entirely new direction by considering him as a mid-20th century philosopher addressing (if often obliquely) the Cold War. It also applies Oakeshott’s thought to the contemporary problems of East Asia. The authors of the essays are a nice mix of Oakeshott experts and younger, up-and-coming scholars. This important contribution to Oakeshott studies comes at a time when he is increasingly being recognized as an important thinker outside the Anglo-American world, and this book will further that recognition.” – Elizabeth Corey, Baylor University, USA

Terry Nardin is Professor of Political Science at the National University of Singapore. His books include Law, Morality, and the Relations of States, The Philosophy of Michael Oakeshott, and, as editor or co-editor, Rationality in Politics and Its Limits and Oakeshott’s Lectures in the History of Political Thought.

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