Saturday, December 27, 2003

Burbling Brooks 

David "I'm writing as bad as I can" Brooks opines in the Times:

[Philosopher Michael Oakeshott] believed we should cope with the complex reality around us by adventuring out into the world, by playfully confronting the surprises and the unpredictability of it all. But we should always guard against the sin of intellectual pride, which leads to ideological thinking. Oakeshott's doctrine was that no doctrine could properly describe the world.

So, what is Brooks's example of playfully confronting surprise with non-ideological thinking? You'll never guess—the Iraqi war:

I tell Oakeshott that the Americans and Iraqis are now involved in an Oakeshottian enterprise. They are muddling through, devising shambolic, ad hoc solutions to fit the concrete realities, and that we'll learn through bumbling experience. In the building of free societies, every day feels like a mess, but every year is a step forward.


Tell that to the troops who died because Bush couldn't get them kevlar.

Classy column though. Hijacking a Brit philosopher to turn bad planning into a virtue—now that's something.

NOTE: The long-gone, much lamented Spy magazine often critiqued Abe "I'm writing as bad as I can" Rosenthal. We should be so lucky as to have Rosenthal back today; say what one would of him, he wasn't a whore.

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