The Only Bulwark Against Nihilism

Conservative Foundations of the Liberal Order by Daniel J. Mahoney ISI Books, 2010, 208 pages, $54 This book by an American political scientist begins with a 1966 quote by the Hungarian-British political philosopher Michael Polanyi which helps explain why John Howard was so successful a prime minister. Polanyi stated in The Tacit Dimension: I believe that the new self-determination of man can be saved from destroying itself only by recognising its own limits in an authoritative traditional framework which upholds it. Tom Paine could proclaim the rights of each generation to determine its institutions anew, since the range of his…

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