Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Book Notes: John Stuart Mill

So, I am about halfway through John Stuart Mill: Victorian Firebrand, the new biography by Richard Reeves, and I still do not know if JSM was the Father of Libertarianism or the Father of Socialism. That's quite a philosophical conundrum! Individualism and collectivism are both central to his thinking. We'll see if these two theories can be reconciled before the end of the book. Some of my confusion may be the way Reeves uses terms such as "liberal," "progressive," and the like with their contemporary meanings when they had a different meaning back then. For example, the "radical reformers" Mill supported wanted a more laissez faire economy to encourage industrialization, while the "conservatives" thought industry was bad and wanted a return to nature. These definitions seem topsy turvey now. Hopefully I'll be able to make heads or tails out of all this so I can write my review for The Internet Review of Books. It's due for the October edition.


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