Poppering the Bubble

Karl Popper, whom Soros should read more carefully

A reader out there in Power Line land (I forget who right now—was it you RH?) e-mailed after a recent post of mine to recommend Richard Cockett’s book Thinking the Unthinkable, which sounds like another book about nuclear weapons during the Cold War (easy to do, since the great Herman Kahn did in fact have a book by this same title about that subject), but in fact is about the rise of classical liberal thought and organizations (Hayek, Friedman, the Mont Pelerin Society, the IEA, etc) in the post-war era in Britain, culminating in Margaret Thatcher’s reformist government in the 1980s.

So I got the book, and though I’m not very far in yet, there’s one early passage about Karl Popper that strikes me as worth passing along to Power Line world:

[Popper] described his ideological journey in his autobiography, Unended Quest.  He remained a Socialist—a collectivist—for “several years . . . and if there could be such a thing as socialism combined with individual liberty, I would be a socialist still.  For nothing could be better than living in a modest, simple, and free life in an egalitarian society.  It took some time before I recognized this as no more than a beautiful dream; that freedom is more important than equality; that the attempt to realize equality endangers freedom; and that, if freedom is lost, there will not be much equality among the unfree.”

I wonder whether Obama . . . oh, never mind.

(Yes, Popper is supposedly George Soros’s muse, but it’s clear if you look closely that Soros’s grasp of Popper is very weak.  Maybe I’ll do a follow up post on this some time.  And yes [2], there are problems with Popper.  I know that, too.)