The Magazine

Believing Is Seeing

History unfolds beneath the Ivory Tower.

Dec 19, 2011, Vol. 17, No. 14 • By JAMES BOWMAN
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Well, that’s one way of putting it! But couldn’t the same be said of Marx and his followers? The unacknowledged conclusion, at least to this reader, is that thinking and doing really don’t have very much to do with each other. Utopianism may go naturally with intellectual speculation, but Glendon’s excellent and very readable book shows that, even if you have the latter without the former, the life of the mind usually has the most tenuous relations with political reality, while not being quite alien from it, either. And that it is most useful when it seeks to describe, as Machiavelli does, more what politicians do than what they ought to do.

James Bowman, the author of Honor, A History and Media Madness: The Corruption of Our Political Culture, is a resident scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.