Britain’s Classicist-Politician

Theodore Dalrymple critiques an unambitious new book by Paul Corthorn on the controversial and complex Enoch Powell over at Law & Liberty.

This is all very well as far as it goes, but it does not go very far. Even in a mixed system, demand for places in universities is often determined in what Powell would have considered a philistine way, namely by the supposed economic advantages that the education provides. University degrees in western societies have largely become tickets of entry into the labour market at various levels rather than the reward of genuine learning or vocational competence, and are of no other intellectual, spiritual, or practical value. Whether anything can or ought to be done about this is a question too complex for Powell’s thought.

If you want to know Powell’s ideas on the subjects which concerned him, this is a very valuable book. But there is a sense of futility, almost of tragedy, that suffuses it: why did such a brilliantly gifted person waste his talents on politics?

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