The Social and Political Doctrines of Contemporary Europe

Michael Oakeshott, The Social and Political Doctrines of Contemporary Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1939.

“In 1939 Oakeshott published the anthology, The Social and Political Doctrines Doctrines of Contemporary Europe. Its chapters concern Representative Democracy as well as Catholicism, Communism, Facism, and National Socialism. He writes about “representative democracy” in his Introduction in order to explain certain editorial decisions he has made, and his relevant comments can be briefly summarized. He claims that the philosophy that supports representative democracy is more substantial than that which is foundational to “some” of the other doctrines. It is easy to conclude that he thinks Facism, Communism, and National Socialism, to have inferior philosophic foundations; but in any case the important thing to note is that while he sees democracy…as more philosophically astute and solid than the alternative doctrines, it is nevertheless “not a philosophy which anyone could accept nowadays without a radical restatement which has yet to be provided.” From The Democratic Theory of Michael Oakeshott by Michael Minch.