Michael Oakeshott, Political Philosopher, Dead At 89
LONDON (AP) _ Political philosopher Michael Oakeshott, whose stress on personal responsibility and freedom was said by some to have laid the foundations for Margaret Thatcher’s social policies, died at age 89, his family said today.
Oakeshott died Tuesday at his home at Acton in southwest England. No cause of death was given.
The son of a prominent socialist, Oakeshott was educated at Cambridge University’s Gonville and Caius College.
In 1951, when he became University Professor of Political Science at London University’s London School of Economics, his conservative ideas were a sharp contrast with socialist Harold Laski, whom he replaced.
Oakeshott held the post until 1969 when he was made Professor Emeritus at the University of London.
Oakeshott was credited with turning conservative opinion away from social planning and back to personal responsibility and freedom.
The Times of London wrote in an obituary notice today: ″More than anybody else Michael Oakeshott articulated the real philosophical foundations of Mrs. Thatcher’s policies. Yet he had no direct influence on her and she was disposed to consider him irrelevant for her purposes because unlike Hayek, he made no practical recommendations.″
Mrs. Thatcher claimed that her philosophy of individual self-reliance was influenced by the Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek and his 1944 book ″The Road to Serfdom,″ a critical study of socialistic trends in Britain.
Oakeshott once said in an interview: ″I am a member of no political party. I vote, if I have to vote, for the party which is likely to do the least harm. To that extent, I am a Tory.″
He always insisted political theory offered no guidance in political practice and that his work was intended only as a contribution to scholarship.
Oakeshott’s books included ″Experience and its Modes,″ published in 1933; ″Social and Political Doctrines of Contemporary Europe;″ ″Hobbes’s Leviathan;″ ″Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays;″ ″On Human Conduct;″ and ″The Voice of Liberal Learning″ which came out just last year.
″A Guide to the Classics,″ which Oakeshott wrote with a colleague in 1936, dealt not with famous books but with picking winners at the racetracks, which he frequented.
Oakeshott is survived by his wife and a son by a previous marriage.