The Economist Last week a review of Henry Kissinger’s latest book that, at age 99, doesn’t seem to have changed intellectually (“The Vision Thing: Henry Kissinger Explains What He Considers Great Leadership,” July 21, 2022):
In his latest book, Mr. Kissinger, a private adviser and friend to many presidents and prime ministers, considers how six leaders of the second half of the 20th century remade their countries and made a lasting impact on the world.
These leaders are Konrad Adenauer, Charles de Gaulle, Richard Nixon, Anwar Sadat, Lee Kuan Yew and Margaret Thatcher. I’d say it’s not clear what most of them, if anything, have done besides “reorganize their countries” or “their societies”. Economist Wrote, which means bossing people around. It is unclear how these leaders contributed to advancing individual freedom and dignity. Perhaps Margaret Thatcher is an exception, but we can doubt that the world would be very different or worse if she didn’t exist. One could argue that these statescrats at least prevented the bad guys from coming to power, but that seems to be Kissinger’s argument.
History for Kissinger, it seems And should be A product of the actions of good and bad leaders. We can hope that God will give us good. Since I haven’t read the book, I’m open to being surprised, but this impression, as expressed by EconomistIts reviewer, a casual observer of Kissinger’s career and an occasional reader of his newspaper articles, seems consistent with what can be gleaned.
The book’s final caveat concludes by quoting what the reviewer says:
No society can remain great if it loses faith in itself or systematically distorts its self-perception.
What does that mean? how can i the society Lose faith in yourself? How can it first gain faith in itself? How can society deny anything? Where to find self-realization of society? Does he express it through our collective mouth? Who does he talk to? I suspect that the answer to the last bit is: to the great leader (Flectamus Genua), who suggests right after Kissinger (Amazon’s “Look Inside”!), “the generosity of the crowd spirit that inspires sacrifice and service.” ” Like, say, Nixon ordering the break-in of the Watergate building? Many of Kissinger’s half-dozen administrations, if not Nixon himself, did worse.
I suspect that Dr. Kissinger has no knowledge of the welfare-economics and social-choice literature that, at the very least, casts considerable doubt on the utility and even the mathematical possibility of imagining society as a larger individual than we are cells and leader brains.
This line of reflection, I think, indicates, on the one hand, the fundamental difference between socialists and conservatives, who both favor collective choice over individual choice; And, on the other hand, classical libertarians and libertarians, who (1) understand that we can only analyze society with systematic individualism, and (2) recognize that, from an ideological perspective, only human individuals ultimately count, and they count. Equally.