Karl Popper an Austrian Philosopher and Professor at the London School of Economics, has written a series of books through the 1930s into the 1950s that are so timely for today. In his Open Society series he draws the contrast between the Philosophies of Socrates and Plato. Socrates believing in the power of individualism and Plato believing in the power of the state and the importants of upholding an ideal in society that is translated through an enlightened ruling class, enforced by a warrior class (politicians, courts and military) and lived out through a working class (all of us). He tracks the fallacies of Plato into our modern society and particularly shows the development of the progressive movement as he tracks the influences of Hegel, Marx and Stuart. He also brings out the dangers of social engineering based on what he calls historicism, the interpretation of empirical data from our past and applying causality and using it to create social policies through private and government institutions today. If he were alive he'd have a field day with economists like Paul Krugman who use historicism to interpret the Great Depression and Keynesian Economics and draw conclusions about the best social and economic policies to use in today's financial crisis. Popper lays out his theories fairly, recognizes the strengths of people like Marx (who he believed had very good intuitive skill at understanding social behavior) and also is a strong proponent of the scientific method. His theory on 'Piecemeal ' Social Engineering rather than Utopian Social Engineering would be great dialogue for the health care bill. Please put these on your 'must read list'.
Christopher M. Mahon