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Professor Kenneth Minogue

There was a sad epilogue to the Galapagos conference of the Mont Pelerin Society when its former President, Prof Kenneth Minogue, died of heart failure on the flight back to the mainland. There will be many obituaries for so distinguished a thinker and writer in political theory, but my personal one is of someone who I knew as a friend for over 30 years. Born in New Zealand and educated in Australia, he taught at the LSE since 1959, latterly as Emeritus Professor of Political Theory. His scholarly contributions included “The Liberal Mind,” “Nationalism,” and “Alien Powers – The Pure Theory of Ideology.” He presented a 1986 tv series on “The New Enlightenment.” He influenced my own thinking with his insight that revolutionary leaders tended to do what was necessary to succeed, then rewrite the theory afterwards. Thus Lenin seized power in a non-Marxist way, and rewrote the theory as Marxism-Leninism. Similarly for Mao and Che. Ken remained lively and alert, and had just taken part in a successful and enjoyable conference when he died suddenly and among friends at the age of 82. I enjoyed countless meals and conversations with him over the years, and will miss his always insightful observations and his very good company.

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