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Pete,

Re your gadgets, do you have a Google mini?

I have had mixed results with most of the gadgets you list but Google mini has exploded my productivity.

Bryan Magee was big on conversations about ideas. Many years ago he persuaded Thames TV in England to try out a series called Something to Say in which Magee chaired one-hour debates between high-powered opponents: Aron and Marcuse; Hayek and Bernard Crick; Galbraith versus Crosland (on the need for economic growth); Monod versus Eccles (on the human soul); Ayer versus a Roman Catholic bishop (on the existence of God). The format worked and Magee made 39 programmes in 1972 and 1973. Among the other guests were Barry Commoner, Herman Kahn, Margaret Mead, James Baldwin, Enoch Powell, Keith Joseph, Peter Bauer and Raymond Williams. Amazingly, Thames refused to allow Magee to convert the best debates into a book. Even more amazingly, they wiped most of the tapes.

To make these dialogues work for the popular audience Magee had to prepare in depth so he could ask the right questions, and intervene to keep the debate moving at the appropriate level. Some of this preparation brought him into contact with a body of ideas that had been quite foreign to him. His own political position was quite clear, as a prospective Labour candidate he defined himself as a non-Marxist, non-socialist but heavily interventionist liberal. He felt he had all the answers to the left-wing radicals and the mainstream of conservatives (Conservative Party voters).

“But now, for the first time in my life, I came seriously up against a fourth position, the position of the radical right, whose existence I had known of before but which I had never regarded with respect. In fact, the truth is that I had dismissed it as quasi-fascist and had never given it serious examination.”

This shows in a very graphic manner how close the ideas of classical or non-socialist liberalism came to extinction. In the case of Magee a very well educated man, a voracious reader, active in politics, an international traveller and a journalist of great distinction did not come into meaningful contact with this body of ideas until he approached middle age. In the event, Magee took on board most of their critique of interventionism but could not go all the way, and so he adopted a position which he described as "Thatcherism plus welfare".

From a review of Magee's "Confessions of a Philosopher"

PS. The full review of the book. http://www.the-rathouse.com/2007/MageeConfessions.html

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