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No Promises

November 2003, no. 256

A Perilous and Fighting Life: : From communist to conservative: The political writings of Professor John Anderson edited by Mark Weblin

Pluto Press, $29.95 pb, 290 pp

No Promises

November 2003, no. 256

Most of us know something about John Anderson (1893–1962). He is remembered as a libertarian philosopher who, during his time at the University of Sydney, influenced various individuals and groups, most notably the Sydney ‘Push’. Writers on Sydney’s intellectual tradition tend to locate the Scottish-born Anderson at the epicentre of this universe. Anderson is someone, however, of whom it is true to say that he is more often referred to than read. His major philosophical works were collected, or entombed, in Studies in Empirical Philosophy (1962). Now, as part of his ongoing attempt to resurrect Anderson, Mark Weblin, the John Anderson Research Fellow, has collated, edited and provided a useful introduction to Anderson’s political writings (‘A Perilous and Fighting Life: From Communist to Conservative: The political writings of Professor John Anderson’ edited by Mark Weblin, Pluto Press, $29.95 pb, 290 pp). The volume, as a whole, raises two questions. Firstly, do Anderson’s political views remain of general interest? And secondly, what is the place or legacy of Anderson in contemporary Australian debate?

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