Bolingbroke and Passionate Attachments

It has been many years since I first read Isaac Kramnick’s Bolingbroke and His Circle. I came upon it when I was in graduate school more than a decade ago, and quickly devoured it. Some of Bolingbroke’s political persuasion has survived through the Country tradition in American politics, and many of his ideas are still relevant and worth engaging today. The section on Bolingbroke’s writings about international relations is worth revisiting for a couple reasons. First, he defines the national interest quite narrowly, and he rejects the idea of becoming attached to other states for reasons of sentiment and passion. That has obvious relevance to many of our current foreign policy woes in the Middle East and elsewhere. Second, these ideas in turn influenced Washington and informed his Farewell Address, and so they are an important source of our own political traditions here in America.

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