Remembering Ken Minogue
On June 28 one year ago, Kenneth Minogue, Emeritus Professor of Political Science of Political Science at the London School of Economics, passed away on a plane flying between the island of San Cristobal, in the Galapagos arcipelago, and Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador. Ken had just attended a meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society, of which he has been President in 2010-2012. That was a very successful conference, but the memory of Ken’s sudden passing will obscure, unfortunately, any other.
Minogue was a brilliant scholar and a splendid writer. On him, I would recommend the tributes by John O’Sullivan (here) and Andrew Sullivan (here). For those who may be interested to “sip” in Minogue’s thought, I’d suggest “Morals and the servile mind“, an excerpt of his splendid book “The Servile Mind”, and “The Egalitarian Conceit“.
To those who knew him, Ken is truly unforgettable, for he was also the kindest of men and the best of friends, even to people with much different background, personal history, or age. Though he was born in New Zealand and grew up in Australia, I would suggest the following quotation by anthropologist Kate Fox (quoted in Alan Macfarlane’s often illuminating “Invention of the Modern World“), as a good summary of what a delight a conversation with Ken almost inevitably was:
the English do not have any sort of global monopoly on humour, but what is distinctive is the sheer pervasiveness and supreme importance of humour in English everyday life and culture… Virtually all English conversation and social interactions involve at least some degree of banter, teasing, irony, wit, mockery, wordplay, satire, understatement, humorous self-deprecation, sarcasm, pomposity-pricking or just silliness… when in doubt, joke.