Totalitarianism as a concept has made something of a comeback in recent years.
Confucius once remarked that rulers need three resources: weapons, food and trust. The ruler who cannot have all three should give up weapons first, then food, but should hold on to trust at all costs: 'without trust we cannot stand'.(1) Machiavelli disagreed.
Ernest Gellner, who died on 5 November 1995, was one of the great polymaths of the century. Many of his twenty books were concerned with philosophy, sociology and anthropology. Yet at the core of his work was an historical question.
In this original and excellent volume Rosenfeld has succeeded in providing the reader with a political history of common sense from London in the 1680s through to almost present-day American politics. When one reads the front flap of the book, though, one gets the impression that even George W.