Slaying ideological dragons
: the life and thought of Kenneth Minogue

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


This thesis analyses Kenneth Minogue's life and ideas, drawing from primary sources, especially his personal papers at the University of St Andrews’ Institute of Intellectual History. It traces Minogue’s intellectual development and assesses the three main themes in his work. Additionally, it examines the contemporary relevance of Minogue’s thought amid a globally polarised political landscape with radical ideological tendencies on both the Left and Right.

The thesis comprises two parts. The first provides a comprehensive intellectual biography of Minogue, beginning with his early years and the influence of figures like John Anderson and Michael Oakeshott on his intellectual development. The first chapter also delves into his early publications that critiqued inherent salvationist tendencies in modern ideologies. The second chapter focuses on Minogue's career as a public intellectual, particularly his engagement in debates on Higher Education at the London School of Economics and Political Science. It traces his involvement in the New Right movement and support for Thatcherism. The third chapter explores the later phase of Minogue’s career, examining his defence of Thatcherism, his Euroscepticism, opposition to identity politics, and concerns about ideology's adverse effects on authority and human conduct.

The second part of the thesis examines three central themes in Minogue's thought: his defence of conservative individualism, his critique of ideology, and his own brand of conservative realism. The fourth chapter explores Minogue’s view that conservative individualism embodies the essence of modernity, fostering the harmonious coexistence of freedom and authority in moral life. The fifth chapter evaluates Minogue’s critique of ideology as apolitical, emphasising his contribution to preserving its critical role in a non-Marxist context. The concluding chapter addresses the relevance of Minogue’s conservatism in contemporary politics, particularly amid the rise of the global reactionary Right.
Date of Award11 Jun 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorRichard Whatmore (Supervisor) & Vassilios Paipais (Supervisor)


  • Kenneth Minogue
  • Individualism
  • Thatcherism
  • Ideology
  • Conservatism
  • Intellectual biography
  • Oakeshott
  • LSE Right
  • Reactionary global Right

Access Status

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