24.

THE OPEN SOCIETY AND THE POVERTY OF HISTORICISM

Originally I simply intended to elaborate and to put into publishable English my talk in Hayek's seminar (first given in German in Brussels in the house of my friend Alfred Braunthal), 170 showing more closely how “historicism” inspired both Marxism and fascism. I saw the finished paper clearly before me: a fairly long paper, but of course easily publishable in one piece.

My main trouble was to write it in acceptable English. I had written a few things before, but they were linguistically very bad. My German style in Logik der Forschung had been reasonably light-for German readers; but I discovered that English standards of writing were utterly different, and far higher than German standards. For example, no German reader minds polysyllables. In English, one has to learn to be repelled by them. But if one is still fighting to avoid the simplest mistakes, such higher aims are far more distant, however much one may approve of them.

The Poverty of Historicism is, I think, one of my stodgiest pieces of writing. Besides, after I had written the ten sections which form the first chapter, my whole plan broke down: section 10, on essentialism, turned out to puzzle my friends so much that I began to elaborate it, and out of this elaboration and a few remarks I made on the totalitarian tendencies of Plato's Republic-remarks which were also thought obscure by my friends (especially Henry Dan Broadhead and Margaret Dalziel)-there grew, or exploded, without any plan and against all plans, a truly unintended consequence, The Open Society. After it had begun to take shape I cut it out of The Poverty and reduced The Poverty to what was more or less its originally intended content.

There was also a minor factor which contributed to The Open Society: I was incensed by the obscurantism of some examination

-130-

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