Among the best books that I've read recently is a short one by Michael Oakeshott, "The Politics of Faith & the Politics of Scepticism".
The Politics of Faith stands for the totalitarian drive to shape man and his world ad libitum - and indeed to even determine what his faith should be - by the means of the state, a machinery of government immeasurably more powerful in its ability to interfere with everyone's life than any form of might known in Europe before the 16th century.
The Politics of Scepticism stands for the liberal disposition, the constrained vision in Sowellian terms, a modesty and even distrust in the face of grand schemes promising change and betterment by the agency of a central power.
Writes Oakeshott, on page 129 of the book referred to above:
And while the writers who belong to the great sceptical tradition (not all of them, of course, unabated sceptics - Augustine, Pascal, Hobbes, Locke, Halifax, Hume, Burke, Paine, Bentham, Coleridge, Burckhardt, de Tocqueville, Acton - though for a season they have been displaced in popular favour by the pundits of faith, wait only to be recalled and reinterpreted. None of these, perhaps, is able to speak directly to this generation [writing in the 1950s, G.T.], but in this respect they are better placed than the apostles of faith, who for two centuries have merely repeated themselves. And in my opinion, there is no better starting place for a renewed attempt to understand and to modernize the principles of the skeptical tradition in our politics than a study of Pascal and Hume.