Despite Phillips’s penchant for surprise, then, his conclusions reiterate liberal bromides – provisionality over fixity, conversation over collective action – which disintegrate on contact with reality. In a book that pits the threat of “dogma” against the desire for meaningful change, it is ironic that Phillips continually circles back to these inflexible assumptions... If Phillips’s thought is less adaptable than it appears, it is also worth questioning his avowed refusal to convince or convert his readers. He is right that an analyst should avoid didacticism; but a writer’s impulse to persuade needn’t imply the same abuse of power. “Honest persuasion” surely means being explicit about that impulse, rather than disguising arguments as impressionistic musings or playful provocations.