Thursday, November 13, 2008

Does Conservatism Have Any Rule Books?

[note: this post has been redacted. I have not taken such action on any post before this. Posts ought to stay in their original form, with updates as necessary. However, this case is different.

Originally, it began with a question raised by one of our commenters about the principles of conservatism. After pondering that question for a few days and then spending time to respond to it, I discovered the ill will which lay behind the posting of the original query - it was done merely to irk another guest on our blog.

When I understood the lack of gravitas and the level of malice involved, it seemed best to remove his question entirely. In its place, I have substituted a further introduction to the principles of Conservatism as I have come to understand them.

First, a personal note: I owe my turn to Conservatism to a number of factors.

One of them was reading about supply-side economics via Robert Mundell and understanding that there is an ideal balance or level of taxation for any commonweal.

Another was many conversations with our friend, Wally Ballou. He may be the most intelligent political animal I know personally. No doubt there are bigger stars out there, but Wally is the brightest star in my particular galaxy. I owe him a debt of gratitude for what he has taught me over the years - the books, the conversations, the explaining. It was difficult sometimes; Wally does not suffer fools gladly.

Thomas Sowell Thomas Sowell has served as my teacher through his many books on economic and political philosophy. I recommend any of them, along with his columns. In his latest essay Sowell reminds us the dangers of being ruled by what he terms ‘intellectuals’ (the scare quotes are his):

History fully vindicates the late William F. Buckley’s view that he would rather be ruled by people represented by the first 100 names in the Boston phone book than by the faculty of Harvard.

If you have time, research Sowell’s background. He arose from the underclass ghetto in New York City to become an eminence grise of modern day Conservatism. That was definitely an uphill road.

What finally turned me away from the well-meaning reductionism of socialist thinking?
- - - - - - - - -
It was the dehumanizing experience of working in the “human services” field. I saw first hand that people were not helped by on-going handouts from bureaucracies. It made them resentful, even as they put out their hand to take the benefits on offer. But the only people who truly benefitted were the bureaucrats like me. We sat at desks, overwhelmed by paperwork and drew a salary based on others’ suffering and poor decisions. We were never given any real resources that would allow us to help people to get out of the system.

As the election of Barry Obama to the office of president of the U.S. demonstrates, Conservatives have their work cut out for them in going up against the role of government as the leftists in this country perceive it. One can no longer presume that “someone else” will take care of things and set them aright.

The political road we have been traveling since the 1930’s is the wrong path. If we do nothing to prevent it, America will simply become a mini-me Europe. This is a quest for the holy grail of collectivism that the radicals of the 1930’s and their children of the 1960’s have been on for generations now.

It is possible to undo the harm these people have done, but it will take work as dedicated as theirs has been in fomenting this harm. The machines own the big cities and some of the towns, but there is much of America they have not touched. That is why I have hope that the tipping point has not been reached; it is not even near.

The unprecedented prosperity of this country has permitted radicals to riddle the social fabric without much fight back from those who were busy with getting and having and keeping against all comers.

The coming depression will change that and not even the so-called powerful global corporations will be able to grab the reins of the cataclysm and wrest control. What we will see is the harvest reaped by generations of self-satisfied greed sown by those who claimed they’d gotten theirs by their own hard work and others should do the same.

Now they are beginning to see the limits to both extreme individualism and collectivist solutions to the problems created by overweening greed.

It is my contention that the principles of conservatism as outlined by Russell Kirk best answer those who think we need no government “interference” and those who believe that government “intervention” is the solution to any problem, social or individual.

Most conservatives who have studied the subject would say that our political philosophy rests on foundations that are perennial and unchanging. They go far back into the roots of human civilization and the particular manifestations of these underlying principles are simply examples of truths that arise to meet a particular problem in a given culture.

Russell Kirk has given the best modern summation of Conservatism. His points are unchanging truths, not cobbled-together slogans to meet popular demand.

Kirk wrote in a deliberately antiquated style. It suits the material he wanted to address with the full gravity it deserves. Long after the “popularity” of the sloganeering politicians has faded, these ten principles will remain.

The versions presented here are truncated. I have made emphases in bold as they seemed to my own concerns. I have also rearranged some of Mr. Kirk’s wording. The emphasis on “order” is his own.

Links to the original material are at the end of this essay.

1. The conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order. That order is made for man, and man is made for it: human nature is a constant, and moral truths are permanent.

This word order signifies harmony. There are two aspects of order: the inner order of the soul, and the outer order of the commonwealth. Twenty-five centuries ago, Plato taught this doctrine, but even the educated nowadays find it difficult to understand. The problem of order has been a principal concern of conservatives ever since conservative became a term of politics.

2. The conservative adheres to custom, convention, and continuity… Custom enables people to live together peaceably. Convention permits us to avoid perpetual disputes about rights and duties: law at base is a body of conventions.

3. Conservatives believe in the principle of prescription. We are dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, able to see farther than our ancestors only because of the great stature of those who have preceded us. Thus, the emphasis on prescription and on those things established by immemorial usage, by the establishment of precedent, including rights to property.

4. Conservatives value prudence as a principle. Burke agrees with Plato that in the statesman, prudence is chief among virtues. Any public measure ought to be judged by its probable long-run consequences, not merely by temporary advantage or popularity. Liberals and radicals are imprudent. They dash at their objectives without heed to the risk of new abuses worse than the evils they hope to sweep away .

5. Conservatives cherish variety. They feel affection for the proliferating intricacy of long-established social institutions and modes of life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity and deadening egalitarianism of radical systems. For the preservation of a healthy diversity in any civilization, there must survive orders and classes, differences in material condition, and many sorts of inequality. The only true forms of equality are equality at the Last Judgment and equality before a just court of law. All other attempts at leveling lead to social stagnation.

6. Man is imperfect. Thus no perfect social order ever can be created. Because of human restlessness, mankind would grow rebellious under any utopian domination, and would break out once more in violent discontent or else expire of boredom. To seek for utopia is to end in disaster. In a tolerably ordered, just, and free society, some evils, maladjustments, and suffering will continue to lurk. Prudent reform permits us to preserve and improve this tolerable order. If the old institutional and moral safeguards of a nation are neglected, then the anarchic impulse in humankind breaks loose: “the ceremony of innocence is drowned.”

7. Conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked. Separate property from private possession, and Leviathan becomes master of all. Upon the foundation of private property, great civilizations are built. The more widespread is the possession of private property, the more stable and productive is a commonwealth. Economic leveling, conservatives maintain, is not economic progress. Getting and spending are not the chief aims of human existence. A sound economic basis for the person, the family, and the commonwealth is desirable.

8. Conservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism. Although Americans have been attached strongly to privacy and private rights, they also have been a people conspicuous for their spirit of community. In a genuine community, the decisions most directly affecting the lives of citizens are made locally and voluntarily. Some of these functions are carried out by local political bodies, others by private associations: so long as they are kept local, and are marked by the general agreement of those affected, they constitute healthy community. But when these functions pass by default or usurpation to centralized authority, then community is in serious danger.

9. The conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions. Politically speaking, power is the ability to do as one likes, regardless of the wills of one’s fellows. A state in which an individual or a small group are able to dominate the wills of their fellows without check is a despotism, whether it is called monarchical or aristocratic or democratic . When every person claims to be a power unto himself, then society falls into anarchy.

10. Conservatives understand that permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society. The conservative is not opposed to social improvement, although he doubts whether there is any such force as a mystical Progress at work in the world. When a society is progressing in some respects, usually it is declining in other respects. The conservative knows that any healthy society is influenced by two forces, which Samuel Taylor Coleridge called its Permanence and its Progression.

There you have it. The ten principles of Conservatism. To the extent that the Republicans, and before them the classical liberals, wandered from these prescriptions, our country has suffered, and will continue to do so.

Is a renaissance possible? I think so. Some people will choose one or another principle to emphasize, but in the long run if we focus on what is to be done to return to these fundamentals, to that extent we leave the world a better place than we found it.

In any event, to choose just one principle and to live it to its fullest is to participate in the generativity that we will bequeath to the next generation. However, as Kirk notes, we cannot do this as individuals but as voluntary local groups seeking to exist within the context of fundamental principles and to expand them.

No man is an island, as the coming economic chaos will prove all over again.

Ten Conservative Principles

The Politics of Prudence


Czechmade said...

The term conservative suggests rather an attitude. We need a term that suggests life long self-education connected with very practical life style. This should be an obligation, mandatory.

The Jews knew this well, but their attitude to the practical life combined with regular post school education was rather accidental - following the distruction of their Temple in Jerusalem - replacing ad hoc the loss of a central institution.

In such environment the leftists/liberals could evaporate. What then? Conservatives need some worthy opposition. The current system relies on it, the opposition being unworthy, many conservatives too.

Liberals/leftists attitude suggests they are very open for new things. It is not true.

We need thinkers, but we need also fully viable cultural vehicle.

For ex. Johann Sebastian Bach was in his time old fashioned retard (in the eyes of his contemporary good in improvising in a church) interested in the art of half forgotten polyphony.

Today we find his music not only more appealing than his sons, but often also very modern, inspiring every musician.

With furter self-education we can wash away the dommages received from our school education, which rest with us for the rest of our lives unchecked.

Henrik Ræder said...

I have Kirk's The Conservative Mind on my desk and am reading when I find time. It's dense prose.

One thing about Conservatism is that it's difficult to reduce to a few simple points. Conservatism isn't simplistic, and is expressed in details, not in broad, sweeping principles.

One principle, however, deserves special attention: Freedom and property are closely linked. This principle is not as obvious as it would seem, and became firmly established in Europe only some 800 years ago - by the Catholic Church, of all.

While I don't subscribe to the 'Tax is Theft' line, I do think that we should keep a close watch on the taxation level, merely due to the issues of freedom related to it. Go above 40 %, and the System assumes more power than the citizen. Roughly, that is. My hunch is that smaller states can live with a higher tax rate and still preserve freedom.

The financial crisis is a pivotal point. If the Lords of the System press us for more money for 'bailouts', 'confidence' etc., they can't have my confidence.

Private property isn't evil. It's just property. It's how we care for the weak in society that matters, and that is a can of worms.

Steven Luotto said...

The whole point of conservatism is that it doesn't have an ideology. It doesn't think in patterns, but in pretty pictures. Bela does nothing but reveal his own Marxist contaminations.

One of the reasons why a Franco is considered worse than a Tito or even a Mao is this lack of systematic methodology. Fascism has always been considered stupid whereas Communism enjoyed (and still enjoys) the backing of the intellighenzia, because systems (patterns) are infinite and permit endless rational mind games, extreme theorizing... which becomes little more than a process of deconstruction.

Zenster said...

The only true forms of equality are equality at the Last Judgment and equality before a just court of law. All other attempts at leveling lead to social stagnation.

While the entire set of principles makes fairly constant reference to an underlying Social Contract, the above is one of the hidden keys to truly benign governance.

Last Judgement or not, we are, and must remain, equal only in the eyes of the law. It is absolutely preposterous to maintain that all people are born equal. Circumstance and innate health vary wildly and create—what can be at times—insurmountable disparity.

Liberalism's desperate attempts to "level" society—be it financially or materially—are foredoomed. As Henrik notes, "Freedom and property are closely linked." Too often, the Liberal mind confuses wants and Rights.

Redistribution of Wealth, the great socialistic leveler, routinely conflates a person's right to “the pursuit of happiness” with some unworkable Leftist guarantee of individual contentment. We are seeing this in Obama's "spread the wealth" rhetoric and his words are just one more shopworn reiteration of Marx’s: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

IoshkaFutz: The whole point of conservatism is that it doesn't have an ideology. It doesn't think in patterns, but in pretty pictures.

Your statement doesn’t hold water. Conservatism closely parallels the classical Social Contract.

ideology n. — The body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of an individual, group, class, or culture.

While there can be some dispute as to various models that exist of the Social Contract—as in Western versus Asian—it clearly is a form of ideology. That it has been politicized is another issue altogether. More often, the Social Contract becomes a point of contention only when it is selectively or inappropriately applied.

A good example of this would be the modern fascination with “prisoner’s rights”. Aside from Blue Law or petty violators, a vast majority of criminals—especially those of the violent and felonious stripe—utterly reject the Social Contract and break it with monotonous consistency. Subsequent to judicial conviction, continuing to award these criminals all—or even most—of the legal rights due those who studiously uphold the Social Contract is morally bankrupt.

This inappropriate delegation of rights has resulted in the Supreme Court entitling captured terrorists to habeas corpus. Obama echoes this with his intention of trying terrorists in criminal trials. This constitutes another form of Liberalism’s “leveling” and is an exceptionally erosive practice. It epitomizes Moral Relativism and makes a mockery of Human Rights and justice at the same time.

Bela said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Czechmade said...

Bela, I am afraid your Jose or Abdullah does care only for another Jose or Abdullah who made it and can be clearly seen as an identification figure for themselves.

They are ready to imitate or ponder on a figure like them. If the same guy made it in a criminal field they do the same. So you need a lot of successful transition figures not losing their masala flavour.

(A gypsy who made it is called "coco-nut" by other gypsies with disdain for being white inside etc.)

Sometimes the changes ocur better at home and immigrants remain "conservative". For ex. Turks in Europe can be a shocking experience for the Turks from Turkey.

Dymphna said...


Your comment failed the smell test.

It was uncivil, intemperate, used rude language, and tried to skirt the "no racism" rule witih terminology about people with "heavily pigmented skin color".

Silly me. I thought you were really asking a question, not just tacking up a diatribe designed to irk IoshkaFutz.

One rule of blogging I have adhered to up until now is to leave posts as they are written. If changes are to be made, I do them in the form of updates.

But in this case, I'll make an exception and re-write the introduction to Russell Kirk's ideas leaving out your ill-motivated query.

Your name will remain in the URL only because I don't want to delete the honest responses of the other commenters. Were it not for that, I would simply get rid of the whole post and talk more about Russell Kirk.

Obviously, since the leftists have a chokehold on education and the dissemination of information, demonstrating a better way to newcomers (and to members of the underclass) has to take place incrementally. That has always been difficult, but the price is worth it.

The the ownership of property -- or the potential to do so -- is a cornerstone of conservatism. It is a principle that new arrivals understand quite well. They may not be able to articulate this as "conservatism" but they know that's the main reason they are here.

That's why illegal Mexicans keep arriving in the first place: because that possibility of acquiring private property exists here in far greater potential than it does in their homeland.

No one leaves kith and kin, risking danger and possibly death, to make their way amongst strangers if they think it is possible to build a secure life on their own merits in their own country.

But you don't need me to tell you that.

PapaBear said...

At its core, socialism is theft. It is the ideology of the mugger who feels himself entitled to the property of the producer because he and his gang have superior numbers.

xlbrl said...

Kirk was published in the early fifties. You have a reprinting, or perhaps a re-editing.
It is one thing to say people do not understand conservative principles, another to not understand they are the most timeless thing of value we have.
Fisher Ames (Founder)--By securing property, life and liberty can scarcely fail of being secured; where property is safe by rules and principles, there is liberty, for the object and motives of tyanny are removed.
Edward Abbey--Socialism is founded on the observation that since few men are wise enough to govern themselves, even fewer are wise enough to rule others.
Gibbon--In the end more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for was freedom from reponsibility, then Athens ceased to be free.
Ann Rand-The difference between a welfare state and a tolalitarian state is a matter of time.

eartha said...

"We cannot beat a populist Marxist propaganda which still heralds the coming of the Worker Paradise by confiscating the wealth of others."

Well, by golly, that covers the U.S. gov'mt, lock, stock and barrel!

Does that mean the U.S. congress - the neo-cons, etc. are marxist/communist?

Obamas shows, nay, has promised this.

George Bruce said...

IoshkaFutz, why do you mention Franco as an example of a conservative? Fascists are totalitarians, like Socialists. Neither are closer to conservatism as defined by Kirk.

Joanne said...

Why couldn't a man like Sowell run for President? Too smart I think.

Dymphna said...


Well, he might agree to run if he were among the first hundred people in the phone book.

Seriously, though, he's 78 now...not likely to take the campaign trail anywhere.

Here's a brief excerpt from wiki:

The major themes and philosophies of Sowell's writing range from social policy on race, ethnic groups, education and decision-making, to classical and Marxist economics, to the problems of children perceived as having disabilities. Sowell has also extended his research from the United States to the international sphere, finding supporting data and patterns from several cultures and nations. He has demonstrated that similar incentives and constraints often result in similar outcomes among very different peoples and cultures.

Five themes in his work cut across specific topics:

The importance of empirical evidence, not only in a narrow technical sense but as reflected in the broad record of history.

The competing basic visions of policy makers, and their role in the interactions of elites versus the ordinary masses.

An importance of trade-offs, constraints and incentives in human decision making.

The significance of human capital—attitudes, skills, and work.
The importance of systemic (orderly, structured) processes for decision-making—from free markets to the rule of law.

These five keys place the economist's writings in the greater context of historical synthesis and human decision-making, rather than being simply those of a conservative pundit or "race" writer on particular contemporary social issues.

Sowell's work is also a significant answer to critiques of economics arguing that the discipline has failed to come to grips with real world problems and is occupied too much with technical models and details, while paying little attention to historical processes.

you can find this by doing a search on "Thomas Sowell wiki" -- without the quotes, of course.

We are fortunate to have his work so freely available.

dienw said...

@ eartha

The neo-cons were really pre-McGovern Democrats who migrated to the Republican party after the radicalization of the Democratic party: they are socially liberal and strong on national defense. When the migrated to the GOP, they drove out Conservatism proper. This how the GOP was ruined.

Spinoneone said...

The Republicans, and that includes me, need to get back to the themes of freedom and independence. Freedom to behave in accordance with the Bill of Rights and independence from government interference with those rights. My charity can be easily handled by my religious organization; I don't need the government to help. My need and ability to be my brother's keeper is limited by my financial means. Obama plus a few more "Kelso" decisions could kill the goose. Of course, the National Socialist Democratic Party doesn't believe that, but they could be surprised in a few more years.

Unknown said...

This is an unrelated post, but I hope this will make every one smile.

Read the operating manual before you touch anything

Friday, 16 May 2008 The brand spanking new Airbus 340-600, the largest passenger airplane ever built at the time, sat in its hangar in Toulouse , France without a single hour of airtime. Enter the Arab flight crew of Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (ADAT) to conduct pre-delivery tests on the ground, such as engine runups, prior to delivery to Etihad Airways in Abu Dhabi . The ADAT crew taxied the A340-600 to the run-up area. Then they took all 4 engines to takeoff power with a virtually empty aircraft.  Not having Read the run-up manuals, they had no clue just how light an empty A340-600 really is. The takeoff warning horn was blaring away in the cockpit because they had all 4 engines at full power. The aircraft computers thought they were trying to takeoff but the aircraft had not been configured properly (flaps/slats, etc.). Then one of the ADAT crew decided to pull the circuit breaker on the Ground Proximity Sensor to silence the alarm. This fools the aircraft into t hinking it is in the air. The computers automatically released all the Brakes and set the aircraft rocketing forward. The ADAT crew had no idea that this is a safety feature so that pilots can't land with the brakes on. Not one member of the seven-man Arab crew was smart enough to throttle back the engines from their max power setting, so the $200 million brand-new Aircraft crashed into a blast barrier, totaling it. The extent of injuries to the crew is unknown, for there has been a news blackou t in the major media in France and elsewhere. Coverage of the story was deemed insulting to Muslim Arabs. Finally, the photos are starting to leak out. Airbus $200 million aircraft meets retaining wall and the wall wins....

Sorry, I couldnt attach the picture

dienw said...

@ Russkiy
Saw the pix weeks ago.

Henrik R Clausen said...

George Bruce, quoting Franco as a conservative does make sense. He never was much of a fascist. He stood up to defend Spain against a takeover of the Stalinist left who wanted to destroy the traditions of the country, as well as the Republic that had already failed.

Yes, he sided with Italy and Germany before WWII, and got to carry the fascist label. But for a real fascist, who implemented the famous totalitarian system ("For the good of all"), look to Mussolini instead. He gave Hope and promised Change. Sure, change they got, in the form of perpetual crises to further the fascist agenda and strengthen its rule.

Franco was more of a conservative, and after his death, Spain became a democratic monarchy without much pain.

David Gress, the Danish conservative commenter, has written some interesting OpEd pieces on Spain, detailing how the left-wing 'Noble democrats vs. evil fascists (Franco)' myth is documentably false. His articles are in Danish, but surely similar articles in other languages must exist.

Interesting notion about the neo-cons being 'Democrats in exile'. Somehow, it makes sense.

Dymphna said...

Russkiy --

Yeah, your story was off-topic, but it sure was hilarious. Any pilot would be ROTFLMAO as they pictured the scene.

If I remember correctly, there were many after-reports of the 6 day war against Israel that demonstrated how inept the Arabs' aviation skills were -- and remain.

Such is the price a culture pays when it gets so much money that it thinks the world exists to be its servant.

X said...

If this has been said already then forgive my imprudence, for I am tired and have trouble reading when it's so late. Or early, I suppose.

My understanding of conservatism is that its rules are laid down from observation. They're practical and observational rather than theoretical and proscriptive.

Socialism/Liberalism (or what have you) seems to believe that rules can be laid down and the world remade to follow them. Conservatives believe that "the rules" already exist and that any rules we state are simply observations of facts on the ground.

So the rules of the market (for example) are not rules laid down by great thinkers deciding that's how things should be, but observations by those thinkers of how things are and when they write down "when x and y, then z" they're telling us what already exists, rather than saying that's how they want them to be.

Or so it would seem to me.

laine said...

Reading the Kirk quote: "in the statesman, prudence is chief among virtues. Any public measure ought to be judged by its probable long-run consequences, not merely by temporary advantage or popularity. Liberals and radicals are imprudent. They dash at their objectives without heed to the risk of new abuses worse than the evils they hope to sweep away"

I was suddenly struck by the thought that Liberals have many of the characteristics of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in their political life. They tend to rush off in all directions at once, despise slogging through research, demonstrate great impulsivity and are easily distracted. Therefore the programs they institute are typically poorly thought out and have no follow through.

I have a son with ADD (no hyperactivity component) so I'll specify that I am not putting down people with this condition, who can overcome it or at least compensate for it through grit and determination. I am merely observing that Liberals show much of the same neurologic lack of focus without the critical desire to improve. Instead, they seek to remake the world in their image.

I should also stipulate that people with attention deficit disorder can focus for stretches if they have powerful enough motivation. Dems despite their political ADD were enormously focused on gaining power back from the Republicans. Unfortunately, they expended all their energy on the campaign with absolutely no time or energy to craft creative solutions to new or long term problems so a backward marxist rehash is all they have on offer. They exhausted themselves with gaining the White House and Congress and now breakage of what conservatives have built is all they know.

Dymphna said...


good comparison between the behaviors of Dems and those of us with ADD. Neither can stick with anything long enough to learn from their mistakes and thus have to be reminded by the kinder of their fellows that their great new project failed several times already.

As one who is also afflicted with ADD, I offer your son the condolences of a fellow-sufferer. Distractions are a huge burden and often get in the way of productive work.

My fortune cookie tonight read: "a goal is a dream with a deadline". Hah. Tell that to someone with ADD.

Charlemagne said...

Regarding Conservatism in the US, I think Conservatives and the GOP need to focus their/our efforts on increasing power and influence at the state level. Since the Civil War the US federal government has usurped more and more of the states' Constitutional sovereignty. The Federal government has exploded beyond its Constitutional boundaries. The concept of enumerated powers has been nearly forgotten ans is treated as a quaint anachronism by the Left.
The Left always seeks to establish power at the highest possible level furthest from the governed (EU anyone?)because this is the level at which Leftist agitators are most effective (ACLU, NAACP. La Raza, CAIR, trial lawyers, NOW, NEA, et al) and where they get the most bang for their buck. If they are forced to play at the state and local level their power and influence are dispersed and their motives and tactics more transparent. The Left seeks power over all of us so naturally they loathe federalism because in a federalist country people are free to leave an unfriendly or repressive state for another. We still have some semblance of federalism left in terms of taxation but otherwise the fed is all powerful.
There are some stirrings among some of the more Red states and I see the 10th Amendment gaining new respect and use in the Age of Obama.
This article by Walter Williams is great and discusses Oklahoma's efforts to regain their sovereignty.
This article by George Will discusses Arizona's attempt to exempt itself from a national health care scheme.
I've personally written to all the Red state Republican party's discussing my idea to form a '10th amendment Coalition'. I urge those in agreement to do the same. We must restrict the power of the federal government to that stated in our Constitution.
Visit the 10th Amendment Center.

Steven Luotto said...

Ciao Zenster,

Even though I'm sure it's from an excellent source, I don't agree with your definition, I prefer the second definition (in my dictionary): "the set of beliefs by which a group or society orders reality so as to render it intelligible."

Quite a human conceit, I mean for anyone to imagine that life can fit into his pink laminated think-box, (compressed into a definition)... without doing extreme violence to it.

Systems don't work. In fact nothing works without the original "unideologized" virtues of religion which first of all sees man as the fallen creature that he is (automatically dooming any ideology) and secondly, unlike ideologies, is capable of seeing and accepting differing concepts not as contradictory but complimentary, (like "haste makes waste" and a "stitch in nine saves time" or fate and free will - both true and false).

Hence my insistence on the pretty pictures instead of the patterns.

I think Graham Dawson got it mostly right when he said: "My understanding of conservatism is that its rules are laid down from observation. They're practical and observational rather than theoretical and proscriptive."

I would also add that they are not ideological but principled. And there is a difference between Ideological and principled. There used to be anyway.

So conservativism is both practical and principled, the two not being contradictory, but religiously complimentary.

The broad parameters of the pretty pictures were once supplied by religion and there was room for rich and poor, race and ideal, tribe and world, reverence and ribladry. Now our people live in terror of their own thoughts and words - and - as proven by Charles Johnson - even hyperlinks.

Today we witness an increased sophistication combined with an alarming simplification, standardization and dumbling down. Nothing grand and confident can be built on sand.

Now - (as of some time actually) - we are all equal citizens - which is fine as long as the underlying virtues paradoxically remain "aristocratic." But they have been deconstructed (with the help of many Jews undeniably, but also Sardinians and English Freethinkers and Berkley activists and also people like me and you in this PlayStation world gone almost entirely visual, that is to say superficial... and add to that mix the sexual revolution)...

...and so what was commonly considered very precious, the shared basis, the bedrock of civilization is now just another opinion. It is shifting sand.

...and so now we behold the leader of the "free" world getting elected because he's hip and fairly proficient at shooting basketball hoops and is blessed with a Berlusconi tan... "senseless" factors which brought the money-men around him to generate unprecedented cash flows.

What we really just witnessed in the American elections is the triumph of all the once-upon-a-time virtues and treasured human qualities in leadership - (with the possible exception of cunning): judgment, courage, honesty, accomplishment BEING IGNORED and CONSIDERED UNIMPORTANT. The majority did not just elect mediocrity, (crap happens) but cheerfully waved good-bye to those virtues and principles that made American democracy work. In other words they actively sought crap.

Symbolism has triumphed over substance (defining fashion, popular culture and what's "hip" is the real purpose of ideology. Keeping things connected to the timeless is the real purpose of religion).

Ayers-Odina-Rezko-Wright-Acorn-Live Birth-Voting-Present (and many more) each a huge scandal in its own right that would have instantly disqualified a candidate in the past. The principles girding notions of God, Family and Country would have kicked in. In this instance they lost to fashion and hipness.

First with the Reformation, God and His demands became an opinion, then society became God and now Islamo-Hustler style, every man becomes his own God. Meaning that for anything to work, the loss of cultural self-restraint can only be replaced by outside coercion. And so the choice inevitably falls between a caricature of the Law (Marxism) and a caricature of Love (Fascism) and not the virtuous mixture of both (the Democracy of nations whose people knew self-restraint).

Ideology is the classical thumb before the squinted eye which sees the thumb bigger than the world.

Hence the erstwhile author of this thread will see his evil Jews behind everything that is wrong with the world. Others will see salvation in the free distribution of condoms, others in the dogged preservation of the local race or in the forced mixing of all races to the detriment and over-saturation of the local culture (culture defies ideology and so must be destroyed). Others want only peace. Others yet can only think in terms of GDPs... the climate, the planet.

In my view, the problem is contentless freedom in a dominant moral realm of deconstructed virtues. How else to explain the success of Obama's highly successful "Hope and Change?" Only psycho-social-analysis can come close to explaining them in the American context! They could not and still cannot be explained at a rational level.

Though still vague, I could understand "Hope and Change" being meaningful slogans for a clandestine group of North Korean Freedom Fighters or the Women's Liberation Movement of Saudi Arabia... but the USA and to a greater degree Europe?

And the same goes for "Yes we can."

Change to what? Hope for what? Yes we can do WHAT?

Wealthy and successful societies, especially their youth, clamoring as if life were hell. Whence this acute dissatisfaction? This malaise of the soul? This widespread compulsion to be saved and not just decently governed? This dramatization? This grievance?

It's all about shared values. When no longer shared, it's all about competing values. And that is religious warfare... then ideologies come along to make it all simpler with their statistics and temptations.

The real battle has begun on London and New York Bus advertisements: "Just be good for goodness sake." Innocent and even fair (the religos also advertise), but absolutely insidious. What they really mean is "Forget God and do as you are told!" Could and would some other humanist society run ads saying: "Forget your political leaders and be a Mensch!"

Henrik R Clausen said...

Change to what?

Any change will do, right? 'For the better' doesn't enter the equation.

As David Bowie pointed out, life with everything guaranteed isn't life. Change, in any direction, like a plague, a war or a famine, will make people discover that they are themselves responsible for their lives, not the government.

Hope for what?

That people will wake up to the fact that a precondition for democracy is active participation, not blind adoration.

We're heading for a mess :(

Armor said...

I like posts by IoshkaFutz. They are full of miscellaneous very interesting ideas, each of them expressed in only a few words. In this latest post, I liked the ideas of "fate and free will - both true and false", conservativism both practical and principled, keeping things connected to the timeless as the real purpose of religion, the absurdity of "hope and change" as a slogan, etc. I didn't understand what is the problem with the New York bus advertisements.

It is absurd to vote for a man who promises change and does not say what sort of change, but the real problem is deeper: we really have an absurd urge for change for the sake of change!

It seems to me that the greatest advocates of hope-and-change, of fashion-and-hipness, are not the stupid voters, but the media, the journalists, the political analysts and commentators, that is to say, the specialists, people who should know better than to believe in magical solutions.

Dymphna said...

IoshkaFutz --

What you had to say was illuminating but waaay too long for a comment.

Like Laine's son mentioned above, I have ADD -- and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

You have so many good ideas here, but in your desire to say them all, you don't sufficiently develop them into a coherent whole that the rest of us can easily follow.

Please come down to a level where the rest of us can follow you: One thought at a time.

Either that, or take your comment and write a post for us to put on the front page.

Your grasp of conservatism is excellent, but it is as though you are on water skis, flashing by and waving at us. Wonderful to watch, but who can keep up?

Have pity, sir.

Dymphna said...

Charlemagne --

Thanks for the link to Walter Williams. I sure wish I lived close enough to take one of his classes...if he hasn't retired by now.

I used to hear him on the radio sometimes. He is the kind of person that the writer Gerald May (brother of Rollo May) called 'the once born' -- i.e., his natural optimism and goodness are buoys that carry him through life's rough spots. Thus, he had no need to be "born again" to anything.

And, boy, does he understand conservatism.

I can no longer call myself a Republican. In fact, my political incarnation as one didn't last long. My affiliation was one of convenience because the other groups on offer were worse. But now...they are every bit at greedy, corrupt, and short-sighted as the folks across the aisle. They're even blinder than their foes because they can't understand how they got there, even though their plight is obvious to everyone else.

I will look into your links for a possible post.

Thanks for the invaluable information.

I am considering having Cafe Press do a group of bumper stickers based on Kirk's ideas. His work is still under copyright so I'm hoping that a paraphrase of each rule with an attribution to him would suffice to keep it legal.

People could choose their favorite slogan...I'm not much on bumper stickers because they mostly preach the predictable, but Kirk merely observes...and it may intrigue a few people.

As they say, take the teachable moment. Being stuck behind someone with a brief Kirkian adage on their bumper might serve as learning experience.

Steven Luotto said...

Ciao Dymphna,

Too long and too late as usual (along with being all over the place). I apologize and will sin no more while not avoiding the occasion of sin. Some places have a character countdown for the impolite and verbose. What's the limit here, give or take? I forgot. Tell me and I'll stick to it. Promise.

Dymphna said...

@IoshkaFutz ...

The limit is ~500 words. OTOH, if you want to write a 1,000 word essay for us as a guest poster, I sure wouldn't complain!

What you have to say is cogent, creative, and on topic. This is an example of wonderful prose:

The broad parameters of the pretty pictures were once supplied by religion and there was room for rich and poor, race and ideal, tribe and world, reverence and ribladry. Now our people live in terror of their own thoughts and words - and - as proven by Charles Johnson - even hyperlinks.

Today we witness an increased sophistication combined with an alarming simplification, standardization and dumbling down. Nothing grand and confident can be built on sand.

In addition to all those virtues I attribute to your writing, you can also be very funny. Your description of your adventures in the lizard's echo chamber were hilarious.

With the shape the world is in, we need some humor. It is a characteristic of the Irish to have a wonderful wit -- it is written in the Celtic DNA...

...but the Italians! Their humor partakes of the eternaal; nothing else quite matches it for being light and liltingly amusing.

Yes, please don't avoid this occasion of sin, even if is is only a venial one. Show us the strength of your moral character...besides, if you fail, you can always go to confession later. "Absolvo te.." etc.

However, know ahead of time your penance will be to read LGF for a week.

A second offense would require that you also read the comments...

...thus I am sure you will be strong.

AMDG said...

Work hard and rise children: On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.