Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Permanence and "Progress"

I don't think I agree with David Brooks' analysis of the current situation within conservatism [which he seems to confuse with Republicanism]. But he does do a good job of describing the sort of conservatism with which I have always been in sympathy:
..[T]he traditionalist wanted to preserve a society that functioned as a harmonious ecosystem, in which the different layers were nestled upon each other: individual, family, company, neighborhood, religion, city government and national government.

Because they were conservative, they tended to believe that power should be devolved down to the lower levels of this chain. They believed that people should lead disciplined, orderly lives, but doubted that individuals have the ability to do this alone, unaided by social custom and by God. So they were intensely interested in creating the sort of social, economic and political order that would encourage people to work hard, finish school and postpone childbearing until marriage.

Recently the blogger Rod Dreher linked to Kirk’s essay, “Ten Conservative Principles,” which gives the flavor of this brand of traditional conservatism. This kind of conservative cherishes custom, believing that the individual is foolish but the species is wise. It is usually best to be guided by precedent.

This conservative believes in prudence on the grounds that society is complicated and it’s generally best to reform it steadily but cautiously. Providence moves slowly but the devil hurries. .... [more]
We are afraid to put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason;
because we suspect that this stock in each man is small,
and that the individuals would do better to avail themselves
of the general bank and capital of nations and of ages.

Edmund Burke

"Ten Conservative Principles" by Russell Kirk

The Conservative Mind - NYTimes.com