"Why I am a Conservative"

Carlos fellow Knight of Columbus, Author and good friend, has published an article by Ferdi Mc Dermott, (as Irish a name as Paddy's pig) on his blog at Casorosendi. I do not know if this fellow is a monachist but he makes the arguement for one.

Ferdi McDermott

Russell Kirk (in A Reader of Conservative Thought) spells out six main features observed in reflective conservatism, since Burke wrote his Reflections on the Revolution in France at the end of the eighteenth century. Conservatism is essentially the negation of "isms" so Conservatives are not necessarily able to explain what they think and feel about life and politics. They are not ideologues; they just feel it in their gut.

Here are those six typical characteristics:

Sacred order. A sense that there are truths beyond us that bind us forever. Some things are always right and some wrong. Many call this the natural law.

Social continuity. The body politic of society is like a kind of secular church. People come, people go, but society, with all its accumulated experience lives on. Revolution, which hacks at the body politic, can end up draining the blood from its veins and diseasing society.

The wisdom of the ages. The individual may be foolish, but the species is wise. There is no point departing from established morals and ways of doing things. It would be a dangerous shot in the dark. The fact that some things have always been done a particular way is often a good argument to keep on doing them that way.

Prudence. For Plato, this is the most important virtue in a politician. That means leaders must take the long view and avoid populism. Also, because people and society are complex, solutions to their problems will rarely be simple or simplistic ones such as extremists often propose. Be careful and proceed slowly but deliberately, weighing up the lessons of history.

Love of variety. The conservative loves the multiplication of different groups, societies, orders, classes, organizations, each with its own traditions, customs and distinctive take on life. The conservative also loves natural inequality (which is not the same as injustice): some people are stronger than other others, some are cleverer than others, and so on. But that is the way it was meant to be. Equality can only be before God and before the law.

Imperfectibility. This life and the society which we inhabit, are bound to be imperfect. To suggest that we could make them flawless is a nonsense, since Adam and Eve took humanity down a different path. The rabid search for the perfect (by politicians) is the enemy of the good. Let saints seek it, by all means, and let all men find it in heaven.

Intrigued? Why not come and spend some time at Chavagnes this summer and we'll talk some more! As part of our effort to promote the knowledge and love of our great tradition of western thought, we're holding a Great Books Summer Programme at Chavagnes, France, this summer, led by Professor Anthony O'Hear of Buckingham University. He has published a book on The Great Books, just released by ISI. Professor O'Hear will be assisted by me, by my good friend Robert Asch (co-editor of StAR) and Denis Boyles a prolific American writer now resident in France, just down the road from our College. It's going to be a great 10-day cultural house party (with great French food and wine) that you'll remember for a life time. We're inviting Homer, Aeschylus, Virgil, Ovid, St Augustine, Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, Pascal, Racine and Goethe along too, so you'll be in good company. More information: www.thegreatbooks.chavagnes.info

Thanks and a tip of the beret to Carlos.


1 comment:

Brantigny said...

Ferdi McDermott sent this comment, But I deleted it by accident...

"...Yes, I suppose I am a monarchist, and in fact I am a subject of Her Britannic Majesty, living in that ancient monarchist stronghold of La Vendee, in France ..."

Merci Ferdi!
Vive le Roi, Vérité pour la Vendée!