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Fredheadedness 4 — Principle #2: Acknowledging the Wisdom of the Ages

Conservative School with Russell Kirk

Remember Fredheadedness 3 : Learn conservatism so you can teach it.

We continue our study of core conservative principles as advanced by conservative scholar Russell Kirk, co-founder (with his friends Buckley and Goldwater) of the mid-20th century revival of conservatism. Kirk’s essay Ten Conservative Principles is considered by many to be a very handy, concise, and compelling description of what the heart of a conservative is.

Let’s get to business. Argue all you want in the comments, that’s what we do here, my friends.


Kirk’s 2nd Principle:

Second, the conservative adheres to custom, convention, and continuity

Obama campaigned cynically on “Change you can believe in”. What he meant (and sometimes said) was wealth transfer, silencing of dissent, class warfare, race hustling, confiscatory tax increases on employers, more and sillier AGW regulations, no domestic drilling or even a coherent energy plan other than “regular oil changes and air up your tires”, bankrupting the coal industry, socialism, and a nanny state. What his gullible sycophants heard was “things suck now, and Obama will bring us something different and somehow better”.

The conservative heart is somewhat underwhelmed by this third-rate scam from an Alinsky-ite ingenue and probable Manchurian candidate.

Kirk is not the first to point out the wisdom of the ages. [please tell me you get the joke, by the way]

  • G K Chesterton, in 1908 – “Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.”
  • Edmund Burke, in 1782 – “The individual is foolish; the multitude, for the moment is foolish, when they act without deliberation; but the species is wise, and, when time is given to it, as a species it always acts right.”
  • Plutarch, (circa 100 AD) – “To be ignorant of the lives of the most celebrated men of antiquity is to continue in a state of childhood all our days. “
  • Plato, (circa 370 BC) — “He was a wise man who invented beer.”

So who needs that old-fashioned, outmoded thinking anyway?

It is a natural thing for teenagers to think that they are smarter than adults, that they are the first people in history to truly fall in love, and that those morals, conventions, and traditions are just outdated and useless. We expect teens to indulge in such nonsense, as their rude awakening is coming soon enough. But it is wholly unbecoming for adults to be such saps.

Uneducated, stupid people love to have their ears tickled and be persuaded by things that sound appealing. That’s what makes them Democrats and moderates. They are quick to ditch tradition and try new things, without considering the consequences of abandoning the wisdom of the ages.

It is a contemptible fool who will rashly abandon the past.

The flip-side question: why should we tend to adhere to long-established custom?

Kirk said that civil society is only possible through convention. “. It is old custom that enables people to live together peaceably; the destroyers of custom demolish more than they know or desire. It is through convention—a word much abused in our time—that we contrive to avoid perpetual disputes about rights and duties: law at base is a body of conventions. Continuity is the means of linking generation to generation; it matters as much for society as it does for the individual; without it, life is meaningless. “

Current civilization and technology is a product of all the wisdom and knowledge that came before. The F-35 stealth fighter was preceded by the F-15 Eagle, the P-51 Mustang, the Sopwith Camel, and the Wright Brothers. Controlled nuclear fission was not possible before advances in metallurgy, advances in chemistry and physics utterly uncontemplated 100 years before. 500 years ago, we didn’t even know what elements were. But each generation built on what was before. And now we have probes to Mars.

The counterpoint: Russell Kirk’s #10: Change is healthy, and in fact necessary.

The thinking conservative understands that permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society.

I don’t want to belabour it here. Suffice it to say that the conservative does not resist ALL change, and in fact embraces certain changes. For example, slavery was a shameful, despicable moral outrage, and had to be ended, even though it was traditional for millennia all across the world.

So, EPU, how does this translate to real-world conservative policies and positions?

In a political sense, this means that when confronted with new challenges and issues, the first instinct of the conservative heart is to view the current issues through the prism of established wisdom. If you want a list of current issues that are touched upon by Kirk’s #2, here goes. And mind you, my opinions are every bit as valuable as ……. well, yours:

  • Gay “marriage” – nope. For millennia marriage has been what it is. While homosexuality has always been with us (the Bible addresses it in some detail, for example), marriage has clearly been what it is – what 70% of Americans are willing to amend state constitutions to protect. Those forces which want to impose a new definition are selfish and foolish. They have no interest in considering how such a thing tears at the fabric of the family, and how that in turn will rot the fabric of society in due time. Bah!
  • Free markets – yes, emphatically. Free market economy is the natural instinct of man, and all attempts to control markets — EVER — have not only ultimately failed, but caused great harm along the way. “spreading the wealth” is such a discredited idea, it’s only through the ignorance of the masses and the complicity of a venal and dishonest pack of media jackals that such a thing can be even seriously peddled
  • Wealth redistribution — haha, I don’t think so. Confiscating the wealth of producers and giving it to consumers is not only grossly immoral, but history shows it to succeed only in making everybody poor, for a number of fairly obvious reasons. It is merely some twit’s fatuous notion that somehow fairness demands it.
  • Political free speech — not just yes, but HELL yes. As far back as time goes, it has tyrants everywhere have placed ‘silence the opposition’ pretty high on their to-do list. Therefore as night follows day, every free society holds political free speech very dear. McCain-Feingold is a spectacularly shameful embarrassment of a statute, made even more hideous in that it came from a Republican. Despicable, and an utter anathema to the conservative heart.
  • The Rule of Law – uh huh. Yep. History shows that men, if not governed at all, rapidly descend into lawlessness that very quickly leads to the end of freedom for everybody. Overly lenient governance — far from being compassionate, as leftist would have you believe — actually generates more crime and mayhem.
  • Personal weapons – yeah buddy. As far back as history goes, common decent people have carried weapons. The cops have never been able to protect everybody, and people have taken it on themselves to be willing and able to protect themselves and their families. The very notion of taking away such a basic human right is a radical one, and dangerously foolish.

Well, that’s all the current issues that leap to mind. Feel free to add some, argue about these, and otherwise insult, rob, pillage, and plunder.

In conclusion: Change happens, and change can be good. But silly, frivolous change – that’s what leftists do.

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