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Notes from Chapter 13 – Section 2

The conservative is ultimately concerned with just what effect a new idea or policy will have on the societal order. Radicals are so insistent on change for the sake of change that they cannot comprehend what their ideas will ultimately do to the bonds that connect generation to generation.

– Macauley predicted a growth in the “proletariat” within America and was right – an external proletariat from other sides of the world and in our hemisphere threatened the established order as London and Washington saw it

Burke’s days also saw those challenges to the social order but today’s radicals are more diverse and well-armed

“However moribund the ideologies of liberalism and old-style socialism may have become, the lust for change never lacks agents.” (466)

– China’s failed “cultural revolution” was a more extreme version of the sweeping change wanted by radicals

– Conservatives face the challenge of restoring an internal and external order:
Internal harmony of the soul & person
External harmony of the republic at large

“The new revolutionary theory and system would bring first anarchy, and then total servitude; the instruments for both are more efficacious than they were in any other time. The new order, erected upon ruins, would be what Tocqueville called “democratic despotism,’ but harsher far than he expected that tyranny to grow In some sense, it would be what James Burnham called the ‘managerial revolution’: super-bureaucracy, arrogating to itself functions that cannot properly appertain to bureau or cabinet; the planned economy, encompassing not merely the economy proper, however, but the whole moral and intellectual range of human activities; the grand form of Planwirtschaft, state planning for its own sake, state socialism devoid of the generous aims that originally animated some early socialists.” (467)

– Illustrations of this new order are seen in 1984, Brave New World, and Vladimir Solovyov’s fable

– The Behemoth is rising on the ideas of “planning” the state and everything around it – creating a reality much more cruel than the old nightmares of the old-style socialists

“In the new-style collectivism, power is loved for its own disciplinary sake; regulation becomes an end rather than a means; and the state sustains the industrial discipline. Democracy, in the old sense, must be forgotten. How long might the planned society retain the theory and form of socialism? Is it possible that the new order might serve ends so foreign to the old humanitarian socialism as to be no more socialistic than such ‘people’s democracies’ as Albania are democratic? (‘Freedom? ‘ Lenin exclaimed. ‘Freedom? What for? What for?’)” (467-468)

– Czeslaw Milosz describes the kind of order from a Polish communism in The Captive Mind

Henri de Saint-Simon and Auguste Comte are the “fathers of this totally planned society”

“Wilhelm Röpke, that penetrating social thinker in the line of Burckhardt, calls the total planner’s ideal ‘eternal Saint-Simonism,’ and he describes their dream as ‘that attitude of mind which is the outcome of a mixture of the hubris of the natural scientist and engineer mentality of those who, with the cult of the ‘Colossal,’ combine their egotistical urge to assert themselves; those who would construct and organize economics, the State, and society according to supposedly scientific laws and blueprints, while mentally reserving for themselves the principle portefeuilles. And so we observe those collectivist social engineers of the type of a Wells or a Manneheim who quite openly admit the point of view of ‘society as a machine’ and who would thus seriously like to see realized the nightmare of a veritable Hell of civilization brought about by the complete instrumentation and functionalization of humanity.” (469)

– This constructed State may come about from Socialists but soon they will be ousted by the State that is consumed by its own ends of “enforcing equality of condition” and “gratification of a lust for power and the destruction of all ancient institutions in the interest of the new dominant elites.” (469)

– It requires that the Public be agitated to something like a state of war – old motives of duty are lost to the ends of the “machine-society”

– When the old systems of “transcendent moral order, duty to family, hope of advancement, and satisfaction with one’s task” (470) disappear, Big Brother steps in to manage the human concerns

“‘There are many in all parties who look forward to the time when virtually the whole of the populate will be dependent on the State for the whole of the amenities of life,’ says Douglas Jerrold. ‘Those who do so are the representatives of the most powerful class of the present day who, like the ruling classes which have preceded them, work in unspoken alliance toward common ends. This class is the new aristocracy of the pen and the desk, the professional organizers and administrators, who not only control the executive government (itself a province of vastly increasing importance), but also the machinery of organized labour and organized capital, and who now wish to assume not only the direction of all our great productive undertakings but, through the control of education and doctoring, the private lives of all the citizens.’” (470)

– Such a new society must be built with a new morality by social engineers that require compulsion rather than the imperative of a higher power

Conservatism's Concerns with State Growth

“When the inner order of the soul is decayed, the outer order of the state must be maintained by merciless severity, extending even the most private relationships.” (470)

– When radical planner face resistance they double down

“If democracy cannot be persuaded, then democracy must be intimidated.” (470)

Conservatism's Concerns with State Growth

– The ideological groups like the terroristic “Maoists” can be quite violent but some are tempered by their lust for power

– The planner cannot fathom why those outside don’t see the same way – especially peasantry and those outside of the towns

Marx knew they must be eliminated – towns must rule and rural must fall

“During the remainder of the twentieth century, the principal endeavor of imaginative conservatives is likely to be resistance to the ideas of a total society, through recovery of an order while will make the total state unnecessary and impracticable.” (471)

– Often new ideas take a generation to get into the masses – in ‘72, he was close to this practice in action with the Reagan revolution

“Yet it must be said here that today’s conservative thinker addresses himself to certain primary difficulties of the modern civil social order. If he fails, must much fall.” (472)

“In essence, the body of believe that we call ‘conservatism’ is an affirmation of normality in the concerns of society. There exist standards to which we may repair; man is not perfectible, but he may achieve a tolerable degree of order, justice, and freedom; both the ‘human sciences’ and humane studies are means for ascertaining the norms of the civil social order, and for informing the statesman and the reflecting public of the possibilities and the limits of social measures.” (472)

– The conservative is concerned with the restoration of character and spirit of an ordered inner soul – founded on the ethical understanding and religious sanction that has made life worth living for so long – something hither

– Deliberate social reform on “political Christianity” won’t work

“‘There is a tendency, especially among the English-speaking Protestant peoples, to treat religion as a kind of social tonic in order to extract a further degree of moral effort from the people.’” (472) – Dawson, Beyond Politics, p. 21

– The recovery of moral understanding can’t be a small device to restore a vision of familiar order – it must be an end to the restoration of the soul or it will ultimately fail

Conservatism's Concerns with State Growth

“In the words of T.S. Eliot, ‘If you will not have God (and he is a jealous God) you should pay your respects to Hitler or Stalin.’” (472)

Conservatism’s Concerns

1) Leadership

– Some measure of order, class, discipline, reverence must be preserved

– True liberal learning must be exalted over current system

“Only just leadership can redeem society from the mastery of the ignoble elite.” (472)

2) Proletariat or Masses

– a sense of family beyond the house must be restored – links to the past to create a future – senst of duty and right

– Alleviating the mass sense of boredom that leads to consumption of resources in “mass-amusement and mass-vice” rather than consume something that matters

“To restore purpose to labor and domestic existence, to give men back old hopes and long views and thought of posterity, will require bold imagination.” (437)

3) Militant Ideology

– armed ideologies that threaten freedom, justice, and order must be resisted with “hard diplomatic and military decisions”

– recognize that while we can’t curate a “Terrestrial Paradise” with the right political philosophy, we can certain make a “Terrestrial Hell” with the wrong ideology

4) Civil Society

– A return to true order of communities, cooperations, and locally organized energies “distinguished by multiplicity and diversity

“Free community is the alternative to compulsive collectivism.” (473)

– The decay of the family, the smallest society, brought about by humanitarian liberal policies has lead to rises in violence and movements of whole people in the name of “urban renewal”

– The conservative concerns themself with a number of questions that must be answered based on learning and current circumstances

– Not burdened with answers that fit an ideology like what Burkhardt calls the “terrible simplifiers”

“As H. Stuart Hughes remarks very truly, ‘Conservatism is the negation of ideology.’” (474)

“‘And the more thoroughly we understand our own political tradition, the more readily its whole resources are available to us, the less likely we shall be to embrace the illusions which wait for the ignorant and the unwary.’” (474) – Michael Oakeshott

“‘As a negative impulse, conservatism is based on a certain distrust of human nature, believe that the immediate impulses of the heart and visions of the brain are likely to be misleading guides.’ So wrote Paul Elmer More, in 1915. ‘But with this distrust of human nature is closely connected to another and more positive factor of conservatism – its trust in the controlling power of the imagination.’” (474)

Conservatism's Concerns with State Growth

“‘Conservatism is in general the intuition of genius, whereas liberalism is the efficiency of talent.’” (475) – Paul Elmer More

Conservatism's Concerns with State Growth

  • Kirk, Russell. The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot – Seventh Revised Edition. Washington DC: Regnery Publishing Inc., 2001
  • Röpke Wilhelm. Civitas Humana. London, 1948 p. 63
  • Jerrold, Douglas. England: Past, Present, and Future. London 1950. pp. 307-08
  • Röpke Wilhelm. Civitas Humana. London, 1948 p. 63

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