Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pruriently Conservative – NOT

The last few months, I have felt oddly out of touch and politically discontented with a great number of bloggers making up the VRWC. I find myself constantly startled by the actions and words of those I have nicknamed the ‘rabid right’ whose conservatism seems to amount to a kind of online anything goes version of soccer hooliganism rather than a commitment to any known principles or values of conservatism.

So what exactly are conservative principles? As Russell Kirk points out there is no Holy Writ or defining book like Das Kapital. Conservatism is not so much a rigid ideology as much as it is as a way of looking and interacting with the world as it is rather than the place one wishes it to be. I found Kirk’s Ten Principles of Conservatism a good place to start:
First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order.

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

Third, conservatives believe in what may be called the principle of prescription.

Fourth, conservatives are guided by their principle of prudence.

Fifth, conservatives pay attention to the principle of variety.

Sixth, conservatives are chastened by their principle of imperfectability.

Seventh, conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked.

Eighth, conservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism.

Ninth, the conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions.

Tenth, the thinking conservative understands that permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society.
Although, I am a fan of Kirk and Edmund Burke in general, I am probably far too much of a neoconservative for Kirk’s taste. I did find an interesting tidbit from the Iron Lady - taken from the Principles of Conservatism Lecture series, on a virtue I plug endlessly to the children which seemed quite apt.
When the Heritage Foundation asked me to make the virtue of Courage the centre-piece of this Lecture I was not displeased. Of the four cardinal virtues -- courage, temperance, justice and prudence -- it is the last -- prudence -- that the ancient philosophers traditionally placed at the moral apex.

They did so because they understood, quite rightly, that without that practical, seemingly rather dull, virtue none of the others could be correctly applied. You have to know when and how to be brave, or self-controlled or fair-minded, in particular situations Prudence -- or what I would prefer to call a good, hearty helping of commonsense -- shows the way.
Amen.

2 comments:

Kate said...

No, no... it's simpler than all that.

Conservativism can be boiled down to this:

"Less Forest Gump. More Team America."

Kateland, aka TZH said...

Huh, now I feel like I am answering myself…but actually no.

I would argue Forest Gump was a quintessentially conservative character which the world could use more of. Team America is not necessarily a conservative value. Jimmy Carter had his own team America and frankly, I think the world could use less Carter and a bit more Reagan