Skip to comments.From Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine … to you
Posted on 01/21/2014 7:40:42 PM PST by TurboZamboni
Edmund Burkes conservative version thought liberty and equality were cultural achievements built up over countless generations of social trial and error.
Sometimes the deepest differences in politics arent about the conclusions people draw but the way they reach them.
The British statesman Edmund Burke and the Anglo-American revolutionary Thomas Paine both favored free trade, for example, but for different reasons. The radical Paine believed that free trade would spread rationality and enlightenment and thus help bring war and tyranny to an end. The conservative Burke thought that government interference with trade would likely do more harm than good.
The difference in outlook between the two men, as Yuval Levin argues in a fine new book called The Great Debate, underlies much of our politics more than 200 years after they wrote their pamphlets and essays.
The debate Levin describes is a family quarrel within liberalism. Both sides have sought to advance liberty as they understood it. Paines progressive version of liberalism championed the Enlightenment as a set of newly discovered principles for political life that needed only to be followed. Burkes conservative version, on the other hand, thought liberty and equality were cultural achievements built up over countless generations of social trial and error.
(Excerpt) Read more at startribune.com ...
Its a review by Ponnuru of a book by Levin.
And Ponnuru has pretty good conservative credentials.
He is the editor of National Review after all.
As for free trade or not, the jury is in, on a worldwide basis at least. Peace and prosperity, beyond anything ever seen.
We, here, have problems. They are peculiar to us and others who have made similar errors. We, here, have caused most of them. Germany for instance doesn’t have such a problem with free trade.
All you need for it to work is a society which values the Just Law.
Immigration, property, and labor are all much better when every man is equal under the law; granted the Citizen may have more rights [and responsibilities] than the immigrant, but the central/core rights are the same.
Well. Sounds like you got a better idea. Enlighten us, please.
Let me throw this out as a simile: Paine's view was essentially mechanistic, similar to a lot of Utopians who feel that a model based on the correct principles must work a certain way and give a certain, predictable result. In this he is a "progressive" although that label has been twisted out of all recognition lately. Perhaps out of usefulness as well - today's progressives cheapen language by attempting to manipulate it, itself an essentially mechanistic approach to social construction. They rob it of its usefulness as well. That is another conversation.
Burke's, on the other hand, was a more organic model of society. His case is that nothing grows in a straight line, and certain practices that do not conform to a first-principles theoretical model do, in practice, confer a rather unpredictable value. Further, that to end them in conformance with mechanistic modeling might cause more harm than good because the mechanistic Enlightenment model was overly superficial. This was the source of his warning about the Terror. He died before it came to fruition but he predicted it with alarming accuracy.
What the Founders were attempting in America was, by its very nature, both mechanistic and organic. The first principles that form the bedrock of the Constitution are not purely those of Enlightenment political thought although Montesquieu looms hugely in their structure. They also built on long-established principles of English Common Law and certain home-grown practices peculiar to the sundry states. Paine was nettled occasionally at their lack of purity (by then he had moved to France and saw Burke's predictions come true), but even he had to concede that even the basic principles were not de novo, that they came from somewhere. Part of his shock at reading his friend Burke's criticism of the French Revolution was that he felt that Enlightenment principles, especially with regard to the individual's relation to the state, had been treated over-cautiously, even disrespectfully, by Burke. The result was The Rights Of Man, for which we may all be grateful - it is, compared with Burke's Reflections, a much cleaner representation of political principle and a far easier read. Burke's case was essentially "it isn't quite as easy as all that and if it goes wrong, it can go very wrong indeed." In my opinion both men were correct.
Great stuff. Thanks for the ping.
Chinas growth and development will hit natural limits, as I believe is already happening. Japan ran into hers after all, and that was before Chinese competition.
Other people will get their days in the sun.
We and the others that are or were on top have to reach for higher peaks, or find competitive niches.
Its one world because of technology and nothing will change it. Its easier to move people and goods from the other end of the world than it was to move them from New York to Ohio in 1890. We can pass laws and tariffs but at this point they will hurt far more than they will help. We can try to keep the races of man distinct but it will take dreadful methods to do so.
I’m a Burkean. Conservatism of that sort is a pragmatic political position that above all acknowledges reality.
The GOPe’s defect is the corruption of corporatism. The defect of the conservatives is Quixotism. I agree that the GOPe should be reformed through populism, but its going to happen, if it does, through an attack on its easily exploited moral defects.
Along the way the conservatives will have to come to an accommodation with reality, such as the fact that the world is now here, and its a mishmash of everything everywhere. This doesn’t need to mean amnesty or open borders, but it does mean a conservative politics that can be adopted by Asians and Mexicans.