I confess I'm playing hookey from my reading of Penrose and Walker this weekend, to get up to speed on certain of beckett's and KC Burke's recent posts. That is, I'm finally getting around to reading Burke's Reflections. It's been sitting on my "primo" bookshelf for years now, just waiting for me to get to it. But the aforementioned "orthography" seemed so daunting, that I didn't feel up to the "fuffering" it would require to read the edition I have in my library. (In that day and age -- as can be seen in the Framers' own writings -- "s" is spelled as an "f", unless it is an initial capital, or the terminal letter in a word.) But I gather that one can get used to anything that doesn't cause too much "fuffering".... :^)
Anyhoot, this work is amazing, wonderful; it speaks to the ages, and is particularly timely and instructive to our own age. IMHO. It helps one understand how a phenomenon like Hitler, or Stalin, could ever arise in the first place....
On Burke's view, the correct understanding of how these enormities ever got into the position of seizing absolute tyrannical power -- with public approval, at least in the first case, at least once -- all boils down pretty much to this:
"History consists, for the greater part, of the miseries brought upon the world by pride, ambition, avarice, revenge, lust, sedition, hypocrisy, ungoverned zeal, and all the train of disorderly appetites, which shake the public with the same
'troublous storms that toss/The private state, and render life unsweet.'
These vices are the causes of those storms. Religion, morals, laws, prerogatives, privileges, liberties, rights of men, are the pretexts. The pretexts are always found in some specious appearance of a real good. You would not secure men from tyranny and sedition, by rooting out of the mind the principles to which the fraudulent pretexts apply? If you did, you would root out every thing that is valuable in the human breast. As these are the pretexts, so the ordinary actors and instruments in great public evils are kings, priests, magistrates, senates, parliaments, national assemblies, judges, and captains. You would not cure the evil by resolving, that there should be no more monarchs, nor ministers of state, nor of the gospel; no interpreters of law; no general officers; no public councils. You might change the names. The things in some shape must remain. A certain quantum of power must always exist in the community, in some hands, and under some appellation. Wise men will apply their remedies to vices, not to names; to the causes of evil which are permanent, not to the occasional organs by which they act, and the transitory modes in which they appear. Otherwise, you will be wise historically, a fool in practice. Seldom have two ages the same fashion in their pretexts and the same modes of mischief. Wickedness is a little more inventive. Whilst you are discussing fashion, the fashion is gone by. The very same vice assumes a new body. The spirit transmigrates; and, far from losing its principle of life by the change of its appearance, it is renovated in its new organs with the fresh vigor of a juvenile activity. It walks abroad; it continues its ravages; whilst you are gibbetting the carcass, or demolishing the tomb. You are terrifying yourself with ghosts and apparitions, while your house is the haunt of robbers. It is thus with all those, who, attending only to the shell and husk of history, think they are waging war with intolerance, pride, and cruelty, whilst, under color of abhorring the ill principles of antiquated parties, they are authorizing and feeding the same odious vices in different factions, and perhaps in worse."
A voice of wisdom, speaking to us in our time....
Thanks so much for your kind words, Phaedrus. I'm sure I don't deserve such high praise; though I think beckett does! One last thing: You ain't no "Redneck." :^)
Good night, my friend.
(Just out of curiosity ... what else in on the shelf?)