There were bells on the hill, but I never heard them ringing

Burkean bells are going off everywhere! Sully….Ross what’s his nameJoe Klein.

They all talk about him like we’re supposed to know who he is, so I’m guessing this isn’t new. But just to be sure, I’d like to know: has it always been like this or is this like when the New Yorker suddenly decided it was time to start talking about Rem Koolhaas and the guy who wrote A Man Without Qualities?

Who was Edmund Burke anyway? I don’t have time to read his wiki entry let alone his books. Why do conservatives love him so much? Did he courageously oppose something important? Did Luna or Rush ever do any songs about his philosophy? How is he connected with Oakeshott and Hayek (I don’t know who they are either) and Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand and Leo Strauss?

Update: Kristol gets his Burke on:

In the short term, Republicans need to show a tactical agility and political toughness far greater than their predecessors did in the 1960s and the 1930s. “Else they will fall,” to quote the great conservative Edmund Burke, “an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle,” reduced to the unpleasant role of bystanders or the unattractive status of complainers, as Barack Obama makes history.

In this same post, Kristol claims:

Conservatism is more sophisticated than it was back then (in the 30s and 60s).

Could that possibly be true? Was there some 30s and 60s equivalent of an even dumber Joe the Plumber?






177 replies
  1. 1
    Laura W says:

    What a great title, DougJ.

  2. 2
    bayville says:

    Eddie Burke is a former, rock ’em, sock ’em rightwinger for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
    And a lot of conservatives like hockey so that is why he is popular among the GOP nowadays. At least that is my guess.

  3. 3
    Incertus says:

    He had a tv show, I think. Burke’s Law?

  4. 4
    Natascha says:

    I believe he is the Conservative’s John Rawls.

  5. 5
    Ned R. says:

    A basic summary — he liked revolutions except when they were messy. Eventually he died.

  6. 6
    Ned R. says:

    (Also, did I miss that Luna were Randians? Dean Wareham might have a lot to answer for.)

  7. 7
    jenniebee says:

    No, I never heard them at all, til there was youuuuuuu!

  8. 8

    Edmund Burke is to conservative thought what Alexis de Tocqueville is to American Political Science, that is to say a dead white European male who a long time ago wrote a book that everyone quotes but nobody has actually read in it’s entirety.

  9. 9
    Ned R. says:

    A slightly more serious take — so I started a discussion thread at my favorite web board once on Burke for pretty much the same reasons. Among the first posts in response:

    Burke is a protypical conservative because he preferred the inarticulate knowledge of the masses and of tradition over the articulated reasoning of elite intellectuals and because he had a very pessimistic attitude towards man’s nature and the ability to change it.

    So there you go.

  10. 10
    DougJ says:

    Also, did I miss that Luna were Randians?

    They did some song about the foxes and hedgehogs guy, Isaiah Berlin(?).

  11. 11
    DougJ says:

    Burke is a protypical conservative because he preferred the inarticulate knowledge of the masses and of tradition over the articulated reasoning of elite intellectuals and he because he had a very pessimistic attitude towards man’s nature and the ability to change it.

    Great. What’s the name of his big book? When did he live? What his big cause?

  12. 12
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Edmund Burke is considered to be the father of conservatism, although there are rumors that conservatism’s ma was sleeping around with the likes of Oakeshott and Hayek.

  13. 13
    Mazacote Yorquest says:

    He’s not the conservative John Rawls. Rawls is a political philosopher who tries to give a systematic justification for liberalism. The whole point of Burke’s conservatism is that politics is more like a tradition, and you can’t get too rational or systematized about it. That was the problem, he thought, with Robespierre and company. They had a cold, unflinching logic about what society needed, and however many heads needed slicing off to get that accomplished, that’s how many they would guillotine. His Reflections on the Revolution in France is the locus classicus of modern conservatism. Like most of contemporary politics (left vs. right wing), it goes back to what you thought of the French Revolution. If you thought it primarily roiled a mob to disrespect human life and to trash long-time institutions (how could they behead poor poor Marie Antoinette) then you have Burkean conservative tendencies. If you think that whole liberte, egalite, fraternite thing was pretty sweet despite the tumbrels, then you’re in Cidertown– I mean, you’re on the leftward side of things.

    Burke is a name you can throw out when you want to justify the status quo without actually having an airtight argument for why things shouldn’t change. Read the National Review back in the early 60’s– why won’t those importunate coloreds realize that diners are respectful, well-mannered places of business?

  14. 14
    Ned R. says:

    @DougJ: What’s the name of his big book? When did he live? What his big cause?

    The biggest book — Reflections on the Revolution in France

    Lived — 1729 to 1797

    Big cause — well, the same fellow from that thread I quoted added this later:

    Burke distrusted the idea of a society run by intellectuals who discarded checks and balances and cherished their own ideas (this is what makes him similar to the people who wrote the Federalist Papers and many conservatives) and is one of the reasons he predicted the French Revolution would end in disaster….At the heart of it all is the right-wing’s residual Judeo-Christian belief in the Garden of Eden and mankind’s fall from grace and sinful nature. This ideology has mankind eternally damned and in need of a Divine savior who can break the curse. Burke felt that human nature and morality were set in stone and that there was nothing left to learn as far as new discoveries in human nature go. From this point he works within the inherent constraints humanity has. Barbarism is always a step away and unless someone is civilized he will revert back to it. The Enlightenment and its followers rejected the old-fashioned notion of God and human nature (if they believed in the existince of either one) and thought that salvation comes in the form of Man or some part of him (his mind and the cult of Human Reason being an example of one). Concepts of human evolution would continue to cement the idea of human nature as being malleable or at least something in the middle of evolving and eroded many of the assumptions behind Judeo-Christian views like Burke’s….Burke’s traditional way of looking at mankind (with a sinful nature and all) makes him the prototypical conservative who doesn’t exalt rationalization (keeping him far away from "right-winger" Ayn Rand) and is quick to look at things like tradition, the Bible and other non-abstract things as a guiding light.

  15. 15
    Emma Zahn says:

    Burke is the conservative that comforted Irving Kristol (Bill’s dad) after he was mugged by reality.

    Conservatives, well neos anyway, probably rely on Kristol’s interpretation of Burke rather than reading him themselves.

  16. 16
    Brian J says:

    I should really try to fit some of the more classic works into my reading schedule. Should I ever be involved in public life, I don’t want to fall into the trap John Edwards found himself in when he was asked about James Q. Wilson and his views.

    Anyway, is it possible these people are describing Burke as they know of his ideas, in the same way someone uses Ayn Rand’s name to describe something that modern conservatives might try to do? This would require them to be familiar with his way of thinking but doesn’t mean they necessarily know his specific works.

  17. 17
    LaDonne says:

    I don’t know anything about Burke, but I used to hang out with one of the guys in Luna (Sean Eden of Canadian heritage) — back in his Clear Lake days.

    From what I can tell Burke is a mob rules kind of guy, majority rules, forget about minority rights.

  18. 18
    Rome Again says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    If Burke was the father of conservatism, what does that make William F. Buckley?

  19. 19
    DougJ says:

    @Ned R.

    So is all the Burkean stuff some kind of rejection of the Enlightenment?

  20. 20
    bayville says:

    Lived—1729 to 1797

    Maybe it was his father that played for the Leafs?

  21. 21
    DougJ says:

    Is there some catchy Burke quote that it would be useful to know? Some anecdote wherein he witnesses a simple chimney sweep outfox an intellectual or something like that?

  22. 22
    Ned R. says:

    @DougJ: So is all the Burkean stuff some kind of rejection of the Enlightenment?

    At least a deep suspicion of it, but — I’d argue — taking advantage of it (his political career and dissemination of ideas among an increasingly well read populace, for instance). Kinda rings a bell, that.

  23. 23
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Rome Again: A bastard.

  24. 24
    Incertus says:

    @Rome Again:

    If Burke was the father of conservatism, what does that make William F. Buckley?

    The red-headed stepchild?

  25. 25
    Mazacote Yorquest says:

    The famous quote about Marie-Antoinette:
    http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/burke.htm

  26. 26
    DougJ says:

    Laura W

    I know my show tunes.

  27. 27
    JGabriel says:

    Burke was an 18th century Whig, who expressed support for America during the Revolutionary War, but opposed the French Revolution. Opinions differ as to whether he was a corrupt opportunist (Marx) or a man of principle (Churchill). I haven’t read enough on him or of his work to determine who’s right.

    Apparently, American Cons consider him the "father of modern conservativism", probably so they can deny their Tory roots.

    .

  28. 28
    Ned R. says:

    @DougJ: Is there some catchy Burke quote that it would be useful to know?

    I wouldn’t know if this is THE quote, but it seems to sum him up pretty well (from the Reflections):

    "We fear God, we look up with awe to kings; with affection to parliaments; with duty to magistrates; with reverence to priests; and with respect to nobility. Why? Because when such ideas are brought before our minds, it is natural to be so affected."

  29. 29
    DougJ says:

    Mazacote Yorquest

    Starbursts, right?

  30. 30
    Snail Darter says:

    @Rome Again:

    If Burke was the father of conservatism, what does that make William F. Buckley?

    He’s one of the pappy’s of the modern conservative movement. Along with Richard Viguerre and Snake Pliskin.

  31. 31
    JJ says:

    Burke’s a guy who would have loved the idea of turning the middle east into a wall-to-wall democratic paradise. And the part about doing it at the point of a gun would have been even better.

  32. 32
    jenniebee says:

    Who was Edmund Burke anyway? I don’t have time to read his wiki entry let alone his books. Why do conservatives love him so much? Did he courageously oppose something important?

    British politician, late 18th early 19th century. He opposed the French Revolution (find a British pol who didn’t…) and, most famously, the execution of Marie Antoinette. Specifically, he opposed the idea of a radical remaking of government from a clean slate, the way the Committee for Public Safety was doing in France (using Terror as their tool to keep the public in line. Reading Twelve Who Ruled back to back with The Shock Doctrine will keep you up at night, I tell you what).

    Burke’s argument is the essential conservative argument that you shouldn’t knock what works and you shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, but he said it in about 600 pages, give or take. He wasn’t opposed to all change – notably, he was one of the first British politicians to support American Independence.

    Why modern conservatives love him? Cognitive dissonance combined with never having read him is the best I can tell you. They might be jerking off to Carlyle’s "Captains of Industry" (he’s agin’ em) too. That and it’s a convenient conservative hook to hang their hats on, I suppose, and nobody but me really gets upset about it. Calling themselves the ideological heirs of Burke is logic on the same plane as calling themselves the party of Lincoln – once upon a time they were led by a Freesoiler Whig, now they’re race-baiting Norquistians, and yet "Republican" covers it all.

  33. 33
    Andre says:

    Edmund Burke:

    Mere parsimony is not economy. Expense, and great expense, may be an essential part in true economy.

  34. 34
    Raenelle says:

    Burke was a Whig politician who defended the Americans against the British up to 1775, and he was just about the first guy to criticize the French revolution from a non-reactionary position. He had a sane mistrust of the powers of reason and felt that tradition was often a reliable guide for conduct. Thus, he supported the Americans, because they were defending tradition against British policies that violated customary practice. And he mistrusted the French revolution, because they had were overthrowing tradition, willy-nilly he thought, based on nothing more than schemes in their heads.

    I’m practically a Bolshevik in my political leanings, and even I thought Burke made a lot of sense. He was passionate and eloquent and very often wise. If he’s obscure, it’s unfortunate. Sometimes DWEMs have a lot to contribute–even if they are dead, white, European, and male.

    He gave a philosophical base to what is healthy about conservatism, that good old conservative virtue–prudence.

  35. 35
    Mike in NC says:

    Edmund Burke is considered to be the father of conservatism, although there are rumors that conservatism’s ma was sleeping around with the likes of Oakeshott and Hayek.

    Ya mean Selma Hayek? Yeah, starbursts baby!

  36. 36
    Garibaldi says:

    @DougJ: Is there some catchy Burke quote that it would be useful to know? Some anecdote wherein he witnesses a simple chimney sweep outfox an intellectual or something like that?

    Mere parsimony is not economy. Expense, and great expense, may be an essential part in true economy.

    Economy is a distributive virtue, and consists not in saving but selection. Parsimony requires no providence, no sagacity, no powers of combination, no comparison, no judgment.

    From your tone you sound unfairly dismissive of Burke; as the two quotes above show, he’s been terribly misused in the past few days and deserves better than to be used as an intellectual figleaf by the pathologically foolish tread-the-middleground set.

  37. 37
    JGabriel says:

    Rome Again:

    If Burke was the father of conservatism, what does that make William F. Buckley?

    Bastard great-great-great (etc) grandchild, one country removed, on Aunt Tory’s side.

    .

  38. 38
    jamie says:

    So is all the Burkean stuff some kind of rejection of the Enlightenment?

    Burke invented conservatism so that people could still be Monarchist and not have to rely on the Divine Right of Kings to justify it. Before Burke, the rationale for having a king was "God gave us a king to rule us." After Burke, respectable smarty-pants Rousseau-reading Enlightenment-types could give the rationale as being "It is our tradition to have a king, and tradition is preferable to Robespierre and the Guillotine." It’s sortof a band aid so that all the people in England who could read a book wouldn’t naturally gravitate toward republicanism, which most Enlightenment figures tended to idealize. Burke had a visceral hatred of the French Revolution, and he wanted to give people a way to be good "Enlightened" types while giving them an out clause ("we’ve always done things this way") whenever logic lead them to a conclusion about politics that they found uncomfortable or unwilling to realize. IMHO.

    On the other hand, Burke was a big supporter of the American Revolution, mainly because our forefathers went to the trouble of justifying it in terms of our rights as Englishmen. The fact that the US Revolution upheld a landholding bourgeois consensus probably helped him swallow the pill, too.

  39. 39
    Rome Again says:

    @Ned R.:

    That sounds totally wrong to be a mantra for the "government is the problem" Republicans.

    They really ARE a confusing lot, aren’t they?

  40. 40
    JGabriel says:

    Burke, as quoted by Ned R.:

    We fear God, we look up with awe to kings; with affection to parliaments; with duty to magistrates; with reverence to priests; and with respect to nobility. Why? Because when such ideas are brought before our minds, it is natural to be so affected.

    Hmm. Not big on questioning the received order of things, apparently.

    .

  41. 41
    Rome Again says:

    @Andre:

    That’s another bad example, I take that quote to say spending to uphold an economy is good.

  42. 42
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    This ideology has mankind eternally damned and in need of a Divine savior who can break the curse.

    So, okay. Superman.

  43. 43
    Brian J says:

    Off topic, but this is a response that I just got from a family member on my Facebook wall because my status, written after last night’s speech, read "Brian is very glad Barack Obama is our president":

    "Very glad huh?
    Sorry, I can’t share in your enthusiasm about a man who makes my job exceptionally awkward. Are you aware if he gets what he wants even Catholic hospitals will have to perform abortions.
    Do you remember how precious your niece and nephew were the first time you held them?? Well, paenty of those partial-birth abortion babies come out kicking and screaming for their lives. Do you have any idea how hard it is for a nurse…. someone who has devoted her career to HELPING people…. to HAVE to leave the baby on a table to DIE? Yes, leave a hungry cold newborn on a table to die because as far as Barack Obama is concerned it wasn’t ever born, won’t have a birth or death certificate EVEN THOUGH IT HAS BEEN BORN ALIVE AND THEN DIED !!! And God help the nurse who picks it up or tries to comfort it while it starves to death, she will lose her job.
    Sorry, I dont have an ounce of respect for that , nope, not one."

    Sheesh. I’m not entirely sure of the way she feels. Can someone clear it up for me?

  44. 44
    Joshua Norton says:

    This would require them to be familiar with his way of thinking but doesn’t mean they necessarily know his specific works.

    Kind of like they love to toss around Adam Smith, but are pretty much clueless as to what he actually said.

    Smith would hate these bunch of right wing asshats.

  45. 45
    JGabriel says:

    @Mike in NC:

    Ya mean Selma Hayek? Yeah, starbursts baby!

    Sorry, Friedrich not Selma. No relation, parsimonious bosom. 20th C. Austrian economist.

    .

  46. 46
    Anton Sirius says:

    Burkean bells
    Burkean bells
    It’s wingnut time in the city
    Wing-a-ding
    Hear them ring
    Soon it will be Bastille Day

  47. 47
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    My favorite Burkean piece of wisdom was his last quote: "Now let it down slowly.."

  48. 48
    Robert Green says:

    it’s no fun, it’s no fun
    reading fortune cookies to yourself
    are you a fox or a hedgehog
    do you care anymore
    wastin’ time, wastin’ time
    wastin’ time all the while
    i don’t know what you’re sayin’
    but i hate it anyway
    a celebrity friendship
    and another fashion victem
    he’s annoying, she’s a liar
    i don’t know how she picked him
    wastin’ time, wastin’ time
    wastin’ time all the while
    i don’t know what you’re sayin’
    but i hate it anyway
    can you make time for me
    would you make time for me?
    i will wait patiently
    it’s no good
    it’s no fun

    it’s a great great song by luna, called "hedgehog". i’m not sure if it is germane to this discussion doug unless you know something i don’t. i’ve met dean wareham and he sure didn’t sound hayekian, oakshottal or indeed burkist.

  49. 49
    Joshua Norton says:

    Can someone clear it up for me?

    Not possible. Tell your relative that they’re a hopelessly uninformed wingnut and avoid them at family gatherings.

  50. 50
    Davis X. Machina says:

    From what I can tell Burke is a mob rules kind of guy, majority rules, forget about minority rights.

    Rather the opposite, in some ways.

    In his Address to the Electors of Bristol, he told the voters in his parliamentary constituency that they elected him, and his discretion and judgment, that he wasn’t going to just be their spokesman, that he represented Bristol, to be sure, but since Parliament ruled the whole nation, that could and did mean voting against Bristol’s parochial interests.

    Burke’s mistrust of the guys with One Overarching Theory of Everything made him a stick-in-the-mud (shared with Karl Popper, BTW), but would also have made him unhappy with modern American movement-Conservatism.

  51. 51
    JGabriel says:

    Brian J:

    Sheesh. I’m not entirely sure of the way she feels. Can someone clear it up for me?

    You won’t be getting any Christmas presents from her, and – to be on the safe side – don’t eat or drink anything she offers you. In fact, it’s probably best to just stay out of rifle range.

    .

  52. 52
    MrSparkle says:

    From what little I remember of my earlier political theory classes, Burke was an oldschool conservative in England and a supporter of the monarchy who argued that we shouldn’t give into ideas like liberalism and innovation, but look to the way things are traditionally done. I also remember him saying something about how we should not try to leave our prejudices behind, but to keep our prejudices close, as they make us better than the "others".

    I’m sure someone else can come up with a better answer, imo.

  53. 53
    Rome Again says:

    @Brian J:

    Gee, blaming a president who was inaugurated in 2009 for a medical procedure that has been outlawed since 2003 takes some brains, huh?

  54. 54
    JJ says:

    Rumbled with Thomas Paine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.....ontroversy
    And a lot of other dudes opined as well:
    http://www.victorianweb.org/history/hist7.html

  55. 55
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    Ubba, uh, dabba babba ….

    Like Rachel after Jindal last night, I am left speechless.

    Somebody talk me down.

  56. 56
    Rome Again says:

    @Joshua Norton:

    Seems to me they have that same particular problem with the things Jesus said.

  57. 57
    Shygetz says:

    @Raenelle: Of course you thought Burke made some sense; he basically said "don’t screw with success" and "you’re not as smart as you think you are". How this supports "Tax cuts!" mystifies me. How Sullivan thinks this supports gay rights mystifies me even more; Burke would have been strictly against gay rights because they are completely against the tradition that has worked thus far, and would completely remodel the institution of marriage. Burke has become a conservative incantation, muttered to ward off the plague and make the crops grow, and has nothing to do with modern conservative thought.

  58. 58
    The Other Steve says:

    I have to admit not knowing much Burke, but I was always under the impression that he didn’t think you could trust anyone to do what was in your best interest.

    Which kind of puts him in opposition to the Randian’s who now run the Republican party and think everyone is good and wholesome until they’re not, or they get on TV or something.

  59. 59
    Brian J says:

    Not possible. Tell your relative that they’re a hopelessly uninformed wingnut and avoid them at family gatherings.

    That’s just it: I don’t think of her this way, because I know the conviction is heartfelt and sincere. I don’t agree with it, but it’s a value judgment, or something like it. To me at least, it’s not stupid. If you want stupid, I could ask my conservative friend at work to describe his thoughts on how support from the government during economic hardship is a possible step on the road towards fascism, which is something liberal by the way.

  60. 60
    El Cid says:

    Burke isn’t a simple character, and whether or not the entirety of his arguments succeed, he isn’t the mere whipping boy of modern conservative quotes.

    Thom Hartmann has frequently argued that U.S. modern conservatives’ repetition of Burke has more to do with the portrayal of him in Russell Kirk’s work than it has to do with an intrinsic engagement with the quite complicated character which Burke represented, and that sounds at least realistic.

    David Brooks doesn’t quote Burke because David Brooks was passionately interested in the course and justness of the French Revolution, nor because David Brooks cared about the treatment of locals by the East India Company.

    It’s to attempt to make a trivial worldview sound much deeper and more intellectually founded.

  61. 61
    Rome Again says:

    @TheHatOnMyCat:

    Talk you down? Unpossible. Scorned Republicans act like assholes, we know this, right?

  62. 62
    cleek says:

    bah. i bet 90% of those fucktards couldn’t even find Burke in a library.

    philosophy is the talk on a cereal box.

    religion is just another way to be right wing

  63. 63
    DougJ says:

    it’s a great great song by luna, called “hedgehog”. i’m not sure if it is germane to this discussion doug unless you know something i don’t. i’ve met dean wareham and he sure didn’t sound hayekian, oakshottal or indeed burkist.

    Well, they did a song about philosophy, close enough.

    Not a big Luna fan. I liked them the first time when they were called the Velvet Underground’s third album.

  64. 64
    gbear says:

    Burke is a protypical conservative because he preferred the inarticulate knowledge of the masses and of tradition over the articulated reasoning of elite intellectuals and he because he had a very pessimistic attitude towards man’s nature and the ability to change it.

    Now that sounds like change John McCain can believe in.

  65. 65
    JGabriel says:

    JennieBee:

    Calling themselves the ideological heirs of Burke is logic on the same plane as calling themselves the party of Lincoln – once upon a time they were led by a Freesoiler Whig, now they’re race-baiting Norquistians, and yet "Republican" covers it all.

    Like I said, Burke’s just a convenient Whig hook on which to rest Republican/Conservative denials that during the Revolutionary War, they all would have been fucking Tories (modifier meant both verbally and adjectivally). (And it bugs me, too, JB.)

    .

  66. 66
    Rome Again says:

    @gbear:

    and Rush Limbaugh too!

  67. 67
    Rome Again says:

    We fear God, we look up with awe to kings; with affection to parliaments; with duty to magistrates; with reverence to priests; and with respect to nobility. Why? Because when such ideas are brought before our minds, it is natural to be so affected.

    Oh, NOW I know why the royal bloodlines are presented in "Burke’s Peerage".

    ;)

  68. 68
    Brian J says:

    @Shygetz:

    Not that I’d ever waste my time reading a piece of shit like Liberal Fascism, but my impression is that some people feel if you accept only the broadest outlines of an idea and then change the specifics, concepts relating to something like the different forms of totalitarianism are comparable to whatever you want them to be similar to. In other words, because Jonah Goldberg thinks fascism is bad and extreme and also that liberals are bad and extreme, liberalism in the modern American sense is basically equivalent to fascism.

    I don’t know enough about Burke to really describe his ideas, but unless there’s a range of opinions from him that don’t easily fit into one category, what people like Sullivan are doing sounds like what I am describing above.

  69. 69
    Joshua Norton says:

    but it’s a value judgment,

    But it’s not a "value judgement" when they start throwing around nonexistent "facts" about murdering newborn babies. They’re just repeating some lie they heard from the usual cast of untrustworthy characters.

    Not to polish an old chestnut again, but people are entitled to their own opinions, not their own facts. Deal with the frothers who know weird things that no one else knows at your own risk.

  70. 70
    JJ says:

    These days, for "conservatives," the Trotsky gene is dominant:

    http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlo.....;out=02:44

    The Burke gene is decidedly recessive.

  71. 71
    different church-lady says:

    You silly naive liberal: elite pundits quote people like Burke specifically BECAUSE you’ve never heard of them.

  72. 72
    Brian J says:

    @Joshua Norton:

    What was she making up?

  73. 73
    Comrade Desert Hussein Rat says:

    When Republicans start mentioning names of people who they’ve never read, let alone understood, I immediately think of A Fish Called Wanda:

    Wanda: [after Otto breaks in on Wanda and Archie in Archie’s flat and hangs him out the window] I was dealing with something delicate, Otto. I’m setting up a guy who’s incredibly important to us, who’s going to tell me where the loot is and if they’re going to come and arrest you. And you come loping in like Rambo without a jockstrap and you dangle him out a fifth-floor window. Now, was that smart? Was it shrewd? Was it good tactics? Or was it stupid?
    Otto West: Don’t call me stupid.
    Wanda: Oh, right! To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people! I’ve known sheep that could outwit you. I’ve worn dresses with higher IQs. But you think you’re an intellectual, don’t you, ape?
    Otto West: Apes don’t read philosophy.
    Wanda: Yes they do, Otto. They just don’t understand it. Now let me correct you on a couple of things, OK? Aristotle was not Belgian. The central message of Buddhism is not "Every man for himself." And the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up.

  74. 74
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    I’ve actually been working on a two volume set of conservative tomes that will be the distillation of three hundred years of cutting-edge conservative thought. The first volume is entitled "The Status Quo Is Working For Me" and the second volume is entitled "Your New-Fangled Ideas Scare Me". Look for them on Regnery press.

  75. 75
  76. 76
    Andre says:

    Conservatism is more sophisticated than it was back then (in the 30s and 60s).

    FYI Bill, "sophisticated" is an euphemism for homosexual.

  77. 77
    El Cid says:

    @ Brian J:

    I am not making this up. In Liberal Fascism, Jo’berg actually claims that the French Revolution was fascist because "it made politics into a religion." However, elsewhere in the books he defines fascism as "trying to get beyond politics". Make of that what you will.

    He also said “The Holocaust could not have occurred in Italy because Italians are not Germans”.

  78. 78
    John Cole says:

    FYI- the caption under Obama on the Daily Show was ‘Optimist Prime,’ which rocks.

  79. 79

    @Just Some Fuckhead

    I’ve actually been working on a two volume set of conservative tomes that will be the distillation of three hundred years of cutting-edge conservative thought. The first volume is entitled "The Status Quo Is Working For Me" and the second volume is entitled "Your New-Fangled Ideas Scare Me". Look for them on Regnery press.

    You forgot volume III, "Get Off My Lawn You Damned Kids"

  80. 80

    I always think of the school in D.C. when people mention Burke.

    It’s really confusing to hear the Loony-Cons go on about him because all the the kids from Burke I ever knew were DFHs to the nth degree.

  81. 81
    Mike G says:

    I liked Tom Tomorrow’s take on Joe the Dumber —
    ‘Obama pledges to reduce a plumber’s taxes, much to the plumber’s consternation: "You’ll never get away with this, you…you SOCIALIST!!"’.

  82. 82
    Mike in NC says:

    I’ve actually been working on a two volume set of conservative tomes that will be the distillation of three hundred years of cutting-edge conservative thought. The first volume is entitled "The Status Quo Is Working For Me" and the second volume is entitled "Your New-Fangled Ideas Scare Me". Look for them on Regnery press.

    Ah, the infamous Regnery Press. Peak Wingut. We can look forward to much idiocy from them in the next few years. Has Eric Cantor signed a book contract yet? Joe the Plumber? Piyush Jindal?

  83. 83
    LaDonne says:

    #63

    Sterling didn’t much care for the connection.

  84. 84
    Mike in NC says:

    Was there some 30s and 60s equivalent of an even dumber Joe the Plumber?

    In the 30s we had Joe the Stalin, and in the 50s there was Joe the McCarthy. In the 60s I’m at a loss. Spiro the Agnew?

  85. 85

    Now that sounds like change John McCain can believe in.

    Well, they did go to school together.

  86. 86
    wb says:

    If Burke was the father of conservatism, what does that make William F. Buckley?

    Still dead.

    What was she making up?

    The part about leaving the baby on the table to die. Oh, and the part about coming out kicking and screaming for their lives. Oh, and the part about forcing Catholic hospitials to perform abortions. The part about the nurse losing her/his job. Aw hell, everything.

  87. 87
    Mazacote Yorquest says:

    "In the 60s I’m at a loss. Spiro the Agnew?"

    Joe the Klansman. He was a peach.

  88. 88
    Conservatively Liberal says:

    We fear God, we look up with awe to kings; with affection to parliaments; with duty to magistrates; with reverence to priests; and with respect to nobility. Why? Because when such ideas are brought before our minds, it is natural to be so affected.
     
    Wingnut Addendum:
    If the above listed are not conservatives then we must oppose the tyrants until we draw our last breath.

    Updated.

  89. 89
    dopealope says:

    Jumpin’ Jeebus on a Stick … That has got to be the first reference to Robert Musil I’ve ever read on a political blog. If you can work the "Collateral Campaign" in another post, you are my God.

  90. 90
    Ned R. says:

    @Comrade Desert Hussein Rat: Hahah, a brilliant dialogue quote — the subtlest part is the final line:

    "Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up."

  91. 91
    Ned R. says:

    Was there some 30s and 60s equivalent of an even dumber Joe the Plumber?

    I give to you Father Charles Coughlin:

    He was one of the first political leaders to use radio to reach a mass audience, as more than forty million tuned to his weekly broadcasts during the 1930s. Coughlin used his radio program to promote Franklin D. Roosevelt and his early New Deal proposals, to issue antisemitic commentary, and later to rationalize some of the policies of National Socialist Adolf Hitler and Fascist Benito Mussolini. The broadcasts have been called "a variation of the Fascist agenda applied to American culture".

  92. 92
    DougJ says:

    That has got to be the first reference to Robert Musil I’ve ever read on a political blog.

    Don’t be impressed — I only know about him because they started talking about him in the New Yorker a few years ago.

  93. 93
    Lancelot Link says:

    "In the 60s I’m at a loss. Spiro the Agnew?"

    Joe

  94. 94
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    Was there some 30s and 60s equivalent of an even dumber Joe the Plumber?

    In the 30’s there was Father Coughlin, also known as "The Father of Hate Radio."
    In the 60’s there was Joe Pyne, who used to tell guests who argued with him "Take a walk, jerk!"

  95. 95
    R. Schmidt-Orren says:

    @Mazacote Yorquest:

    The famous quote about Marie-Antoinette

    Jesus. And they think Burke is someone to look up to? Figures.

    And it’s got that creepy republican sexual undertone thing going on in it too.

  96. 96
    aschup says:

    @JJ:

    This is like the most perfect example ever of people needing to read something before they opine on it. Everything you said is false. Burke would have opposed our ridiculous follies in the Middle East for precisely the reasons he opposed the French Revolution in his Reflections.

    The problem with Burke nowadays is not his philosophy – there’s quite a bit in the Reflections that I’m pretty sure liberals would find sympathy with, paeans to Marie Antoinette notwithstanding – it’s the fact that he comes into the political discourse almost exclusively through Randroid twits like Brooks who probably read excerpts as an undergrad, culled the quotes that told him he was right about the world, and hasn’t bothered thinking critically about him since.

    Feh.

  97. 97
    Steeplejack says:

    @Mazacote Yorquest:

    Shorter Edmund Burke on Marie Antoinette: "Starbursts!"

    Edit: Damn it, DougJ, you got in ahead of me!

  98. 98
    R. Schmidt-Orren says:

    @Ned R.:

    "We fear God, we look up with awe to kings; with affection to parliaments; with duty to magistrates; with reverence to priests; and with respect to nobility. Why? Because when such ideas are brought before our minds, it is natural to be so affected."

    After reading Burke’s reach-around for Marie-Antoinette that Mazacote linked to, I am not surprised.

    Changes my conclusions of conservatives not one iota.

    Fuck these people. They are the bane of any democracy.

    I wonder if Burke, born in Ireland, only cheered for the American Revolution because it was the British who being revolted against. The enemy of his enemy is his friend.

  99. 99
    aschup says:

    @R. Schmidt-Orren:

    I wonder if Burke, born in Ireland, only cheered for the American Revolution because it was the British who being revolted against. The enemy of his enemy is his friend.

    He was a member of the BRITISH HOUSE OF COMMONS. He represented Wendover. How the fuck does that even work?

    Jesus. History hates all of you.

  100. 100
    TenguPhule says:

    If Burke was the father of conservatism, what does that make William F. Buckley?

    The other man who fathered the red headed stepchild.

  101. 101
    TenguPhule says:

    OT, but WTF?

    @Krista

    Just another landmine left behind by the retreating Bush.

    If there were a way to put him and his parents in one of those homes, it would be justice.

  102. 102
    DougJ says:

    He was a member of the BRITISH HOUSE OF COMMONS. He represented Wendover. How the fuck does that even work?

    Maybe he was one of those “Fifth Column” types the conservatives are always talking about.

  103. 103
    jenmcb says:

    Since you didn’t have the time to read the wiki, I did.
    I thought this was interesting (quote below).
    I agree with Garibaldi that Burke deserves a lil more respect, which he seems to be getting here on BJ if not from all the brilliant pundits.

    Winston Churchill in "Consistency in Politics" wrote:

    On the one hand [Burke] is revealed as a foremost apostle of Liberty, on the other as the redoubtable champion of Authority. But a charge of political inconsistency applied to this life appears a mean and petty thing. History easily discerns the reasons and forces which actuated him, and the immense changes in the problems he was facing which evoked from the same profound mind and sincere spirit these entirely contrary manifestations. His soul revolted against tyranny, whether it appeared in the aspect of a domineering Monarch and a corrupt Court and Parliamentary system, or whether, mouthing the watch-words of a non-existent liberty, it towered up against him in the dictation of a brutal mob and wicked sect. No one can read the Burke of Liberty and the Burke of Authority without feeling that here was the same man pursuing the same ends, seeking the same ideals of society and Government, and defending them from assaults, now from one extreme, now from the other.

  104. 104
    jenmcb says:

    ps —
    random comment to DougJ:
    Too bad balloon juice didn’t pick a name that could be abbreviated to mean "James Brown" instead of "blowjob" no?
    sorry, I am not as intellectual as everyone else here! ;)

  105. 105
    R. Schmidt-Orren says:

    @aschup:

    He was a member of the BRITISH HOUSE OF COMMONS. He represented Wendover. How the fuck does that even work?

    It works the same way that Mitch McConnel is a member of the UNITED STATES SENATE. He represents Kentucky. Yet he wants the American auto industry and the US economy to go down the crapper. How the fuck do you not understand how this works?

  106. 106
    DougJ says:

    Too bad balloon juice didn’t pick a name that could be abbreviated to mean “James Brown” instead of “blowjob” no?

    As you may know, John is a huge fan of James Brown.

  107. 107
    aschup says:

    @R. Schmidt-Orren:

    With the niggling difference that Burke went on at book- and speech-length about why the American Revolution was consistent with his philosophical principles of liberty and why the French was not, whereas McConnell is a crapweasel whose only defense of his position boils down to ‘Fuck the UAW.’

    But by all means, please ignore what Burke actually wrote and make assertions that have absolutely no textual or historical evidence. Like I said, history hates you.

  108. 108
    DougJ says:

    Like I said, history hates you.

    What does that mean, anyway?

  109. 109
    Garrigus Carraig says:

    @aschup: Yeah good point.

    1. Burke was a Protestant, hence not the kind of Irish that excluded one from public life in Britain. Ireland was, although a separate realm, subject to the British monarch (he was the ruler of both).

    2. Wendover was a "pocket borough", loosely a constituency which had lost lots of population over time but retained disproportionate representation in the House of Commons. There were plenty of these until the Reform Acts of 1832 & ’67. Wendover was controlled by a nobleman ally of Burke’s patron.

    3. So he was a British subject, & if there were any residency requirements, maybe he borrowed money from the patron & bought a house or plot in Wendover, and voilà — eligible.

  110. 110
    Garrigus Carraig says:

    Oh and then he stood successfully in Bristol, and then once turned out of there represented another pocket borough controlled by the same patron.

    Apparently he was an irresponsible homeowner ahaha:

    In the same year [1769] he purchased the small estate of Gregories near Beaconsfield. The 600-acre (2.4 km2) estate was purchased with mostly borrowed money, and though it contained an art collection that included works by Titian, Gregories nevertheless would prove to be a heavy financial burden on the MP in the following decades. Burke was never able to fully pay for the estate.

  111. 111
    JGabriel says:

    dopealope:

    That has got to be the first reference to Robert Musil I’ve ever read on a political blog.

    We haven’t even started yet. Next up: Hermann Broch.

    .

  112. 112
    aschup says:

    @DougJ:

    It means I get edgy when politics involves itself in history, namely because it’s a subordinate relationship that almost always comes at the expense of the latter.

    Thus you see the line of thinking: a) I just read something Burke wrote about Marie Antoinette completely removed from its original context, b) this now-unmoored and isolated bit of text does not sit well with me, therefore Burke was a right-wing prick, therefore c) I can assert things for which there is no evidence because who cares if I am reading present political concerns into 18th century Whig politics? Burke was a right-wing prick and that’s all that matters.

    I would rather Brooks and his fellow-travelers have a monopoly on this sort of simplistic ahistorical shit, but alas…

  113. 113
    DougJ says:

    Thus you see the line of thinking: a) I just read something Burke wrote about Marie Antoinette completely removed from its original context, b) this now-unmoored and isolated bit of text does not sit well with me, therefore Burke was a right-wing prick, therefore c) I can assert things for which there is no evidence because who cares if I am reading present political concerns into 18th century Whig politics? Burke was a right-wing prick and that’s all that matters.

    Fair enough. But I still don’t think it’s quite as bad as Brooks et al. appropriating him to defend all their nutty ideas.

  114. 114
    R. Schmidt-Orren says:

    @DougJ:

    What does that mean, anyway?

    Wondering the same thing. Yawn. Its late I’m outta here.

    Bureke this, Oakshot that, Hayek over there. Doesn’t change the last 8 years of conservatism, or the last 30. Or what conservatism is in practice. It all seems rather like sticking on ever more fancy labels to try to sell the same fucking bottle of piss.

  115. 115
    Ed Marshall says:

    especially the situation in Gaza, where the Bush policy of forcing elections in areas not ready for democracy–elections that both the Israelis and Palestinian Authority thought were premature–has given us Hamas.

    That is totally creepy and Joe Klein should be ashamed of himself. Hamas gain to electoral power was almost pre-ordained given the standard poli-sci rules of normative democracy. I can’t imagine Joe Klein ever deciding anyone, anywhere else wasn’t worthy of democracy yet.

  116. 116
    Martin says:

    So all of these Burkean handjobs really just means that there’s nobody alive for conservatives to look to as a leader. Burke isn’t going to run in 2012, so the only reason to waste the energy on him rather than lift up Obama’s next opponent is that even "conservatives" recognize that they have nothing.

  117. 117
    R. Schmidt-Orren says:

    Fair enough. But I still don’t think it’s quite as bad as Brooks et al. appropriating him to defend all their nutty ideas.

    Agree and agree. And aschup….

    I can assert things for which there is no evidence because who cares if I am reading present political concerns into 18th century Whig politics?

    …that’s interesting because, if what you are saying about Burke is correct, the reverse is going on: 18th century Whig politics are being read into present political concerns. We have a conservative movement that uses un-moored Burke to support themselves.

    Would Burke really support the likes of McConnel? Or today’s GOP? You seem to know a lot about Mr. Burke. Please tell me why he would or wouldn’t.

    And no that bit of text on Marie-Antoinette did not sit well with me, any more than Rich Lowry’s ‘little starbursts’ bit of text on Sarah Palin did. For the same reasons. Why can’t you acknowledge that even great men can be dumbass pricks, especially when their prick seems to have something to do with it?

  118. 118

    History is one of those things that works when it is taken in context, otherwise it is simply propaganda to strip quotes out of a historical figure’s writings. It’s the trap conservatives fall into so easily when referencing damn near anything from Adam Smith through to our own century. Or for pete’s sake that Bible they thump.

    It’s like Brooks little trick of referencing E Burke, many people know him to be a respected historical author without any real familiarity with his works or how they fit the times they were written in. Because it takes a certain amount of literary exposure to be familiar with Burke’s name these folks feel included into an intelligent discussion without knowing shit about what is referenced.

    I start right out seriously distrusting people who depend on name dropping for authority.

  119. 119
    Steve J. says:

    Who was Edmund Burke anyway?

    An early conservative writer who was championed by Russell Kirk.

    Today’s talk radio conservatives forgot to mention that Burke argued for giving "illegal enemy combatants" – American revolutionaries- the right of Habeas Corpus.

  120. 120
    R. Schmidt-Orren says:

    @Martin:

    Burke isn’t going to run in 2012, so the only reason to waste the energy on him rather than lift up Obama’s next opponent is that even "conservatives" recognize that they have nothing.

    Bingo. That’s what this means in real terms. We can nitpick what it meant for Burke to be Irish-born but big fucking deal. He’s long dead and couldn’t run for president even if he wasn’t.

    Conservatism is bankrupt. We have seen what it means in practice, Burke or no Burke. Burke means nothing. We have seen conservatism for what it is in the real world. It’s fucked and it’s empty and it is so desperately lost now it is groping back to the heyday of monarchy and the dawn of modern democracy to find its way out of the hole it dug for itself.

  121. 121
    aschup says:

    …that’s interesting because, if what you are saying about Burke is correct, the reverse is going on: 18th century Whig politics are being read into present political concerns. We have a conservative movement that uses un-moored Burke to support themselves.

    You’re right. I think it’s a bit of both, which is exactly why I think politics needs to keep its grubby hands off history. (For a more eloquent illustration of the problem, see Saul Cornell’s reaction to the Supreme Court’s Heller decision and its abuse of history here).

    Why can’t you acknowledge that even great men can be dumbass pricks, especially when their prick seems to have something to do with it?

    No argument there. None at all. I only ask that you not take the Marie Antoinette nonsense as indicative of Burke’s entire line of thinking. Even if you disagree with him, he was a sophisticated thinker, and his philosophy should be engaged on its own terms.

  122. 122
    Mike D. says:

    Just have to say, ‘Wile E. Quixote’: best screen name ever.

  123. 123
    R. Schmidt-Orren says:

    Even if you disagree with him, he was a sophisticated thinker, and his philosophy should be engaged on its own terms.

    I will read more of Mr. Edmund Burke. Chuck Butcher’s comment about conservatives looting Adam Smith and the bible for quotes to their satisfaction reminds me to avoid doing the same.

  124. 124
    josephdietrich says:

    It’s cute how one pundit cites some author or thinker and then certain others fall all over themselves trying to prove how well-read they are by trying to use him in context or explaining his views. It’s similar to when one of them learns a new word such as Schadenfreude and then next thing you know they are all using it.

  125. 125

    .
    Burke was an Irishman who called himself an Englishman, son of a Catholic who converted to Anglicanism for political, financial and professional reasons, a go-along to get along kinda guy, like most "conservatives," with no real loyalties. His claim to conservative fame is based upon his opposition to the French Revolution, which was not exactly a courageous or unpopular stand in monarchist, francophobe Great Britain. He called the French "atheists and tyrannical democrats, given to foul, unnatural vice." (Sound familiar?) Some of his fellow Whigs were pro-Jacobin, and regarded Burke as a Tory.

    While at Trinity College, Dublin, Burke started the world’s first fraternity, the College Historical Society, hence, perhaps, the popularity with today’s aging neo-con frat-boys. A failed lawyer, he took to punditry, practicing the conservative art of reductio ad absurdum on his enemies, rather than honestly debating them. (Bullet train to Vegas, anyone?) He wrote only one actual philosophical tract in his entire life, before he was eighteen; then it was all just politics.

    After sucking up to a member of the British aristocracy, he was given a safe seat in the House of Commons from which to bloviate. In that position, he exalted Party over King and Country. He also claimed that he represented himself in Parliament, and not his constituents, by Divine Right. He championed "free trade" over fair trade, in opposition to the interests of his own constituency. His Party presided over the loss of the War of Independence and the Crown’s possessions in the Colonies. He delighted in carving up His Majesty’s Government, and putting public money into private hands, especially bankers’. Like Newt Gingrich & Ken Starr, his endless investigations, trials and attacks on his political opponents were so vile, personal, unbalanced and violent that they actually created sympathy for his victims, as happened with Starr & Gingrich’s victim, Bill Clinton. He could have been a modern, er, contemporary, uh, living, oh, well, a Republican.

    Burke claimed that Englishmen’s liberties came not from their own hearts and minds but from their merely being born English, from tradition and ancient legal documents and not from any new declarations or manifestos based on new realities: A strict constructionist; a fundamentalist. In other words, freedom is a gift from the past, not a product of our own labors. And only Englishmen are entitled to English liberties, there being no universal rights of man or connections between men of different nations.

    It was Burke who wrote, "We fear God, we look up with awe to kings; with affection to parliaments; with duty to magistrates; with reverence to priests; and with respect to nobility." A real boot-licking, cap-doffing, forelock-tugging ass-kisser. And good at it, too. Hey, it’s a living. Just ask George Will.

    He also claimed that general prejudices and attitudes are superior to any individual’s ideas and philosophy: "Prejudice", Burke claimed, "is of ready application in the emergency; it previously engages the mind in a steady course of wisdom and virtue, and does not leave the man hesitating in the moment of decision, sceptical, puzzled, and unresolved. Prejudice renders a man’s virtue his habit." He rejected any notion of a malleable, negotiable or updatable social contract, claiming that the social contract included our obligations to the dead and the unborn which should not nor could not be readily changed. Louis XVI was a big fan, until he lost his head for embodying such attitudes.

    Burke’s reputation seems based entirely upon his popularity among the high and mighty, the old and entrenched, the rich and powerful, then and now. His opponents included Thomas Paine, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, all much better known names today, and far more influential in the making of modern nations. It is mainly his opposition to wage and price controls which survives today among his followers, being so much in agreement with their inherited prejudices and interests, as Burke would have it.

    Edmund Burke did, however, oppose capital punishment and brutalization of homosexuals. He also opposed authoritarianism, militarization and imperialism, but you don’t hear much about that from today’s cons. His most famous quote, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing," was never written or spoken by Burke. No one knows who said it. Perhaps Bartlett himself.

    Burke was the first conservative, in the sense of his being a servile yet self-serving political hack.
    .

  126. 126
    eric k says:

    Doug,

    as for your question in the update, I think Conservatives were basically just as insane in the 30s and 60s, the difference is back then they were a fringe of the Republican Party (the presidential candidates vs FDR may have been loons but there were lots of Republicans in Comgress supporting him and the New Deal) Ike was probably to the left of every subsequent President with the notable exception of LBJ and now maybe Obama (too soon to say for sure). In a lot of ways Nixon was to Clinton’s left and even Carter’s in some ways.

    Basically the Conservatives were like a crazy uncle the the Reps kept in the attic, now of course they have fully taken over the national party, with some governors and what 3? maybe 5 at most? Senators as the last somewhat sane hold outs.

  127. 127
    R. Schmidt-Orren says:

    @aschup:

    It means I get edgy when politics involves itself in history

    I remember an historian I once met. I admitted to him that I was always bored by history because it was all this political crap about kings and intrigue and wars and shit. He retorted "History is politics".

    I think he’s right. History is up to its armpits in it. By rights you ought to be a basket case by now.

  128. 128
    electrophoresis says:

    Ned R. claims:

    Burke is a protypical conservative because he preferred the inarticulate knowledge of the masses and of tradition over the articulated reasoning of elite intellectuals and he because he had a very pessimistic attitude towards man’s nature and the ability to change it.

    Um…no, that’s Chairman Mao.

  129. 129
    miwome says:

    As I understand it, it’s a bit difficult to directly compare Burke with Hayek, though Polanyi forms a nice bridge.

    Hayek was a die-hard free-marketeer who took the Soviet example of planned economy as a cautionary tale of how government intervention in the economy led to totalitarian death camps. Here’s a nice cartoon summary of his big book, The Road to Serfdom.

    Burke was, at least in my limited experience with him (i.e. this was part of SOSC class where I didn’t do my reading), far less concerned with political economy than he was with culture, humanity, morals, etc. He was all about continuity of culture; your commenters have represented him pretty well, I think.

    I say Polanyi forms a bridge because he was more directly concerned with economy than Burke, but shared Burke’s mistrust of fast-moving change as well as Hayek’s dislike of government planning. He basically said that the government’s role was to allow market-driven change but to slow or soften it for the good of the public, particularly lower classes.

    I can’t speak to the connection with Oakeshott, Rand, or Strauss because I haven’t read them (and with Rand, I hope I never will). Friedman is really only nominally connected by the term "conservative" or by the current American political coalition. Friedman was an actual economist in the 20th Century; Burke was a moralist/philosopher in the 18th. That they are both conservative icons has less to do with actual similarities in their work than it does with American political coalitions. I could go on about those coalitions and how they represent different strains in the intellectual liberal tradition, but for the love of little green apples it’s 3 am.

  130. 130

    @R. Schmidt-Orren:

    He retorted "History is politics".

    I’d respectfully disagree with Prof, other than the respect that history tends to reflect the winner’s point of view unless there’s some pretty good independent evidence. Politics is not the driving force, it is the follower, it is the reflection of societal changes. Now, those changes may not have much to do with the general population’s view or may have, but there is a defined societal change.

    Frequently those changes are far down and nearly invisible without real analysis of what was going on. Politics lags social change and though it is the lazy key to history it isn’t the history. The simple and affordable nature of the English longbow drastically changed the relationship between the nobility and the commoner – the bow was around for some time before the effect percolated up and then down. (no, the bow wasn’t real likely to penetrate good armor, but it was a serious ranged weapon)

    Look at the bow off the battlefield, the peasantry was prohibited weapons of status and those weapons were short range, the battlefield bow went home with the peasantry. No matter your heraldry you could be killed silently and at a distance by a commoner. Your nobility may have shielded you from a pitchfork wielding peasant, but no longer. A consciousness is raised, you ain’t safe. Commoner assassinations did not have to occur, the real possiblity is enough.

  131. 131
    priscianus jr says:

    Cosanostradamus,
    I know a little about Burke’s philosophy (dusting it off in my memory), almost nothing about the man. Your runthrough strikes me as too ad hominem to be of much relevance here.
    Whether Burke was a nice guy or not, he had a point. Basically, that point is, that people grow up in a culture, and that culture is the basis of their politics, that’s the way it is and that’s the way it should be.
    We Americans have a political culture too. Fortunately, our political culture is not autocratic, it is incredibly complex, but it is unique. Traditionally it gives a very high place to reasoned deliberation. Nobody would confuse American politics with any other country’s politics, so it really is our national tradition.
    Burke didn’t know what it was going to look like in 2009, but he did support the American Revolution, which was not a popular position for an Englishman.
    The modern-day conservatives, as with most of their understanding of history, twist Burke to fit their ideology. Burke did not live in a world of multinational corporations, financial derivatives, nuclear arsenals, and environmental collapse. As with Adam Smith, there is of course some connection between Burke and modern conservative ideology (note, Russell Kirk, the grand old intellectual of the modern conservative movement, is the most obvious link), but not as much as is claimed. But anyway, Burke had a point, and I see that President Obama understands that point very well.

  132. 132
    TR says:

    This is all part of a standard conservative trope. Every time their projects explode in their faces in humiliating fashion, they rush back to the drawing board — not to draw up new plans, but to convince themselves and the rest of us that the original plans were perfect.

    When I get into arguments with co-workers about the efficacy of tax cuts as an economic boost, and point out that we’ve tried this route three times — Coolidge, Reagan, and W. — and it’s never worked out, they wave away all my pesky facts and figures about the Depression, the debt and the massive deficits and just shoot back, "But you don’t understand how the theory works. Let me show you a Laffer curve again!"

    Same thing here. Conservatism is intellectually bankrupt, wholly unpopular, and a miserable failure in practice. So let’s stroll back two centuries in time, dust off the many handsome leather-bound books of Burke and company, and convince ourselves that the original ideas were sound, all evidence to the contrary today.

  133. 133
    bago says:

    Sooo… Yeah.

  134. 134

    @priscianus jr:
    .
    So, you’d prefer a "runthrough" of a bio that didn’t talk about the man? Right.

    Your argument then is that our politics are based on our culture, except in Burke’s case? So his specific background had nothing to do with his ideas? But, as for the rest of us, our general background determines all of our ideas? Right.

    You’re talking as though there were only one culture, or as if everyone in a given subculture had the same politics. Wrong.

    And the biggest differences between our political culture and, say, Canada’s are the elements of race, racism, racial hatred and fear. Not "reasoned deliberation." Or did you miss our last few election cycles?

    Why should Burke be any different than Cheney or Obama? Real ideas, philosophies, movements and policies are made by real people with real histories. If anything, Obama’s story repudiates Burke: He has transcended his cultural background here in Hawaii, which I know intimately, and is trying to forge something new; not more deterministic conservative crap. And that is what a majority of the electorate voted for: Change. Not something Burke, or any conservative ever was comfortable with at all.

    Only conservatives today claim Burke. They can have him. In his life and in his work, he was servile and self-serving, like all conservatives.
    .

  135. 135
    JJ says:

    @Aschup

    It was an attempt at irony (I think the author of this blog post was attempting it as well).

  136. 136
    brainpan says:

    Effin’ BJers too smart for me. Please start up a thread for stoopid people this morning.

  137. 137
    Conservatively Liberal says:

    OT: Lifted from Kos:

    UBS was sued on Tuesday in a Swiss federal court by wealthy American clients seeking to prevent the disclosure of their identities as part of a tax-evasion investigation by the United States Justice Department.
     

    The lawsuit accuses UBS and Switzerland’s financial regulator, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, or Finma, of violating Swiss bank secrecy laws and of conducting what Swiss law considers illegal activities with foreign authorities. It also named Peter Kurer, the chairman of UBS, and Eugen Haltiner, the chairman of Finma, as defendants.
     

    The suit, filed by a lawyer in Zurich, Andreas Rued, on behalf of nearly a dozen American clients, underscores the growing clash between Swiss banking secrecy laws and those of the United States. Tax evasion is not considered a crime in Switzerland. Disclosing client names under Swiss law is a criminal offense and can expose bank executives and officers to fines, prison terms and other penalties.

    These rich Americans are fighting in a foreign court to prevent the release of their names so they can continue their tax evasion schemes. Where is the Republican outrage over this? I thought they hated anyone who didn’t pay their taxes, right? Here is an attorney in a foreign country trying to help American citizens hide their incomes so they don’t have to pay taxes on it.

    This shit pisses me off to no end.

  138. 138
    TheFountainHead says:

    @bago: That didn’t take long.

  139. 139
    Comrade Darkness says:

    Conservatism is more sophisticated than it was back then (in the 30s and 60s).

    I’d probably agree with this. They’re twisted into pretzels now to accommodate issues like Schiavo. Before I think they might actually have been conservative and stuck to it rather than being willfully contorting dittoheads for whatever got the powerful more power.

  140. 140
    bartkid says:

    Life is to blame for everything.
    -the guy who wrote A Man Without Qualities

  141. 141
    bartkid says:

    …. by the time they have reached the middle of their life’s journey, few people remember how they have managed to arrive at themselves, at their amusements, their point of view, their wife, character, occupation and successes, but they cannot help feeling that not much is likely to change anymore. It might even be asserted that they have been cheated, for one can nowhere discover any sufficient reason for everything’s coming about as it has. It might just have well as turned out differently. The events of people’s lives have, after all, only to the last degree originated in them, having generally depended on all sorts of circumstances such as the moods, the life or death of quite different people, and have, as it were, only at the given point of time come hurrying towards them.
    -the guy who wrote A Man Without Qualities

  142. 142
    Steeplejack says:

    @JGabriel:

    I’m in! The Death of Virgil is getting close to the top of my "to read" list. (Not that actually reading something is required to bloviate about it.)

  143. 143
    Punchy says:

    Via Dunk’s blog, this site may actually out-snark BJ. Hard to believe, but true. Comedy gold.

  144. 144
    Napoleon says:

    @Conservatively Liberal:

    I thought they hated anyone who didn’t pay their taxes, right?

    Really? I wish I could find it now, but there was a quote from Bush at one point when he was pushing a tax cut to the effect "hey, they are going to avoid paying anyways". Seriously.

  145. 145
    SpotWeld says:

    The increase in interpersonal communciations has been blurring the lines between all the classic societal groups. The old saw of "some of my best friends are …." has fallen away since at some point in the last 5-15 years people just stopped careing. It’s more a case of "I never stopped to count, but yes a good number of my friends are …" , it’s not exactly post-racial, but it’s certainly has the same root.

    It’s getting harder and harder for Conservatives (the old school ones anyway) to "hate the right people" since a lot of the younger voters are just not seeing people as a certain demographic, rather as part of wide netowrk of friends, aquantances, contacts and just "people they know of".

    It was much easier in the ’30s and ’60s since people we more likely to be isolated within a small rather homogenious group; so discomfort and unfamiliarty (which both could be cultivated into hate) could be counted on.

  146. 146
    passerby says:

    What a great title, DougJ.

    Echo this DougJ. I’m grateful for the cliff notes version of the life and times of Burke and have enjoyed reading this thread.

    I conclude that because of the nature of a population to abdicate their responsibilities to a higher authority, that humanity should proceed by maintaining the Leaders/Followers paradigm is, it seems, a static and stagnant concept.

    As someone noted upthread, the status quo works quite well for those in authority. Fear of anarchy (rightly held given the catatonic state of American citizenry) is the driving force behind maintaining, conserving, this tradition.

    We often hear about our Constitutional Rights but never a breath about our Constitutional Responsibilities. An ignorant and lazy populace is easier to control.

    Makes me wonder what Burke thought of American independence after he wrapped his mind around the Constitution. (From what I’ve gathered, he was for independence for the colonies before he was against it.)

    And though many who comment here tend to mock and deride Rand, self-reliance is part of what lies at the heart of what she espoused which, in my view, is the counter opposite of Conservative beliefs that are for maintaining authority in the hands of the Powers that Be for their self-serving purposes.

    Personal power vs. power by proxy.

  147. 147
    Vlad says:

    "Burke’s the butcher,
    Hare’s the thief,
    Knox, the boy that buys the beef."

    You never heard that one, Doug?

  148. 148
    p.a. says:

    bit late to the party, but has no one mentioned Connor Cruise O’Brien’s excellent book on Burke? The Great Melody, The Grand Melody, no time to google which is correct. Burke was a complex character (aren’t we all?), but as far as liberal/conservative, to be realistic let’s remember to look at people in the context of their times; ‘the past-ness of the past’ and all that.

    While Burke supported American rights and blamed British obduracy for the war, he said about the US Constitution that it was (paraphrase): ‘all sail, no rudder’.

  149. 149
    DougJ says:

    @cosanostradamus:

    Nice summary.

  150. 150
    SGEW says:

    My favorite quote from Burke here. Can be equally applied to the Jacobins or Karl Rove (which makes current right-wing name-dropping of ol’ Edmund a bit . . . ironic?).

    Basically: a concern for the dangers of demagoguery, a naked fear of granting power to (or from!) the uneducated masses, and a deep skepticism of any world-changing utopian plans.

    Favorite criticism, from Thomas "Most Awesome American Ever" Paine, about Burke’s description of Marie-Antoinette:

    [Burke] pitied the plumage but forgot the dying bird.

    I have long held Paine’s Rights of Man (the direct response to Reflections) closer to my philosophical chest than Burke (i.e., I’m a big ol’ liberal), but, having had to read Reflections during the height of the Bush Administration, I was forced to acknowledge that he made some very good points about the problems with a popular demagogue who can leverage the ill-informed nature of an undereducated populace to push his own dangerous plans.

    Also, in some ways, he won his point over Paine when poor ol’ Thomas was almost executed by the French revolutionaries. But Paine wins the long-view (imho).

  151. 151
    John PM says:

    I cannot recall if I ever read Burke while in college. I do remember that he was not included as required reading in my year-long Western Civilization class, although Hobbes, Locke, Montesque, and Rosseau were, so that may be taken as an indication of the effect (or lack thereof) that Burke has had on Western thought.

    I think that Andrew Sullivan had some interesting insights on Burke in his book The Conservative Soul. However, I think that Montesque plays a bigger role for Sullivan, and after reading The Conservative Soul I have been trying to make time to read Montesque and not Burke.

    Slightly off topic, but conservatism (and for that matter liberalism), while a political philosophy, is not the domain of any one political party. I view the current Democratic party as conservative, due to the fact that it is trying to revive and conserve those policies from FDR that helped to lead us out of the Great Depression and which the vast majority of Americans have come to accept and indeed rely on. Republicans are actually radical and may perhaps be anarchical given how quickly and violently they have attempted to undo sixty years of American government and policy in the last eight years. I think the Republicans, if given the chance, would re-enact the French Revolution, but for the purpose of reinstituting a "king." Based on what I have read here, and my understanding of him from others who have actually read and studied him in detail, Burke would be horrified at the modern Republican Party.

  152. 152
    priscianus jr says:

    cosanostradamus,
    I agree with you, a runthrough of a bio that doesn’t talk about the man would be ridiculous. What I was questioning is why you put so much emphasis on his bio. If you’re saying that you concentrated on that to show what kind of political culture he came out of, then you’re agreeing with Burke’s point. Personally, I didn’t come out of that political culture. But I did come from "a" political culture, as we all did.
    I’m not a big champion of Burke. I’m saying he had a point.
    Just like Russell Kirk emphasized only the positive about Burke, or what he thought was the positive, you’re emphasizing only the negative.
    Just for your information, I grew up in a working-class family, I am a Democrat and I support Obama. I guarantee you that Obama has taken Burke’s point into the mix. That’s one of the reasons he’s been so successful.
    I’m not saingy that reasoning is not important. I’m saying that culture IS important. You reason within a cultural framework.
    You write, "You’re talking as though there were only one culture, or as if everyone in a given subculture had the same politics."
    No, I am not, you’re reading it that way. I said American political culture is very complex. I thought you would be able to figure out what I meant. If there isn’t some sort of overall unity, the United States wouldn’t be a country. The fact is that the representatives from South Carolina and Tennessess sit in the same deliberative body as those from Massachusetts and Oregon.
    The fact that our political culture has been lacking in "reasoned deliberation" has not gone unnoticed by me, to put it mildly. I guess I was being too subtle. My point is that these conservatives that claim to be disciples of Burke are going against the traditional American political culture. I’m a conservative only in the sense that I want to conserve our democratic traditions against these radical Republicans.

  153. 153
    jenniebee says:

    @Brian J:

    Brian, I’m sorry, but there’s really only one thing left to do with this relative: give her contact info to the Scientologists.

    I’m not kidding. She’ll be just as loopy, but significantly more entertaining.

  154. 154
    JJ says:

    Conservatism in some ways is "more sophisticated than it was… in the 30s and 60s," but not in a flattering way.

  155. 155
    aschup says:

    @JJ:

    Damn. I’m stoopid.

    I blame David Brooks for my mistake. Burke would totally blame David Brooks.

  156. 156
    Barbara says:

    Connor Cruise O’Brien’s book was called "The Great Melody" and provides a good introduction to Burke. The essential themes have been touched upon: Burke was not opposed to change, but he was opposed to change that was based on little more than what I would call systematic belief untried by experience. Thus, the ruling order, mores and customs were given a substantial presumption of correctness.

    With respect to the French Revolution, apart from his ridiculous defense of Marie Antoinette, the Burkean solution would have looked to existinginstitutions within France that might have been suited to taking the country forward in a more liberal direction, and building on them to improve society — for instance, there was a French assembly in existence, and there were French laws, and judges, etc. The revolutionaries wanted more or less to destroy all of these and start anew, whereas the Burkean approach would have been to enlarge or restrict powers, give additional levels of protection, etc., in order to diminish the power of the monarchy.

    He prosecuted Warren Hastings in Parliament for his depredations and curruption in India, so he was willing to stand up to the ruling order in favor of principle.

  157. 157
    jenniebee says:

    @Shygetz:

    Burke would have been strictly against gay rights because they are completely against the tradition that has worked thus far, and would completely remodel the institution of marriage.

    I wonder. It’s easy to fall into the trap of asking "what would Great Person X think about this?" instead of engaging an issue by saying "given what we have learned from Burke, how do his thoughts influence our thinking about this?" The first question is a bit of a dead end.

    I don’t see taking a Burkean outlook as something that precludes extending equal marriage rights to gay couples; if anything, it is something that has come about organically and incrementally, rather than as part of a sweeping, revolutionary overhaul of society. Gay people have, after all, always been part of the Body Politic. Gay people have been living in this Republic since its founding as though they were married but without the legal rights and privileges that come with legal marriage. Marriage, with all its rights and privileges, is, of course, nothing new to this society. And the principle of equal rights is, to us, as awe-inspiring as the institution of the monarchy is to a Brit. It is natural and just that this principle be applied to these facts. Burke doesn’t promote that conclusion, but he doesn’t stand in its way, either.

    Locke doesn’t leave you with any option but equal rights for gays, but who cares about Locke these days? He just inspired the Declaration of Independence – it was practically lifted from Locke – and we all know what a commie liberal DFH tax-and-spend socialist threat to the Real America document the Declaration of Independence is.

  158. 158
    JJ says:

    Todays conservatism is "sophisticated," as in the Ministry of Truth is sophisticated:

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c.....ilded-age/

    It’s amazing how much the Daily Show can pack into one skit sometimes:

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/vi.....Banned-Aid

  159. 159
    passerby says:

    @John PM:

    political philosophy, is not the domain of any one political party.

    I’ll roll slightly OT with you here JohnPM. In my view, the "differences" between the two parties are a means to keep The Herd nicely polarized and bickering among themselves: misdirection.

    The real difference lies between We the People (serve us) and the entrenched Powers That Be (self servers). Clearly, the People outnumber the Powerful which makes a storm-the-Bastille kind of uprising their worse nightmare.

    Manipulating the masses is the second oldest profession. Religion and Politics do that quite handily.

  160. 160

    It’s been mentioned above, but the Speech to the Electors of Bristol is worth reading. The meat is here:

    Certainly, Gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a Representative, to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion high respect; their business unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and, above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But, his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgement, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you; to any man, or to any sett of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the Law and the Constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your Representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.

    My worthy Colleague says, his Will ought to be subservient to yours. If that be all, the thing is innocent. If Government were a matter of Will upon any side, yours, without question, ought to be superior. But Government and Legislation are matters of reason and judgement, and not of inclination; and, what sort of reason is that, in which the determination precedes the discussion; in which one sett of men deliberate, and another decide; and where those who form the conclusion are perhaps three hundred miles distant from those who hear the arguments?

    To deliver an opinion, is the right of all men; that of Constituents is a weighty and respectable opinion, which a Representative ought always to rejoice to hear; and which he ought always most seriously to consider. But authoritative instructions; Mandates issued, which the Member is bound blindly and implicitly to obey, to vote, and to argue for, though contrary to the clearest conviction of his judgement and conscience; these are things utterly unknown to the laws of this land, and which arise from a fundamental Mistake of the whole order and tenour of our Constitution.

    Parliament is not a Congress of Ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an Agent and Advocate, against other Agents and Advocates; but Parliament is a deliberative Assembly of one Nation, with one Interest, that of the whole; where, not local Purposes, not local Prejudices ought to guide, but the general Good, resulting from the general Reason of the whole. You chuse a Member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not Member of Bristol, but he is a Member of Parliament. If the local Constituent should have an Interest, or should form an hasty Opinion, evidently opposite to the real good of the rest of the Community, the Member for that place ought to be as far, as any other, from any endeavour to give it Effect. I beg pardon for saying so much on this subject. I have been unwillingly drawn into it; but I shall ever use a respectful frankness of communication with you. Your faithful friend, your devoted servant, I shall be to the end of my life: A flatterer you do not wish for. On this point of instructions, however, I think it scarcely possible, we ever can have any sort of difference. Perhaps I may give you too much, rather than too little trouble.

    From the first hour I was encouraged to court your favour to this happy day of obtaining it, I have never promised you any thing, but humble and persevering endeavours to do my duty. The weight of that duty, I confess, makes me tremble; and whoever well considers what it is, of all things in the world will fly from what has the least likeness to a positive and precipitate engagement. To be a good Member of Parliament, is, let me tell you, no easy task; especially at this time, when there is so strong a disposition to run into the perilous extremes of servile compliance, or wild popularity. To unite circumspection with vigour, is absolutely necessary; but it is extremely difficult. We are now Members for a rich commercial City; this City, however, is but a part of a rich commercial Nation, the Interests of which are various, multiform, and intricate. We are Members for that great Nation, which however is itself but part of a great Empire, extended by our Virtue and our Fortune to the farthest limits of the East and of the West. All these wide-spread Interests must be considered; must be compared; must be reconciled if possible. We are Members for a free Country; and surely we all know, that the machine of a free Constitution is no simple thing; but as intricate and as delicate, as it is valuable. We are Members in a great and ancient Monarchy; and we must preserve religiously, the true legal rights of the Sovereign, which form the Key-stone that binds together the noble and well-constructed Arch of our Empire and our Constitution. A Constitution made up of balanced Powers must ever be a critical thing. As such I mean to touch that part of it which comes within my reach. I know my Inability, and I wish for support from every Quarter. In particular I shall aim at the friendship, and shall cultivate the best Correspondence, of the worthy Colleague you have given me.

    Naturally, it will get trotted out by wingnuts justifying holding to their positions despite these being desperately unpopular, missing the point that Burke’s conservatism was pragmatic, based on a distruct of ideologies.

  161. 161
    jenniebee says:

    @R. Schmidt-Orren:

    No love for Antoinette here? The poor girl really didn’t have it coming. She didn’t have any choice in the job she got in life, but she did it well and she was scapegoated for other people’s failings. She spent a lot of money, and Versailles customs put a lot of money in rich people’s pockets on her behalf, but she wasn’t involved in politics or in the budget process. Besides, she spent money on the two things she was supposed to: she gave money to charities and she promoted French industry. You didn’t sell something to Marie Antoinette just for that sale, you sold it to her because every other royal in Europe would buy whatever she was putting on display. One of the few parts of the French economy that really worked was the export trade in luxury goods, and Marie Antoinette did her part to make that happen. When the revolutionary tribunals came for her, they didn’t have a whole lot to accuse her of, really, except for being born who she was. So they made shit up and convicted her of sexually abusing her only surviving son.

    Girl got a bum rap.

  162. 162
    ricky says:

    Because he was sympathetic to the postion of those occupied by his government’s imperialist forces (ie: the Americans) and was against oppressing those who held more traditional religious views (the Catholics), Burke has
    become a modern hero to American conservatives who would have driven him from their own party for being unpatriotic and insufficiently beholden to the born again views of the Christian evangelicals. If they can idolize a phony like Reagan, why not Burke?

  163. 163
    fdc says:

    as a scholar of earl american studies, maybe i can add a few thoughts about burke (sorry if that sounds pretentious; i’m very aware of the very high level of discourse among the commenters here–its jut my area of specialization)

    the stanford encycopedia of philosophy has a decent entry on Burke’s impact on the late 18th and early 19th century political theory, however, i honestly think the reason conservatives like burke so much boils down to two points:

    1. he was willing to argue against direct taxation of individuals or commodities, and in favor of general commercial taxes. he said in parliment "let the colonies tax themselves; we make our money from trade" which made him the hero of people arguing against independence (like john dickinson).

    2. he was very much an anti-utopian thinker.
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/burke/#7

  164. 164
    cusanus says:

    Who was Edmund Burke anyway? I don’t have time to read his wiki entry let alone his books. Why do conservatives love him so much? Did he courageously oppose something important

    ?

    Yet you have the time to read through all these mostly moronic comments? You need a course in time management skills.

    Burke was a Whig, not a Tory, which makes him for his time a Liberal. He was sympathetic to the American Revolution, but not the French. He wasn’t against progress; he was against people who had ideas that you either buy into their program or it’s off with your head. He was for evolutionary change, not hubristic social engineering projects.

    He understood that when you destroy with traditional institutions and beliefs even with the most lofty idealistic intentions, you create an anomic, disaffected mob easily manipulable by demagogues. It was true of the san culottes in France, the Revolutionary Guard in the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and it’s also the legacy of our policies in Afghanistan in Charlie Wilson’s War in which we created an deracinated Afghans who became wound up in the Taliban.

  165. 165
    SGEW says:

    @fdc: Aha! I had never heard of Burke’s taxation ideas (having only read Reflections and relevant philosophical commentary, re: your point #2), so this detail gives the current Burke idealizing revisionism a more logical underpinning. Blinkered, and missing the greater point (imho), but logical. "Burkeans For the Flat Tax!" makes a lot more sense than "Burkeans For Radical Ideological Mandates!"

    [Also: I am guessing you meant “the hero of people arguing for independence,” yes?]

  166. 166

    .
    30’s "conservatives" wore brownshirts & pointy white sheets.

    60’s "conservatives" wore pin stripes & rep ties.

    There’s your difference: The thugs went corporate. The underlying sexism, misogyny, racism, nativism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, sectarianism, classism & dumbshitism is still there, but now it wears a business suit and carries a briefcase. Instead of open Fascism, it’s corporatism.

    00’s "conservatives" wear TV make-up, live in the White House basement and order infantry divisions into real-world Stratego games, without real-world body armor. They own the media and control the discourse. Their "sophistication," however, doesn’t hold up under natural light, outside of a TV studio. They’re still just idiot closet nazi’s.

    In retrospect, I think Burke would blow his brains out if he heard these radical ideologues invoking his name.
    .

  167. 167
    SGEW says:

    In retrospect, I think Burke would blow his brains out if he heard these radical ideologues invoking his name.

    Hmmm . . . probably not, as it might be immoderate, and could have unintended consequences (rug-cleaning costs for his next of kin, upsetting the neighbors with the sound of the gushot, etc.).

    Self-poisoning, maybe. It could be neatly done (smooth and delicate: "sublime" even), and is, after all, quite traditional (Socrates, and antiquity, and all that).

    heh

  168. 168
    fdc says:

    SGEW

    Believe it or not, I did mean against independence. John Dickinson was the leader of the non-separation party of the Cont. Congress (and the driving force behind the "olive branch petition"). Burke, for this group, was a moderate voice to appeal to to try and resolve the Imperial Crisis.

    The exchanges between Dickinson (for continued union with England) and Adams/Franklin are for the ages, and really worth reading.

  169. 169
    SGEW says:

    @fdc: Oop! Right you are (brain fart on Dickinson . . . d’oh!). Funny too, ’cause I’m always the one to point out that Burke wasn’t really a full "supporter" of American independence.

    I think I’ve only read a few of the Franklin responses to Dickinson (years and years ago), but never the full correspondence. Definitely worth digging up, probably . . .

  170. 170

    Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart

    You betcha!

    ;)

  171. 171
    fdc says:

    @SGEW

    you’re spot on about Burke…he supported ending the colonial war only because it had bankrupted the government and embroiled England in a global war with France that endangered the entire English mercantile system.

  172. 172
  173. 173
    priscianus jr says:

    Cosanostradamus,
    "In retrospect, I think Burke would blow his brains out if he heard these radical ideologues invoking his name."
    i think so too, and that’s why I think Burke has a point, but he needs to be rescued from the modern-day fascists who cal themselves "conservatives."
    Perhaps you might find this interesting:

    http://beyondrightandleft.com......_poli.html

  174. 174
    Jamey says:

    If Burke was the father of conservatism, what does that make William F. Buckley?

    Its mistress.

  175. 175
    DougJ says:

    @fdc

    Thanks. That’s very interesting.

  176. 176

    […] few months ago I asked all of you what the deal was with Edmund Burke. I learned that he was a starburst-prone sovereign citizen and, […]

  177. 177
    Some Guy says:

    What I also find interesting about the invocation of Burke by conservatives is how shallow it is. It is very priestly. The lord Burke says. And honestly, if the intellectual firepower of contemporary conservatism rests on a handful of elites, Burke among them, form the last several hundred years, they need a wider canon of literature to build on. Scads of brilliant minds engage politics and talk about it. Like many things, conservatism likes to play on a shrunken field with rigid rules so that gaming the politics becomes the end, not thinking.

    Conservatism is a mental wasteland. I doubt it will find a philosophy any time soon.

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