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  1. #1
    psicobolche tcda's Avatar
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    Default Conservatism and Counterrevolution

    Interesting essay:

    http://leiterreports.typepad.com/fil...itan-essay.pdf

    Ever since Edmund Burke invented conservatism as an idea,
    the conservative has styled himself a man of prudence and moderation,
    his cause a sober—and sobering—recognition of limits. “To be
    conservative,” writes Michael Oakeshott, “is to prefer the familiar to
    the unknown. . .the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual
    to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant.”
    Yet the political efforts that have roused the conservative to
    his most profound reflections—the reactions against the French and
    Bolshevik revolutions, the defense of slavery and Jim Crow, the at -
    tack on social democracy and the welfare state, the serial backlashes against the New Deal, the Great Society, civil rights, feminism, and
    gay rights—have been anything but that. Whether in Europe or the
    United States, in this century or previous ones, conservatism has
    been a forward movement of restless and relentless change, partial
    to risk taking and ideological adventurism, militant in its posture
    and populist in its bearings, friendly to upstarts and insurgents, outsiders
    and newcomers alike. While the conservative theorist claims
    for his tradition the mantle of prudence and moderation, there is a
    not-so-subterranean strain of imprudence and immoderation running
    through that tradition, a strain that, however counterintuitive it
    seems, connects Sarah Palin to Edmund Burke.

    A consideration of this deeper strain of conservatism gives us a
    clearer sense of what conservatism is about. While conservatism is an
    ideology of reaction—originally against the French Revolution, more
    recently against the liberation movements of the sixties and seven -
    ties—the nature and dynamics of that reaction have not been well
    understood. Far from yielding a knee-jerk and unreflexive de fense of
    an unchanging old regime or a staid but thoughtful tradition alism,
    the reactionary imperative presses conservatism in two rather different
    directions: first, to a critique and reconfiguration of the old re -
    gime; second, to an absorption of the ideas and tactics of the very
    revolution or reform it opposes. What conservatism seeks to accomplish
    through that reconfiguration of the old and absorption of the
    new is to make privilege popular, to transform a tottering old regime
    into a dynamic, ideologically coherent movement of the masses. A
    new old regime, one could say, that brings the energy and dynamism
    of the street to the antique inequalities of a dilapidated estate.
    "Of course we spent our money in the good times. That's what you're supposed to do in good times! You can't save money in the good times. Then they wouldn't be good times, they'd be 'preparation for the bad times' times."

    "Every country in the world owes money. Everyone. So heere's what I dont get: who do they all owe it to, and why don't we just kill the bastard and relax?"

    -Tommy Tiernan, Irish comedian.

  2. #2
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Very good. Not quite insightful, as I already suspected much of what it said, but it put those suspicions of mine into good writing.

    Indeed, a truly conservative individual could not, by definition, be someone who attempts to leave a socio-political mark.

    One might then think to call all of supposed conservative ideologues regressives, a phrase that is occasionally used.

    But since no one can truly turn back time or even restore society qualitatively to what it once was, anyone making a change is making a change for the new.

    Therefore, in political warfare, there are only progressives of conflicting view.
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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    Live and let live will just amount to might makes right

  3. #3
    Sniffles
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    I'll have to read this over. However to make connections between modern-day American "conservatives" (like Bush,McCain, Palin) and European counter-revolutionaries like Burke and de Maistre is quite a bit of a stretch of the imagination.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    I'll have to read this over. However to make connections between modern-day American "conservatives" (like Bush,McCain, Palin) and European counter-revolutionaries like Burke and de Maistre is quite a bit of a stretch of the imagination.
    I think its a bit of a stretch to connect Burke and de Maistre too.

  5. #5
    Sniffles
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I think its a bit of a stretch to connect Burke and de Maistre too.
    True but that does make more sense, since de Maistre was partly influenced by Burke. It should also be mentioned that Burke was a Whig, and not a Tory.

    There's too often a general sense of confusion and incoherence in distinguishing between not only different brands of conservatives, but also marking the distinctions between say conservatives and reactionaries. Then even a traditional 'right' and a radical-populist 'right', and how that relates to their leftist counter-parts.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    True but that does make more sense, since de Maistre was partly influenced by Burke. It should also be mentioned that Burke was a Whig, and not a Tory.

    There's too often a general sense of confusion and incoherence in distinguishing between not only different brands of conservatives, but also marking the distinctions between say conservatives and reactionaries. Then even a traditional 'right' and a radical-populist 'right', and how that relates to their leftist counter-parts.
    I agree that terms are conflated too easily, often it is a reflection of generalisations and prejudices of the people categorising or conceptualising.

    Burke is an interesting case because I would suggest that while he has become a conservative icon because of his reflections on the revolution in france that he is more of a constitutional monarchist or market democrat than a conservative. I think De Maistre was more of a true conservative, in the ugly sense too though.

    I think there is a difference between being a reactionary and politico of any stripe, typified by being generally change negative, whatever the change may be.

    The Zapatistas and other indigenous peoples resistance to neo-liberalism movements where embraced by the political left wing because they where perceived as being composed of or representing marginalised underdogs but they where essentially reactionaries who rejected modernity in Quixote style.

    So I dont see reactionary as being by definition right wing, radical populists neednt be right wing either.

  7. #7
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Would any of you be interested in giving clear definitions of what all of these apparently profoundly different terms mean?
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    Would any of you be interested in giving clear definitions of what all of these apparently profoundly different terms mean?
    Which ones are you having difficulty with?

  9. #9
    psicobolche tcda's Avatar
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    Well the defining features the author defines are

    1) disgust at the decadence, complacency and weakness of the old regime,

    2) subsequent need to revitalize it with a popular base of support

    3) subsequent adoption, both conscious and unconscious, of the language and methods of revolutionaries

    4.) appeal to the feeling of "loss" in order to "restore" an old order - but which they all recognize will actually be a new order because the old regime will have learnt the lessons of the past,

    5) the fact that it is not the ideology of a successful regime but of a dying regime which, once it discovers that its priveliges are indeed "man-made", discovers too that they can not only be torn down, but also rebuilt,

    6) that it speaks to the feeling of loss, to the outsider, is not the voice of the ocmplacent elite, (Burke was Irish, Maistre from Savoy, the neocons mostly Jewish, in some cases homosexual and/or ex Trotskyists,

    7) that this is not just demagogy but that it genuinely does speak to all those who have lost a privelige - be it a powerful father, a southern white, or a landed aristocrat or factory owner who lost an extent of their power or wealth,

    8) that this ability to speak for "the oustsider",the "loser" who has, in real time, been dispossessed of a privelige which they hope, in real and practical terms, to possess again, is the reason why it can powerfully coutnerpose itself to the left which speaks for those who "never had anything to lose"
    "Of course we spent our money in the good times. That's what you're supposed to do in good times! You can't save money in the good times. Then they wouldn't be good times, they'd be 'preparation for the bad times' times."

    "Every country in the world owes money. Everyone. So heere's what I dont get: who do they all owe it to, and why don't we just kill the bastard and relax?"

    -Tommy Tiernan, Irish comedian.

  10. #10
    Sniffles
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    Quote Originally Posted by tcda View Post
    Well the defining features the author defines are

    1) disgust at the decadence, complacency and weakness of the old regime,

    2) subsequent need to revitalize it with a popular base of support

    3) subsequent adoption, both conscious and unconscious, of the language and methods of revolutionaries

    4.) appeal to the feeling of "loss" in order to "restore" an old order - but which they all recognize will actually be a new order because the old regime will have learnt the lessons of the past,

    5) the fact that it is not the ideology of a successful regime but of a dying regime which, once it discovers that its priveliges are indeed "man-made", discovers too that they can not only be torn down, but also rebuilt,

    6) that it speaks to the feeling of loss, to the outsider, is not the voice of the ocmplacent elite, (Burke was Irish, Maistre from Savoy, the neocons mostly Jewish, in some cases homosexual and/or ex Trotskyists,

    7) that this is not just demagogy but that it genuinely does speak to all those who have lost a privelige - be it a powerful father, a southern white, or a landed aristocrat or factory owner who lost an extent of their power or wealth,

    8) that this ability to speak for "the oustsider",the "loser" who has, in real time, been dispossessed of a privelige which they hope, in real and practical terms, to possess again, is the reason why it can powerfully coutnerpose itself to the left which speaks for those who "never had anything to lose"
    Very interesting. #3 probably strikes out the most for me in this piece, since it opens up a whole discussion in of itself about the relationships(not to mention commonalities) between Left and Right on the political spectrum. Pretty much every thing else on the list expands upon this theme.

    I guess #7 & 8 is an attempt to explain the different ends this is taken. Wheras the Right can/does appeal to something that actually existed(or perceived to have existed), the Left tends to appeal to something that hasn't actually existed yet.

    That's how I'm understanding this thesis thus far. I'll still have to read through the original piece to get a better grasp of what the author is arguing here.

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