Sunday, March 11, 2007

Reaction and Action

A post in which I criticize the metaphors of Edmund Burke and Brad DeLong and attempt, with some success, to understand the difference between Kali and Christ according to Bush.

Brad Wrote

My problem is that in America today I don't see many conservatives. I see plenty of Bush-apologists. But I don't see very many people who think that the traditions we have inherited deserve respect because they are our traditions.

[snip]

long quote from "Reflections on the Revolution in France"

[snip]

You see, for all that Alan Wolfe is an intolerant wolf in tolerant sheep's clothing in his attack on conservatives for being intolerant, Alan Wolfe is right. Conservativism is at its base a form of intellectual thuggishness: a hitting-one's-adversary-on-the-head with the blackjack of tradition when doing so seems likely to gain one a momentary rhetorical advantage. That warped it at its origin, and warps it today.


You omit the oldest tradition trampled by Bush -- the great write of Habeus Corpus. What would Burke have written if he had heard Alberto Gonzales argue that the writ is not a right ? I can imagine and I regret imagined Burke's racist reference to the Attorney General's "maroonish" complexion.

However, it is quite clear that Burke would agree with Wolfe and DeLong and not with Levy. In fact, I am fairly sure that he would consider a resort to arms necessary to save English traditions in the New World in 2004 as he did not in 1776. That would make him a true conservative and easily more extreme than Ward Churchill. I disagree with imaginary Burke, thinking our traditions strong enough to endure even Bush with no need for desperate measures (just as I chide him for political incorrectness).

I am a bit disappointed that he was a man of the enlightenment enough to not only worship Newton but also take his formulas out of context and pretend that they remained valid when shorn of their meaning "you had that action and counteraction which, in the natural and in the political world, from the reciprocal struggle of discordant powers, draws out the harmony of the universe.." I stand in solidarity (Newtonian concept given a wholly new meaning by Rousseau) with romantic conservatives who denounce such nonsense.

However, while I consider Burke politically incorrect, over sympathetic to revolution and physics worshipping, I'm not sure I buy into your critique. You claim, in effect, that "Conservativism is at its base a form of intellectual thuggishness: a hitting-one's-adversary-on-the-head with the blackjack of tradition when doing so seems likely to gain one a momentary rhetorical advantage. That warped it at its origin, and warps it today" because "[i]t was one of the traditions and institutions of Englishmen that they would conquer, torture, and rob wogs whenever and wherever they were strong enough to do so" yet "[t]hat tradition cut no ice with Edmund Burke"

Odd definition of thuggishness demonstrating it's pressence from excessive respect for "wogs". It is true that the original Thugs were from the Indian subcontinent. However, they did not hit their victims with the Black Jack of tradition but rather choked off debate (and life) with traditional garrots forcing their victims to endure the agony of suffocation. Clearly this has nothing to do with those Americans who claim to be conservatives.

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