Monday, December 18, 2006

The Conservative Mind

In my on-going effort to understand conservatism, and particularly it's wayward bastard son demonstrated by the George W. Bush administration, I decided to read the book considered the Bible of Conservatism, which is pictured above. The author is Russel Kirk, as the flash may have hidden his name.

I was set for a thoroughly complex philosophy of what conservatism is born from. I have in all honesty, been disappointed. Notice the full title, The Conservative Mind from Burke to Elliot. Edmond Burke is the bloke who so vociferously opposed Tom Paine's writings. Tom Paine's writings are the ones that laid the foundation for the Declaration of Independence(Common Sense) and the Bill of Rights(The Rights of Man). I have long held the view that conservatives fought against American independence in the Revolutionary War, and have pretty much been doing so since then. In all fairness though, I thought it best to read this tome.

The foreword is by Henry Regnery, who's publishing firm includes such notable names as William J. Bennett, Ann Coulter, David Horowitz, Congressman Curt Wheldon, Oliver North, Congressman Dennis Hastert, Michelle Malkin, and Ted Nugent and Charlie Daniels. To quote his forward, " What it all comes down to, he used to say, is that a conservative knows that two plus two always, invariably, equals four, a fact of life that a liberal, on the other hand, is not quite willing to accept."
I thought that a rather weird way to set the tone for a supposed book of scholarly thought. It's those kinds of conservative comments one can find issuing from the mouths of news story commenter's on Yahoo. It's also why last November America rejected conservatism as demonstrated by this administration.

So okay I thought, that's just a publisher who's given ability to grasp what Kirk had to say is below par. He's sunk to the level of comments of his authors like Coulter and Malkin. And since his firm owns the rights to a dead author, who's going to argue with him?

The book so far, has done little to counter my initial impression. In fact, on page 8, the very first of the listed six canons of conservatism is, " Belief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law...Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems," and on page 33, " Every state is the creation of Providence, whether or not it's religion is Christianity. Christianity is the highest of religions...." At least in this one area has the conservatism of today stuck true to it's past, even if it is a Frankenstein form of it. This is where I think the major problem lies in conservatism being a viable form of thought for governing a nation. It has as it's root a presumed body of truth which is intolerant to the differing realities of modern man. Never mind the fact that today's leaders of the Christian faith are so blatantly far from the core teaching of their own Scriptures.

So as I move through this book, I will be posting in regards to where I see conservatism as unworkable. I think the major policy failures of the Bush administration are symptomatic to their own version of conservatism. My goal is towards conservatism as a historical train of thought, and why I don't think it is suited to be a political mind set.


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