Friday, January 15, 2021

On Medium: The Casuistry of Burke’s Moderate Conservatism

Another in a series of articles on the emptiness of conservative philosophy. This one's on how, contrary to the casuistry of Burke's conservatism, natural societies have no divine approval, and Christianity provides no reliable basis for social reform.


  1. The reason monarchies and other forms of minority rule were so universal is that they were indeed grounded in the facts of biology. Look around the animal species and you’ll find similar concentrations of power in the alpha males or (much more rarely) females. This is indeed a stable way of organizing a group of social animals whose genes equip them with unequal traits, because the dominance hierarchy prevents an outbreak of permanent conflict between the members and the group’s self-destruction.

    I think this may gave been part of Burke's point: he valued order & stability even if it entailed the chronic povery & suffering of the masses (but not aristocrats like him).

    The French Revolution was an equal opportunity abotair in which no one could really be certain they might not be next on the chopping block. Napoleon was far more competent that Louis XVI, but his choices led to a continental war that took millions of lives. I actually approve of Napoleon's actions because they helped secularize Europe, but from a purely humanitarian perspective, la révolution was a disaster (as was the reformation before it).

    Given that both conservative & liberal agendas entail massive death & suffering, I guess it ultimately all comes down to which side you are on. A liberal would say that all that bloodshed was worth it because it ultimately broke the power of the miter & the crown, ushering in the modern world. A conservative like Burke, if you brought up bloodbaths like the crusades & Catholic inquisition, would be equally satisfied to say that these were necessary sacrifices to maintain (his) order. The question is: Do we have an independent criteria with which to judge which order (liberal or conservative) is worth sacrificing human lives to?

    1. I'd say the independent criterion would have to be derived from existential, universal considerations. You'd have to reconstruct morality without obsolete myths, as I try to do with the aesthetic take on values.

      I also wrote in support of Napoleon, against Steven Pinker's optimistic take on the Enlightenment. And as I say in the Burke article, the overthrow of the old orders would have to entail bloodshed, but that transitional violence was like a pinprick compared to the oceans of blood spilled in the normal operation of those old orders.

      The question is whether modernity entails violence not just in its origination but in its normal operation. Pinker says it doesn't, since wars are rare between democracies. The two world wars were outliers, he'd have to say.

      At any rate, I'd emphasize another kind of modern violence, namely our self-destructive violence against nature and other animal species (the sixth mass extinction, overpopulation, global warming). So indeed, the question of progress isn't straightforward. That's why I talk about the existential leap of faith in Luciferianism or Prometheanism.

  2. Greta Steiner Rushton-Murray Winfrey Kahane Spectre Ocasio de Kamala von ThunbergJanuary 17, 2021 at 7:37 AM

    ''if he rejected all abstract concepts, including “progress”?''

    “There is but one law for all, namely, that law which governs all law, the law of our Creator, the law of humanity, justice, equity — the Law of Nature and of Nations.”


    difference between an abstract concept and an irrealistic/improbable concept

    1. It does seem inconsistent to be skeptical about philosophical reason but not about Christian theology or tradition. His skepticism is more like a prejudice, a taste, or a gut preference for one thing over another.

      If you're skeptical about human reasoning, though, because you think the latter is hubristic and arrogant, you'd have to trust in religious traditions on the assumption that they're not likewise tainted by human pride. But monotheism is perfectly anthropocentric: we project our likeness onto ultimate reality which supposedly underlies all manifestations in the universe and we call it our heavenly father or God. Likewise, there's pride in interpreting the Bible and in calling one interpretation superior to another. So either way, Burke's views will end up being incoherent.

    2. Greta Rushton de WinfreyJanuary 17, 2021 at 9:17 AM

      There is a traditional contest among conservative thinkers to know who, among them, idealize better and more the concept of conservatism. A kind of purification of "what conservatism must be" and not "how great majority of them behave". Coherently from the theory to the praxis. Conservatism's ethymology itself is already very vague. It's not well stablished what it is or must be. which it's not the same as philosophy concept, already well stablished at the least in its essence (search and love for wisdom). When a concept is poorly defined or is not concise we need conceptualize it by this practice. Well... and call things by their real names. If we have exploitation call it like exploitation. But they are master in manipulate and hide real meaning concepts they don't know people understand. As a result, freedom or courage are completely changed from their ideal meanings. Freedom become synonymous for irresponsability and courage for cowardice but masked as "masculine virility". Again about freedom, this concept is centralized firstly in the individual itself and not in the individual related to others. It's not a concept of some inter individual interactions but related just to individual.

      Many conservative thinkers have the gift of aesthetical writing but not of the reasonableness on their thoughts. Or they are premeditative or calculated if they know what they defend is universally morally wrong then they invest in the beauty of words they choose rather than be Just aligned with factual evidence. Today with the general pattern or naturality on which most of them embrace fake news, the essential alienation of conservative ideologies became absolutely evident. Unfortunately, the majority of progressivists do the same but about different domains and by different reasons.

      Yes, all religion more or less is about human placing itself in the absolute center of its perspective and then believing he is (in) the center of reality itself. It's basically what all other species do. Existential selfcenterism. Ants, elephants, trumpthugs... even domesticated animals still are very selfcentered or when they interact with us they can't place themselves in our perspective by imaginative or simulational effort.