Friday, May 28, 2010

What Russell Kirk would say today

The rantings of the Tea Party crowd (to take one of many potential examples, a woman on a facebook page compared Obama to Hitler) makes me long for some common sense on the right. For those who do not know much about conservative history, allow me to introduce the late conservative intellectual Russell Kirk, who despised radical libertarians. He wrote a great essay titled A Dispassionate Assessment of Libertarians in 1988. I will quote a few of his statements from that essay:

The Constitution of the United States distinctly is not an exercise of libertarianism. It was drawn up by an aristocratic body of men who sought "a more perfect union." The delegates to the Constitutional Convention had a wholesome dread of the libertarians of 1786-1787, as represented by the rebels who followed Daniel Shays in Massachusetts. What the Constitution established was a higher degree of order and prosperity, not an anarchists' paradise.

The libertarian asserts that the state is the great oppressor. But the conservative finds that the state is natural and necessary for the fulfillment of human nature and the growth of civilization; it cannot be abolished unless humanity is abolished, it is ordained for our very existence.

But the libertarians, rashly hurrying to the opposite extreme from the welfare state, would deprive government of effective power to conduct the common defense, to restrain the unjust and the passionate, or indeed to carry on a variety of undertakings clearly important to the general welfare.

Most damning and relevant was a quote from Dostoevesky: "To begin with unlimited freedom is to end with unlimited despotism."

The TP would call this guy a socialist, for sure.

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