Toward a deeper understanding of conservatism

I would like to recommend that my fellow reactionaries check out this essay over at Dispatches from the North.  It’s a short but penetrating introduction to the great counterrevolutionary Joseph de Maistre.   A couple of points to take away from it:

1) The author hones in on the real heart of Maistre’s project, which was to examine the nature of authority.  This examination lead to Maistre’s well-known claims that authority cannot be grounded in consent, and authoritative consitutions cannot be deliberately and explicitly manufactured, any more than the people it rules can be so manufactured.

2) The author explicitly points out that traditionalist conservative thought cannot be reduced to Edmund Burke.  This is a necessary corrective to the annoying Burkeolatry one often encounters on the intellectual Right.  It’s been my experience that arguments that start with the formula “true conservatism = Burke” always seem to end in the conclusion “we should capitulate to the liberals”.  One can see this quite fully in the recent books on conservatism by Sam Tanenhaus and Jeffrey Hart.  True conservatism, these men insist, consists in gradual change–never mind its direction–and defense of the status quo–no matter how iniquitous.  Only loony reactionaries like de Maistre acturally tried to undo established liberal policies, right?  In particular, a true conservative would certainly jump on the divorce-feticide-and-sodomy bandwagon by now.  Hence the conclusion of the “Obamacon” Burke-aficionados that Barack Obama is today’s most exemplary conservative.  If this is conservatism, they’re welcome to it.  I’m happy to be a reactionary loon.

One Response

  1. […] Reviews on 29.01.10 at 18:17 In my recent post about Joseph de Maistre, I made an implicit point, articulated well by Bonald over at Throne and Altar, about how the tendency to reduce traditionalist conservatism to […]

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