Conservative liberalism vs. progressive liberalism

Edmund Burke is considered the father of modern conservatism, while his contemporary Thomas Paine is a forerunner of modern liberalism.  Yuval Levin has written a new book, The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left.

A review by Michael Gerson discusses his thesis that both theorists, for all of their differences, care about liberty and reform, though they seek those ideals through different means.  Burke and Paine–like many conservatives and liberals to this day–exemplify the conflict between “conservative liberalism” and “progressive liberalism.” [Read more...]

Edmund Burke’s version of conservatism

The (liberal) E. J. Dionne discusses Edmund Burke: The First Conservative by British lawmaker Jesse Norman.  In doing so, he gives a useful summary of what the 18th century statesman and political theorist was all about.  So how is this different from some of the things that  pass for conservatism today? [Read more...]

Our partnership with the dead, the living, and the unborn

Peter Wehner quotes British journalist Charles Moore, reviewing Jesse Norman’s new biography of the 18th century father of modern conservatism, Edmund Burke:

As his struggles for America, Ireland and Corsica showed, Burke was no automatic defender of existing authority. But what he understood, and expressed with immense rhetorical power, was how human beings stand in relation to one another. Although they are morally autonomous individuals, they do not – cannot – live in isolation. In our language, laws, institutions, religion, and in our families, we are part of a continuum.

Society is ”a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born’’. It is not society that keeps mankind in chains, but the pretence that now is the only time that matters. Almost every piece of rot you hear in politics comes from those who wish to lock man into what WH Auden called ”the prison of his days’’. It is comforting that the Burkean Jesse Norman is in the House of Commons to tell them when they are wrong.

Mr. Wehner adds his reflections:

It strikes me that this ancient insight–of how we do not live in isolation, that we are part of a continuum–has been a bit neglected by American conservatives in recent years. [Read more...]

Hobbes vs. Burke

Catholic author George Weigel says that the current election amounts to a choice between Hobbes and Burke:

This is a contest, to take symbolic reference points, between Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) and Edmund Burke (1729-1797).

Both were British subjects. Both had a profound impact on modern political theory. Both knew that religion and politics—Church and state—had been thickly interwoven into the history of the West, although here the deep differences between these two paradigmatic figures begin to sharpen: Hobbes tried to drive religious conviction out of the modern public square, while Burke fashioned a vision of political modernity that drew in part on the rich social pluralism of the Catholic Middle Ages.

In a Hobbesian world, the only actors of consequence are the state and the individual. In a Burkean world, the institutions of civil society—family, religious congregation, voluntary association, business, trade union and so forth—”mediate” between the individual and the state, and the just state takes care to provide an appropriate legal framework in which those civil-society institutions can flourish.

In a Hobbesian world, the state—”Leviathan,” in the title of Hobbes’s most famous and influential work—monopolizes power for the sake of protecting individuals from the vicissitudes of a life that is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” In a Burkean world, civil society provides a thick layer of mediation-protection, if you will-that cushions the interactions between individuals and life’s challenges.

A Hobbesian world is a world of contracts and legal relationships, period. A Burkean world is a world in which there are both contracts—the rule of law—and covenants: those more subtly textured human associations (beginning with marriage) by which men and women form bonds of affection, allegiance and mutual responsibility. . . .

Along one path, there is, finally, room for only the individual and the state. Along the other path, the flourishing institutions of civil society empower individuals and contribute to real problem-solving. In the former, the state defines responsibilities and awards benefits (and penalties). In the latter, individuals and free, voluntary associations assume responsibility and thereby thus make their contribution to the common good.Hobbes vs. Burke. It’s an old argument. It’s also the argument we shall have between now and Nov. 6.

via Home > Publications >.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X