Guest Blog

Recently, within a comment on a separate thread, "Tocqueville" offered an extremely cogent conspectus of conservative thought. I am reconstituting it as a featured post, for I think it is worthy of reflection (and comment):

From "Tocqueville":
The deeper tradition of conservatism always has stood for something far more substantial than present-ism. It is what Edmund Burke defended against the French Jacobins; what Alexis de Tocqueville defended against the radicals of his own day in Europe and mindless levellers everywhere; what Russell Kirk defended against the mass homogenization of post-war liberalism; and what William F. Buckley, jr. defended against the atheist, materialist professorate was the broad tradition of Western civilization. It is a vision of a society in which the true, the good, and the beautiful all are recognized as permanent things beyond price. A society in which we seek to join with one another in leading a life of virtue. Some political and economic structures are better at serving such goals than others, but these higher goals are the most important things, the things that actually make life worth living. And to simply say "that's all gone" is to abdicate one's responsibility as a human being, an American, and a member of one's neighborhood, parish, synagogue, workplace, family, school, and all the other associations of one's life, to work for a recovery of a reason to live--not just a way of enjoying oneself, but a reason for existing.

"The problem today, of course, is that so much of our tradition has been crushed under the weight of materialism, selfishness, and cynicism. But that should not mean that we simply join in the party. When Burke criticized the French for giving in to the impulse to tear down their civilization, he didn't just say throw up his hands and say "too bad." He made clear that, even in the worst of times, we have a viable option: to look back in our own traditions for healthy, virtuous elements, be they institutions, beliefs or practices, that we can revive and build on."