The Corner

Churchill & Consistency

Professor Gary Glenn also sends in the following passage on Burke from Churchill’s essay, “Consistency in Politics:” “No greater example can be found in this field than Burke….On the one hand he is revealed as the foremost apostle of Liberty, on the other as the redoubtable champion of Authority. But a charge or political inconsistency applied to this life appears a mean and petty thing. History easily discerns the reasons and forces which activated him, and the immense changes in the problems he was facing, which evoked from the same profound mind and sincere spirit these entirely contrary manifestations….No one can read the Burke of Liberty and the Burke of Authority without feeling that here was the same man pursuing the same ends, seeking the same ideals of society and Government, and defending them from assaults, now from one extreme, now from the other.” What strikes me here is that the necessary tension in Burke’s thought between Liberty and Authority has been unstrung for our contemporary libertarians, who tend to credit only one side of the equation. That is why their demand for abstract consistency is troubling.


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