The Corner

Food for Thought

From my longtime Voegelin guy:

Dear Mr. Goldberg,

Considering recent conversations at NRO about Burke, there is some interesting Voegelin stuff which has a larger bearing on the question of a conservative political philosophy (of course Voegelin was not interested in formulating any kind of “conservatism”).  The point he makes about Burke is that Burke is thoroughly a modernist liberal in at least this one sense: that he sees politics in terms of making it possible for each man to pursue and control his own destiny.  This, of course, is the essence of modern progressivism and secularism.  That we are or can be or should be in control of our own destiny, rather than God or Kings or princes or station in life.  And I would argue that the essence of American conservatism is really this “classical liberalism” if you will, that the individual should be in control of his own destiny, and the role of government is limited to making that possible, and not interfering with that right, and guaranteeing that right.  It’s a philosophically invalid position, because humans are not in control. 

I’m not sure if Voegelin has any kind of lengthy essay on Burke in his “History of Political Ideas” but it would be worth taking a look.

Of course, the question is whether conservatism is an ideology, or whether it is constituted by resistance to ideology.  I would prefer the latter.  If just a counter-ideology to leftism, the problem is that all of the core premises with the left are essentially the same and we are arguing details only.  Which is why conservatism today is in such a quandry.  It really can’t go after the core premises of leftism because it shares them.

Perhaps I’ll have some thoughts on this later. I’m pretty sure Yuval (my Burke Guy) will.

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