A lot of my friends in the center-right blogosphere think Andrew and his readers are a bunch of lefties. So let's take an unscientific poll. Russell Kirk famously laid out 10 conservative principles. To how many do you subscribe? (I've just excerpted the principles here, it's worth going over here to read Kirk's entire essay.)
- The conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order. That order is made for man, and man is made for it: human nature is a constant, and moral truths are permanent. ... A society in which men and women are governed by belief in an enduring moral order, by a strong sense of right and wrong, by personal convictions about justice and honor, will be a good societywhatever political machinery it may utilize; while a society in which men and women are morally adrift, ignorant of norms, and intent chiefly upon gratification of appetites, will be a bad societyno matter how many people vote and no matter how liberal its formal constitution may be. ...
- The conservative adheres to custom, convention, and continuity. ... Conservatives are champions of custom, convention, and continuity because they prefer the devil they know to the devil they don’t know. ...
- Conservatives believe in what may be called the principle of prescription. Conservatives sense that modern people are dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, able to see farther than their ancestors only because of the great stature of those who have preceded us in time. Therefore conservatives very often emphasize the importance of prescriptionthat is, of things established by immemorial usage, so that the mind of man runneth not to the contrary. There exist rights of which the chief sanction is their antiquityincluding rights to property, often. ... The individual is foolish, but the species is wise, Burke declared. In politics we do well to abide by precedent and precept and even prejudice, for the great mysterious incorporation of the human race has acquired a prescriptive wisdom far greater than any man’s petty private rationality.
- Conservatives are guided by their principle of prudence. ... Any public measure ought to be judged by its probable long-run consequences, not merely by temporary advantage or popularity. Liberals and radicals, the conservative says, are imprudent: for they dash at their objectives without giving much heed to the risk of new abuses worse than the evils they hope to sweep away. ...
- The only true forms of equality are equality at the Last Judgment and equality before a just court of law; all other attempts at levelling must lead, at best, to social stagnation.
- Human nature suffers irremediably from certain grave faults, the conservatives know. Man being imperfect, no perfect social order ever can be created. ... All that we reasonably can expect is a tolerably ordered, just, and free society, in which some evils, maladjustments, and suffering will continue to lurk. ... The ideologues who promise the perfection of man and society have converted a great part of the twentieth-century world into a terrestrial hell.
- Conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked. Separate property from private possession, and Leviathan becomes master of all.
- Conservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism. ... In a genuine community, the decisions most directly affecting the lives of citizens are made locally and voluntarily. ... If, then, in the name of an abstract Democracy, the functions of community are transferred to distant political directionwhy, real government by the consent of the governed gives way to a standardizing process hostile to freedom and human dignity.
- The conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions. ... It is characteristic of the radical that he thinks of power as a force for goodso long as the power falls into his hands. ... A just government maintains a healthy tension between the claims of authority and the claims of liberty.
- Permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society. The conservative is not opposed to social improvement, although he doubts whether there is any such force as a mystical Progress, with a Roman P, at work in the world. ... He thinks that the liberal and the radical, blind to the just claims of Permanence, would endanger the heritage bequeathed to us, in an endeavor to hurry us into some dubious Terrestrial Paradise.
When Andrew gets back, maybe he'll do a post telling us which of the ten he holds these days. In the meanwhile, check as many of the principles you want. Or, if you're a real liberal, there's a none of the above option:
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