Wednesday, November 26, 2014

If You Thought the Crusades Were Evil, Think Again

If you think you know enough about the Crusades you’re probably wrong. As a matter of fact, what everyone “knows” about the series of historical events known as the Crusades may not be true. In fact, from the many popular notions about them, let’s pick four and see if they bear close examination. The four myths to be dealt with are the following:
  1. The crusades represented an unprovoked attack by Western Christians on the Muslim world.
  2. Western Christians went on crusade because their greed led them to plunder Muslims in order to get rich.
  3. Crusaders were a cynical lot who did not really believe their own religious propaganda; rather, they had ulterior, materialistic motives.
  4. The crusades taught Muslims to hate and attack Christians.
And here is how they can be demystified. A very useful read well worth the time.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Are Appeals to Natural Law and Right Reason Still Effective?

Samuel Gregg in Crisis Magazine :

...The American Founding was suffused with the language of virtue. Alongside this went a conviction on the part of many Founders that there was a natural law that all humans could know. Hence someone such as Alexander Hamilton didn’t hesitate to affirm in his Farmer Refuted that “upon this law, depend the natural rights of mankind.” To which Hamilton immediately added: “the Supreme Being gave existence to man, together with the means of preserving and beautifying that existence. He endowed him with rational faculties, by the help of which, to discern and pursue such things.

It’s not an easy reading, but it is worth the effort—and your time will be well spent!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rush Limbaugh: Governor Scott Walker, Genuine Star of Conservatism

Rush Limbaugh pays tribute to Scott Walker, Governor or Wisconsin. He’s a Republican who wins elections in a blue state and as governor delivers tax reductions and budget surpluses to his constituents through conservative principles...

A Republican AND Conservative Wave

Tuesday was not just a Republican wave, it was also a conservative wave. All across the country, conservative incumbents and challengers, won in races that they were supposed to lose. Conservatives won in gubernatorial races on down the ballot U.S. House races and state legislative races...
A short and clear synthesis (at Human Events, by Ron Pearson and Trevor K. Smith).

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Against Egalitarianism

If everyone were equally poor, living in poverty would be the normal state of existence. If everyone were equally prosperous, living in prosperity would be the normal state of existence. Poverty therefore becomes an unacceptable state of existence in relation to a prosperous state of existence.
An interesting conservative point of view from Mirino at Viewfinder

Being Conservative from A to Z

Asking too direct questions isn’t probably the best way to begin an investigation of a political movement or doctrine such as socialism, liberalism, conservatism, etc, because direct interrogation requires simple and straightforward answers, which is what is lacking in today’s complicated and often confusing political (and non-political) world. Therefore, if you want to find out the truth about a certain political belief, your question shouldn’t sound like this: What does it mean to be a Liberal, or a Socialist, etc.? This is even truer if we narrow the focus to the conservative movement, as I did in my newest book, Being Conservative from A to Z: An Anthology and Guide for Busy Conservative-Minded People. As if that weren’t enough, things get even more complicated if we embrace the point of view of English philosopher Michael Oakeshott on being conservative: “My theme is not a creed or a doctrine, but a disposition. To be conservative is to be disposed to think and behave in certain manners; it is to prefer certain kinds of conduct and certain conditions of human circumstances to others; it is to be disposed to make certain kinds of choices…” However, although debatable in many respects, Oakeshott’s definition of conservatism as a disposition rather than a belief from general principles is food for thought. Firstly, as a new kind of approach, it’s intellectually challenging and stimulating—more concrete, and therefore more understandable—to a complex and multi-faceted political philosophy. Secondly, it is pedagogically useful because it seems to automatically provide an abundant amount of information on a very wide variety of topics that are directly or closely related to the main subject. By the way, that’s the method used in this book. By looking through its pages one can easily perceive the operational scheme which consists of (implicitly) asking and answering questions such as “What does a conservative feel and think about this or that issue/topic/event?” Michael Oakeshott’s above-quoted statement is from a lecture delivered at Swansea University, U.K., in 1956, but a similar sentiment was echoed almost forty years later by Russell Kirk in The Politics of Prudence:
Being neither a religion nor an ideology, the body of opinion termed conservatism possesses no Holy Writ and no Das Kapital to provide dogmata. So far as it is possible to determine what conservatives believe, the first principles of the conservative persuasion are derived from what leading conservative writers and public men have professed during the past two centuries. […] Perhaps it would be well, most of the time, to use this word “conservative” as an adjective chiefly. For there exists no Model Conservative, and conservatism is the negation of ideology: it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order. The attitude we call conservatism is sustained by a body of sentiments, rather than by a system of ideological dogmata. It is almost true that a conservative may be defined as a person who thinks himself such. The conservative movement or body of opinion can accommodate a considerable diversity of views on a good many subjects, there being no Test Act or Thirty-Nine Articles of the conservative creed.
In its own way, Being Conservative from A to Z reflects the above-described approach, since “by default” it refers to what important leading conservative thinkers and public men have professed during the past two centuries up until the present time, no matter how many or how big the differences between the various thinkers on many issues might be.
Ronald Reagan and Russell Kirk
That being said, however, as Russell Kirk himself points out, there is a great line of demarcation in modern politics: on one side of that line are those who think that the temporal order is the only order, and in consequence material needs are the only needs, on the other side are those who “recognize an enduring moral order in the universe” and “a constant human nature.” As Eric Vogelin put it, the fundamental source of order in history and society is rooted in experiences of transcendence, in the attunement to divine reality. In other words, and as Voegelin himself would put it, the line of demarcation is between those who think that religious experience is the ground of political order and those who don’t. That is where we must start. And as a matter of fact, this is how Russell Kirk’s famous list of ten conservative principles (“Ten Conservative Principles,” in The Politics of Prudence) begins: “First, 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.” The rest of the list—widely regarded as perhaps the best general definition of “conservative”—is interesting as well. Being Conservative from A to Z, which could be described as an anthology of conservative analysis and insights on some key issues, is for readers who wish to acquaint themselves with conservative political thought and to get a critical and comparative perspective on what passes for political, social, economic, and cultural conservatism in their own time and place. The volume contains an introduction, 26 chapters and two appendixes. Each chapter corresponds to a letter of the alphabet, which in turn corresponds to a specific issue (e.g.  A=American Revolution, B=Bigotry (from Atheists), C= Conservative Attitude, D=Deconstruction, E=Education, F=Family Values… I=Identity, M=Man’s Nature, etc.). The first appendix gives an overview of the “Kinds of Conservatism.” The second appendix, merely by way of example, reproduces a famous speech by Ronald Reagan.
Edmund Burke
The book is intended for both European and American readers. It provides readings from European and American thinkers, which besides may help to call attention to some of the peculiarities of American conservatives, who, for instance, believe in Progress even more than liberals do. Last but not least, as the subtitle reads, this volume wants to be a teaching tool and a guide “for busy conservative-minded people,” even though I must confess that I don’t know what “busy people”—whether conservative-minded or not—exactly means... Be it as it may, despite its brevity and modesty, I hope this book, will lead readers to a greater appreciation of conservative values and principles. After all, as we all know, the ways of the Lord are mysterious.