Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Principle, History, and Tradition

What distinguishes Burke & Adams on the one hand, from Pius VI, on the other, is the commitment to a robust principles of the moral order.

Pius VI saw the destructive effects of all revolutions. Burke and Adams wanted to be conservative revolutionaries. They wanted revolution, but without the radicals, especially the relativisti or hedonistic radicals. Thus, for a time, conservative and liberal revolutionaries will unite to undo the old order. The conservatives hope that their good intentions will enable them to preserve what is good from history and tradition, without giving in to the excesses of the radicals. The radicals can respond: we have drawn the line here, why not take it one step further? Unless the conservatives renounce the revolutionary ideal, they will have difficulty responding.

This is the ambiguity that persists in conservatism this day. They want tradition and history, but lack solid commitment to principle, in deed and in truth.

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