Kirk's second principle, in his own words:
Custom, convention and continuity
It is old custom that enables people to live together peaceably; the destroyers of custom demolish more than they know or desire. It is through convention—a word much abused in our time—that we contrive to avoid perpetual disputes about rights and duties: law at base is a body of conventions. Continuity is the means of linking generation to generation; it matters as much for society as it does for the individual; without it, life is meaningless. When successful revolutionaries have effaced old customs, derided old conventions, and broken the continuity of social institutions—why, presently they discover the necessity of establishing fresh customs, conventions, and continuity; but that process is painful and slow; and the new social order that eventually emerges may be much inferior to the old order that radicals overthrew in their zeal for the Earthly Paradise.
Conservatives are champions of custom, convention, and continuity because they prefer the devil they know to the devil they don’t know. Order and justice and freedom, they believe, are the artificial products of a long social experience, the result of centuries of trial and reflection and sacrifice. Thus the body social is a kind of spiritual corporation, comparable to the church; it may even be called a community of souls. Human society is no machine, to be treated mechanically. The continuity, the life-blood, of a society must not be interrupted. Burke’s reminder of the necessity for prudent change is in the mind of the conservative. But necessary change, conservatives argue, ought to he gradual and discriminatory, never unfixing old interests at once.
Here again, I'm not sure that I disagree with this. The progressives I associate with greatly value Ancient Wisdom. Wendell Berry, Gene Logsdon and the Amish, for instance, are always pushing the notion of clinging to the continuity of the Old Ways of farming that have been undone by modern (often conservative-backed?) agribusiness.
I do have a few red flags that pop up as I read his commentary, though. Sometimes, things ought to change and they ought to change quickly. I'm thinking slavery. I'm thinking thinking civil rights. I'm thinking genocide.
Interestingly, by this definition, it seems conservatives would never back an invasion like the one we have going on in Iraq. They're trying to force radical change quickly and, I'd suggest, they're having the negative results that Mr. Kirk warns of here. Using Iraq as an example, I'd say that the peaceful negotiated change in Iraq that progressives were pushing fits Kirk's definition of Conservatism better than the Conservative Solution. In the words above, I hear Kirk calling Bush a nutty radical!
My blogfriend, Constantine, was suggesting this might make for some very interesting thought and discussion. I agree and welcome your input.