Tenth, the thinking conservative understands that 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. When a society is progressing in some respects, usually it is declining in other respects.
The conservative knows that any healthy society is influenced by two forces, which Samuel Taylor Coleridge called its Permanence and its Progression. The Permanence of a society is formed by those enduring interests and convictions that gives us stability and continuity; without that Permanence, the fountains of the great deep are broken up, society slipping into anarchy. The Progression in a society is that spirit and that body of talents which urge us on to prudent reform and improvement; without that Progression, a people stagnate.
Therefore the intelligent conservative endeavors to reconcile the claims of Permanence and the claims of Progression. 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. The conservative, in short, favors reasoned and temperate progress; he is opposed to the cult of Progress, whose votaries believe that everything new necessarily is superior to everything old.
I hate to end with a fizzle, but all I can think at the moment to respond is, "Okay."
Fine, Progress should be tempered by the Good from the old. I have no problem with the concept. As always, the devil's in the details.
I mean, it seems to me, f'r instance, that we threw an awful lot away over these last 75 years by embracing the Petroleum Age. As I've stated before in this series, I believe, we've entered in to this dependence upon Petroleum in the evolutionary blink of an eye. Further, due to the peaking of oil and the continued rise in its use, the Petroleum Age will also be over in the blink of an eye.
Where I think a wise conservative (liberal, radical, etc) would have tempered these sweeping changes (Progress, some would say), we haven't. We haven't measured the results of this sweep and have failed to account for the damage. We just changed from sustainable to unsustainable. From organic to petroleum-based. From local to global.
I think Kirk - if I'm reading him a-right - would shudder with disgust in this abandonment of Permanence for the flashy convertible called Progress.
So, no, I don't disagree with this conservative notion, depending upon how you interpret and apply it.
Thanks for joining me in this journey in to the Conservative mind. We now return to your regularly scheduled Liberal madness...
(Just kidding, I'll have a debriefing next.)