Monday, October 10, 2005

Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles, part 3

Almost done. Kirk's Eighth Principle:

Eighth, conservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism. Although Americans have been attached strongly to privacy and private rights, they also have been a people conspicuous for a successful spirit of community. In a genuine community, the decisions most directly affecting the lives of citizens are made locally and voluntarily.

Some of these functions are carried out by local political bodies, others by private associations: so long as they are kept local, and are marked by the general agreement of those affected, they constitute healthy community. But when these functions pass by default or usurpation to centralized authority, then community is in serious danger. Whatever is beneficent and prudent in modern democracy is made possible through cooperative volition. If, then, in the name of an abstract Democracy, the functions of community are transferred to distant political direction—why, real government by the consent of the governed gives way to a standardizing process hostile to freedom and human dignity.


Here, I'm back to agreeing in principle with Kirk. While I'm a big believer in a communal living mindset, I'm not wanting to enforce community upon anyone. Further, Kirk is addressing here the notion of local decision-making, with which I, in general, agree.

That is, generally speaking, the people at the local level are going to know what is best for them and, even if they might not, I'm cautious about taking away from local decision-making.

Having said that, I'll admit to being of two minds on the matter. Sometimes, it seems to me, Justice demands action and if the local community is not listening to Justice's demands, an outside (federal) authority can be a force for good.

Here, I'm thinking of the Civil Rights era, where many local communities would not have offered Justice to their minorities without federal prodding. I'm also thinking of pollution issues. What if the local community decides that it's okay for someone to set up a hog pond next door to my house and pollute the groundwater which belongs to us all?

Do I, in general, want the feds to dictate to local communities how they must act? Not really. Do I think it sometimes appropriate? Yes.

Seems to me that this is one of those times that a slippery slope ought to be cautiously trod.


Son of Lilith said...

Judging things on a case-by-case basis. What a novel concept. All too often our leaders want to make blanket policies applicable to every situation instead be willing to think freely.

Daniel Levesque said...

The unfortunate thing about outside legislation determining local action is that it rarely takes local considerations into account. While this is excellent for universal issues like voting rights, education rights, and so-on, it is seriously flawed when it covers case-by-case issues. This is why conservatives are generally opposed to additional federal regulation in favor local community action and legislation.
The other major gripe by conservatives when it comes to federal regulation is the issue of State's Rights. The Constitution expressly hands everything not covered in it to the states to handle on a local basis. It actually bars most federal legislation. While it could be argued that almost every law passed by the federal government is in violation of the Constitution it would be a silly fight. Rather, it would be more appropritae for every government, local, state, and federal to review the laws that have been passed in lat two centuries and eradicate obsolete laws and regulations while leaving the vital ones intact. Streamlining the justice system if you will. Civil rights legislation, environmental laws, and so forth are very appropriately handled on the federal level by elected representatives. Truthfully, most states couldn't afford much of what they have without recieving federal dollars for various projects, and recipt of federal dollars does invite federal regulation, and rightfully so. The Feds just need to be careful when they consider making more regulations.

Dan Trabue said...

So we agree, Daniel? At least on matters pertaining to Civil Rights, Environmental and so forth?

Daniel Levesque said...

We agree to a certain point. We are all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights: the right to life, liberty, and the persuit of happiness, as stated in the Declaration of Independence. So long as these civil rights remain within socially and morally acceptable grounds we are bound to uphold them. There is a problem in Judges imagining up rights that don't exist in the Constitution that the majority of the population disapproves of. I am an environmentalist myself, not the usual kind, a real one with actual training and education at the college level, I have 45 credit hours to go before I complete my Environmental Management degree. I have a good grasp of environmental issues, as well as what is junk science in the environmental realm. Suffice it to say I refuse to align with any of ignorant and/or lying idiots in the environmental movement. As far so-forth goes . . . we'll just have to see what so-forth entails. If it entails protecting state rights and small government you can usually count me in. If it entails things like legalized abortion, legalizing drugs, legalizing homosexual marriage, light sentences for and/or legalizing various vile criminal acts then we are opposed.

The Scrutinator said...

I agree with Kirk and Dan. Community and local control, but with Federal intervention where warranted. (And it was warranted for Civil Rights.)

I gotta say I'm feeling prophetic about the voluntary vs. mandatory aspect.

Collectivization is presumably for equalizing things "for the people" (claimed for everything Marxists do). But it just shifts power to those who control its management, and with no checks or balances.

Eleutheros said...

Just as a government governs best which governs least, so a community communes best which communes least.

When a conservative, the now of days variety at any rate, says 'community' he seems to be viewing a body of people he can exploit. When a liberal says 'communtiy' he seems to be viewing a body of people upon whom he can become a parasite.

The only safeguard against either of these is to depend on the community as little as possible, not as much as possible.

Dan Trabue said...


For what it's worth, when I and my progressive friends (and at one time, a few of my conservative friends) say "community," we mean that group which we can be there to support and assist and frolic with, even as they will be there to support, assist and frolic with me.