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    The Ten Conservative Principles of Russell Kirk

    Source: The Heritage Foundation

    March 20, 1986

    Russell Kirk was a prolific author, essayist, lecturer, and critic best known for The Conservative Mind (1953). Kirk made conservatism intellectually respectable in the modern era and christened the conservative movement with its name. In the following speech, delivered at the Heritage Foundation in 1987, Kirk enumerates ten principles of conservatism. The list, which he did not intend to be exhaustive, emphasizes an attitude—not a “fixed doctrine”—toward tradition, private institutions, and prudence which he calls “the negation of ideology.”

    Kirk’s first point is that “the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order”—all things are not relative. As such, he emphasizes “custom, convention, and continuity,” for conservatism is “an attitude sustained by a body of sentiments,” in other words, a “persuasion.” At the same time, “conservatives are guided by their principle of prudence.” This enables a healthy balance between the possibilities of the past and the future.

    Kirk stresses that conservatives “pay attention to the principle of variety” and its benefits in private institutions. On a related note, conservatives understand the importance of “voluntary community” as the alternative to big government and espouse the belief that “freedom and property are closely linked.”

    Kirk returns time and again to the imperfectability of human beings, which renders utopian schemes of government impossible. Given the obdurate permanence of human nature, “the conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions.” While conservatives reject progress for the sake of progress, they do understand that “permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society.”

    Kirk’s sobriety and skepticism indict as dangerous folly the historical evolution propounded by Progressivism as well as of all ideological thinking and utopian planning. There lies the great division of modern politics. Opposed to the willful ideologues are those who “recognize an enduring moral order in the universe, a constant human nature, and high duties to the order spiritual and the order temporal.”

    “Ten Conservative Principles”

    Russell Kirk
    Lecture at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., March 20, 1986

    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. After some introductory remarks on this general theme, I will proceed to list ten such conservative principles.
    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 essence, the conservative person is simply one who finds the permanent things more pleasing than Chaos and Old Night. (Yet conservatives know, with Burke, that healthy “change is the means of our preservation.”) A people’s historic continuity of experience, says the conservative, offers a guide to policy far better than the abstract designs of coffee-house philosophers. But of course there is more to the conservative persuasion than this general attitude.

    It is not possible to draw up a neat catalogue of conservatives’ convictions; nevertheless, I offer you, summarily, ten general principles; it seems safe to say that most conservatives would subscribe to most of these maxims. In various editions of my book The Conservative Mind I have listed certain canons of conservative thought—the list differing somewhat from edition to edition; in my anthology The Portable Conservative Reader I offer variations upon this theme. Now I present to you a summary of conservative assumptions differing somewhat from my canons in those two books of mine. In fine, the diversity of ways in which conservative views may find expression is itself proof that conservatism is no fixed ideology. What particular principles conservatives emphasize during any given time will vary with the circumstances and necessities of that era. The following ten articles of belief reflect the emphases of conservatives in America nowadays.

    (1) 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.

    This word order signifies harmony. There are two aspects or types of order: the inner order of the soul, and the outer order of the commonwealth. Twenty-five centuries ago, Plato taught this doctrine, but even the educated nowadays find it difficult to understand. The problem of order has been a principal concern of conservatives ever since conservative became a term of politics.

    Our twentieth-century world has experienced the hideous consequences of the collapse of belief in a moral order. Like the atrocities and disasters of Greece in the fifth century before Christ, the ruin of great nations in our century shows us the pit into which fall societies that mistake clever self-interest, or ingenious social controls, for pleasing alternatives to an oldfangled moral order.

    It has been said by liberal intellectuals that the conservative believes all social questions, at heart, to be questions of private morality. Properly understood, this statement is quite true. A society in which men and women are governed by belief in an enduring moral order, by a strong sense of right and wrong, by personal convictions about justice and honor, will be a good society—whatever political machinery it may utilize; while a society in which men and women are morally adrift, ignorant of norms, and intent chiefly upon gratification of appetites, will be a bad society—no matter how many people vote and no matter how liberal its formal constitution may be.

    (2) Second, the conservative adheres to 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 be gradual and discriminatory, never unfixing old interests at once.

    (3) Third, conservatives believe in what may be called the principle of prescription. Conservatives sense that modern people are dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, able to see farther than their ancestors only because of the great stature of those who have preceded us in time. Therefore conservatives very often emphasize the importance of prescription—that is, of things established by immemorial usage, so that the mind of man runneth not to the contrary. There exist rights of which the chief sanction is their antiquity—including rights to property, often. Similarly, our morals are prescriptive in great part. Conservatives argue that we are unlikely, we moderns, to make any brave new discoveries in morals or politics or taste. It is perilous to weigh every passing issue on the basis of private judgment and private rationality. The individual is foolish, but the species is wise, Burke declared. In politics we do well to abide by precedent and precept and even prejudice, for the great mysterious incorporation of the human race has acquired a prescriptive wisdom far greater than any man’s petty private rationality.

    (4) Fourth, conservatives are guided by their principle of prudence. Burke agrees with Plato that in the statesman, prudence is chief among virtues. Any public measure ought to be judged by its probable long-run consequences, not merely by temporary advantage or popularity. Liberals and radicals, the conservative says, are imprudent: for they dash at their objectives without giving much heed to the risk of new abuses worse than the evils they hope to sweep away. As John Randolph of Roanoke put it, Providence moves slowly, but the devil always hurries. Human society being complex, remedies cannot be simple if they are to be efficacious. The conservative declares that he acts only after sufficient reflection, having weighed the consequences. Sudden and slashing reforms are as perilous as sudden and slashing surgery.

    (5) Fifth, conservatives pay attention to the principle of variety. They feel affection for the proliferating intricacy of long-established social institutions and modes of life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity and deadening egalitarianism of radical systems. For the preservation of a healthy diversity in any civilization, there must survive orders and classes, differences in material condition, and many sorts of inequality. The only true forms of equality are equality at the Last Judgment and equality before a just court of law; all other attempts at levelling must lead, at best, to social stagnation. Society requires honest and able leadership; and if natural and institutional differences are destroyed, presently some tyrant or host of squalid oligarchs will create new forms of inequality.

    (6) Sixth, conservatives are chastened by their principle of imperfectability. Human nature suffers irremediably from certain grave faults, the conservatives know. Man being imperfect, no perfect social order ever can be created. Because of human restlessness, mankind would grow rebellious under any utopian domination, and would break out once more in violent discontent—or else expire of boredom. To seek for utopia is to end in disaster, the conservative says: we are not made for perfect things. All that we reasonably can expect is a tolerably ordered, just, and free society, in which some evils, maladjustments, and suffering will continue to lurk. By proper attention to prudent reform, we may preserve and improve this tolerable order. But if the old institutional and moral safeguards of a nation are neglected, then the anarchic impulse in humankind breaks loose: “the ceremony of innocence is drowned.” The ideologues who promise the perfection of man and society have converted a great part of the twentieth-century world into a terrestrial hell.

    (7) Seventh, conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked. Separate property from private possession, and Leviathan becomes master of all. Upon the foundation of private property, great civilizations are built. The more widespread is the possession of private property, the more stable and productive is a commonwealth. Economic leveling, conservatives maintain, is not economic progress. Getting and spending are not the chief aims of human existence; but a sound economic basis for the person, the family, and the commonwealth is much to be desired.

    Sir Henry Maine, in his Village Communities, puts strongly the case for private property, as distinguished from communal property: “Nobody is at liberty to attack several property and to say at the same time that he values civilization. The history of the two cannot be disentangled.” For the institution of several property—that is, private property—has been a powerful instrument for teaching men and women responsibility, for providing motives to integrity, for supporting general culture, for raising mankind above the level of mere drudgery, for affording leisure to think and freedom to act. To be able to retain the fruits of one’s labor; to be able to see one’s work made permanent; to be able to bequeath one’s property to one’s posterity; to be able to rise from the natural condition of grinding poverty to the security of enduring accomplishment; to have something that is really one’s own—these are advantages difficult to deny. The conservative acknowledges that the possession of property fixes certain duties upon the possessor; he accepts those moral and legal obligations cheerfully.

    (8) 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.

    For a nation is no stronger than the numerous little communities of which it is composed. A central administration, or a corps of select managers and civil servants, however well intentioned and well trained, cannot confer justice and prosperity and tranquility upon a mass of men and women deprived of their old responsibilities. That experiment has been made before; and it has been disastrous. It is the performance of our duties in community that teaches us prudence and efficiency and charity.

    (9) Ninth, the conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions. Politically speaking, power is the ability to do as one likes, regardless of the wills of one’s fellows. A state in which an individual or a small group are able to dominate the wills of their fellows without check is a despotism, whether it is called monarchical or aristocratic or democratic. When every person claims to be a power unto himself, then society falls into anarchy. Anarchy never lasts long, being intolerable for everyone, and contrary to the ineluctable fact that some persons are more strong and more clever than their neighbors. To anarchy there succeeds tyranny or oligarchy, in which power is monopolized by a very few.

    The conservative endeavors to so limit and balance political power that anarchy or tyranny may not arise. In every age, nevertheless, men and women are tempted to overthrow the limitations upon power, for the sake of some fancied temporary advantage. It is characteristic of the radical that he thinks of power as a force for good—so long as the power falls into his hands. In the name of liberty, the French and Russian revolutionaries abolished the old restraints upon power; but power cannot be abolished; it always finds its way into someone’s hands. That power which the revolutionaries had thought oppressive in the hands of the old regime became many times as tyrannical in the hands of the radical new masters of the state.

    Knowing human nature for a mixture of good and evil, the conservative does not put his trust in mere benevolence. Constitutional restrictions, political checks and balances, adequate enforcement of the laws, the old intricate web of restraints upon will and appetite—these the conservative approves as instruments of freedom and order. A just government maintains a healthy tension between the claims of authority and the claims of liberty.

    (10) 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 give 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.

    Change is essential to the body social, the conservative reasons, just as it is essential to the human body. A body that has ceased to renew itself has begun to die. But if that body is to be vigorous, the change must occur in a regular manner, harmonizing with the form and nature of that body; otherwise change produces a monstrous growth, a cancer, which devours its host. The conservative takes care that nothing in a society should ever be wholly old, and that nothing should ever be wholly new. This is the means of the conservation of a nation, quite as it is the means of conservation of a living organism. Just how much change a society requires, and what sort of change, depend upon the circumstances of an age and a nation.

    Such, then, are ten principles that have loomed large during the two centuries of modern conservative thought. Other principles of equal importance might have been discussed here: the conservative understanding of justice, for one, or the conservative view of education. But such subjects, time running on, I must leave to your private investigation.

    The great line of demarcation in modern politics, Eric Voegelin used to point out, is not a division between liberals on one side and totalitarians on the other. No, on one side of that line are all those men and women who fancy that the temporal order is the only order, and that material needs are their only needs, and that they may do as they like with the human patrimony. On the other side of that line are all those people who recognize an enduring moral order in the universe, a constant human nature, and high duties toward the order spiritual and the order temporal.

  2. #2

    In Croatian

    Source: KSDK Blog - Katolik s dna kace

    Deset konzervativnih načela!

    U nastavku prenosim deset principa konzervatizma koje je sažeo Russell Kirk, politički teoretičar poznat po svojem utjecaju na konzervatizam. Principi se odnose na američki konzervatizam, ali su napisani dovoljno općeniti tako da se mogu primijeniti i na druga društva. Svi navedeni principi su bitni i vrijedni čitanja tako da ih nisam posebno uređivao s namjerom isticanja nekog dijela. Izvornu verziju možete pročitati ovdje, ili sažetak (kao sliku) ovdje.

    S obzirom da nije niti religija niti ideologija, skup razmišljanja pod nazivom konzervatizam nema nikakvih svetih zapisa ili Das Kapital koji bi mu davao dogmate. Ono što konzervativci vjeruju možemo odrediti, u mjeri u kojoj je to moguće, iz zapisa vodećih konzervativnih autora kroz posljednja dva stoljeća. Nakon par uvodnih napomena o ovoj temi, navest ću deset takvih konzervativnih načela.

    Možda bi bilo bolje, većinu vremena, koristiti riječ "konzervativno" kao pridjev jer ne postoji Model Konzervativca, a konzervatizam je negacija ideologije: radi se o stanju uma, tipu karaktera, načinu gledanja na civilni društveni poredak.

    Stav koji nazivamo konzervatizmom podupire skup sentimenata, a ne sustav ideoloških dogmi. Gotovo je točno da bi konzervativca mogli definirati kao osobu koja o sebi misli kao takvom. Konzervativni pokret ili skup razmišljanja se može prilagoditi velikoj raznolikosti stavova o mnogim temama, ne postoji konzervativno vjerovanje.

    U suštini, konzervativna osoba je jednostavno ona koja smatra da su trajne stvari ugodnije od Kaosa i Stare Noći. (A ipak konzervativci znaju – kao što je rekao Burke - da je zdrava "promjena sredstvo našeg očuvanja.") Narodna povijest kontinuiteta iskustva, prema konzervativcu, pruža puno bolji vodič za politiku od apstraktnih nacrta kavanskih filozofa. Naravno, postoji više u konzervativnom uvjerenju od ovog općenitog stava.

    Nije moguće sastaviti popis konzervativnih uvjerenja; unatoč tome, nudim vas, sažeto, deset općih principa; čini se sigurnim reći da bi većina konzervativaca potpisala većinu ovih maksima. U različitim izdanjima svoje knjige The Conservative Mind dao sam listu određenih kanona konzervativne misli – lista se razlikuje ovisno o izdanju; u svojoj antologiji The Portable Conservative Reader ponudio sam varijaciju na temu. Sada vam predstavljam sažetak konzervativnih pretpostavki koje se pomalo razlikuju od mojih kanona u tim dvjema knjigama. Raznolikost konzervativnih stavova može sama za sebe biti dokaz da konzervatizam nije fiksna ideologija. Koje principe će naglašavati konzervativci u određenom trenutku ovisi o okolnostima i potrebama tog vremena. Slijedećih deset točaka odražava konzervativce u Americi;


    > Prvo, konzervativci vjeruju da postoji trajan moralni poredak. Taj poredak je stvoren za čovjeka, a čovjek je stvoren za njega: ljudska priroda je stalna, a moralne istine su trajne.

    Poredak ovog svijeta označava harmoniju. Postoje dva aspekta ili tipa poretka: unutarnji poredak duše, i vanjski poredak države. Prije dvadeset i pet stoljeća Platon je podučavao tu doktrinu, ali čak i obrazovani je danas teško shvaćaju. Problem poretka je glavna briga konzervativaca još od kad je konzervativno postalo pojam u politici.

    Dvadeseto stoljeće je doživjelo odvratne posljedice kolapsa vjerovanja u moralni poredak. Kao i zločini i katastrofe u Grčkoj u petom stoljeću prije Krista, propast velikih nacija našeg stoljeća pokazuje nam provaliju u koju upadaju društva koja zamijene mudri vlastiti interes, ili lukavu socijalnu kontrolu, sa ugodnim alternativama starinskog moralnog reda.

    Liberalni intelektualci govore kako konzervativac vjeruju da su sva društvena pitanja, pri srcu, pitanja privatnog morala. Ispravno shvaćena, ova izjava je točna. Društvo u kojem su muškarci i žene vođeni vjerovanjem u trajni moralni poredak, snažnim osjećam za ispravno i pogrešno, osobnim uvjerenjima o pravdi i časti, će biti dobro društvo – neovisno o tome koje političke aparate koristi; dok će društvo u kojem su muškarci i žene moralno izgubljeni, neupoznati sa normama, i vođeni prvenstveno zadovoljavanjem apetita, biti loše društvo – neovisno o tome koliko ljudi glasuje i neovisno o tome koliko liberalan može biti njegov formalni ustav.

    > Drugo, konzervativac se pridržava običaja, konvencija i kontinuiteta. Stari običaji su ti koji omogućuje ljudima da žive zajedno u miru; razarači običaja uništavaju puno više nego što znaju ili namjeravaju. Kroz konvencije – riječ koja se toliko zloupotrebljava u našem vremenu – smo pronašli način izbjegavanja stalnih sporova oko prava i dužnosti: zakon je u svojoj osnovi skup konvencija. Kontinuitet je sredstvo povezivanja generacija; bitan je podjednako i za društvo kao i za pojedinca; bez njega, život je besmislen. Kada uspješni revolucionari izbrišu stare običaje, ismiju stare konvencije, i prekinu kontinuitet društvenih institucija – odmah otkriju nužnost uspostavljanja novih običaja, konvencija i kontinuiteta; ali taj proces je bolan i spor; a novi društveni poredak koji u konačnici nastane može biti značajno inferiorniji starome poretku kojeg radikali ruše u svojem žaru za Zemaljskim Rajem.

    Konzervativci su pobornici običaja, konvencija i kontinuiteta zato što preferiraju vraga kojeg poznaju rađe nego vraga kojeg ne poznaju. Konzervativci vjeruju kako su poredak, pravičnost i sloboda proizvod dugotrajnog socijalnog iskustva, rezultat stoljeća pokušaja, razmišljanja i požrtvovnosti. Stoga je društveno tijelo vrsta duhovnog surađivanja, usporedivo sa crkvom; možemo ga čak nazivati i zajednica duša. Ljudsko društvo nije stroj, kojeg treba tretirati mehanički. Kontinuitet, krvotok, društva se ne smije prekidati. Burkeov podsjetnik na potrebu razborite promjene je nešto čega su konzervativci svjesni. Ali potrebna promjena mora biti postepena i diskriminativna, nikada ne mijenjati odjednom stare interese.

    > Treće, konzervativci vjeruju u ono što možemo nazvati principom propisivanja. Konzervativac osjeća da su moderni ljudi patuljci na ramenima divova, mogu vidjeti dalje od svojih predaka samo zbog velikog stasa onih koji su tu bili prije nas. Zbog toga konzervativci vrlo često naglašavaju važnost propisivanja – odnosno, stvari koje su utvrđene davnom uporabom, kako čovjek ne bi olako prihvatio suprotno. Postoje prava čije je glavno odobrenje njihova starost – uključujući prava na vlasništvo. Slično tome, naš moral je velikim djelom propisan. Konzervativci tvrde da je mala vjerojatnost kako ćemo, mi moderni, doći do nekih bitnih otkrića u moralu ili politici. Opasno je određivati svako prolazni pitanje na temelju privatnih prosudbi i i privatne racionalnosti. Pojedinac je budalast, ali vrsta je mudra, proglasio je Burke. U politici činimo dobro pridržavajući se propisa, pa čak i predrasuda, jer je veliko misteriozno društvo ljudske vrste steklo propisanu mudrost puno veću od bilo koje beznačajne privatne racionalnosti čovjeka.

    > Četvrto, konzervativci se vode svojim principom razboritosti. Burke se slaže sa Platonom kako je kod državnika, razboritost glavna među vrlinama. Svaka javna mjera se mora prosuditi prema svojim dugoročnim posljedicama, ne prema privremenoj koristi ili popularnosti. Liberali i radikali su, kažu konzervativci, nerazboriti jer jure prema svojim ciljevima bez da se osvrću na rizike od novih zlouporaba gorih od onih zla koje pokušavaju riješiti. Kao što je rekao John Randolph, Providnost se sporo kreće, ali vrag je uvijek u žurbi. S obzirom da je ljudsko društvo kompleksno, rješenja ne mogu biti jednostavna ukoliko će biti djelotvorna. Konzervativac izjavljuje da on djeluje samo nakon dovoljno promišljanja, nakon što odvaže posljedice. Iznenadne i oštre reforme su opasne kao i iznenadne i oštre kirurške operacije.

    > Peto, konzervativci paze na princip varijeteta. Konzervativci osjećaju privlačnost prema plodonosnosti davno uspostavljenih društvenih institucija i načina života, za razliku od sužavanja uniformnosti i otupljenosti egalitarizma radikalnih sustava. Za očuvanje zdrave raznolikosti u bilo kojoj civilizaciji, potrebno je preživljavanje poretka i grupa, razlika u materijalnim uvjetima, i mnogih drugih vrsti nejednakosti. Jedini stvarni oblik jednakosti je jednakost pred Posljednjim Sudom i jednakost pred pravednim (zakonskim) sudom; svi drugi pokušaji izjednačavanja moraju dovesti do, u najboljem slučaju, društvene stagnacije. Društvo zahtijeva pošteno i sposobno vodstvo; a ako se prirodne i institucionalne razlike unište, neki trenutni tiranin ili bijedni oligarsi će stvoriti novi oblik nejednakosti.

    > Šesto, konzervativce odgaja njihov princip neusavršljivosti. Konzervativci znaju da ljudska priroda pati nepopravljivo od određenih ozbiljnih grešaka. S obzirom da je čovjek nesavršen, ne možete stvoriti savršeni društveni poredak. Zbog ljudske nemirnosti, čovječanstvo bi se pobunilo pod bilo kojom utopijanskom dominacijom, i došlo bi do još jednog nasilnog iskazivanja nezadovoljstva – ili nestanka od dosade. Tražiti utopiju znači završiti u katastrofi, upozorava konzervativac; nismo stvoreni za savršene stvari. Ono što razumno možemo očekivati je podnošljivo uređeno, pravično, slobodno društvo, u kojem će neka zla, neprilagođenosti i patnje nastaviti vrebati. Odgovarajućom pozornošću prema razboritim reformama možemo očuvati i unaprijediti ovaj podnošljivi poredak, ali ako zanemarimo stare institucije i moralna jamstva nacije onda se anarhistički impuls čovječanstva otima kontroli: "ceremonija nevinosti je zagušena". Ideolozi koji su obećavali usavršavanje čovjeka i društva pretvorili su veliki dio dvadesetog stoljeća u zemaljski pakao.

    > Sedmo, konzervativci su uvjereni da su sloboda i vlasništvo blisko povezani. Odvojite vlasništvo od privatnog posjedovanja i Levijatan postaje gospodar svega. Nakon utemeljenja privatnog vlasništva izgrađene su velike civilizacije. Što je rasprostranjenije posjedovanja privatnog vlasništva to je stabilnija i produktivnija zajednica. Konzervativci tvrde da ekonomsko izjednačavanje nije ekonomski napredak. Pribavljanje i trošenje nisu glavni ciljevi ljudske egzistencije; ali treba težiti čvrstom ekonomskom temelju za osobu, obitelj i zajednicu.

    Henry Maine, u svojem radu Village Communities, daje snažnu argumentaciju za privatno vlasništvo, za razliku od zajedničkog vlasništva: "Nitko nije slobodan napadati vlasništvo i istodobno tvrditi da cijeni civilizaciju. Povijest navedenih stvari se ne može raspetljati." Institucija (privatnog) vlasništva je bila moćan instrument podučavanja muškaraca i žena odgovornosti, pružala je motive za poštenje, za podržavanje opće kulture, za podizanje čovječanstva iznad razine ropskog rada, pružila nam je vrijeme da mislimo i slobodu da djelujemo. Zadržavanje plodova vlastita rada; vidjeti kao naš rad postaje trajan; ostaviti imovinu svojim potomcima; mogućnost uzdizanja iz prirodnog stanja siromaštva do sigurnosti trajnog uspjeha; posjedovati nešto što je stvarno vaše vlastito – sve su to prednosti koje je teško negirati. Konzervativac priznaje da posjedovanje vlasništva znači i određene dužnosti za onoga koji posjeduje; ali zadovoljno prihvaća te moralne i pravne obveze.

    > Osmo, konzervativci podržavaju dobrovoljne zajednice, baš kao što se protive prisilnom kolektivizmu. Iako su amerikanci snažno privrženi privatnosti i privatnim pravima, također su narod osobit po svom uspješnom duhu zajedništva. U istinskoj zajednici, odluke koje izravno utječu na živote građana se donose se lokalno i dobrovoljno. Lokalna politička tijela obavljaju neke od funkcija, a ostale obavljaju privatna udruženja. Sve dok su te funkcije na lokalnoj razini, i obilježene općim odobrenjem onih na koje utječu, postoji zdrava zajednica. Kada te funkcije, redovno ili uzurpacijom, prelaze na centraliziranu vlast, onda je zajednica u ozbiljnoj opasnosti. Što god je blagotvorno i razboriti u suvremenoj demokraciji, moguće je kroz kooperativno htijenje. Ako se u ime apstraktne Demokracije, funkcije zajednice prebace u nekom udaljenom političkom smjeru, vlada (uz suglasnost onih kojima upravlja) ostvaruje standardizacijske procese koji su suprotni slobodi i ljudskom dostojanstvu.

    Nacija nije jača od brojnih malih zajednica od kojih se sastoji. Središnja uprava, odnosno korpus odabranih rukovoditelja i državnih službenika, koliko god da su dobronamjerni i učeni, ne mogu provesti pravdu, prosperitet i mir nad masom muškaraca i žena lišenih starih odgovornosti. Taj eksperiment je već isproban; i završio je katastrofalno. Ispunjavanje naših dužnosti u zajednici uči nas razboritosti, učinkovitosti i milosrđu.

    > Deveto, konzervativac shvaća potrebu za razboritim ograničenjem moći i ljudskih strasti. Politički govoreći, moć je mogućnost da radite što želite, bez obzira na volju ostalih. Država u kojoj je pojedinac ili mala grupa, u stanju dominirati bez ikakve provjere voljom svojih sugrađana je despotska, neovisno o tome naziva li se monarhijom, aristrokracijom ili demokracijom. Kada svatko tvrdi da je moć nad samim sobom, društvo postaje anarhija. Anarhija nikada ne traje dugo, jer je svima nepodnošljiva, i suprotna neizbježnoj činjenici da su neke osobe jače i pametnije od svojih susjeda. Anarhiju zatim nasljeđuje tiranija ili oligarhija, u kojoj je moć monopolizirana od strane nekolicine.

    Konzervativac nastoji ograničiti i uravnotežiti političku moć kako ne bi nastala niti anarhija niti tiranija. Unatoč tome, u svakom trenutku, muškarci i žene su u napasti svrgnuti ograničenja moći zbog neke navodne privremene koristi. Karakteristika je radikala da razmišljaju o moći kao sili dobra – sve dok je ta moć u pravim rukama. U ime slobode, francuski i ruski revolucionari su ukinuli stara ograničenja moći; ali ne možete ukinuti moć; uvijek pronađe način da padne u nečije ruke. Moć koju su revolucionari smatrali opresivnom u rukama starog režima postala je puno puta podjednako tiranska u rukama radikalnih novih gospodara države.

    Shvativši da je ljudska priroda mješavina dobra i zla, konzervativac ne stavlja svoje povjerenje u puku dobronamjernost. Ustavna ograničenja, političke provjere i ravnoteže, adekvatna provedba zakona, drevna ograničenja volje i apetita – to su instrumenti slobode i reda koje konzervativac odobrava. Pravedna vlada održava korisnu tenziju između zahtijeva autoriteta i zahtijeva slobode.

    > Deseto, konzervativac shvaća da u snažnom društvu treba prepoznati i pomiriti trajnost i promjenu. Konzervativac se ne suprostavlja društvenom poboljšanju, ali sumnja da postoji takva sila poput mističnog Progresa, sa velikim P, koja djeluje u svijetu. Kada društvo napreduje u određenim područjima, obično nazaduje u ostalima. Konzervativac zna da na svako društvo utječu dvije sile, koje je Taylor Coleridge nazvao Postojanost i Progresija. Postojanost društvo je oblikovana trajnim interesima i uvjerenjima koji nam daju stabilnost i kontinuitet; bez te Postojanosti, društvo klizi u anarhiju. Progresija u društvu je duh i tijelo talenata koji nas potiču na razborite reforme i poboljšanja; bez te Progresije, ljudi stagniraju.

    Stoga imamo razumna konzervativna nastojanja pomirenja zahtijeva Postojanosti i zahtijeva Progresije. Konzervativac smatra da bi liberali i radikali, neosjetljivi na pravedne zahtjeve Postojanosti, svojim pokušajima požurivanja u neki sumnjivi Zemaljski Raj, ugrozili naslijeđenu baštinu. Ukratko, konzervativac favorizira razuman i umjeren progres; protivi se kultu Progresa, čiji zagovornici misle da je sve novo nužno superiorno svemu starome.

    Baš kao što je bitna za ljudsko tijelo, promjena je bitna i za društveno tijelo. Tijelo koje se prestaje obnavljati počinje umirati. Ali ako tijelo želi biti snažno, promjena se mora događati na uređen način, usklađen sa formom i prirodom tog tijela; ako nije takva, promjena će stvoriti monstruoznu tvorevinu - rak koji će uništiti svog domaćina. Konzervativac pazi da ništa u društvu ne bi bilo potpuno staro, i da ništa u društvu ne bi nikada bilo potpuno novo. Radi se o sredstvu očuvanja nacije, baš kao što je takva promjena sredstvo očuvanja živućeg organizma. Koliko je društvene promijene potrebno, i koja vrsta promijene, ovisi o okolnostima vremena i nacije.


    Dakle to su principi koji se javljaju kroz dva stoljeća suvremene konzervativne misli. Mogli smo prodiskutirati o drugim principima podjednake važnosti; primjerice konzervativno shvaćanje pravde, ili konzervativan stav o obrazovanju. Ali ta pitanja, s obzirom na vremenska ograničenja, moram prepustiti Vašem istraživanju.

    Bitna crta razdvajanja u suvremenoj politici nije podjela između liberala i totalitarijanaca; na jednoj strani su svi oni ljudi kojima se sviđa ideja kako je trenutki poredak jedini poredak, i da su materijalne potrebe jedine njihove potrebe, i da mogu raditi što god žele sa ljudskom baštinom. S druge strane su oni ljudi koji prepoznaju trajni moralni red u svemiru, konstantnu ljudsku prirodu te visoku dužnost prema redu duhovnom i redu trenutnom.



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