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Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Thoughts on Tradition and Government

Winston Churchill in Quebec with RCMP Honour Guard

I'd like to revisit some of the themes discussed in my essay for Northern Dawn 'Canada Tradition, and Government.' I made the case for a state and government concerned principally with securing and maintaining the traditional institutions of a society. I'd like to suggest that these arguments can be reflected on further by looking at the inadequacies of the alternatives. In this case Liberalism, Socialism, Capitalism, etc . . .

The government must concern itself principally with the preservation of institutions, this is firstly because it is the only body that concerns itself, when operating rightly, with the good of the community as a whole.

A nation or a state in my eyes is only as a whole as its shared history. It shares its history with the people who live within its borders by providing them with a chance to live it. They live their history through ritual, common mores, historical institutions, education, faith, and more. This shared history makes citizens intelligible to one another; they speak the same language. These various organs and phenomena of historical life are problematic, however. 

If history can only be preserved through institutions, and the institutions themselves have a life of their own, organic and arising over centuries, they have value in their permanence. Still, their permanence is not inevitable. They are confronted with various modernisers who would wish to see them destroyed on the basis of utility and more. Institutions are not self-financing much of the time, and cultural capital does not, necessarily, fund itself. Nor, are many people interested in the generation and preservation of this historical identity. Even modern conservatives reject this duty. 

For example, institutions cannot be preserved by the modern majority. They are too self-conscious, too self-serving, and too liberal in character. They value freedom and autonomy more than they value unity, and respect from the past. For the liberal mind, various institutions exercise a pernicious reptilian control exercised through tendrils that grasp the common mind, and provide the arguments for various prejudices and impediments to absolute freedom. If that is the case then to realize the idealized freedom of the liberal the common mind will ignore the historical continuity of their state, and the historical character of their lives to free themselves from the associated chains; likewise, the liberal politician will see historical continuity as obstruction, and the sharing of power as inimical to the cause of liberation, and actively seek to undermine these local and plural traditions. 

The socialist on the other hand, and all his associated cancers, the social democrat and the equality minded liberal, see an aspect of discrimination and distinction in the heart of the historically embodied consciousness of the state and people. These various institutions, especially faith, which Marx condemned so harshly as the 'opiate of the masses' is not the enemy because they generate alleged ignorance, but rather because they are obvious instantiations of distinction, hierarchy, and alternative obligation. Alternative obligation because they are a locus of loyalty outside the state. Strong institutions create the 'lumpenproletariat.'

Finally, the capitalist, the who though part of the liberal and more and more frequently the conservative project, also proposes a problem. Roger Scruton characterized himself as a 'reluctant capitalist,' and this was apt because the capitalist mind though capable of providing infinite comforts, fails to see a motive to preserve the old. For the capitalist, the historical character of a nation if not an obstacle to global homogeneity and the universalization of markets, is at least of no concern, and when it is of no concern it is exposed to the common man vulnerable to attack and unsupported. The capitalist is no custodian, no shepherd, no steward. His ends are a means, and this is not adequate for a state. Loyalty to the market kills particularity and aims to bring us all together under the banner of free trade and union. Europe serves as an apt example: anything for finance. 

Therefore, the interested state is what preservation of tradition demands and the conservative has a goal to see it realized. The conservative ought to know that failing to do the necessary work to support the historical character of the nation and fight off the revisionists, profiteers, levellers, and more will lead to an indistinct mess. A state built on nothing, a body without a heart. A land with borders, but no people, and soon that all-important liberal autonomy will seem unnecessary, as the segregation between states will seem arbitrary and cruel. The world will flood the homeland, and the homeland will cease to be. That is why the conservative must actively preserve the traditions of the nation and state of which he is a part.