Monday, May 13, 2013

The paradox of consevative radicalism


In every country, conservatives harken back to their nation's origins. For most nations, that origin is a mythical foundation: Romulus founding Rome, Moses and Joshua founding Israel, the sun goddess Ameterasu founding Japan. When Americans turn to their founding for ultimate values, they find a revolution. So we have the unique situation in this country of the most conservative citizens also being the most radically anti-authority and anti-government. This is why the Federalists felt that we should hearken back to the British constitution, with its ancient roots (after all, a "revolution" is literally a return to the beginning). Thomas Jefferson, on the other hand, thought we should have a revolution every couple of generations; felt the French Revolution had to be defended at ALL COSTS ("rather than it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated. Were there but an Adam and an Eve left in every country, and left free, it would be better than as it now is"). There is a purity in such an outlook, but it does not do much to promote a comfortable life. It is no accident that the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, when he was apprehended, had a tee shirt on with Jefferson's statement, “Occasionally the tree of Liberty must be watered with the blood of Patriots and Tyrants.” That's pure Trotsky and Lenin, isn't it? I'll take Adamsite Federalism, or better still Monrovian National Republicanism. All honor to Washington!

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