The Problem with Democracy

by practicalspactical

There is no overlapping consensus. Not in America. (Britain might be different, where Blair’s New Left is about to be replaced by Cameron’s New Right.)

The problem is that Rawls as prophet of the progressives requires an overlapping consensus where we agree on the burdens of judgment, a largely liberal idea, that there is no one good and citizens must respect each other’s differences of opinions and private lives.

Against that is the philosopher Russel Kirk, whom Wikipedia terms the father of New Conservatism.

These are his six canons:


The six canons of conservatism

The Conservative Mind was written by Kirk as a doctoral dissertation while he was a student at the St. Andrews University in Scotland. Previously the author of a biography of American conservative John Randolph of Roanoke, Kirk’s The Conservative Mind had laid out six “canons of conservative thought” in the book, including:

  1. Belief that a divine intent rules society as well as conscience… Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems.
  2. Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of traditional life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity and equalitarian and utilitarian aims of most radical systems.
  3. Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes…
  4. Persuasion that property and freedom are inseparably connected, and that economic leveling is not economic progress…
  5. Faith in prescription and distrust of “sophisters and calculators.” Man must put a control upon his will and his appetite…Tradition and sound prejudice provide checks upon man’s anarchic impulse.
  6. Recognition that change and reform are not identical..—–

When we see that this is the philosophy of the political right, is the only conclusion we can reach is that there will be no peace between Liberals and Conservatives, with Liberals affirming uncertainty and multiple goods and Conservatives believing in a divine intent?