Burke Given Burke's basic assumptions, why does he reject arguments based on absolute, universal human rights?



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Conservative Questions and Answers

  1. Burke

Given Burke's basic assumptions, why does he reject arguments based on absolute, universal human rights?

Burke rejects absolute universal human rights because he feels that the natural aristocracy would be better suited at telling people what to do. It is because the natural aristocracy has time to be educated and are natural leaders, that normal people should trust their well being on to them because they do not have time to be educated. Since they are not worldly and lack as much education, most normal people are not suited to be absolutely free or have universal human rights.


  1. Burke
    How does Burke understand the idea of the "social contract"? How does his traditionalist conservative idea of the social contract differ from a liberal one, like Locke's?


Edmund Burke’s like other conservatives believed in conserving a traditional way of life. He also believed the French revolution will result in a new system entirely and that it will end in chaos. Soon later he realized change is inevitable. Change can occur in a healthy or a dangerous way. Gradual reform will promote the health of society. Rapid change and radical innovation are likely to prove disastrous.
b. Burke believes that people have a selfish will; therefore his idea of social contract among individuals in a society is almost non existence. He believes that only a few have the sophistication and morals that are needed in order to be able to guide the rest of the people and form a function state. Burke believes that since people are born with a selfish will they would then destroy each other and society in order to be able to get what they want. His traditionalist conservative idea of social contract differs from a liberal one, like Locke’s because Locke argues otherwise. Locke believes that in a state of nature, individuals can willingly come together in order to be able to construct a functioning state.

3. Burke
What does Burke think are the necessary prerequisites for becoming a member of the "natural aristocracy"?


In Burke's writings he has many descriptions of what he feels the "natural" aristocrats should have. He

speaks a lot about how they should be people of high power. People like "a professor of high science"

or a "rich trader," because they have consistency, regularity and order in their daily lives. Since Burke is

a Conservatism, and named the father of conservatism, he doesn't believe in a lot of change he believes

in conserving what is already made or what already is. So it makes sense that he would pick people like

this. He also writes that one prerequisite is" to be habituated in armies to command and to obey; to be

taught to despise danger in the pursuit of honor and duty;" Burke was very much against the French

revolution, he believes in orderly conduct and a "natural" aristocrat will have these same beliefs,

because it is all about preserving and not change. Change can be done according to Burke, but in an

orderly way, it can’t be done in such a way of a revolution, he states that a "natural" aristocrat, "look[s]

early on public opinion," because this will be a more orderly and less destructive way of change.

  1. DeMaistre
    De Maistre rejects the constitution of 1795, drawn up by the French Revolutionaries, as a ridiculous and absurd document. What reason(s) does he give for this?


De Maistre rejects the French constitution of 1795 because he believes that the constitution is not rooted in reality and is not a pragmatic document. De Maistre argues that the constitution is solely based on hypothetical situations, theories, and abstractions. He reasons that constitutions are meant to solve the issues of a nation, not to promote abstract ideas. De Maistre then argues that a government is implemented into a nation by God, and given to a select exceptional few, in this case the French monarchs and aristocrats. Therefore, any man-made political constitution does not hold up against the divine given power a monarchy encompasses.

b. De Maistre rejects the constitution of 1795 right off the bat of the Conservatism as

Reaction. He criticizes this constitution for only being written with “man” in mind. De Maistre

believes that “man” is an imaginary creature that he has yet to have seen in his life of

Frenchman, Italians, Russians, etc. De Maistre implies that the constitution of 1795 is

completely useless and irrelevant to the people.



  1. De Maistre

Who does de Maistre think are the true founders of nations, and how is this related to his concepts of a constitution (rightly understood) and the "national soul"?


De Maistre believes the true founders of nations are the helping hands of humans (men). This is relevant to the concepts of a constitution and the “national soul” because De Maistre's reasoning is that in order for a nation to grow the helping hands of humans is needed. It is needed because humans have qualities and the potential to help with the growth of a nation. It is relevant to the constitution because God has given a government to a nation and in order for a nation to grow it needs a foundation. This is where the constitution is created by men. A few men with the qualities and potential to help the nation grow come together and rise as one under a constitution they declare and defend.
  1. De Maistre
    Why does De Maistre think that monarchy is the ideal form of government?


Joseph De Maistre illustrated many reasons why he believes a monarchy is the idea form of government. He strongly believed that a monarch is of a divine origin. He writes, “All sovereignty bad its source in God.” He feels that because they are divine, they, unlike “man,” would not abuse power. He also calls a monarchy the oldest and most universal and “most natural to man” form of government. He feels that the monarch who rules it eliminates the man’s ability to create or destroy the government. A monarchy allows one sovereign leader to control things like law making, creating a common cause, making them obey, and contributing to the future. Due to the divinity of the monarch, De Maistre believed, the monarch cannot be bad, and so for that reason a Monarchy is the ideal form of government.
  1. Oakeshott
    Oakeshott contends that changes, especially "innovations," are things that "have to be suffered" (p. 147). According to Oakeshott, why is the experience of change a form of suffering for conservatives?


To conservatives, the experience of change is a form of suffering because they feel as if their “identity” is at stake. They simply do not like change and would much rather continue to enjoy things as they are. Minute changes are more acceptable, but when longer more sudden changes occur they reject. Conservatives believe “innovation” is not always positive improvement and take very serious second looks before further considerations.
  1. Oakeshott
    What is Oakeshott's conception of "human nature"? What are its characteristics? Why does he think that "friendship" is conservative?


I would offer that Oakeshott’s conception of human nature is within his personal perspective. He speaks of change happening regardless of what happens within human nature. However, he says that some humans don’t adapt well to change. Most of us don’t enjoy it and wish it didn’t happen. Thus, we accept it because it’s something that is bound to happen. Regardless of his beliefs, Oakeshott’s understands that recognizing nature has no benefits. Therefore, it’s unpredictable and jaded: just like every other part of nature.

Oakeshott’s outlook on friendship speaks primarily about friendship not being a bond between two individuals created on the bases regarding convenience. However, it is the principal of familiarity. He argues that friends are not in a relationship to use each other, but they are friends because they enjoy one another’s company. He also believed that a true friend brings a lot in a relationship, things such as agreeable qualities and certain agreeable opinions. This in turns gives him the notion to consider friendships as being conservative.


  1. Kirk

Why does Kirk believe that conservatism is not an ideology?


Kirk argues that conservatism is a “sustained body of sentiments, rather than a system of ideological

dogma” because a conservative person is one who logically compares past and future events to attempt to

find moral solutions to specific problems. He states that those who follow an ideology attempt to solve

problem using only their abstract philosophical view of the world.


  1. Kirk


What are Kirk's ten conservative principles?

Russell Kirk's ten conservative principles are that there is an enduring moral order, adheres to

continuity and tradition, belief in the principle of prescription, are guided by prudence, pay attention

to variety, are restricted by the imperfectness of everything, freedom and property are linked to one

another, upholding voluntary community and opposing involuntary collectivist ones, understanding the

need for restraints on power and emotions, and that change must be occasionally recognized to allow

a growing and healthy society.

  1. Kirk
    Are there certain political ideologies that all traditional American conservatives would be opposed to, given the principles Kirk outlines? Why?


Traditional American conservatives, given the principles Kirk outlines, would be opposed to certain political ideologies of progression. Though conservatives, Kirk explains, are not opposed to progression (in which they desire prudent reform and improvement), but are opposed to revolutionary progression. He further explains that conservatives believe that Permanence allows society to hold on to stability and continuity. The differing ideals of conservatism and liberalism is the principality of the degree of change.
  1. Bork
    At the beginning of the essay, Bork relies on the work of thinkers who have developed the concepts of "defining deviancy up" and "defining deviancy down." What do these concepts mean, and why does Bork think they are so important?


---Robert H. Bork’s essay was about cultural changes and deviation from norms. As time progress, our culture experiences ideas that have radical repercussions. The concept of “defining deviancy up” talks about how cultural change is welcomed and people are just going with the flow. The changes are moving fast that people just being adaptive with it. The concept of “defining deviancy up” is about how culture is starting to look different and disapproved by some people. People are starting to have a closer look at the new normal and disapproving it. Bork believes these concepts are important because they involve modern liberalism. Modern liberalism is when ideas from any sides are welcomed, even the ones deemed radical from tradition. The concepts of “defining deviancy up” and “defining deviancy down” is all about defining what is the normal or accepted in consideration of what is tradition and what is modern.
  1. Bork
    What does Bork mean when he calls "hedonism" the true danger of radical individualism? How does he think modern technology makes this danger worse?


He believes that Liberalism over time, as it wore down its tempering forces, influenced every aspect of

American culture and government. And that this new liberalism, unchecked, began to degenerate our

society. Morals, authority, and responsibility are concepts that modern liberalism rejects. Because of

its gross distribution of results instead of opportunities and radical perpetuation of individual interest

that ventures into places once thought immoral. Bork states that the increasing affluence in our society

after world war II brought with it boredom. That boredom turned us into a consumer culture, who's

number one priority is to satisfy pleasure and not be bored. One who values convenience over purpose

and meaning. That without intervention this driving force will be the decline of our civilization. As

ignorance, violence, and self satisfaction become the new morals of our society. And education, hard

work, justice , and honor become obsolete ideals of the past.



  1. Kristol
    What reasons does Kristol give for why neoconservatives are so keen to cut taxes, and so unafraid of large budgetary deficits?


Kristol believes that cutting tax rates helps stimulate a steady economic growth. This promotes

democracy as the steady growth helps diminish the conflict between the "haves" and the "have nots".

He also believes that Neo-cons do not prefer to have large budget deficits but it in inevitable. Yet these

deficits are often temporary, which also helps to pursue economic growth.



  1. Dobson
    In order to drive home his point about the necessity of religious people entering the political arena, Dobson gives examples of the debates over slavery, the civil rights civil rights movement, and the holocaust in World War II. What is his point in invoking these examples?

From the time of the Founding Fathers, there has been a strict separation between state and religion, and vice versa. Religious leaders are reluctant to make political statements as they argue churches are responsible for the people of the ministry and not of political tug-of-war. Dobson on the other hand, argues that church (religious) leaders have as much moral obligation to step in and interfere with “political matters”, inciting examples of slavery, civil rights civil movement, and the holocaust in World War II. Dobson reasons that it is the moral responsibility of people to act in defense of those that require assistance; he draws a parallel between the persecution of Jews, Poles, and Gypsies to that of a little girl attacked by a burly man. Ultimately, it would be unfathomable to witness a brutal act in progress and not do anything about it.

  1. Dobson

Dobson asks: "What is behind this targeting of kids?" (p. 176). He answers this question by drawing an analogy between children and "stem cells." What does he mean by this analogy? Why, on Dobson's account, does understanding children in this way make the issue of childhood education such a vital one?

Dobson uses an analogy between children and "stem cells" to show how the child's environment

affects the child's outcome in life. A stem cell has the capacity to become any cell depending upon the

environment in which it grows. Understanding children as stem cells made the issue of childhood

education a vital one because the child's education would control what the child would see or hear. He

used the quote "The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the

government in the next." He claimed they would control the culture of tomorrow, by what they

learned in school, which is why childhood education held so much importance when understanding

children through this analogy.


  1. Dobson

The relationship between the Religious Right and the Republican Party is sometimes tense and uneasy. In this essay Dobson attacks and condemns the behavior of President Bush's first Secretary of State, Colin Powell. What did Powell do that so offended Dobson?

Powell being a “Republican” which meant he was a conservative, when on MTV and recommended kids to use condoms and forget about taboos. Dobson felt that Powell was asking conservative kids to forget about conservative ideas. Although Powell claimed that he was doing it so safe the lives of young kids Dobson felt that Powell had no right going in air saying that since he did not have all the fact about the use of condoms and did not give that fact to the viewers as well.


  1. Antle
    Antle notes that Frank Meyer made the case for conservative "fusionism." What did Meyer see as the principles uniting neo-liberal libertarians and traditionalist conservatives, beyond economics, according to Antle?


Meyer saw, according to Antle, neo-liberal libertarians and traditionalist as two very important values

within conservatism. Neither of the two could stand by themselves, but together they can coexist and

balance each other out. Free individualism on one hand and moral values on the other, the basic

beliefs for libertarians and traditionalists, were the basis of Meyers’ synthesis of “Fusionism”.

The concept of total freedom without a moral compass, according to Meyer, is self -defeating, just as

moral coercion is the death of freedom.


W. James Ante III believes the conservative crack-up of the 1930s did not happen because of political

necessity. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal was such a threat for all conservatives that libertarian conservatives and traditional-conservatives had to unite in order to oppose the rising tide of leftist liberalism. The person that was instrumental in forging the two factions of conservatism into modern

American conservatism was Frank Meyer. Meyer argued that both conservatisms were compatible. He

emphasized that liberty has no meaning apart from virtue, both anti-statism and traditional morality



are equally important.

  1. Antle
    Why, according to Antle, did the libertarians become increasingly disenchanted with "fusionism"?


Libertarians became very increasingly disenchanted because the feel like they have been metaphorically slandered and gotten the worse of the new combination that of liberal conservatives and fiscal conservatives. In an Liberty Issue written by editor R.W. Bradford claims that, “The mainstream conservative movement has abandoned, “it claimed love of liberty and opposition to ever more powerful government” and instead have become the ‘greatest advocates’ of an imperial foreign policy, of massive defense spending and invading of people’s homes in the names of the Wars on Crime, Drugs, and Terrorism”. This suggests that the unhappiness by the libertarians is caused by the actions of the events that are beginning to unfold. Essentially they are taking the name of liberty and using it as their own platform to meet their own goals and ambitions, furthermore surrendering their core beliefs of which they have stood by for years.
  1. Antle


At the end of the essay, Antle notes that all hope might not be lost for "fusionism," and that the "conservative crack-up" might be avoided. What does he think prevented an earlier crack-up?

The prevention of the conservative crack-up can be traced to three factors: the rise of libertarianism, traditionalism, and fusionism. The rise of libertarianism was thought to be the main factor. During the 1960s and 70s the libertarians became very dissatisfied with conservative views and sought their own political idea and identity. Libertarians thought the idea of great appreciation of liberty and the values of freedom that our country has long fought and earned over the years. Another view was traditionalism were people emphasized on the traditional values such as Independence Day or attaining to the old way of American culture. The part where fusionism came in is when the ideas of libertarianism and traditionalism merged to form a common political identity known today as the libertarian party. The fusionism is what prevented the conservative crack-up because it sought as a counter to far-right conservatism in the United States during the 50s and 80s.

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