A Smattering of Prudence

February 22, 2019

I’m taking a brief break from the regular Friday blog posts and will resume the How does a Conservative differ from a Secularist? series next week.  In the meanwhile, I didn’t want to leave you loyal readers hanging so I thought I’d compile a smattering of conservative wisdom:

 

 

Russell Kirk

political theorist, moralist, historian, social critic, and literary critic

 

“I think that men are better than beasts, and that life is something more than the gratifying of appetites.  I think that variety and growth—not equality and uniformity—are the characteristics of a high culture.”

 

“They will never dare when they ought to dare, who do not fear when they ought to fear.”

 

“What, indeed, are our liberals liberal about?  They do not aspire to make the human person truly free, under God; their aspiration is to make us into identical units in a monolithic society.  To the representative modern liberal, the world is a very simple place, and man has only very simple—though consuming—material needs.”

 

 

G. K. Chesterton

writer, poet, philosopher, dramatist, journalist, orator, lay theologian, biographer, and theologian

 

“Religious liberty might be supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion.  In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it.”

 

“He is a very shallow critic who cannot see an eternal rebel in the heart of a conservative.”

 

“People first paid honor to a spot and afterwards gained glory for it.  Men did not love Rome because she was great.  She was great because they had loved her.”

 

 

Barry Goldwater

U.S. Senator, author, businessman, and presidential nominee

 

“Conservatism, we are told, is out-of-date.  The charge is preposterous and we ought boldly to say so.”

 

“It has been the fashion in recent years to disparage ‘property rights’—to associate them with greed and materialism.  This attack on property rights is actually an attack on freedom.  It is another instance of the modern failure to take into account the whole man.  How can a man be truly free if he is denied the means to exercise freedom?”

 

 

Edmund Burke

statesman, author, orator, political theorist, and philosopher

 

“The Liberty I mean is social freedom.  It is that state of things in which Liberty is secured by the equality of Restraint.”

 

“The pretended rights of these theorists are all extremes; and in proportion as they are metaphysically true, they are morally and politically false.  The rights of men are in a sort of middle, incapable of definition, but not impossible to be discerned.”

 

“Men have no right to what is not reasonable.”

 

“Duration is no object to those who think little or nothing has been done before their time, and who place all their hopes in discovery.”

 

“Religion is the basis of civil society, and the source of all good and of all comfort.”

 

 

Thomas Sowell

economist, author, and social theorist

 

“What does “scarce” mean?  It means that what everybody wants adds up to more than there is.”

 

“People tend to do more for their own benefit than for the benefit of others.  Freely fluctuating prices can make that turn out to be beneficial to others.”

 

“Specific knowledge is one of the scarcest of all resources, regardless of how many people there may be who can talk in glib generalities.  The net result of all this is that even countries which have long been food exporters often begin to have difficulty feeding themselves after the government has taken control of agriculture.”

 

 

Irving Kristol

journalist, editor, and magazine founder

 

“What rules the world is ideas, because ideas define the way reality is perceived; and, in the absence of religion, it is out of culture—pictures, poems, songs, philosophy—that these ideas are born.”

 

“Poverty is abolished by economic growth, not by economic redistribution—there is never enough to distribute.”

 

“In a republic, a fair degree of equality and prosperity are important goals, but it is liberty that is given priority as the proper end of government.  In a democracy, these priorities are reversed.”

 

“Perhaps the most extraordinary fact of twentieth-century intellectual history is that all thinking about socialism takes place in nonsocialist countries.”

 

 

Roger Scruton

philosopher and author

 

“Conservatives…wish to keep the frail crust of civilization in place as long as possible, knowing that beneath it there does not lie the idyllic realm of Rousseau’s noble savage, but only the violent world of the hunter-gatherer.”

 

“Toleration means being prepared to accept opinions that you intensely dislike.  Likewise, democracy means consenting to be governed by people whom you intensely dislike.”

 

“We do not merely study the past: we inherit it, and the inheritance brings with it not only the rights of ownership, but the duties of trusteeship.  Things fought for and died for should not be idly squandered.  For they are the property of others, who are not yet born.”

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