Prudent Forms of Reform

The thinking conservative understands that permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society.” ~Russell Kirk’s tenth principal in The Politics of Prudence.

The difficulty with most radicals is that they are too quick to destroy enduring truths that have stood the test of time. There are those who desire to destroy the government establishment and become anarchists, and there are those who desire government to be controlling everything a citizen does. Both forms alike can be equally dangerous because of its quick-changing motion in a society. Rather, Professor Kirk argues that healthy society must be influenced by Permanence and Progression: Permanence being “those enduring interests that gives us stability and continuity”, and Progression being “that spirit and that body of talents which urge us on to prudent reform and improvement”.

The Conservative argues that anarchy will descend into either chaos (which dissolves a society into oblivion) or to the rebirth of only a more formidable government. On the other side of the coin, Totalitarianism is impossible to maintain and will invariably lead to rebellion and revolution. Our founding fathers when setting up the Constitution of the United States understood both of these extremes, being well versed in governmental control both ancient and modern to their times. Rather, they set up a system of government that gave the people a republican state that was neither tyrannical nor non-existent, an elective state that held the people accountable but was not controlling their lives. And most importantly, this system of government allowed for slow and prudent reform as the American nation grew and matured.

Since true conservatism is the negation of ideologies, it is impossible to adhere conservatism with fast and rapid change within a society’s structure. This is because conservatism understands that reform does not come through social programs, but rather through a renewed interest in those enduring truths (or “permanent things”, as The Professor called them) that will always live in a healthy society as long as the earth remains.

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