More about conservatism and the Anglosphere

Posted by Tory Historian Monday, April 28, 2008 ,

Tory Historian is a confirmed Anglospherist, as any reader, however cursory, of this blog will know. Therefore, discussions about conservatism in other parts of the Anglosphere are of particular joy, though discussions about conservatism in other parts of the world are also of interest.

Firstly, Tory Historian would like to call the readers’ attention to an obituary by the great Claudio Véliz, author, among other things, of “The New World of the Gothic Fox – Culture and Economy in English and Spanish America” and of a superlative article in Quadrant that compares Gough Whitlam with General Perón, which explains why the wrecking of Argentina’s economic and political structure was not replicated in Australia.

The obituary is that of William F. Buckley, whose death was noted on this blog as well. The whole piece is worth reading but of particular interest are the last couple of paragraphs.

Professor Véliz suggests that Buckley’s fascination with sailing may well have given him a clearer understanding of natural rhythms in nature and society and reminds us of Edmund Burke’s comments on similar subjects:

Few activities establish a more intimate relationship between man and nature than sailing the high seas. Few contemporaries have been more happily and efficiently attuned to the rhythms, harmonies and dissonance of nature and the language of the sea than Bill Buckley, and few would have understood better what Edmund Burke had in mind when, in Reflections on the Revolution in France, he explained that:

“working after the pattern of nature, we receive, we hold, we transmit our government and our privileges, in the same manner in which we enjoy and transmit our property and our lives. The institutions of policy, the goods of fortune, the gifts of Providence, are handed down, to us and from us, in the same course and order. [This] political system is placed in a just correspondence and symmetry with the order of the world, and with the mode of existence decreed to a ermanent body composed of transitory parts; wherein … the whole, at one time, is never old, or middle-aged or young, but in a condition of unchangeable constancy, moves on through the varied tenor of perpetual decay, fall, renovation, and progression … thus in what we improve we are never wholly new; in what we retain we are never wholly obsolete.”

Such an understanding furnishes “a sure principle of conservation, and a sure principle of transmission: without at all excluding a principle of improvement. It leaves acquisition free; but it secures what it acquires.”

Of course, Bill Buckley could have penned this if Edmund Burke had not done it before him. William F. Buckley Jr was a Burke for our times.
An interesting thought that Buckley was a Burke for our times. As we have pointed out on the blog, it is not at all clear that his influence has been at all strong on this side of the Pond. That may change in the future as, possibly, conservatism here changes and becomes more muscular, stronger minded and more certain of its basic principles.


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