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The Magistrate

The Magistrate's Journal
The Magistrate's Journal
March 25, 2013

A Couple Of Points, Sir

Offered in part, certainly, as advocatus diaboli, but also in recognition that there is some sense behind the classic conservative view.

The classic conservative view of social and political life was originally rooted in the very idea you describe as essential to progressivism, namely that things are imperfect, and tend to get worse. Starting from this ground, any change, any alteration in things as they are, is viewed by a classic conservative as a deterioration, as this principle of increasing imperfection in operation. The classical conservative considers the imperfection of things to be so inherent a feature of life that he or she must reject the very idea that perfection is possible, and so must regard proposals for improvement are mere moonshine at best, and deliberate fraud at worst, since the thing itself, moving towards perfection amid imperfection, simply cannot be done.

The progressive view is rooted in the idea that social and political life, imperfect as they obviously are, can be improved, can be moved towards perfection, at least, and that perhaps even perfection itself can be achieved. Put bluntly, it is a course fraught with peril, involving as it must novelty and experimentation in uncharted terrain, since perfection, both sides of this agree, is terra novis and exists only in speculation and ideal, and any number of instances where attempts at improvement proved to be anything but may be adduced from history. A deep conviction of the wrongness, of the operation towards evil, in a present state of imperfection is needed to steel people to the conviction it is worth the risks of attempting change.

Modern 'conservatism', examined closely, actually has adopted the basic root of the progressive view, namely that perfection is possible. What it views as perfection is, certainly, very different from what a progressive would consider perfection, but the very belief that an ideal condition, even one couched as a return to a traditional past which was perfect, which embodied the ideal state of social and political life, is a profound break with classical conservative thought. What calls itself 'conservative' nowadays in our country is in fact an extreme radicalism, aiming at revolution with the intent of perfecting society, even humanity itself.

"This is the best world possible; everything in it is a necessary evil"

"Most problems began as solutions."

March 9, 2013

Exactly, Ma'am

This has been one of my recurring points for a decade here.

If you are paid a salary, you are a worker, selling labor.

If you sell labor, you are a member of the working class, you are not part of the middle class, not part of the strata between the large owners of capital and the workers, not a bourgeois nor a petit bourgeois, not a professional in practice nor a man in trade in a small way or small proprietor --- you are a worker.

The fact is that, above almost anything else, work and people who do work are despised in our society and culture. A great deal of lip service is paid, and lip music played, to the opposite claim, that work is the highest value, but this is a deep, damnable lie. We value the grifter, the speculator, the fellow who finds an end around and gets there easy before the rest, the fellow who can set himself up to take advantage of all the poor slobs who have to go to work for a living, and never has to llft a finger for himself, unless it is to wave the waiter over with another drink....

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