One of the segments of the show this week is a topic that seems to be difficult for smart people to grasp. This is something that comes up in the discussion of conservatism and where to go now that Buckley-style conservatism has failed. All of the debates just assume some starting point without thinking much about it. They talk about Burke and Locke as if they were gods, rather than men. We have to respect what they said because they are the authority of all political knowledge.
A political theory is a lot like a proof in mathematics. In math, a proof will rest on axioms of mathematics and certain constants like the speed of light. You start from these fixed things that are always true. From there you derive knew truths or new solutions to problems of the universe. Political theory works the same way. The Founders started with Locke because they started with Natural Law as their authority. This was the universal constant upon which they built their politics.
This sounds rather esoteric and pointless at first, but the biggest question in all politics is by whose authority? When put to left-wing politics, few people championing things like critical race theory or antiracism could provide an answer. They just assume they are our moral superior. They do not know that the stuff they absorbed in college or had fed to them by coreligionists in their political cult come from some rather bizarre theories of history and human relations.
Not that it matters, as a practical matter. These people are quite dumb, but simply asking the question puts them on their heels. From our perspective, the effort to build an alternative politics has to start from this question. It is why things like “common good conservatism” must be viewed as a distraction, possibly a deliberate one, aimed at preventing genuine analysis of the current condition. They want to avoid any discussion of the authority for their claims.
This is obviously a big-brained topic that gets boring for most people, but it has important practical implications. That is the point of the show today. The practical questions that naturally arise from these theoretical issues are useful in dealing with the political crazies, but also in dealing with allies and converts. Being able to talk sensibly about the practical application of politics, segment three of the show, is probably the best thing anyone can do to change minds.
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This Week’s Show
- 00:00: Opening
- 03:00: By Whose Authority?
- 23:00: To What End?
- 43:00: How Do We Do It?
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