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Russell Kirk’s Six Points, part four: Prudence

Conservatives are guided by their principle of prudence. Burke agrees with Plato that in the statesman, prudence is chief among the virtues. Any public measure ought to be judged by its probable long term consequences, not merely by temporary advantage or popularity. Liberals and radaicals, the conservative holds, are imprudent: for they dash at their objectives without giving much heed to the risk of new abuses worse than the evils they hope to sweep away. Human society being complex, remedies cannot be simple if they are to be effective. The conservative declars that he acts only after sufficient reflection, having weighed the consequences. Sudden and slashing reforms are perilous as sudden and slashing surgery. The march of providence is slow; it is the devil who always hurries.

You know you aren not living in a conservative age when Dana Carvey can make as much fun out of prudence as he did back in his SNL days. A measure of prudence would go a long ways towards taking the sharp edge off of the equal rights debates that have dominated the last part of the twentieth century and which continue today in the SSM debate that the Liberals have brought to the house. It’s clear in listening to the Libs that many of them will, if they succeed, proudly point to the fact that the sky has not fallen and they will feel that are vindicated by that. And the conservatives will sigh and point out that by the time the problems occur, twenty years down the road or more, no one in the present house will be there to be held accountable. That is what happened with the loosening of the divorce laws, one unintended consequence of which has been the impoverishment of women.

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Written by Curt

February 2, 2005 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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