The Tudors, Tradition and Tyranny



Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

Related Post Roulette

7 Responses

  1. Avatar William Brafford says:

    …so many of the Bush Administration’s most out-spoken critics – on torture, surveillance and the war – have all hailed from the traditionalist end of the spectrum.

    OK, yeah, I like the anti-war cons a whole lot too, but when I think of the most visibly outspoken critics of the Bush administration, I think of The Nation and Glenn Greenwald first, and I don’t associate either one with traditionalism. Am I wrong in thinking that these guys have more readers than AmCon?Report

  2. Avatar Will says:

    Brafford –

    I’m not sure if “outspoken” and “widely read” should be conflated. Greenwald and the Nation probably did more than, say, the American Conservative to push these issues into the mainstream, but that doesn’t mean critics on the Right weren’t equally outspoken (albeit more marginalized).

    My broader point, however, is that a lot of our assumption about constitutionally-limited government derive from older, pre-modern political traditions. Even if Greenwald wouldn’t describe himself as a conservative, the system he’s defending is rooted in some fairly conservative assumptions.Report

  3. Avatar Patrick Duffy says:

    I think you have to be careful here about using the labels “liberal” and “conservative.” They have different meanings in Europe than they do in America. European conservatives tend towards the traditional, hierarchical assumptions about life and how society should be organized. In America, I think that would be labeled traditionalist. The European liberal vein split in the 19th century, well after the Tudors, between what in America today would be seen as the libertarians (note that is with a small l) and the socialists. In my opinion, the socialists have doubled back on themselves, becoming, in many ways, simply supporters of a new tradition, with themselves, as “the people’s representatives,” at the top of the hierarchy. The drive to be in control of other people’s lives has not disappeared. The intellectual underpinnings have simply changed. Philosophically, they are not far from those I would call the fanatics, enforcing their way or death, whether the they are the followers of Cromwell or the Taliban. “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power absolutely corrupts.” The traditionalists failed intellectually because they could no longer point to a reason why they were in charge, “that’s the way we’ve always done it” being too slender a reed indeed. Interestingly, “God put us in charge” stopped carrying weight amongst the European upper class, but it remains a basis for power in the minds of the fanatics referred to above. The upper class’s mantra of “Duty, honor, country” deteriorated into collective self indulgence and foppery.Report

  4. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Will – I kinda like the Tudors. It has lots of things I don’t like, but overall I remain fairly well entertained…Report

  5. Avatar Will says:

    E.D. –

    Clearly, then, you hate America.

    Patrick Duffy –

    The terminology does get a bit confusing, doesn’t it? Here, I use “conservative” as a stand-in for a more traditionalist, illiberal understanding of politics.Report

  6. Avatar Dave says:

    Oh come on, only I can say that to E.D.Report

  7. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Dave you can say it, too. I can take it!Report