All’s Fair in Love and Burke

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Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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12 Responses

  1. Avatar gregiank says:

    umm what is compelling about it? What ideas are really being exchanged? Cringe worthy is, as far as i can tell, its only worth.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      @gregiank, I just think they cut it short before the real discussion could begin- hence my posting it here with our luxurious commenting section. My first question: What does it mean to be a Burkean Catholic traditionalist anyway? What does it mean to say that Catholics know that suffering builds character, if you’re offering that as a justification for policy proposals aimed at people than yourself? Certainly there’s a cause for Catholics welcoming suffering into their own lives as a demonstration of faith, but what Christian justification is there for increasing the suffering of others to strengthen their character? And, finally, isn’t opposition to evil things rooted in a recognition that suffering is, well, often just suffering and not a blessing?

      Admittedly, what he’s doing in that video is sharing his own psychodrama and I’m not interested in encouraging that. BUT I would like to hear about how people hear understand being of “a Burkean bent” and if that’s at odds with a traditionalist worldview or just reinforces it. I wish they’d had the fight those questions deserved instead of the psychodrama.

      I don’t know. I’m not a big fan of Burke. But we’ve got some super-bright traditionalists here who could maybe help…Report

      • Avatar David Schaengold says:

        @Rufus F., It’s always seemed to me that you can’t be both a Catholic Traditionalist and a Burkean. As any attentive reader of MacIntyre will tell you, Burke cedes the point that pre-liberal or illiberal modes of reasoning are irrational, which makes him a liberal keenly interested in defending the interests of capital, not the modern heir of Aquinas and Aristotle. Lots of traditionalist people disagree, apparently, but I wonder if there ever would have been a reason to justify such an awkward marriage if not for the pragmatic need for religious conservatives and the defenders of rich libertines to join forces against LBJ or something.Report

    • Avatar David Schaengold says:

      @rufus, This thread seems like the uninteresting kind of unhugginess.Report

  2. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Okay, so Mr. Schaengold is right that this thread is uninteresting unhugginess. So, what I originally found confusing about the video is the point at which she says that suffering builds character, which is certainly true although a bit glib; and then, when the ex-boyfriend claims her positions are often guided by the desire to increase suffering, she responds, “I’m Catholic”. Was this a joke? I understand the strengthening virtues of undergoing suffering and can understand Catholicism as extolling those virtues at least as justification for accepting necessary suffering; but what Christian virtue is there in increasing suffering for others, even if it does build character? Now understand that I don’t see suffering and discipline as the same thing. It seems that I’ve heard other social conservatives say similar things, but I don’t really understand how they get from the gospels to the idea that society needs more suffering. Or, perhaps I misunderstand them.

    I guess my secondary question was whether this somewhat confusing position comes from trying to reconcile traditionalism with Burke, which I think is impossible anyway. In my opinion, if we need Burke, we don’t need traditionalism, and vice-versa.

    So anyway, I take the criticism and hope this will pull the thread back on the rails after I derailed it with cheap gags.Report

    • Avatar David Schaengold says:

      @Rufus F., @rufus, I’ll happily defend suffering. It’s easy, because no one really thinks that suffering is an unqualified evil, and almost everyone realizes that suffering is a precondition of happiness. The tricky part is having the correct notions about when suffering is useful and when it’s wasted (though of course if you’re a Catholic no suffering is ever wasted; but even so one can distinguish between suffering that is saved only by Christ and mundanely useful suffering). You needn’t be committed to the thesis that our society needs more suffering as such to believe that our society privileges the absence of suffering over much more important goods.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        @David Schaengold, And I agree with that. But it seems like a glib way of criticizing Obamacare to say that it is flawed by virtue of ameliorating suffering, especially since there are numerous Catholic hospitals and charities that seek to ameliorate suffering. I suppose it’s also easier for me to consider my own suffering as useful than it is to consider the suffering of others as uniformly useful, which she seems to be suggesting. I tend to see our recognition of the suffering of others in terms of a moral responsibility to lessen, or at least not to increase that suffering. However, I suppose it’s much easier for me to agree with the claim that society values the absense of suffering over more important goods than the claim that aiming to increase the suffering of others is “Catholic”, because suffering is useful, which sounded like where she was going. Of course, I’m not an “old-fashioned moralist” myself. And maybe her comment was a joke.Report

        • Avatar David Schaengold says:

          @Rufus F., the idea that suffering should be itself a goal of social policy is wicked. I don’t know whether she would defend her quips seriously if pressed; in any case I don’t care to. But probably we shouldn’t take one-liners aimed at defusing a deranged fellow panelist as representative of anyone’s views.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        @David Schaengold,

        Increasing the suffering of others because it builds character — isn’t that sort of like playing God? The reason we have suffering, for a Christian, is the Fall. A work of divine justice.

        It’s not our place to add to it. Unless I’m really reading my New Testament wrong, we’re supposed to love one another and take care of the suffering, the hungry, those in prison…

        In all, I’d say its a downright satanic ethic that tells us to increase suffering. Not merely because suffering is bad, but because suffering is God’s alone to give.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        @David Schaengold,

        The tricky part is having the correct notions about when suffering is useful

        Not tricky at all. Other people’s suffering is useful.Report