For the love of all that’s holy…

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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26 Responses

  1. Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

    This is maybe a bit too pithy for a sidebar post.

    Though maybe I should make it a front page post in more detail later.Report

  2. Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

    I’m liking it just fine. I’ve always wanted to claim the Whig label for myself.Report

  3. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    Edmund Burke was not a cautious or pragmatic man by any definition. He stood alone against much that was wrong in the world, a man of integrity and principles and he was a very great friend to America.Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Or rather, his pragmatism was around not making changes recklessly, as opposed to not making them at all. Burke’s version of Burkean caution is useful, the version you hear about most often today is not.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James K says:

        That’s simply not congruent with what Burke did or wrote. His opposition to the chaos ensuing from the French Revolution has been called Burkean Caution. It was nothing of the sort. Burke had initially backed the French Revolution as he had backed the American Revolution. If he came down against the French Revolution for its excesses, he also said in the same breath: “a state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation.”

        That’s the real Burke, not the crabwise slouching and whinging along, half-o’-this and none-o’-that which has tried to ennoble itself with the name of Edmund Burke.Report

  4. Avatar James Hanley says:

    Nob,

    I agree with you about Burke. But as we do with all political theorists, we latter day folks swoop in and carry off the bits of their ideas that we find useful and then use them for our own purposes. When I say Burkean Caution, I don’t necessarily refer to the real Edmund Burke, but to the general concept he outlined and the various ways we usefully apply it today. The value of that line of thought does not stop where Burke stopped.Report

    • I understand where you’re coming from, but it bothers me in a sort of pedantical way. Just like how I find the term “Machiavellian” to be inappropriate given the man’s views.

      Burke’s caution, properly applied, suggests a logic that prefers procedural, democratic reforms and experimentation to radical social engineering via deliberate destruction of status quo institutions. Which is not the same as supporting the status quo and arguing for reactionary positions. His arguments against the French Constitution were of a different order than those who invoke Burke’s name today.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Burke’s caution, properly applied, suggests a logic that prefers procedural, democratic reforms and experimentation to radical social engineering via deliberate destruction of status quo institutions. Which is not the same as supporting the status quo and arguing for reactionary positions.

        But the former is exactly what the Burkean position on SSM is, not the latter. That’s a point on which TVD and I–of all unlikely couplings–are in agreement. I don’t think anybody in the thread to which you’re responding was using Burke as a justification for mere reationaryism.Report

        • Well the initial definition I saw was Burt’s which was:

          Is the Burkean argument — we must be very cautious when intentionally modifying social structures — bigoted?

          Then Tom said:

          The actual Burkean argument at this point is that the research is thin. It may be sufficient for the sentiments of supporters, but formally cannot be argued as a closed evidentiary question.

          It seems to me, in both cases the example was that “Burkean Caution” (distinct I will grant you from Burkean philosophy) would suggest an opposition to Same-Sex Marriage, rather than its implementation. Your own position toward a reflexive embrace of an alternative institution and the “caution” against changes.

          It’s always been my reading of Burke that he was more afraid of government oppression and tyranny than he ever was of societal change. Most of the issues he railed against, he called for the government to actively step back and protect individuals in exercising constitutional, concrete rights. He had no time for things like abstract rights to happiness or sustenance or life. He wanted specific protections.

          IMO the Burkean, if it were a real thing rather than a paean of the modern reactionary, would be this: In articulating a vague protection of an abstract institution (marriage) the government has created a position that consequently damages the actual constitutional rights of association and property for individuals. (We see this in say inheritance rights or hospital visitation) As a consequence, regardless of the effects upon the abstract, the pragmatic policy demands tell us that the ban on same-sex marriage is wrong. Ergo: We should therefore legalize same-sex marriage.Report

          • “Ban*” here is problematic re Burke because it ignores his presumption of favorability for the status quo, that it is proven to work on some level whereas proposed Alternative X is an unproven shot in the dark, and indeed a state intervention against the organic “little platoons’ of the nuclear family.

            Nice argument, though, and not to say that Burke the Liberal and reformer would be unswingable on the question. He’d be cautious, is all.

            *Technically the NC “ban” is a ban, but it’s really a defense mechanism against the courts imposing the institutionalization of SSM. Were the popular will in NC be in favor of SSM someday, repealing the constitutional amendment would be as easy as it was to pass it in the first place.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              Alternative X is an unproven shot in the dark, and indeed a state intervention against the organic “little platoons’ of the nuclear family.

              How in the world is legal recognition of SSM a “state intervention against…the nuclear family”?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                That’s where the circularity of ‘Burkean caution’ – as it’s used nowadays – comes into play. There is no non-question-begging, evidence-based way to justify that claim. It just devolves to a held sentiment beyond empirical scrutiny and evaluation.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                And I should add: the ‘held sentiment’ is something I see conservatives (more than liberals or libertarians anyway) employ as a justification for controversial social policies. That is, for a conservative, the evidence justifying policy P is that people hold the belief that P.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Stillwater says:

                Yeah, and somehow the “held sentiment” I and my family and friends have in favor of total equality for gays doesn’t count. Not that anyone would apply a double-standard or anything.Report

              • For the record, I think it counts. And I’m glad you hold that sentiment.Report

          • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

            Nob, if I’d have used a word like “prudential” instead of the word I did, would we be having this discussion? I hope so because the reminder about Burke has been to my profit intellectually.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley says:

      In other words, Burke has been stolen by the berks.Report

    • I’m as guilty as anyone — probably more so — of this particular offense. And my defense is exactly what James wrote. Just chiming in to plead “guilty.”Report

  5. I suppose that’s all true if the left doesn’t sometimes remind you of Animal Farm.Report