Calling the Police or Pointing the Gun


Or, If your white and wealthy, do both.  Then call your lawyer.

Political Science Prof Corey Robin, author of The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin, on C-SPAN’s After Words with S.E. Cupp.

Worth the time.

If SE Cupp is a conservative then Edmund Burke is not.

Reactionary is interesting.  The reactionary mind is the accomplice of capitalism.   Robin says as much without using the words.  From an NYT article (my emphasis and comment),

The true subject of “The Reactionary Mind,” he said, isn’t the eternal sameness of conservatism but the way it transforms itself in response to threats to existing hierarchies, often by borrowing from the very movements it seeks to oppose [that it competes against].

Burke argues, in the words of Yale Prof David Bromwich, “to salvage the last of Britain’s pre-capitalist morality of governance…[and] stands against a system of reckless innovation…”

This invective against the East India Company could be directed at Goldman Sachs today: The East India Company set up “an exchequer, wherein extortion was the assessor, fraud the cashier, confusion the accountant, concealment the reporter, and oblivion the remembrancer.”  (Burke, On Empire, Liberty and Reform: Speeches and Letters, ed. Bromwich, 29)

In the discussion, which is measured and well done by both Cupp and Robin, we get to “self-protection” as something dividing conservatives and liberals.  Robin states that there is nothing uniquely conservative or liberal about protecting oneself or one’s kin.  It’s is the method of achieving this that differs.

For example Robin expresses that he finds owning a gun a very risky prospect and the safest course is to call the police.  Cupp disagrees and wants to cite some statistics (always a mug’s game) but simply says that she wants to “take care of herself” rather than call the state–to be a strong individualist

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I think this was a missed opportunity to ask how calling the police differs from calling a lawyer.  These arguments often do not acknowledge the very different kinds of “protection” offered to different classes and different races in this country.  Nor does it address the privilege of having the police and the state serve your interests regardless of your political affiliation.

Further, “individualism” pushed to extremes is just a kind of narcissism that precludes “others” in a community.  That the best communities are of “like” members so that we can always be looking into mirrors.

But, I’m not sure we have any conservatives among us anymore, if Burke is the exemplar.  We have reactionaries and neoliberal progressives–these are currently bedfellows using each other to push foreign policy (neoliberalism) and domestic policy (reactionary).  One pushes aggressive “trade” (ie, open up, we want to take your stuff and call it “freeing”); the other aggressive “market” freedom as opposed to a less risky “regulation.”

My advice, think before you act; look before you leap; measure twice, cut once…

Would that our business ideology and governing principles were Burkean.

photo credit: dyobmit

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