I’m continuing my reporting on the next installment from Conservative Estimate, the recently founded website that is devoted to demolishing Conservatism.
Yesterday, Alfred George showed that conservative traditionalists use the slogan “Tradition works” to camouflage their unwillingness to change the status quo where it benefits them.
Today, he sums up his treatment of the Myth of Tradition by recounting the difficulties connected with trying to justify beliefs on the ground of Tradition, and by concluding that Tradition cannot have any special status as a source of principles.
If you leap over the double orange curvy lines, you will find our account of today’s post.
Mr. George begins by listing all the difficulties connected with Tradition being a source of principles.
First, that Tradition contains much that is false, foolish, and irrational together with whatever it holds that is beneficial.
Second, that it is by right, and must be by decency, subservient to justice.
Third, that its close connection with Religion tends to produce a myopic blend of unexamined beliefs and status-quo thinking.
Fourth, that its tendency to promote stability in society must always be counted for less that the demands of justice.
Fifth, that over-reliance on Tradition leads to a disconnect with current reality, which in turn leads to tragedy when people try to impose outdated beliefs on the present.
And sixth, that “Tradition works” is a cheap slogan that hides the intransigence of conservatives to relinquish any of their privileges.
Mr. George’s conclusion about Tradition is this:
When you sum up all the difficulties with Tradition, it is easy to see that it should not be given any special status among the sources of principles for living. While some traditions are wise, others are foolish. While the social stability provided by Tradition is a good, it is not the highest good. While any given tradition may seem to “work” from one perspective, it may also be an unmitigated disaster from another perspective.You can read the whole post here.
None of this means that Tradition is worthless, or that it should be entirely disregarded. It only means that Tradition should not be accorded any higher status than any other decent source of principles—like experience, philosophy, law, art, science, or common sense. We can usefully draw on all these sources for help with living. There is certainly no reason to prefer Tradition just because it is Tradition.
Starting tomorrow, Mr. George will be deviating a bit from his usual practice. Instead of moving on to consider the seventh and final Major Myth of conservative thought—the Myth of Capitalism—he will take a detour to answer an important question that has arisen the course of the past few weeks.
Having shown that Religion and Tradition cannot supply the moral support necessary for a decent society to function, Mr. George will use the next post to answer the significant question, “How can we be moral with Religion and Tradition?”
I’ll be reporting back each day as a new installment appears.