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THINGS GLENN BECK DOESN’T TELL YOU: Beck’s Defiition of ‘Conservatism’

NOTE: I started this series to fill in some of the blanks that — whether due to ignorance or intention — Glenn Beck leaves out of his history lessons and explanations on his radio and Internet TV shows.  This series is not specifically intended to berate Beck, but rather, to fill in gaps that could possibly change the way his listeners see and understand the topics he addresses.

DATE: June 8

TOPIC: ‘What is Conservatism?’

Today, Glenn Beck addressed the definition of ‘Conservatism.’  The problem is, he got it wrong!  However, if you do not know what Conservatism actually is, or where it came from, you wouldn’t know that Beck was wrong — or why.  This is why I stress the need to know and understand the meaning of the words we use.  If you listened to Beck today, and you knew what Conservatism is and where it came from, you would have understood why Beck is wrong (and if you understand Beck’s religion, you would understand how he got it wrong).  So, let’s start with a short history lesson about ‘Conservatism:’

I wrote about this topic on January 6 — 2013!  Back then, I was blogging on The Rio Norte Line.  Here is the post:

AMERICAN CONSERVATISM DEFINED (this one’s an important history lesson)

First, what we call conservatism – American Conservatism – is derived from the works of an Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher by the name of Sir Edmund Burke.  He lived from 1729 until 1797 and was actually a supporter of the American Revolution while, as the same time, he opposed the French Revolution (I offer you this link as support of my claim, though not necessarily as support for my overall argument: from the Heritage Foundation, The Roots of Modern Conservative Thought from Burke to Kirk).  Hopefully, this will suffice to establish that I am correct in asserting that American Conservatism traces its roots back to Sir Edmund Burke.

Now, the problem with Beck’s definition of ‘Conservatism’ is that he assigns the values of our founding fathers to it — and only their values.  But that is not what Burke was trying to preserve!  While he was sympathetic to certain aspects of the Colonialist’s complaints against the Crown, Burke was actually interested in trying to preserve the Crown and the British political system.  He said so:

Burke viewed colonialism as bad, radicalism as dangerous, and democracy as a threat to social stability. He considered governmental conventions as spiritually based and not to be tinkered with.
Some of his other thoughts:

  • While he conceded human equality in the eyes of God, he felt no such compunction for equality here on earth.

  • Respect for a higher power was essential to his philosophy, no matter what the religion. Church and State were inseparable, but in spiritual, not mechanical sense. Both were derived from God.

  • Individual conscience was meant to be directed by “prescription, presumption and prejudice.” (His use of the word “prejudice” had nothing to do with bigotry, but with having a sense of innate “pre-judgment.”)

  • It was not enough to be free. Life had to have meaning as well, and meaning can be found in tradition, folklore and myth.

  • History was the unfolding of a design wrought by Heaven, of which today’s consumerism would be antithetical.

  • Government finds its authority not on a social contract, but on virtuous principles.

  • There is a collective intellect, seeped in ancient wisdom, that people inherit and culture safeguards and transmits. We learn about principle through the understanding of nature and history.

If we wanted to call Burke’s philosophy by a more descriptive name, we could just as easily call him a traditionalist — because he wanted to hold to the way things had always been done.  Now, consider this: The progressive agenda has now been a part of American politics nearly as long as Classic Liberalism (the political thinking of our founding fathers).  This means that ‘Conservative’ can just as easily apply to Progressives trying to hold on to their gains as it does to those trying to hold to the founding principles and ideals of this nation.  So Beck cannot turn around and claim that ‘Conservative’ means ‘Classic Liberal,’ because it does not!  That is not opinion, it is just wrong — by definition, it is wrong!  Furthermore, this is what Beck attacks Progressives for doing: changing the meaning of words to suit their agenda through confusion and deception.

Now, here is something we need to consider before we accept Burke or anything that has been derived from Burke’s political thinking.  From my personal copy of Edmund Burke’s political works:

 “…But having stated to you of what description the chartered rights are which this bill touches, I feel no difficulty at all in acknowledging the existence of those chartered rights in their fullest extent.  They belong to the Company in the surest manner, and they are secured to that body by every sort of public sanction.  They are stamped by the faith of the king; they are stamped by the faith of the Parliament: they have been bought for money, for money honestly and fairly paid; they have been bought for valuable consideration, over and over again.” [Emphasis mine]

What Burke is saying here is that a Company (a corporation) can legally buy — from the government — the rights to own and control 1/3 of the known world; to include operating their own private army for the purpose of controlling those people, their property and their economic activity.  He says so in the very next paragraph of his speech:

 “I therefore freely admit to the East India Company their claim to exclude their fellow-subjects from the commerce of half the globe, I admit their claim to administer an annual territorial revenue of seven million sterling, to command an army of sixty thousand men, and to dispose (under the control of a sovereign, imperial discretion, and with the due observance of the natural and local law) of the lives and fortunes of thirty millions of their fellow-creatures.  All this they possess by charter, and by Acts of Parliament, (in my opinion,) without a shadow of controversy.”

Did you catch that?  Let me single it out for you in case you missed it:

 “I therefore freely admit to the East India Company their claim to exclude their fellow-subjects from the commerce of half the globe, I admit their claim to administer an annual territorial revenue of seven million sterling, to command an army of sixty thousand men, and to dispose (under the control of a sovereign, imperial discretion, and with the due observance of the natural and local law) of the lives and fortunes of thirty millions of their fellow-creatures.  All this they possess by charter, and by Acts of Parliament, (in my opinion,) without a shadow of controversy.”

This is ‘Conservatism’ — as it’s original author defined and argued it!  The definition Beck gave today is that of ‘Classic Liberalism,’ not ‘Conservatism.’  This is also why we need to understand the meaning and, wherever possible, the origins of the words we use — especially when they pertain to social and political movements.  Because, if we do not know, our ignorance can and will be turned into a weapon by which we will eventually enslave ourselves to those who do.

[NOTE: I no longer think of my voice as anything special.  There was a time when I believed I had something important to say, but not so much these days.  I write now because I feel driven to do so.  Something inside me will not let me rest until I post the pages you just read.  I’d just as soon not bother anymore.  It all seems like no one is listening and I do more harm than good.  So I have come to trust that whatever it is driving me has all this under control.  Personally, I believe it is God, but others may not.  All I ask is that, if anything I write helps you, or you think it might help others in any way, please, share this page.  Re-blog it, share it on FB or send the link to your friends.  So long as you feel it will do more good than harm, then please, use this page however you wish.  Thank you.]

2 responses to “THINGS GLENN BECK DOESN’T TELL YOU: Beck’s Defiition of ‘Conservatism’

  1. The Heritage foundation isn’t a reliable source and should never be used as authoritative.

    • See, this is fallacious reasoning. I might as well suggest people who make such comments are not credible sources and should not be used as authorative.

      In this case, I know Burke. I had to study him in depth while earning my BA in philosophy. So, when I read the article you dismissed, I recognized Burke all through it. Not from what others told me, but from what I had read from Burke’s own hand. So, in this case, it IS authoritative — and this is why I used it. But thank you for your comment. 🙂 (yes, sarcasm intended — because I am tired of people making such asinine comments and acting as thought they have value in a RATIONAL discussion).

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