Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Burkean Gradualism and Torture

The notion that "9/11 changed everything" is, itself, a repudiation of Burkean gradualism. The form of "conservatism" that make many on the right so dewy-eyed doesn't allow that anything changes everything. We're seeing something else altogether.

That 9/11 has opened the door to the embrace of torture -- or to put it more accurately and less charitably -- that it has served as the excuse by which to greenlight torture, shows that American "conservatives" fall well short of meriting their own flattery. They aren't opposed to rapid swings in policy, swift abandonments of tradition, or even repudiation of ancient values. They want what they want, and they want torture because (among other reasons) they're confident it will frighten the ill-defined enemy -- and note the confidence about the far-reaching effects of impulsive brutality. It isn't just wreckless; it's government by tantrum.

There are a few exceptions -- here, here, and there to mention a few. I still question whether Burkean gradualism exists enough to matter.

To be clear: the question of torture matters. The question of Burkean gradualism is a trifle by comparison.

No comments: