The New Burkeian

Reflections on the Revolution in Conservatism

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Objective vs. Subjective Science

In the beginning . . . of this journey by the New Burkeian, I once tackled objective/subjective morality. The pursuit of absolutes does not pre-suppose their discovery. In like fashion, the pursuit of absolute laws in science should not pre-suppose those very same laws. Limiting sciences, hard and soft, to a narrow, arbitrary focus should be a mistake, as well.

In a not so recent book "Consilience: the Unity of Knowledge", by Edward O. Wilson, a biologist with a focus on entomology (of all things) from Harvard, he tackles the idea that the hard and soft sciences should have more in common. He begins with the ideas of the Enlightenment and how they influenced the development of the hard sciences to our present date. With an excellent grasp of the sciences in general, Wilson links the various branches through the metaphor of Ariadne's Thread, the guide for Theseus through the Minotaur's labyrinth. From elementary particles to genes to culture, Wilson lays out a framework for the understanding of human nature put forth by the hard sciences. He does not stop there, though. From that framework he advances to sociobiology, primatology,anthropology, and then sociology. He suggests that these and other soft sciences can benefit from the hard science framework of natural history. An understanding of evolutionary biology (yes, I said evolution) can help a sociologist better understand the decisions a person makes within present-day society.

The soft sciences have turned their back on the hard sciences, though, as if we need no understanding of the development of the human mind to understand culture or economics. This is subjective science at its worst. As in anthropolgy's 'cultural relativism', the soft sciences live in a bubble of their own disciplines. No wonder economists have failed to produce a predictive model without an accurate understanding of human decision-making. Rational-choice models only go so far with humans who are decidely irrational at times. It is no wonder Communism and Freudism proved to be inaccurate descriptions of the human world, either.

This is just something to think about. I have often thought that the journey of the Actionary lies within the framework Wilson describes. Why does Democracy work so well, and why should it not work so well for others? Well Mr. Wilson, with a new-found interest in the hard sciences, the New Burkeian shall strive to better understand political theory within the framework of natural history.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Conservative, Not Republican

The New Burkeian is a representation of political ideas, not party ideologies. To be quite frank, if the Libertarian Party ever got their act together, and at least had some semblance of hawkishness, I might vote for them. But alas, the inate weirdness of the Libertarian hierarchy is dooming them to a footnote in American history (if even that).

John Fund, at Opinion Journal, recently lamented the current state of Congressional Republicans. Ever since the Dubai-Ports controversy, I have been skeptical of Congressional Republican intentions. Are these guys just trying to get re-elected? The grass-roots movement of the Republican Party is quickly losing steam. The only solution I foresee is an injection of small government, fiscal conservatives into Congress. Libertarian ideology would suggest that this party could be the answer, but at what expense?

At any rate, conservatives need a new crusade for a simplified tax code and a reduction of the bureaucracy. This is on the Conservative agenda, but is it on the Republican agenda? The centralization of federal power in Washington is clearly a problem. Perhaps, as my grandfather suggested, certain departments should be moved out of the capital. Why shoudn't the Department of Agriculture be centered in the MidWest or the Department of Commerce be centered in California? This could do much to dilute non-elective, bureaucratic power. Maybe the Treasury Department could be centered in New York. Perhaps an Education-Czar should replace the Department of Education. A single-voice for eductional policy could do much for lagging American public schools. And a renewal of debate over a flat-tax should begin. Maybe a consumption-tax would be better.

At any rate, these are questions the Republican Party is no longer seeking solutions for. Maybe a failure at the polls this year (in good old American Democratic fashion) would be good for the Conservative message. It cannot hurt to shake up the government every once in a while. These people do serve us, and not the other way around. And truthfully, without a unifying message, the Democrats could not hold onto power for long as simply an alternative to 'bad' Republicans. And so the New Burkeian proclaims that he is a Conservative (American Idealist Conservative), not a Republican.

If only the Libertarians were not headed by a bunch of loonies . . .

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Great Game

The New Burkeian recently researched the Anglo-Russian rivalry in 19th century Central Asia. A research paper that began as an examination of imperial pedagogy in late-Qing China emerged into a sweeping study of 'The Great Game'. This term applies to the diplomatic and often militaristic rivalry between Russia and Great Britain throughout the 19th century in Asia.

From Constantinople to Peking, Russian and British agents staked out empires. While Russian influence grew from Turkey to Persia the British worked on the defense of India from Persia to China. The 'great' gamesmen fought it out in Central Asia, though. Afghanistan and the Central Asian Khanates were the focus of much of this period. British concern for India and consequent aggression were the main reasons for escalation, but the Russians did little to assuage British fears. Russophobia prevailed in Great Britain with Russia's continuous advances into Central Asia.

As my research unfolded I became aware of the implications this rivalry had for recent history. The Great Game, to some extent, was a precursor of the US-Russian rivalry in the Cold War. The US emerged as the leader of the Anglosphere post-WWII, but the same misconceptions and mistakes drove this rivalry. The end of the Cold War brought this competition to an end for a decade.

Recent allegations against the Russia-Iraqi/Iran link suggest otherwise, though. It appears Russia is up to her old game in Asia. Under the auspices of the international rule of law, Russia appears to be undermining Anglosphere prestige in the region. The unilateral talks between Russia and Iran certainly appear to be a continuation of their relationship from the time of the Great Game.

Without succumbing to complete Russophobia, the New Burkeian is highly skeptical of Russian intentions in this new era. There were certainly glimpses of a great new partnership between Russia and the rest of the West in the beginning of the WoT. Old Russian fears of invaders at their extensive borders may reawaken the Bear, though. This certainly does not imply that Democracy is dead in Russia, but even a minor rivalry with the Anglosphere in Asia could undermine much of the WoT. Without sounding a call-to-arms, there is certainly a need for American players in Central Asia to peddle our influence and advantages. Democracy is the future of this world, and the Anglosphere must do whatever it can to advance that goal. Will the Actionaries stand up?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Reactionaries: Left and Right

Consider the recent controversy over the Dubai-ports deal. Attacks have come from both the Left and Right over the possibility of Arab management of the ports. The apparent juxtaposition of the two sides in concert was predicted earlier by the New Burkeian. In fact, this is a conflict between 'reactionary' and 'actionary' politics.

In two previous posts (one and two) I outlined the emergent differences and the dichotomy shift in American politics. As American conservatism drifts more towards the middle of American politics the New Left becomes increasingly 'reactionary' towards the Administration's policies. This 'reaction' becomes in-grained in their poltical philosophy. The recent shift towards nativism by Senate Democracts exemplifies this shift. Where the Left previously advocated multilateralism in the foreign policy, recent calls have been to deride Arab (foreign) control over American resources. This certainly does not contribue to our multilateral credentials. It helps that labor organizations, the Left's traditional base, largely oppose the port deal.

On the other hand, elements of American conservatism have clung to the traditionalist and neoconservative dogmas. Both have a fairly 'reactionary' attitude in the political sphere. The New Burkeian still stands by the claim that the majority the American public that has supported the Administration has an 'actionary' attitude. How do we then explain the recent outcry by Congressional Republicans regarding the port deal? It is a political response in an election year, and I believe that it only serves to weaken Republican prospects for the next election. We either continue to uphold the Phoenix of American Idealism or we lose American conservatism's newfound dynamic ability to respond to current events.

So let us get to the heart of the issue. What does it mean to oppose the Dubai-ports deal? As I have stated before, promotion of democracy (Actionary doctrine) can be achieved other than at the point of a bayonet. Advocating the 'free market' has its merits. The influx of capitalism in China has allowed for free elections at the local levels of governance. It is a small step, but a step none-the-less. The UAE has become an increasingly secular society at the hands of capitalism. Secularization is a crucial step towards Democracy. We should support the Dubai-ports deal as means to achieving Democacy in the broader Middle East. We support our allies in the WoT, and our allies must strive towards the peaceful prospects of a free society. The UAE is exemplary in this aspect. The failure of this deal would provide a huge blow to American prestige in the WoT, and also provides a united front from which the New Left can coordinate in opposition. Reactionaries on both sides would derail our current progress towards a better world.

Even deeper than this is the message we send to Muslims. All Muslims are not extremeists. The New Burkeian wold suggest that a silent majority of Muslims are indeed moderates and advocates of Democracy. Consider this recent Muslim Manifesto. Understandably, this comes from Muslims in America where we give voice to the silent majorities. But there are clearly moderate Muslims in other areas of the world. Iraqi Muslims have shown to be largely secular when it comes to politics. The Muslims of the UAE are clearly moderate. Iranians, if given the chance, would probably choose a secular/moderate government, as well. If you doubt the new Burkeian then I would suggest you read some of the Arab/Muslim blogs linked to this site.

What is an Actionary to do? We must not lose sight of the goals set forth by President Bush in his Second Inaugural. It appears that some Congressional Republicans have lost there way, but I do not believe the American public in general has forgotten. Sure, there are set-backs, but even Actionary idealism is tempered by American conservatism. This is not a utopia we are striving for. I think those on the Left and Right understand that for all the benefits of Democracy we do not always agree with the outcome. The path to a world of Democracy will not always be agreeable, as well. But we did not scrap the Constitution ater the Civil War, so why should we scrap our principles in the current dilemmas. Let us not scrap the Dubai-port deal because of some mistaken reaction.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


It has been some time since the New Burkeian had something to say, but the recent controvesy over a UAE company's control over American port operations has sparked a nerve.

My contact with UAE citizens has been very limited, but the few guys I have met I can honestly call friends. In fact, all of the dozen or so guys I met from Arabic countries in college I can honestly call friends. We often had political discussions on the merits of American foreign policy. While they were often skeptical of the Administration, every one of my Arab buddies said they would have voted for Bush. They approved of our shift in foreign policy to promote Democracy, instead of past policy that upheld real politik.

At National Review Online, Mansoor Ijaz, a tech investor, desribes a Muslim not often portrayed by the MSM. These young technocrats returning to their Arabic countries with Western educations are not the extremists recently witnessed. They deplore terrorism, and are bending over backwards to support the American-led effort. They are market oriented, and have seen the good that can come from a free society. I must admit, all of Arab friends were skeptical about the prospects for full-fledged Democracy in their own countries, but they did not deny that they hoped for it.

This younger generation of Arabs that are benefitting from the West will not soon forget the advantages and feedoms they enjoyed. I recall a buddy of mine from Saudi Arabia who after graduation avoided calling home or returning right away. He wanted to enjoy America for as long as possible before the oil company that sponsored his education asked for him to come back. He has called me three times since his return to Saudi, and we often talk of the late night BBQs and non-pious adventures we had in the college party-scene. (As an added note, domestic wire-tapping has not discouraged me from speaking with him. If you are not doing anything wrong you have nothing to worry about.) My UAE buddy invited me to stay with his family in Dubai, and he often noted that the UAE was the safest place for Westerners to visit in the Middle East. When I am finished with my education and can afford a ticket I wil take him up on that.

Aside from the fun we had, these guys learned a lot about American Freedom and Resolve. They return to their countries and become a part of the ever-growing silent majority that supports Democracy. They act in conjunction with the West by utilizing their skills in the ever-growing global market. Their children will know the truth about the West. And, slowly-but-surely, they will gain the Freedoms that much of the West, and non-West (Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.), had to fight for (yes, even the French).

So you ask how the Actionary should respond to all of this? Well, the New Burkeian wonders about the motives of those who oppose this deal, as do the editors at the Wall Street Journal. The Administration probably did intend to be sly about the whole deal, but what do you expect with the MSM and radical left politicians. We must even be skeptical of Republican motives in opposition. I suppose Congressional Republicans must want to appear strong on national security with the upcoming Midterms, but I hope they soon realize their folly in opposing this. This opposition does appear ethnocentric, and is not healthy for future relations in a region that has accepted our presence reluctantly.

Remember that the Actionary is primarily an optimist. The Administration has forged the way for the future of Democracy in a wave of optimism and idealism that we should not soon forget. And our support for our Arab friends will not soon be forgotten by them.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

VDH's New Americanism

While the New Burkeian has held many opinions in the past couple of months, none have been strong enough to compel writing. School is also a priority.

However, Mr. Victor Davis Hanson has compelled me to write again. In a recent article, Mr. Hanson discusses failed doctrines of American foreign policy, and a new strain he identifies as Americanism. I must insist that this is simply another form of Actionary belief, but do not take my word for it.

Michael Ledeen suggests some results of Actionary policy at National Review. It is quite clear that President Bush has set us forth on a great adventure. Many great things are being done in the name of Democracy, Freedom, and Justice. American values have contributed to all of these great deeds.

I assure any readers that still remain that more will come. Perhaps reviewing old posts would suffice until that time.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Actionary Policy in Practice

The New Burkeian wishes to praise the Administration's advancement of Actionary ideals, and to further clarify this movement to those in opposition to the promotion of Democracy.

President Bush is sending a very clear message to the people of Lebanon, and to the tyrannical powers that occupy Lebanon. In every appearance the President has called for the Democratic advancement of Lebanon, seperate from the occupying powers. This is Actionary policy in action. The goal of a Democratic world must be the ultimate goal of America. The people of Lebanon are not blind to the power of Democracy and Freedom elsewhere in the Middle East. Diplomatic pressure, as one of the many options in the Actionary arsenal, could be the decisive act by America. It is, at the least, a start. As an editorial from OpinionJournal suggested, "We cannot say whether these measures will suffice to dislodge Syria from Lebanon, but at least they're a start. What we can say is that if there was ever a moment to make an ally of the Lebanese people in their quest for freedom, this is it."

Russia is another area where the President has presented the Actionary cause. As a state with a Constitution and some semblance of a Democratic government, Russia has a right to determine Her own path towards a stronger Democracy. In questioning recent exercises in authority by Mr. Putin, the President has simply stated ideals that Democracy are expected to uphold universally. While American culture would surely not uphold the Russian style of Democracy, it is not necessary to condemn Mr. Putin. As Actionaries, we must simply lay everything out on the table. As I have stated before, there are no ulterior motives to Actionary policy. This is what President Bush has done regarding Russia.

We must also remember that the development of civil societies is an ongoing process within Democracy. America did not achieve our current status as a civil society overnight. American civil society has experienced 250 years of development. We must remember that Russian civil society is bearly a decade in development. Consider Mr. Gvosdev's article at the NationalReview:

For the last five years, I've felt Russia is best understood in terms of "managed pluralism" — a system which mixes democratic and authoritarian features, where zones of relative freedom uneasily coexist with areas where the regime exercises more control. Some of my colleagues believe that "managed pluralism" is but a fancy name for soft authoritarianism, a criticism I admit has some merit. But no matter what, it is a far cry from any sort of return to Stalinism.

Those who wish for immediate results will not get them. The complexities of Democracy are real, but this does not make Democracy unachievable in any sense. Actionaries are far-seeing, though. We understand the power of Freedom to transform the world. We believe in the truth of Democracy. And opponents to Actionary policy still do not understand this.

I am still amazed at opponents to the Administration that exist within American conservatism. They cannot see the link between American security and the promotion of Democracy. In a recent article by Patrick J. Buchanon at the AmericanConservative, the Administration's recent adherence to Actionary policy has been labeled 'Anti-Conservative'.

America “goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy,” said John Quincy Adams, “She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.” Under the tutelage of Jacobins who call themselves idealists, Bush has repudiated this wise core doctrine of U.S. foreign policy to embrace Wilsonian interventionism in the internal affairs of every autocratic regime on earth. We are going to democratize the world and abolish tyranny.

American conservatism has never been as stagnant as Mr. Buchanon would portray. American conservativism has always contained an element of idealism that has distinguished America in the Democratic world. This is why we should be leaders in the development and promotion of Democracy. This is why American conservatives should no longer adhere to traditional 'reaction'. We cannot uphold our principles by hiding behind our shores. As I have stated before, the Phoenix of American idealism must arise from the ashes of traditional reaction. And this is not neo-con in nature, as Mr. Buchanon would suggest. Neo-cons place limits on the exercise of American power in the promotion of Democracy. Actionaries do not.

I would also suggest that the American electorate does not believe in that limit, either. How else could the Presidency be held by an Actionary?