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Thread: The Conservatism of Robert Nisbet

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    The Conservatism of Robert Nisbet

    The Conservatism of Robert Nisbet has a really good opening comparison of Kirk and Nisbet that I'll skip and just to his tenets.

    ...Beginning with Burke as conservative touchstone, Nisbet claimed, one could readily find eight tenets of conservatism, culminating in a ninth that tied all of the previous eight together.

    First, the primacy of religion in the life of any people....

    Second, the centrality of the natural two-parent family....

    Third, the need to recognize distinctions in human abilities, achievements, and excellence....

    Fourth, the understanding that property rights are not merely the rights to own land, but, even more importantly, to own one’s self....

    Fifth, that human persons find their identity only in relation to time, space, ancestors, friends, and neighbors.

    Sixth, that all political power should devolve to the lowest and most immediate level possible....

    Seventh, that laws should derive from tradition, habit, and custom....

    Eighth, closely related to number six, but certainly not identical, all national authority should possess “the highest possible degree of decentralization and diffusion of power.”

    Finally, Nisbet wrote, claiming that his ninth point was really a summation of all of the previous eight points: “Separation of society from political state, that is, preservation of autonomy of society and its groups, along with the economy, from what Burke called ‘arbitrary power’ in the state.”

    ....
    Edmund Burke: "In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!"

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    I'll have to read some Nisbet.
    Whoever criticizes capitalism, while approving immigration, whose working class is its first victim, had better shut up. Whoever criticizes immigration, while remaining silent about capitalism, should do the same.


    ~Alain de Benoist


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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister D View Post
    I'll have to read some Nisbet.
    I've read bits and pieces and am impressed.

    I read tenet 9 and saw autonomy and dod a double take as it's usually associated with individual autonomy, read it again and say he's speaking of the autonomy of society and it's institutions from the state.
    Edmund Burke: "In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    I've read bits and pieces and am impressed.

    I read tenet 9 and saw autonomy and dod a double take as it's usually associated with individual autonomy, read it again and say he's speaking of the autonomy of society and it's institutions from the state.
    It's not autonomy and liberty per se that conservatives critique but the liberal conception of these terms. Liberty, for example, is thought to be found precisely in society and in especially in political life not apart from it. That is closely related to the conservative critique of rights inherent to the individual. They argue that this depoliticizes society and ultimately robs people of their liberty.
    Whoever criticizes capitalism, while approving immigration, whose working class is its first victim, had better shut up. Whoever criticizes immigration, while remaining silent about capitalism, should do the same.


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    Liberty, for example, is thought to be found precisely in society and in especially in political life not apart from it.
    According to Nisbet, "Sixth, that all political power should devolve to the lowest and most immediate level possible...." Not in some distant central government.
    Edmund Burke: "In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    According to Nisbet, "Sixth, that all political power should devolve to the lowest and most immediate level possible...." Not in some distant central government.
    Sounds a lot like Subsidiarity. I wonder if he was Catholic? Then again, the Church may have borrowed from early conservatives.
    Whoever criticizes capitalism, while approving immigration, whose working class is its first victim, had better shut up. Whoever criticizes immigration, while remaining silent about capitalism, should do the same.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister D View Post
    Sounds a lot like Subsidiarity. I wonder if he was Catholic? Then again, the Church may have borrowed from early conservatives.
    The entire sentence is "Sixth, that all political power should devolve to the lowest and most immediate level possible—what Catholics would call subsidiarity." So yes on that one.

    His first tenet is about religion though I don't see anything on if he was Catholic.
    Edmund Burke: "In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    The entire sentence is "Sixth, that all political power should devolve to the lowest and most immediate level possible—what Catholics would call subsidiarity." So yes on that one.

    His first tenet is about religion though I don't see anything on if he was Catholic.
    Yeah, I looked briefly too. I can't find much on his personal life. The Quest for Community looks great though. May have to order that soon.
    Whoever criticizes capitalism, while approving immigration, whose working class is its first victim, had better shut up. Whoever criticizes immigration, while remaining silent about capitalism, should do the same.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister D View Post
    Yeah, I looked briefly too. I can't find much on his personal life. The Quest for Community looks great though. May have to order that soon.
    The Church and Robert Nisbet’s Quest for Community

    I recently read Robert Nisbet’s classic work The Quest for Community (1953), a challenging and far-sighted book that attributes much of modernity’s unease to the collapse of the mediating institutions – village, church, and family – that traditionally stood between the individual and the state....

    I was particularly struck by Nisbet’s comments on Protestantism and its tendency to weaken institutional religion. I might not go as far as Nisbet, for it seems to me that strong Protestant churches have had, if anything, a stronger sense of belonging and familial support than many Catholic and Orthodox congregations. Highly liturgical churches can have their own tendencies toward a superficial fellowship based on familiar rituals, but not vital relationships. Nevertheless, Nisbet’s cautions about the weaknesses of modern religion warrant attention:

    The desire for religious freedom can be no greater than the desire for religious order. Lacking a clear sense of religion as a way of life, as an area of articulate membership, of status and collective meaning, man is not likely to to care for long whether he is free or not free in religious pursuits. In any event, despots have never worried about religion that is confined mutely to individual minds. It is religion as community, or rather as a plurality of communities, that has always bestirred the reprisals of rulers engaged in the work of political tyranny.
    ...
    Still nothing on his particular religion.
    Edmund Burke: "In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    The Church and Robert Nisbet’s Quest for Community



    Still nothing on his particular religion.
    This makes me suspect a Catholic perspective.
    Whoever criticizes capitalism, while approving immigration, whose working class is its first victim, had better shut up. Whoever criticizes immigration, while remaining silent about capitalism, should do the same.


    ~Alain de Benoist


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