"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Wednesday, February 05, 2003 'A lasting vision of human society'
Statue of Edmund Burke, Trinity College, Dublin. "His preferred vision of society was not as a contract, in fact, but as a trust, with the living members as trustees of an inheritance that they must strive to enhance and pass on."
An ode to Burke crowns this magnificent piece, in which Roger Scruton describes his journey to conservatism via the Foucaultian ramparts of Paris '68. The close is a moving account of the dissenters the author befriended in Communist Prague in its last decade behind the Iron Curtain. Do read the whole thing. Too many good excerpts to run all I'd like. But note this one:
Although society can be seen as a contract, he argued, we must recognize that most parties to the contract are either dead or not yet born. The effect of the contemporary Rousseauist ideas of social contract was to place the present members of society in a position of dictatorial dominance over those who went before and those who came after them. Hence these ideas led directly to the massive squandering of inherited resources at the Revolution, and to the cultural and ecological vandalism that Burke was perhaps the first to recognize as the principal danger of modern politics. In Burke’s eyes the self-righteous contempt for ancestors which characterized the Revolutionaries was also a disinheriting of the unborn. Rightly understood, he argued, society is a partnership among the dead, the living, and the unborn, and without what he called the “hereditary principle,” according to which rights could be inherited as well as acquired, both the dead and the unborn would be disenfranchized. Indeed, respect for the dead was, in Burke’s view, the only real safeguard that the unborn could obtain, in a world that gave all its privileges to the living. His preferred vision of society was not as a contract, in fact, but as a trust, with the living members as trustees of an inheritance that they must strive to enhance and pass on. (Via Verus Ratio)
Now read this moving piece that ran a few years back in the Boston Globe Magazine, "Of Memory and Hope," on the Decoration Day tradition of one small Vermont town. The scene described is similar to one I witnessed in Sherborn, Mass., this past Memorial Day: Children parading down Washington Street to the cemetery of this New England town, gathering among Civil War graves for speeches and patriotic songs and a blessing, and remembering, on this occasion, fire- and policemen lost the September before. America the Beautiful.