Podcast: The 3WHH on Burke—Hero or Goat?

We get letters. And one from a regular listener baited us with the proposition that since FDR’s New Deal—decried here on a recent episode—is now nearly 90 years old, the duty of Burkean conservatives is now to preserve the New Deal rather than pine romantically for the good old days of Calvin Coolidge. To which I responded, well, I guess we should do a seminar-style episode about Edmund Burke, the putative founder of modern conservatism.

And guess what “Lucretia” thinks of Burke? “Not much” would be an understatement. But I think there’s a lot of commendable things to Burke, and that he’s worth reading. The ensuing argument bids to turn this episode into the “Three Whisky Grumpy Hour,” as it maps neatly on the long-running divide between peaty and sweet single malt whiskies. My view is that Burke (an Irishman by birth) is a very peaty political thinker. And that’s just his problem!, Lucretia retorts.

If this had been an actual fight in the ring, the referee might have stopped the fight after about the fifth round. (It is very tempting to print up bumper stickers that read, “Let’s Get Metaphysical”—Sir Isaac Newton-John.) Lucretia isn’t buying my contention that Burke was sound on natural law, and that my view that practical wisdom (or the prudence of the statesman) is superior to theoretical wisdom didn’t pass Lucretia’s exacting standards, despite a cleverly-planned ambush early in the episode. (Here’s the ambush: “If the highest things are unknowable, then the highest capacity or virtue of man cannot be theoretical wisdom.” Sounds like Burke, no? In fact, the author of that statement was . . . Harry Jaffa!)

But I get my revenge at the every end, by selecting exit music certain to make Lucretia mad—a contemporary “progressive” rock tune with a Burkean message. It can hardly get any worse than that!

(And yes—our all caps headline format could be thought ambiguous: Is Burke a hero or in fact the GOAT? Heh. I doubt Lucretia will let me get away with this.)

Now, a Burkean will listen here, but a corrupt Hegelian progressive might wander over to our hosts at Ricochet.

Responses