Speaking of Edmund Burke

Reading Edmund Burke’s writings on the French Revolution as a college freshman helped open my mind and turn me into a conservative. Steve’s American Mind column on Burke is brilliant, but you have to have read Burke. The French Revolution was of course Burke’s great subject, yet just about everything he wrote is worth reading, if only to learn from his high style.

Burke’s great subject also comes to mind (my mind, anyway) in connection with the recent interview conducted by David Samuels with Edward Luttwak for Tablet. The interview is posted under the heading “Three blind kings.” Toward the end of the interview the format breaks down and has both Samuels’s questions in bold print as well as Luttwak answers — at the place where Samuels turns to “the third weak kingdom, the United States.” Luttwak responds:

When I look at the United States from the outside, as an America-loving outsider, I see a country in the throes of one of those periodic implosions that are not entirely legible to non-Americans. You have manias about race. Manias about gender identity. You have the willful disaggregation of universities and other institutions under the banner of wokeness, which is a doctrine of blind obedience to a party line established by people who are 95% illiterate and can’t remember what they decreed last week. Policy is a product of hardened dogma, and therefore inevitably fails. Gas prices are crazy. Nearly 50% of children in urban school systems have basically just stopped going to school.

And you have a so-called elite that spits hysterical contempt for the people in whose name they ostensibly rule, denouncing them as a pack of racist, sexist, white supremacist, transphobic, gun-toting disease-spreaders who will hopefully soon die out and be replaced by a more obedient class of servants. I guess it’s not surprising that the American aristocracy is pretty much the worst aristocracy on Earth—bad manners, bad taste, bad art, hostile to religion and the popular arts. Their concept of largesse is to establish a foundation to combat climate change by instructing the yokels not to eat meat. The last aristocracy that showed this kind of contempt for its own people and popular folkways was the French in the days of Marie Antoinette.

The whole thing here is worth reading

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