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Letters by a modern St. Ferdinand III about cults

Gab@StFerdinandIII - https://unstabbinated.substack.com/

Plenty of cults exist - every cult has its 'religious dogma', its idols, its 'prophets', its 'science', its 'proof' and its intolerant liturgy of demands.  Cults everywhere:  Corona, 'The Science' or Scientism, Islam, the State, the cult of Gender Fascism, Marxism, Darwin and Evolution, Globaloneywarming, Changing Climate, Abortion...

Tempus Fugit Memento Mori - Time Flies Remember Death 

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Sunday, May 29, 2022

Edmund Burke, 'A vindication of natural society'. A book still relevant today.

What limits are there to ever expanding government and political despotism he asks?

by StFerdIII

This work by Edmund Burke (1729-1797) gives important insights into the man and his life-long dedication to the principles of freedom, faith and culture.  Written as a young man around the age of 24, with no obvious occupation or future, it is an ironic riposte to  Lord Bolingbroke the leader of the Tory party during the middle third of 18th century, who opposed the Whigs and the first Prime Minister Robert Walpole and his political machinery of corruption and graft.  This work rejects the anti-traditionalist, anti-Christian, small empire and limited view of life espoused by Bolingbroke.  

 

In this, his first book, Burke esteems and supports true religious faith, institutions built on representation, heritage, the culture of medieval England and Europe, and highlights the limitations and unreason of the ‘Age of Reason’, rightly believing that the immaterial, the emotional, the habitual are the real agents which shape civilised life.  Burke writes from the perspective of Bolingbroke using satire (much in vogue in the 18th century) and irony to dispel Bolingbroke’s own belief system.  Many readers then and now do not understand the irony and wit of the work, wrongly believing that Burke is the narrator.  As Burke writes in his preface in 1776, “Do they imagine they shall increase our piety, and our reliance on God, by exploding his providence, and insisting that he is neither just nor good?”

  

Bolingbroke, Jefferson, Paine and the ‘Enlightenment’ viewed themselves as Gods and acted accordingly. 

  

From the book some witticisms and ironic aspersions from Burke who takes the Age of ‘Reason’ and its worship of ‘natural reason’, ‘natural theology’ and ‘natural goodness’ to task are below.  He does this by impugning ancient and modern states, their governments, their constitutions, by pointing out the wars, the dead, the suffering, the slavery of every form of government, including despotism, aristocratic rule and ‘democracy’.  Bolingbroke and his ilk wanted a ‘clean break’ with the past, viewing any social construction pre-1650 as ‘dark’.  Burke with his sardonic, ironic wit, purports to support this view by recounting the horrors of government throughout the ages and calls for the deconstruction of ‘artificial religion’, ‘artificial reason’ and ‘artificial governance’, of the ignorant, ill-formed civilisations of the past.  The only ‘rational’ governance was that of ‘reason’, never defined, but taken by the ‘Enlightenment’ to mean ‘natural reason’ or intelligence possessed by all humans. 

  

God is confused:

 

(Written with irony) He (the Creator) has mixed in his cups a number of natural evils…(religion) It finds out imaginary beings prescribing imaginary terrors to support a belief in the beings, and an obedience to the laws.

  

The miseries derived to mankind from superstition under the name of religion, and of ecclesiastical tyranny under the name of church governments, have been clearly and usefully exposed.

 

 

Virtue is unnatural, necessitating a totalitarian state:

 

A meditation on the conduct of political societies made old Hobbes imagine, that war was the state of nature, and truly, if a man judged of the individuals of our race by their conduct…he might imagine that every sort of virtue was unnatural and foreign to the mind of man.

  

 

Ancient civilisations were uncivilised:

 

The Babylonian, Assyrian, Median and Persian monarchies must have poured out seas of blood in their formation, and in their destruction….(Persia) in its wars against the Greeks and Scythians, threw away at least four millions of its subjects..

 

Greeks….we cannot judge that their intestine divisions, and their foreign wars, consumed less than three millions of their inhabitants…

 

 

 Constitutions lead to war and destruction:

 

From the earliest dawnings policy to this day, the invention of men has been sharpening and improving the mystery of murder…

  

These evils are not accidental.  Whoever will take the pains to consider the nature of society will find that they result directly from its constitution.

 

 

….an aristocracy, and a despotism, differ but in name; and that a people who are in general excluded from any share of the legislative, are, to all intents and purposes, as much slaves…

 

 

(Athens) was the city which banished Themistocles, starved Aristides, forced into exile Militiades, drove out Anaxagora, and poisoned Socrates….

 

 

(In Rome), the same confusion, the same factions, which subsisted at Athens, the same tumults, the same revolutions, and, in fine, the same slavery….

 

 

In Athens there were usually from ten to thirty thousand freemen; this was the utmost.  But the slaves usually amounted to four hundred thousand, and sometimes to a great deal more.

 

 

 Natural religion and natural reason need to be erected:

 

I have defended natural religion against a confederacy of atheists and divines. I now plead for natural society against politicians, and for natural reason against all three.

 

Near the end of his work, Burke offers a counter-point to Bolingbroke, “But a worse and more perplexing difficulty arises how to be defended against the governors?”  A very good question indeed.  In tearing down heritage and tradition, and erecting the Church and Society of ‘Reason’ what set of governance, constitutions, institutions, laws and morality will improve society bereft of past learning and tradition?  Wouldn’t men like Bolingbroke simply become another Walpole or Robespierre?  How then to view the past with its successes and failures, with its beauty and deformity, with its evil and goodness, with its progress and regressions? 

 

Burke saw through the charade of the Age of ‘Reason’ with its demands to burn the past and create a new rational-Utopia.  Such ideals led of course to the carnage of the French and Russian revolutions and the cultural morass, decay and totalitarianism we see in our own modern world right now. 


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