"There are only two ways of telling the complete truth—anonymously and posthumously."Thomas Sowell

Monday, August 31, 2015

The only enduring freedom is embodied freedom

"The only freedom which can last is a freedom embodied somewhere, rooted in a history, located in space, sanctioned by a genealogy, and blessed by a religious establishment.  The only equality which abstract rights, insisted upon outside the context of politics, are likely to provide is the equality of universal slavery. It is a lesson which Western man is only now beginning to learn. And at great cost."

- M.E. Bradford, A Better Guide Than Reason:  Federalists & Anti-Federalists (Transaction Publishers:  1994), pg. xviii.


Tom Van Dyke said...

FTR, A Better Guide Than Reason was published in 1979; Bradford died in 1994.


“A Teaching for Republicans: Roman History and the Nation’s First Identity” (in A Better Guide Than Reason) epitomizes Bradford’s “teaching” on the Revolution. His close reading of Roman history and the writings of America’s founding fathers reveals the Roman roots of American political order. With compelling illustrations, Bradford shows that George Washington, Patrick Henry, John Dickinson, John Adams, and others turned to Rome for a model of republican government. Like the Romans, they were committed to “blood, place, and history,” to custom, to “prescribed rights and ordinances,” not to a priori political formulas or to teleological, ameliorative visions of a blessed city on the hill. Like America’s founding fathers, Bradford himself urged Americans to turn to the “laboratory of antiquity” and “the lamp of experience” for political guidance, not to an energetic, progressive government charmed by abstract doctrines and theories concerning liberty, egalitarianism, and natural rights."

Mark DeForrest said...

Thanks, Tom. The version of the book I am quoting from was published in 1994 by Transaction. Bradford was a giant of a scholar, and it is a shame that he wasn't treated with more respect in the latter part of his career. And he died young. Bradford isn't without his limitations, like many southern writers he tended to overlook the problems of the south and he had an overly negative view of Lincoln (although he was moderating that view thanks to the influence of another conservative giant who died in 1994, Russell Kirk).

Come to think of it, 1994 was a very bad year for conservative intellectuals: Bradford, Kirk and Lasch (a left-conservative) all died that year.