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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Declaration of Principles

(Since the subject has been tradition lately, please permit a recap of the tradition of this particular URL:

The original Reform Club, (pictured on the sidebar to the right) was conceived as a place where worthy gentlepersons of all persuasions could convene in the spirit of inquiry into the human condition, and exchange their views before a wider audience, for the benefit and edification of all.

This blog,, is the successor to that tradition and to The Reform Club blog, founded by ST Karnick and Hunter Baker (see links to them on the sidebar at right as well).

A reposting of the below was requested by a certain Dr. Watson, and the request is timely. Here it is with minor updating:

(L to R) George Bernard Shaw, Hilaire Belloc, GK Chesterton, 1928.

It will not do to paper over the fundamentals.

Every society reaches a point where it must examine its principles and choose whether to recommit to them or toss 'em out for new ones. Although it gets clearer every day that Western Civilization has reached that point, the question of the Crisis of the West was brought into exquisite focus nearly 100 years ago by a group of British gentlemen who called themselves The Reform Club.

Orthodoxy or modernity? That's the tension lying behind almost every issue of our times, and to recognize that is the first step to understanding not only our times, but our society, our own lives, and the human condition.

Current events are a logical starting point, because we share some commonality with the particulars. But to seek genuine understanding, they must only be our starting point. To duplicate the babble (perhaps the most deeply rooted etymology in the English language: the Tower of Babel, where no one is intelligible to the other) that passes for intelligent discussion elsewhere and everywhere is insufficient to the purpose of this blog, which like that club of visionaries in the past century is dedicated to the search for foundational, not ephemeral, truths.

In 1928, the orthodox GK Chesterton debated his existential enemy, the modernist George Bernard Shaw (with Catholic radical Hilaire Belloc as moderator), on how a society should order itself economically. The transcript can be found here, and reading it is good for the soul.

The discussion was playfully and wisely entitled "Do We Agree?" To understand what they were after, presenting unique and foundational views peppered with not a little bit of wit, is to understand our aspirations for this blog.

To parrot the prevailing arguments from elsewhere serves no purpose: it's a waste of time and cyberink. We must do our homework on what's already been said elsewhere---especially on the side opposite our own---commencing with an understanding of Square One so we can move together toward Square Two.

Square Two (in the least) is our goal, if this blog is to be more than a pale copy of the rest of the internet. Quality over quantity, inquiry over debate, original voices over echo chambers.

This blog recommits itself to its principles, and that is non-negotiable. We will not and cannot gear ourselves to the lowest common denominator. It's for others to preach to the masses: Like the original Reform Club, we shall preach to those who themselves preach to the masses---to arm them not so much with answers, but with the proper fundamental questions that must be asked again and again.

The rest of our principles we shall leave open to examination, as honest inquirers and seekers of truth are honor-bound to do. We leave the doors of our modest club open to those of like mind and spirit, and rely on them to help us preserve what we are, and to help us toward what we aspire to be.

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