Saturday, April 24, 2010

John Lukacs discusses conservatism, ideology and progress with Bill Moyers

The conservative is the "opposite of an ideologue." He is "profoundly aware" of human sinfulness, including among his own country and people, historian John Lukacs says in this interview:


"Patriotism is essentially defensive. Nationalism is aggressive. And our conservatives are nationalists, not patriots."

A reactionary is "somebody who thinks the clock has to be put back sometimes."

"American conservatism is now more enamoured with progress, and technical progress, than liberals and progressives were two generations ago."

"What the world needs is not growth, but stability."

Regarding President Nixon's comment that the USA is #1, Lukacs warns:

"When somebody has to say he's number one, it means he is not sure of himself."

"It is much more difficult to recover prestige than it is to recover power."

He suggests the modern idea of Progress is about improving the world according to our desires, and not about improving our desires to better accommodate human limitation and frailty.

His view that progressivism is a product of determinism appears counter-intuitive. How can a movement so devoted to the self-realization of human will possibly adhere to a philosophy subjects the will to forces beyond its control?

But some progressivisms put forward a certain type of human will, a will that is (or should be) unbound by "artificial" traditional institutions precisely because it is pre-formed and pre-determined.

For the progressive, this kind of human will is the authentic one. It should not and cannot be reformed, and therefore the world must be instead.

1 comment:

Kilroy said...

You have my gratitude for posting this. Your blog entry has strongly inclined me to pursue Lucacs' work - I will be on the lookout for his books in the future.