When one studies the history of political philosophy, and philosophy more generally — something left-wingers loath because not only are they incapable of serious reading and logic, it would also expose their lies about where natural reason, natural law, and the politics of reason lay — there are two currents of political thought which align with the left-right divide.
From Aristotle and Cicero, to Burke and Scruton, the politics of conservatism are rooted in natural law, natural right, and natural reason as barriers against the totalitarianism of unrestrained passions. For, as Cicero said in De re publica, the frenzied masses often destroy — in their rage –“admirable systems.” And as Burke said in A Philosophical Enquiry, the frenzied spirits of the “disordered imagination” become “unrestrained by the curb of reason” leading to “despotic governments, which are founded on the passions of men.”
Some argue that Burke only became conservative later in his life, especially after witnessing the terror of the French Revolution. This reading of Burke is made by those who are only familiar with two things about Burke: That he supported the American Revolution and that he didn’t support the French Revolution. However, fuller engagement with Burke’s canon reveals a consistency in his thought.
In A Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful, Burke defends the small, “general society,” and the pleasantries of the beautiful against the totalitarianism of the passionate sublime. From this purview, Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France is the political reflection of his longstanding aesthetic attitudes. In the 1750s, Burke already highlights a penchant for beauty, the small and the particular, all of which are core concepts in conservative political thought going back to even Aristotle and Cicero, whom Burke cites. Even in his satirical essay, a Vindication of Natural Society, Burke bemuses that central planners of artificial political rationalism turn “Reason against itself” and, as such, “increase the follies and miseries of mankind.”
The classical tradition of political philosophy, which conservatives like Burke, Oakeshott, and Scruton all drew and draw from, is contrasted with the modern political tradition which brought rupture with the past. From Rousseau, Lenin, and Foucault, the latter of whom said “the ultimate language of madness is that of reason,” you find the protest against natural reason and natural society in favor of the terror of the passionate and sensual, the same terror of the sublime which Burke argued that civil society was working to curb to allow for the manifestation of beautiful, pleasant, and local lives to be actualized. Today we see the same passion of totalitarianism exhibited by the left but veiled in the language of “reason” and “science” on bumper stickers, yard signs, and television interviews. But then again, the actions of leftists at universities, campus talks, and “punch a Nazi” competitions, shows their true colors….[ ]