Terrestrial Hell and Zealotry?: HereFriday, August 16, 2002
Terrestrial Hell and Zealotry?: Here is Russell Kirk’s famous essay on ideology.
Essentially, it is a great essay that I love to hate. Kirk’s thoughts are that ideology is a vice or a series of “terrestrial hells.” Ideology, he says, is evil because it makes political compromise impossible, and therefore, we put the State in a position of no-win, which prevents the State from performing in its essential capacities. [sob, sob] The conservatives have always denied economic law and systematic thought. After all, political compromise to statism in the cause of propping up one’s special interests is a specialty of the Left, as well as the New Right, neocons, conservatives, etc. And Kirk was no hater of ultimate statism, as none of the conservatives are. Political parties, then, are merely tools of plunder. It’s a “let me beat you to the plundering”, and, if need be, the parties compromise with one another to share in the plunder and the power.
Kirk advocates prudence over ideology. He takes the excellent Aristotelian-Burkean position on prudence, and manifests that as the only antidote to the ideologues’ revolutions, extremism, or factionalism. In essence, his views on this are an advocacy of retaining the current order in spite of its inherent corruptness. Interestingly, Kirk says it’s ideology that necessarily leads to corrupt power, though he fails to support this. He can only point to Hitlerian and Stalinist ideology, however, he fails to mention the ideology, extremism, and factionalism that won Christians freedom from Muslim terrorism, and got Americans out from underneath King George.