QOT What the heck is with these things anyway?

The quotes are meant to illustrate certain ideas, observations, and even emotions which are part and parcel to Conservatism.

Let’s look at the most recent example (just below).  Carlyle’s wonderful book on the French Revolution has one great theme; the world we live in, this civilized world of ours, is a very thin shell enclosing all the unholy terrors which man has ever devised.  Man freed of the fetters of “society” or Civilization is not the noble savage of Rousseau, he is merely savage.  This sense of the contingency of this civilized world, it’s very palpable fragility, is one of the things which informs the Conservative heart and mind.

Carlyle was horrified by what he learned of Revolutionary France.  Not just the literal tanning of human hides, but the simple disintegration of sensibility.  When one thinks of efficient evil, one is immediately drawn to tales of Hitler’s Third Reich where the machinery of the modern world was turned to the task of human extermination.  But the French beat him to it by a hundred and fifty years.  They would tie people to barges and then sink the barges, allowing them to kill many people at once.  The guillotine was invented to be a more merciful form of execution, but it was adopted because the executioner could work more quickly and for longer periods of time.  Rationalism freed from civilized morals does not protect us from our inner demons, quite often it amplifies them.

Understanding that what we call Civilization is very valuable, and very fragile is one of the core tenets of Conservatism, and that is what Carlyle’s quote is meant to illuminate.

The other quotes highlight other aspects, and I hope to add to them as time goes on.  And that is what the heck is with these things.

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