quinta-feira, 18 de novembro de 2004

Edmund Burke...


Nota: "Natural Society" tal como "Natural Order", são termos usados correntemente por aqueles que acreditam que o último dos fins políticos, como dizia Lord Acton é a liberdade - o que só pode ser conferida na sua totalidade quando os nossos direitos naturais (livre contrato e direito de propriedade) são respeitados em pleno - e esse "pleno" é incompatível com qualquer estrutura de poder político (o que não significa que existam sistemas menos incompatíveis que outros) que detenha o poder monopolístico e unilateral sobre a definição de lei e o exercício da coerção (definição de Estado) - no fim, a sociedade deve reger-se exclusivamente por relações de propriedade e contrato (e existem muitas formas colectivas que o respeitam, como as empresas, associações e condomínios, etc) - e é um contrasenso afirmar que a única forma dos nossos direitos naturais ("rule of law") serem respeitados é submetermo-nos a uma estrutura cuja legitimidade não é contratual nem voluntária. Este é o "insight" do termo" natural society" ou "natural order", a sua consequência não é de indole revolucionária nem utópica (não promete nem felicidade nem pão), apenas nos guia como um fim (para quem o aceitar) na nossa reflexão e análise.

De referir ainda que muitos dos que usam o termo "natural order", vêm muitas qualidades, tal como Burke o via, no melhor da tradição monárquica e na realidade europeia pré-grande guerra (Rothbard falava da "the much civilized world", e inda ao anterior nascimento do capitalismo nas cidades comerciais da itália, da Hasneatic League, numa ordem social descentralizada e estável). A repulsa pelo pior da revolução francesa é também comum a Edmund Burke- na verdade, estes autores (como Hoppe), falam do resultado catastrófico da Grande Guerra como o culminar do que Napoleão e o Jacobinismo quis: o fim das monarquias e o nascimento de uma nova ordem - o Estado Moderno.

1) "A Note on Burke’s Vindication of Natural Society"

Published in the Journal of the History of Ideas, 19, 1 (January 1958), pp. 114-118. Murray N. Rothbard

In 1756 Edmund Burke published his first work: Vindication of Natural Society. Curiously enough it has been almost completely ignored in the current Burke revival. This work contrasts sharply with Burke’s other writings, for it is hardly in keeping with the current image of the Father of the New Conservatism. A less conservative work could hardly be imagined; in fact, Burke’s Vindication was perhaps the first modern expression of rationalistic and individualistic anarchism.(...)

An Embarrassing Work for Conservatives

The Vindication was published anonymously when Burke was 27 years old. Nine years later, after his authorship had been discovered, Burke found himself about to embark on his famous Parliamentary career. To admit that he had seriously held such views in earlier years would have been politically disastrous. His only way out was to brush it off as a satire, thereby vindicating himself as an eternal enemy of rationalism and subversion.

Burke begins the Vindication by establishing the aim of his inquiry: to investigate with the light of truth the general nature of political institutions or "political society." He rejects at the outset the typically conservative reluctance to tamper with prevalent beliefs and ancient traditions.

He upholds that noble tenet of eighteenth-century rationalism: that happiness, in the long run, rests on truth and truth alone. And that truth is the natural law of human activity and human relations. Positive law imposed by the State injures man whenever it strays from the path that we know to be the law of man’s nature. How is the natural law to be discovered? Not by Revelation, but by the use of man’s reason.

'All Empires Are Cemented in Blood'

It is characteristic of Burke that he develops his examination of the State through historical inquiry. First, there are the external relations among States. He finds the typical relation is war. War is practically the only external face of the State; and Burke points out that Machiavelli’s emphasis on war for the study of his Prince applies to all forms of States and not just to monarchies. Burke, in obvious disgust, goes on to chronicle some of the notable "butcheries" in which States have indulged. "All empires have been cemented in blood" and in mutual attempts at destruction. And Burke wittily deduces that Hobbes’ appalling view of mankind in the state of nature was derived, not from Hobbes’ observations of ordinary human action, but from his study of the actions of men when banded together into states. (...)

States Violate the Law of Nature

(...) Burke proceeds to a discussion of the famous Aristotelian types of government: despotism, aristocracy, democracy. Each is taken up, examined, and found wanting. Despotism is obviously evil; but aristocracy is not better. In fact, an aristocracy is apt to be worse, since its rule is more permanent and does not depend on the whims of one man.

And what of democracy? Here Burke draws on his store of knowledge of ancient Greece. Democracy is not only tyrannical, but bound to succumb to hatred of superior individuals. The rule of the people tends to be warlike and despotic, and to make heavy use of taxes and subsidies.

(...) Again and again, he emphatically denounces any and all government, and not just specific, forms of government. Summing up his views on government, he declares:

"The several species of government vie with each other in the absurdity of their constitutions, and the oppression which they make their subjects endure. Take them under what form you please, they are in effect but a despotism .... ~

Parties in religion and politics make sufficient discoveries concerning each other, to give a sober man proper caution against them all. The monarchist, and aristocratical, and popular partisans have been jointly laying their axes to the root of all government, and have in their turns proved each other absurd and inconvenient. In vain you tell me that artificial government is good, but that I fall out only with the abuse. The thing! The thing itself is the abuse!

Was Burke a Private-Property Anarchist?

The anarchism of Burke’s Vindication is negative, rather than positive. It consists of an attack on the State rather than a positive blueprint of the type of society which Burke would regard as ideal.(...)On balance, it would be fair, though inconclusive, to place the Vindication in the individualist camp, since there is no sign of enmity to private property as such in this work. (...)"

Rothbard and Burke vs. the Cold War Burkeans, Joseph R. Stromberg

" (...)this essay, Rothbard argued that the Vindication, Burke’s first important publication, was a serious and rationalistic analysis of the evils of "artificial society" – that is, political government – and was thus perhaps the first statement of modern anarchism. It was an anarchism that grew naturally out of 18th-century liberalism with its commitment to natural rights and natural law. The Vindication was so radical that the young Burke published it anonymously. (...)

If the Vindication was merely a reductio ad absurdum of Bolingbroke’s arguments for deism, Rothbard wanted to see a few of the supposed absurda. Burke’s text seemed entirely straightforward (non-ironic) with regard to lawyers and Weston maintained that, there, some of Burke’s real views leaked out. In those passages the "satire" was not fully sustained.

Rothbard found "this singularly unconvincing, especially when we consider that distrust of lawyers and their alleged vested interest in tyranny, was part-and-parcel of the very libertarian tradition of the eighteenth century that Burke is said to be satirizing."

There are many such "leakages" in conventional readings of the book. At some point in his research, Rothbard acquired a copy of Joseph Cressman’s dissertation, which was dedicated to sustaining the satire theory.

Rothbard’s extensive underlining and marginal comments flag every case where Cressman discussed passages that clashed with the satire theory. Once again, Burke’s "real views" were spotted bubbling up through the sham-Bolingbrokeanism. Cressman was especially sure of this in passages where Burke spoke of the plight of the poor. He may well be right – but how many cases of Burke’s real views can there be before the whole satire business topples over? Rothbard saw all such weaknesses as evidence for his own reading.

In volume three of his
Conceived in Liberty, Rothbard zeroed in on Burke’s appreciation for Americans’ near-anarchist state of freedom, as revealed in his famous Speech on Conciliation with the Colonies.

Writes Rothbard: "Burke saluted American achievements and economic development" and "harked back to the crucial distinction he had made in his first work, A Vindication of Natural Society (1756), between the benefits of natural voluntary actions in society (‘natural government’), and the mischievous effects of the coercive intervention of the state (‘artificial government’)."

Further: "Burke hailed the ‘fierce spirit of liberty’ that had grown up among the Americans" and "saw with acute perception the radically new nature of what the Americans had recently been doing.

And here is what Rothbard quotes from Burke himself:

"We thought, Sir, that the utmost which the discontented colonists would do, was to disturb authority; we never dreamt they could of themselves supply it."

As for conditions in Massachusetts, Burke said:

"we were confident that the first feeling, if not the very prospect of anarchy, would instantly enforce a complete submission. The experiment was tried. A new, strange, unexpected face of things appeared. Anarchy is now found tolerable. A vast province has now subsisted, and subsisted in a considerable degree of health and vigor, for near a twelvemonth, without governor, without public council, without judges, without executive magistrates."

(...) But even in the 1780s, in his speeches impeaching Warren Hastings for abuses committed in India (and modeled on Cicero’s impeachment of Verres), the prescriptive, expedient Burke could still say things of this sort:

"The rights of men – that is to say, the natural rights of mankind – are indeed sacred things; and if any public measure is proved mischievously to affect them, the objection ought to be fatal to that measure, even if no charter at all could be set up against it.... Indeed... formal recognition, by the sovereign power, of an original right in the subject, can never be subverted, but by rooting up the holding radical principles of government, and even of society itself."
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