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A Timely Statement

June 15, 2022

The Edmund Burke Foundation, an organization funded by a foreign government, has issued a definition or statement about “Conservatism” that has value in contrast with the “Progressive” domination of American culture, religion, society and politics.

When something of that sort is formulated one may ask if what they affirm is not merely socially ineffective but is–perhaps—dead.

Is this something called here “Conservatism” an “ism, and, if not, to what category of intellect does it “belong”? Is it an “ideology”? Or is it a philosophy of government or, perhaps, just a political theory? According to the signatories of this statement whatever “Conservatism” is “Conservatism” belongs to “nations” and their national identity.

That subject was raised in the Summer 2007, Volume 49, issue of Modern Age in which I contributed an essay based on Robert Nisbet’s The Quest for Community.

 I argued that there is no universal “Conservatism” because what we call “Conservative” is an attitude, not an Ideology. My 2005 study which I called The Conservative Rebellion[1] examines why we should recognize that what we conservatives affirm is a common attitude of “rebellion” that shaped us from 1776 to the present day.

Still why this statement and why now?

Half a century ago three influential persons gave intellectual expression to ideas that we call “Conservative.” Journalist William F. Buckley, Jr., historian of ideas Russell Kirk and economist F. A. Hayek.

These three countered the growth of government and law that has shaped the administrative state in our day. That growth in government, they demonstrated, is intellectually deficient and threatens the freedom of American citizens.

Whether today there is sufficient strength of “conservative” ideas and will to preserve American freedoms is the great challenge of what the Edmund Burke Foundation calls “Conservatism.”


[1] https://www.staugustine.net/our-books/books/the-conservative-rebellion/

Self-government versus Authoritarian Rule

June 13, 2022

The Constitution of the United States, ratified in 1789, was designed like a well-designed machine divided into three moving parts with checks and balances that no autocrat could control.

The Framers of that Constitution did fear that “factions” would develop that were fertile ground for power hungry politicians to advance their private advantage, but they expected that our written Constitution would constrain the American chief executive.

The real danger, they thought, lurked in our State Assemblies or the Congress of elected Representatives and Senators whose private interests and tendencies stretched the limits of the Constitution.

In other words, the Framers did not anticipate an elected leader like Donald Trump who would engage in an insurrection such as was attempted on January 6.

That possible danger was a consequence of the Framers’ mechanistic concept of “checks and balances” that ignored that government is not a machine.

Government is a culture of self-government and its attempted cessation on January 6–to assure personal survival of the chief executive by incitement of an insurrection–was the first time that a Chief Executive attempted to replace the rule of self-government with authoritarian rule.

Reform at CNN

June 6, 2022

According to the NYTimes for June 5, “Chris Licht, the new CNN chairman, is encouraging a more nuanced approach to coverage. Some at the network are skeptical.”

They ought to be, Jeff Zucker whom Licht replaces was ideologically driven. There is no evidence that Licht is driven by ideas of any sort.

But he should be concerned by CNN’s loss of income and CNN’s advertising intensive news product that consisted of 4 minutes of advertising after each news segment.

 So inordinately intensive was CNN advertising that I readied my remote control to mute CNN each time advertising ensued. I would close my eyes, nap and unmute in time to learn what was happening in Ukraine or other parts of the world important enough for me to awaken at 4 AM.

I learned that Isa Soares spoke in a dialect I could not understand and longed for clear English voices at CNN’s London bureau. I even wrote to John Malone at Liberty Media, part owner of CNN, because he too understood that something was terribly wrong at CNN.

April 28, 2022

Dear Mr. Malone:

I send best wishes for your “reform” efforts for CNN.

This morning CNN was “off air” for about five minutes.  When streaming resumed, Ilsa Soares continued to speak with elongated vowels making it difficult to understand her: “water” is pronounced “watta.”

Sincerely yours,

Richard J. Bishirjian, Ph.D.

A Coming Civil War

June 6, 2022

American politics has a “Woke” District Attorney (DA) problem. Our law schools teach “procedures” of law and only on the periphery tackle the philosophy of law.

The insights and discoveries of the great philosophers of political theory are vital to political order, but you can’t make a buck learning what they taught.

As a consequence, many of our attorneys at law are ignorant of the teaching of the “Greats” and yet their law diplomas qualify them to seek election as “DAs.” For that reason the DA in Los Angeles, George Gascon and the DA in San Francisco, Chesa Boudin, and the DA in New York, Alvin Bragg, are representative of “a problem” identified by signatories to this statement titled “Liberty and Justice for All.

One statistic—the decrease in numbers of attorneys elected to Congress and the rise in the numbers of health professionals elected to Congress—suggests that the common sense of the American people is a still vital source to be reckoned with.

My fear, however,  is that if “Wokeism” dominates American culture, the idea expressed by Shakespeare in Henry VI,” Part II, act IV, Scene II, Line 73will be acted upon and lead to civil war. That is the subject of this essay, a podcast on civil unrest with the late Angelo Codevilla and Christopher Manion and my Rise and Fall of the American Empire in press at En Route Books.