I’m continuing my reporting on the next installment from Conservative Estimate, the recently founded website that is devoted to demolishing Conservatism.
On Friday, Alfred George began to examine the Myth of Tradition, the belief that Tradition is the repository of wisdom gleaned from the past and the cornerstone of stability in society. He showed that Tradition cannot be a fundamental value of democratic society, because it is wrong to consider Tradition to be nothing but a treasury of “what works” gleaned from all of human history.
Today he discusses the fact that Tradition is also the repository of stupidity, injustice, and inhumanity.
Our account is found after the orange double-dutch.
Mr. George begins by pointing out that any unbiased look at Tradition must conclude that it contains lots of foolishness. All sorts of ancient resentments, outmoded advice, and plain nastiness has found its way into Tradition.
He give one example that makes the entire point: slavery.
Take, for example, the millennia-long tradition of slavery. It certainly was a tradition, handed down from time immemorial. And it certainly “worked.” Most of civilization was built on the backs of slaves, going back as far a history records.Because Tradition holds much that is insupportable, it cannot be used to justify any particular belief.
But it had to be eliminated, regardless of the circumstances in which is was practiced, because it was fundamentally unjust. No human being ever deserved to be enslaved, even though millions of them lived and perished as the property of others. Justice trumps Tradition.
[T]here are ennobling, aspirational, and life-affirming traditions. But there are also debasing, soul-crushing, and life-negating traditions.You can read the whole post here.
And because of that, the mere identification of some particular belief as a tradition says nothing whatsoever about whether that belief ought to be respected or rejected.
Thus, “conservatives” who try to justify their beliefs by linking them to Tradition are not demonstrating anything about the acceptability of their beliefs. What they really need to do is show that their belief is just, beneficial, and inspired by good will. Tradition cannot justify a belief.
Tomorrow, Mr. George will show to what extent Tradition should be respected.
I’ll be reporting back each day as a new installment appears.