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Frank1
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More on the Abbeville Institute, for TL
Oct 9th, 2017 at 10:44am
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So on posting about the Abbeville Institute, TL said he thought they might be like a libertarian site he used to visit.  I would like to point out how they are not like libertarians, or other ideologues.

The folks at Abbeville are every bit traditional conservatives. 

What does this mean?  It means that, for them habit and tradition come before ideology.  Ideas have their purposes, but traditional conservatives in the end must defend real, concrete habits/ways of life.

Wendell Berry fits perfectly into this tradition.  If you read Berry you will quickly see he is not an ideologue (which is perhaps the main reason so many in our ideological society have trouble classifying Berry as he doesn't fit our ideological frameworks).

Berry very specifically lays out the advantages of very specific ways of living and the disadvantages of others.  He does not quote ideologues, he does not get into abstractions over natural rights, or whatever.  He lays out concrete examples of the advantages of rural societies and concrete disadvantages of industrial ones.

The only real ideology behind Berry is Christianity, and the great writers of the English literary tradition, Milton, Shakespeare, Spencer, etc.

The folks at Abbeville are the same way.  Carey Roberts, whose lectures I have most listened to so far, gently pokes fun at ideological conservatives throughout.  For example, he says 50 years ago American conservatives, when asked what they wanted to conserve, might still give you real tangible things, whereas nowadays you ask conservatives what they want to defend and they give abstract, often vacuous answers, like "freedom," "natural rights," "capitalism," etc.

These people are very much about defending a particular place and its traditional values: the American South.  Is the American South perfect?  Absolutely not.  But is there much good in its traditions of community, agrarianism, piety, military valor, etc.?

Yes.

There intro quotes one Harry Genovese, a man who was a leftist for most of his life and wrote about American slavery.  In his last two decades Genovese became a traditionalist, and spoke at a Harvard speech of a "southern cultural genocide" that robbed both Southern blacks and whites.  He said, shorn of commitments to racism, there was much good that the Southern tradition could provide.

So, are the men at Abbeville like libertarians, or other ideologues left and right?  No.  They are every bit traditional conservatives.

Personally, I am extremely glad I found them.  I think I will become a donor.  Any light we can fan in our exceedingly dark times we should fan.
« Last Edit: Oct 9th, 2017 at 10:56am by Frank1 »  


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TowardLiberty
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Re: More on the Abbeville Institute, for TL
Reply #1 - Oct 9th, 2017 at 12:00pm
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When I said they reminded me of the Mises inst, I was referring to their southern culture rather than their politics. As you say, they are not libertarians.

  

"Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist." J M Keynes

"In the first place, the dichotomy between "theoretical" and "practical" is a false one. In economics, all arguments are theoretical. And, since economics discusses the real world, these theoretical arguments are by their nature "practical" ones as well." M Rothbard
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Re: More on the Abbeville Institute, for TL
Reply #2 - Oct 9th, 2017 at 4:13pm
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TowardLiberty wrote on Oct 9th, 2017 at 12:00pm:
When I said they reminded me of the Mises inst, I was referring to their southern culture rather than their politics. As you say, they are not libertarians.



Ok   Smiley
  


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Re: More on the Abbeville Institute, for TL
Reply #3 - Oct 9th, 2017 at 6:49pm
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Frank1 wrote on Oct 9th, 2017 at 4:13pm:
Ok   Smiley

Yeah sorry about the short response. I found myself spread too thin across too many threads this morning.

One thing I have a question on is the concept of ideologue.

You say Berry is not one but yet he certainly has a specific set of ideas in mind, right? How is it not ideological? Just because it lacks a foundation in abstraction?

Is it organicist? Or put in other words dialectical?

If so, isn't that still a form of ideology?
  

"Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist." J M Keynes

"In the first place, the dichotomy between "theoretical" and "practical" is a false one. In economics, all arguments are theoretical. And, since economics discusses the real world, these theoretical arguments are by their nature "practical" ones as well." M Rothbard
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Re: More on the Abbeville Institute, for TL
Reply #4 - Oct 9th, 2017 at 6:59pm
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TowardLiberty wrote on Oct 9th, 2017 at 6:49pm:
Yeah sorry about the short response. I found myself spread too thin across too many threads this morning.

One thing I have a question on is the concept of ideologue.

You say Berry is not one but yet he certainly has a specific set of ideas in mind, right? How is it not ideological? Just because it lacks a foundation in abstraction?

Is it organicist? Or put in other words dialectical?

If so, isn't that still a form of ideology?


Well, when you promote or debate something, then inevitably ideas come into play.

But, Berry's ideas are always directly related to concrete realities.

For example, he doesn't support agrarianism from a merely abstract viewpoint.  He lays out concrete examples of the benefits of agrarianism and the downsides of industrialism.  He doesn't support agrarianism because it fits some theory.

Furthermore, he lives what he preaches.  He lives as a traditional farmer off the grid.  The man doesn't even have a computer.
  


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Re: More on the Abbeville Institute, for TL
Reply #5 - Oct 9th, 2017 at 8:10pm
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Maybe I should say, ideology is a rational attempt to account for all of existence, or at least all of human existence (like Marxism).

An ideology does not have to have any links to things either unrational or in some measure beyond rationality, such as traditions, religion, etc.

So, if you are in favor of some rational system to account for all of human social order, than you are an ideologue.
  


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Re: More on the Abbeville Institute, for TL
Reply #6 - Oct 9th, 2017 at 9:16pm
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Frank1 wrote on Oct 9th, 2017 at 6:59pm:
Well, when you promote or debate something, then inevitably ideas come into play.

But, Berry's ideas are always directly related to concrete realities.

For example, he doesn't support agrarianism from a merely abstract viewpoint.  He lays out concrete examples of the benefits of agrarianism and the downsides of industrialism.  He doesn't support agrarianism because it fits some theory.


I see what you are saying but it strikes me as reflecting an implied bias. For I would argue that all ideologies can ground their abstractions in concrete examples of reality.

And if he ties costs and benefits to systems of societal organization, then there is a theory at work there. It's a very particular theory with an implicit value scale. Just like any other.

Quote:
Furthermore, he lives what he preaches.  He lives as a traditional farmer off the grid.  The man doesn't even have a computer.

That's commendable. Consistency and integrity are rare things.
  

"Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist." J M Keynes

"In the first place, the dichotomy between "theoretical" and "practical" is a false one. In economics, all arguments are theoretical. And, since economics discusses the real world, these theoretical arguments are by their nature "practical" ones as well." M Rothbard
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Re: More on the Abbeville Institute, for TL
Reply #7 - Oct 9th, 2017 at 9:36pm
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TowardLiberty wrote on Oct 9th, 2017 at 9:16pm:
I see what you are saying but it strikes me as reflecting an implied bias. For I would argue that all ideologies can ground their abstractions in concrete examples of reality.

And if he ties costs and benefits to systems of societal organization, then there is a theory at work there. It's a very particular theory with an implicit value scale. Just like any other.

That's commendable. Consistency and integrity are rare things.


Well, lets take something like Marxism.

Marx was postulating an ideal society than never existed and of course has not existed since he wrote either.

Berry is not building some ideal society in his head, but argues for the benefits of real social and economic forms that have existed for millennia.
  


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