Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Of course, when we think of change, we often think of the social and political context in which change is made. We tend to think of conservatives as being opposed to change, with reactionaries being conservatives who are not only opposed to change but who want to undo recent changes and bring back the "good old days". On the other hand, liberals are supposedly all in favor of "progress", i. e. change that gets us to the utopian society that they promise in their political platforms. Radicals are liberals that are willing to use force, even violence, to bring about the changes that they desire. Those are, of course, the textbook definitions of those terms.
When looked at very closely, however, we find that almost every political platform is ultimately a platform opposing change. A radical unionist doesn’t really want to change everything in society, in fact, what the radical unionist most often wants is to use force, or even violence, to protect his job. He is, in fact, willing to force everyone else in society to change so he won’t have to. Likewise, the liberal that supposedly wants progress, really generally wants a guaranteed life so that he, and his supporters, will not be challenged and so that, no matter how much society may be changed, no personal change will be required on their part. The conservative in today’s society generally favors the status quo--why?, so he (or she) won’t have to change. It is this constant desire to oppose change in some way that characterizes most political movements.
The exception is the American revolution. Edmund Burke said of it that it was not a revolution at all but a revolution prevented. It was, in fact, the most radical imaginable of all revolutions, although, admittedly beginning in Europe, mostly in England, with ideas from the New Testament. But those ideas were (and still are) radical in that no large society had ever really accepted them. The ideas include the Golden Rule, the fact that God is no respecter of persons (and hence, all men are created equal), that the Samaritan (and hence, the foreigner despised by the political elite) is , or can be, "good", that your past (and that of your ancestors) does, or, at least, should not, determine your standing in the eyes of God or man, i.e. change (repentance) is possible and desirable, and finally, there are immutable laws (commandments) that transcend man’s laws our conformance to which is more important for present and future well being than anything dictated by man or any group of men.

1 comment:

LGH said...

Excellent essay. I might just add that I don't really like change. Having said that, however, I am very eager for a change in administration of the US government. I went along with Obama'a promise of change, only to be totally disgusted with the people he is picking to surround him. It's just more of the "good ole' boy's club" from the Clinton era. So, where is the CHANGE he promised? Extremely disappointing, to say the least.