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tv   After Words  CSPAN  January 20, 2014 10:45pm-11:46pm EST

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and if the founder and editor of national affairs discusses the origin of the political left right divide arguing that today's partisanship began with the debates over the french revolution. this program is about an hour. >> host: hi yuval. thanks for doing this. welcome to c-span. i'm going to be grilling you on your new book, "the great debate" and i will try to do my best for brian lamb and we will see where it goes. let's just start right off the bat. who was edmund burke? >> guest: edmund burke was a statesman, a political thinker and writer of the late 18th century. he was born in 1729 and lived until 1797. his political career is really from the late 1760s until his
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death and it was an unusual political career and that was it very much in intellectual career. from the beginning he was much much a thinker is a politician in the thinking he did was about how to help his country through it period of intense change and tension in crisis from the american war through a regency crisis through the french revolution and the european war that followed. burke was a voice for sustaining continuity through change and so was an enemy of the radicalism of the french revolution but as a reformer of the british institution. there was always an effort to fix them so he has become to be known as one of the fathers of conservatism for us ever to sustaining continuity in times of change. >> host: russell kirk was the most famous for establishing modern conservatism. >> guest: burke himself at the end of his life describes
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himself this belonging to the party of conservation. the term conservative didn't exist exactly but he understood himself to be engaged in an effort to save the british constitution, the british system at a time when it was generally threatened by radicalism. so it makes sense to think of him but it could be a misleading. burke was awake and not a tory. he was a reformer of institutions. he always favored limits on the power of the king and so he wasn't a thrown all for conservative or thought of as the conservative and continental europe at the time but he was understood that way before curt. >> host: who was thomas paine? >> guest: thomas paine was an immigrant american contemporary. he was eight years younger and his story is quite different. he began life in a working-class
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family in england. through a series of terrible misadventures found himself basically a bankrupt tax collector living in london trying to figure out what to do with his life but one with an extraordinary self-education philosophy and political thought and science. being countered benjamin franklin the representative of the american colleges in britain and franklin got to know him a little, very little and suggested to him that he should try starting over and going to america. paine quickly became an important figure in intellectual circles in philadelphia. he was the editor of a small magazine called the pennsylvania magazine, a writer and as the american revolution began to brew he became a very important retorts edition in the struggle. he wrote common sense, the great pamphlet that persuaded so many people to -- any but the crisis papers.
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i think it's fair to call him a member of the founding generation and 10 years later less known to us americans paine went to france and became an important spokesman for the french revolutionaries. really their great champion to the english-speaking world. he rate made the case to the radicalism to french and british audiences. he was a believer in the need to break with the past in order to undo the terrible injustices that the european regimes in his view were committing on its people and he wanted always to find ways to apply the right clinical principles to society to arrive at greater quality and greater individual liberty. and so we think of him as one of their founders but he was more radical than the american revolutionaries so in some ways much more calm in the french revolution. he started out as a father in modern radicalism and in some respects the modern left.
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>> host: which brings us to the title of your book "the great debate". explain where the title came from. hosts cobra can paine were engaged in an actual debates especially when the french revolution. both of them more or less where backers of american independence. paine of course more explicitly so then burke but burke when he came to the french revolution they were on starkly opposite sides. they had a real debate. they knew each other and they had met a few times but exchange number of letters and most importantly answered each other's published writings. some of the most important writings were in response to one another. with the book argues is the debate predates that explicit debate and for a long time really for the entirety of their public careers the two of them are laying out two views of liberal society and the two are very much intention toward that. they present different ideas of what anglo-american liberalism is an where it is headed and
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what its purpose is and what it sounded in. it's a real argument about political philosophy. they put their two worldviews against one another and not just by the explicit debate about the revolution. what you come away with her to coherent consistent views of what we have to be as free people in a free society. what english and american political life should be and what i argue is these are views that are identified with conservative on the one hand and radical progressive on the other so they can help us see to the bottom of some of the left right debate that continues. the ideas not exactly that their relationship to today's left and right is somehow genealogical. it's not today's conservatism is dissented from burke exclusively that these two views emerge almost inevitably in our society and burke and paine express a more explicitly. >> host: for context, can you
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think of other great thinkers on either side of the present issue of the day who had this kind of open air argument? one of the problems you get with intellectual history is to say gosh i would love to know what john dewey would say to hayek and this is one of these rare cases where you actually have that. can you think of any others? >> guest: it's a very rare thing. there are a few others on a smaller scale also around the french revolution. the french revolution raise profound questions and at a time where there were people both in britain and america who are involved in politics for serious political centers which is very unusual. so you find some disputes between jefferson and adams for example that come to seem a little bit like this debate and there's a very broad public dispute both in britain america about the french revolution in general. i think burke and paine because saying gauged each other so directly and because they
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disagreed so profoundly and i also think because burke more than anyone who agreed with them express the conservative vision of the liberal society explicitly and fully. there aren't a lot of other voices like his and so i think he is really what makes this debate what it is. but paine took him seriously and asked him specifically and felt that he owed it to his readers and friends to address burke's arguments are you really have a full on debate. >> host: we should probably get to some of the terminology. first of all the french revolution is widely seen actually the terms left and right, but the french assembly and that had to do with the seating chart. >> guest: basically the people that supported the declaration of the rights of man which was really the radical statement of principles in the french revolution more or less set to the left of the speaker in the original simply and the people
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on the right were still revolutionaries but a little bit less radical and so they came to be referred to as left and right,. >> host: i have always bristled at this a little bit because this is a european import in that the british parliament, the seating chart went basically with the in and the nays essentially and it moved around depending on who is in power so we never actually had the same. >> guest: the government sits to the right of the speaker and the common still does and the opposition party and the left. it's probably in more ways than that because the left of the right and right of the french revolution have little to do with their left and right. it's true that while much more radical but the idea left and right come from the french revolution is more wrong than it is right. the actual parties to the french revolution, the aristocrats, they don't have anything to do
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with politics. they don't have anything to do with anyone's politics anymore. where you really find left and right for you recognize emerging is in the politics written around the same time so it's right to say the left and right emerged around the french revolution but they really emergent debate about the french revolution a debate held in english. >> host: so when you say and this is a brilliant audience obviously but when you say liberal society we are not necessarily talking about it the way we talk about today like a free society. >> guest: yeah, i society but when he would have found in britain in 18th century through today like the one you would have found in american 18th century through today a society where there is basic respect for the rights of of individual in the sense that the government exists at leased at some level to defend and vindicate those rights. there are limits on the government but there is a strong government and you you know
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there's there is an emphasis placed on private property. this is what we basically mean by classical liberalism and american liberalism. he described liberal society that way means the kind of society we recognize as her own. one of the important things about the burke paine debate in our left right debate is that both sides except the liberal society. it's not as radical of the debate is something you would have seen in european politics. it's not a debate between the far left and the far right. it's a debate within liberal society and about the liberal society. that doesn't make a list of places. it doesn't make a less intense. in some ways it makes a more sober to make it makes him or somebody makes a some are recognizable to us because his debate about who we are. >> host: right, and so friedrich hayek wrote the famous essay why am not a conservative then everyone points to this is perfect he was not a conservative but he was talking about the european-style conservatives and yes they define himself as an old whig
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which is the way burke defined himself. >> guest: the term comes from an essay of work. basically as a whig who follows the ideas of the whigs in the french revolution in 1688 so believer in freedom and liberty but in order to liberty and liberty as an inheritance. hayek, the essay is now found at the end of hayek's look at constitution of liberty which is a very burkean book and describes itself that way. it opens with a description of how hayek is a burkean so in that sense he is a conservative. that's not the entirety of what conservatism means but his argument for why he is not a conservative is very much why he is not a conservative in germany or france. >> host: conservatism and radicalism -- conservatism is the ideology that has placed as
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independent. a conservative in portugal will be something different than i conservative in the united states. we are trying to conserve a little oral revelation -- so divide these chapters up into these different aspects of sort of the legs of the stool or whatever appropriate metaphor we can come up with. why don't we start very much at the beginning and talk about the different views. >> guest: the book is structured in a way that tries to take a debate that was about specific concrete was a good offense and pull it apart into themes that can then be understood in themselves. so that you see thematically with the disagreement is and what you learn from that process eakin reapplied to political events. it's basically a method of political philosophy and it begins with a begin. it begins with the question of
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the relationship of nature and politics. berkin paine would both claim that their legal views are based on the idea that politics has to answer to human nature but they have very different ideas about what that was. they are different ideas of what nature and means in political debate has a lot to do with the views that follow. paine offers an idea of nature that is very much enlightened. he understands nature as a source of rules and rules that govern the behavior of individual part particles if you will and society itself is basically a function of those particles. it's like plutonium physics applied to politics. obviously understood that politics was in physics but the basic way of thinking is that we get to the truth of what is the deepest kind of truth in politics? the way to get at was to go to the beginning to the origins of thing and not the historical
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origins but the natural prehistoric origins. for him that meant first of all understanding the human being in his pre-social state because society is just a function of human beings. to understand societies first have to understand the individual. in this he follows what is a fairly familiar to students of american political thought in british political thought. the model of the state of which are -- nature so let's hunt imagine nature begins with independent individuals coming together and deciding we would be a lot better off if we lived together if there was a mutual and force her applause and a protector of property and safety. it exists for that purpose so it has to be understood is that purpose read in a society that doesn't answer to that purpose violates her rights and doesn't protect our property. doesn't protect is properly from one another as an illegitimate government and we have a right to overthrow it.
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this is basically his vision. it's a liberal vision varied its awlaki and sorted vision and from there he begins his political thinking. his political thinking is very individualist and very right space and devoted to the idea of individual liberty is the defining principle of political life. burke starts by looking at that insane while the problem is no one has ever lived that way. the state of nature's odd experiment as anyone will acknowledge but it's a very implausible one. to understand society based on what it would mean to live in a situation that no human being is within which may not be the most useful way to think about how we ought to live. what struck him most was the radical individualism. burke's approach to political thought but also to nature self again some holes, not in parts.
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you might say his science, his nature is more than aristotelian science. he says human beings have always lived in society and we need to understand the human being and the paths that allow us to be happy and institutions that allow us to thrive within society. all these reasons about man and society and tries to understand what liberty and equality means and what society means based on how people have lived in the real world. what has enabled people to live in just and happy ways? to him, society has to answer to human nature and human natures not the same thing as a kind of physics of clinical science. the human being is not just a rational animal so we don't just answer to rules. the human being is also a sentimental creature and is also an animal with animal needs and desires. politics has to recognize all of
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that. it's to ignore those things that is to set yourself up to failure. to create a system that would only work with something other than human beings. his recourse to nature what he finds useful in the model of nature is the model of continuity and the model of generation of inheritance of how over time species improves, societies improve when it happens gradually. he is writing course well before darwin and the evolutionary but it's an evolutionary model of legal change, gradual change in building out we have. starting with trial and error. and so from these two very different models of nature you are to begin to see some very basic differences about how we understand society. >> host: i want to come back to some of that because people should know as a matter of full disclosure i have reviewed this book for local commentary. i gave it a rave review but i
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have some disagreements are quibbles about it. i want to come back to them but i want to flush out at a little bit. the thing that would shot people the most in burke's thought is his deep skepticism about the power and the limits of reason and paine elites that you can just simply reason your way through any problems and he almost laughs at that notion. >> guest: paine believes what political life this is the application of -- and human reason understood again in an enlightened way as an individual faculty of logical analysis should allow us to find answers to social questions by applying our understanding of the rules to our understanding of the circumstances.
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it's basically a science of society. he has a high opinion of reason. he's very impressed with what science is achieving in his day. he believes that if you apply that kind of thinking to political life to political life you could solve social problems, really solve poverty and solve for. he is a kind of utopian. he doesn't think it'll happen in a permanent way in a truly utopian way but he thinks it could solve a lot of our social problems if we just apply our reason to our principles. that means that paine approaches the world unnecessarily imperfect world with the outraged at failure at the fact things are going well. he could only, he can only understand in justice and failure in and society as a function of people choosing to do the wrong thing and especially of the powerful choosing to repress the week. that's basically how we
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understand and that is why there is war and why there is poverty and why there is poverty in why there is injustice in why people aren't free. burke says its human life is much more complicated than that. reason is an important part of what the human person is but it's not the of for most part but alone the only part. he thinks like an society because it's a lot of human beings living together has a lot to do with human sentiments with relational and social questions with pride. all kinds of things that are teen recent out of existence. that we are not getting rid of and some of the problems we have are really permanent homes because they are functions of human nature and human nature is not a simple manner of applying principles to circumstances. so his view are the enlightenment view of reasoning cannot need direct to plate to society and one of the biggest mistakes the radicals of the french revolution in english politics make is that they
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believe if only they find the right rules they could start everybody over. burke says we will never know enough to build a whole society correctly. well we can do is see what works in the society we have been tried to make the rest more like that great essentially the process of social progress is the process of making society more like its best self. that's a gradual process, grateful process that tries to be impressed by was working in society and be outraged by what is it in a conservative process that tries to save the best so that can serve as a model for the rest. >> host: one of the things i remember didn't know and maybe one of the reasons that i dove into this but -- which is bandied around a lot shorthand for the institutions of civil society that come between the individual and the state. robert putnam at harvard has done a lot of stuff on this.
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bowling leagues, churches, schools, all of these things are political too but you point out from burke when he actually coins the phrase he's talking about social class. >> guest: that's right. burke is very devoted to civil society, to all those institutions as you say that stand between the individual in the state. he thinks there essential in a big heart of the debate is about those because paine nixon argument because individuals are illegitimate power centers in society. they are not elected and nobody chose to give them authority and they exercise enormous authority. burke does defend those but it comes in a passage in the reflections of evolution with work is criticizing the wealthy french who turned against the wealthy who joined up at the radicals and decided to dismantle their society.
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and he says you have to begin by thinking about what it is you have to offer your society from where you sit. you have to first understand what the part of society that you are a part of has to offer that is good rather than turn against society as a whole and he makes the case for social lassa and economic class really. and does argue that the little platoon that we are part of is as much a part of the economy we are a part of as the society we are part of. a lot of people use that phrase in a mean something very different. >> in that discussion and we will get back to some of the other topics in a second that one of the things that really came to my mind was down to an abbey. dellums and abbe, i would love to read the british left let's take on the show because you have butler's inmates and house servants who are as fierce defenders as their station and
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of their class and of not wanting to see classes lower than them treated as equals to them and the idea of a servant sitting with the upper crust horrifies the servant class is much or even more so than at horrifies aristocrat. and it got me to thinking and this is something i want to come back to as well so much of what work is writing about these things only makes sense in the context of rigorous culture. there really is it reduce exceptionalism that he's talking about and it's one of the reasons why i don't think it translates as well into american society as we discussed but can you sort of talk about the role that could his arguments have worked in europe the way they do in britain because in britain
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there something about ritter's culture where people use their station and a way that introduces lack of feudalism or whatnot that may be those arguments don't play nearly as well in a sense. >> guest: i think that's true in part in true in relation to his descriptions of social class and the people's relation to their stations as you say. in a way britain in its time was much more free and equal than continental europe and much less so than america. a sea of knowledge in both cases. burke was an early opponent of slavery. it was easier to be one in britain than america and he basically already had stopped but he was. he was one of the first signatories of the wilberforce petition and so on. burke recognizes that different societies exist in different circumstances.
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certainly part of his argument is about the particular genius of what he calls the constitution which is not a written constitution by the whole system that included an important class that had its merits. he is not a defender of the status quo per se. he was not for -- an opponent of the notion that people could rise to that system. he had done it himself reidy came from a week think of as a middle-class family and not just a middle-class family but an irish middle-class family and made it to the upper tiers of the british political system. he wanted the way to be open to other people who did the same. he did believe there was a stabilized and influence of the aristocracy that made the british open to his way of thinking about which society in which -- ways that were essential. he thought the french could have saved their system by looking at the best of their own tradition rather than assuming there was
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only bad and he understood the americans were quite a different species. while they have the same rights of englishmen and in fact it was part of what they were fighting for in the american war that in america it quality reached far more deeply the class system didn't exist in the same way. i think what burke offers is a disposition and an idea of what the free society is that translates pretty well to america much less so to come in europe. the european path to democracy is very different and the european idea of social democracy is quite different. i don't think that burke is all that applicable to continental europe. there people that try to apply him in ways that were very perverse and it led to a certain kind of historicism. people like hagel thought they were following burke in some respects and burke would not have thought so in any respect but i think he translates to america --. >> host: there is always
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hagel. >> guest: he translates to america much more easily because in a funny way one of the things that we americans of the left and right take for granted and assume without thinking about it too much is the american revolution was the beginning of something grand but of course the american revolution was the extension of a certain kind of anglo-american english way of life in and way of thinking. it's quite due -- different and developer long time in american life and burke on his speeches notes that the americans are much more alert to threats of their liberty much more suspicious of government than the british were. but their basic idea the relation to the community and its rights is an english idea and the disposition toward society the burke articulates is not simply translatable but i think it plays a part in what we think of this conservatism. >> host: one last bit from the
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actual book. as i understand it and correct me if i'm wrong your dissertation was slightly different title and this is based on your dissertation right? i'm not trying to imply that you are somehow lazy or recycling but this is your fifth book, fourth? >> guest: flattered. >> host: the title of the dissertation was the death of the past or what was at? >> guest: it was called the great law of change edmund burke, thomas paine and the meaning of the past and democratic life. >> host: the past looms very large for both and you touched on it a little bit this understanding of nature and life but can you talk a little bit about at? >> guest: that is where the book ends. the book goes through a series of thematic interpretations of their differences and victims on
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the question of the meaning of the past because a lot of their disagreements about other subjects amount to a disagreement about the past and the present. at the end of the day were believes that human beings exist in the context and we were all born into a world that existed before us and this is an inescapable fact. we have no choice about it so to understand society as fundamentally a choice is a mistake. society answers to unchosen obligations and should be set up in a way that allows us to meet unchosen obligations. to the families and the unity and the nature and the people around us. he thought we could not escape the past and not only that but we should to because the passes the only reason why we don't live in savagery. the inheritance we get, the cultural and social and intellectual inheritance is the way -- the reason why we make progress. burke is a traditionalist but a forward-looking traditionalist. he believes the present is better than the past, not worse.
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a lot of traditionalists are traditionalist because they think the past with some perfect state or in the past we had access to some perfect truth that we don't have any more and we can only reach it and moving the way our fathers did. work thinks tanks have improved over time in the future can be better still but are -- only if we sustain the means by which the president has become better than the passover hymn traditionalism is the way forward. paine again because he believes fundamentally in the human being as a rational chooser and because he leaves we should understand society as a choice and is existing to protect their freedom of choice believes that the weight of the past on the should be as light as possible that any generation should be as free as a campy and free as the first generation to determine its own destiny, to set its own goals, to make its own laws, to create its own civilization. that difference between it turns
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out to be an enormously important difference. it's crucial to burke's criticism of a certain kind of liberal radicalism and it's crucial to work's on conservative liberals and which is a gradual building on the past and it's essential to paine. paine wants to enable people to be free of unchosen obligations so specially to be free of the obligations that present themselves at the juncture of generations. he wants us to live as though it were not the case that we are born into a world that existed before so the place of the past and the meaning of the past is absolutely essential. i think it's really crucial to the difference between right and left still. you see it especially in a lot of what we think of as the social issues. a lot of them amount to whether the obligations we have better choosing them artifacts delegations or whether we should work to make sure that we can choose them. so that everything is optional
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me don't owe anything to anyone if we don't want to. there are conservatives and social debates often say this is a world we are given this is as the human being is and we have to live with that rather than find ways to initiate some radical reg for map. >> host: what to paine think of family collects. >> guest: yeah, paine is a little coy about it. he didn't believe in inheritance anything. he was supposed to inheriting privileges and having power, to have property. paine at the end of his career writes an essay that lays out a sort of basic outline of the welfare state. he shows us how radical individualism needs to -- and it's a very important thing to see. the entire thing is funded by the inheritance tax.
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he says nothing of use happens in that juncture and that intersection between generations. you basically have someone getting -- so that is where the society can legitimately tax people. he doesn't make a radical argument like marx does her like plato does actually that the family should be broken up in families and children should be separated because that's the only way to an act real radical and social change. a lot of what he says suggests as much or at least suggest the links between generation should be loosened it's not broken. he doesn't go quite as far some people but you know the smartest radicals in the revolutionaries have always understood that the family is the foremost obstacle to their goals. >> host: from plato's republic on. >> guest: the kibbutz movement in israel, the first thing they did was raise children in common and take them out of the house. it is true that the relationship
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is the foundation of social order and to change the social order fundamentally enough to break that relationship. >> host: hillary clinton once said and not to get too partisan but much like melissa harris-perry from "msnbc" hillary clinton said we need to move beyond the idea of thinking there's an idea of anyone else's child. the reason i brought it up is it's very clear that work understands that the family unit is essential -- it's a dictatorship. babies are not one with a lot of rights in the context of their own family so i wonder this paine consider that to be a father or mother tells her children went to go to bed and went to eat and what to wear. >> guest: john locke offers an answer to people which is to say
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liberalism is suspended in the family until the age of maturity and the reason is liberalism or liberty requires reasoning and human beings are worn with an undeveloped rational faculty and they reach that maturity and that is what maturity means. >> host: as parents we can agree. >> guest: it's certainly true. i'm not sure you reach it ever but i'm sure you don't have it when you were four years old. effectively parents have this right to treat their children as almost their property up to a point while the children are young. paine echoes that here and there but burke makes an explicit argument and it's in direct response to paine so paine and the rights of man the book he wrote about the french revolution makes the argument that effectively one generation shouldn't be able to find another.
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burke says the parliament of 1688 found this to the monarchy forever and paine says no parliament can bind future to anything ever. there shouldn't be anything that we do because of past generations. >> host: what about the u.s. constitution? >> guest: in fact it's a good question by both of them. paine is critical of a lot of what's in the u.s. constitution. not only of the way in which it lines the future, he's critical of checks and balances. he's critical of a bicameral legislature. he thinks democracy should be as direct as as possible and as simple as possible. he doesn't think it's possible to divide power and channel it in all these ways. he thinks it's just keeping people from their rights. he never says -- he was in france when it was being decided on but it certainly seems he is critical of the constitution.
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and we know very little of what burke thought of the constitution. was a little bit more in line with his way of thinking about government. it's one of the great frustrations of work's fellowship. there's a letter in which a friend sent them a copy of the federalist and his friend, letters to this friend in ireland where the source of some of the best things. he was in ireland and he didn't see him very often. the one time he came to london he sends this look ahead and he says let's talk about it. now we don't know what were thought about the federalist, otherwise we would have. but that wave thing about government is more amenable to work's with thinking then paine's. it would seem that burke would have been more critical. >> host: this is one of these areas moving on to contemporary issues, this is one of the areas where you see the left/right divide. generally speaking the left
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feels constrained by the u.s. constitution. once the living constitution as john podesta is back in the white house now said a couple of years ago because republican obstruction -- obstructionist in congress said the u.s. legal system and that frustration is very much -- the party of government doesn't like it. but there are other areas where you know i will ask it sincerely here. why is there so little discussion of how this stuff actually plays out in contemporary life? these are the precursors for left versus right and then by the end, you are fairly
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uninterested in really going very far in trying to score these things in a contemporary political debate. >> guest: so it's a book about burke and paine and i certainly thought about beginning with a what would burke do, what would paine to chapter and then i decided that would take away from the discussion itself because if you let burke and paine speak for themselves and they are not shy in their quite clear in what they think i can get helps liberals and conservatives understand their own views a little bit better. understand where they differ from people like described as the origins of their own way of inking. i think it's more useful is the presentation of what seems to the first instances of the left right divide in a recognizable way than attempt to show how the line goes from here to there. of course. of course the line does not going to straightway. a lot has changed about the left and right the right and a lot has changed about our circumstances.
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i would say especially a long century and more long debate about economics that they were not part of. between socialism and capitalism they are simply not part of the burke paine debate and i think that has changed things some but what burke and paine do is show you where the basic dispositions, the basic difference of approaches, the basic differences of definition between left and right. there are different understandings of a liberal society is and what they look like an original form. what you point to helps to get to that too. one of the reasons why paine and the left chafes under the constitution becomes very clear and breeding paine more than today's progresses who i think has very little sense of their political history and where their ideas come from. paine's metaphors about society are all emotion metaphors.
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they're all about movement. progress and motion. work's metaphors are about creating a space in which society can thrive. that is what government does and that is the purpose of politics and without defining what happens in that space he believes by sustaining that space you allow for progress because progress is not only made possible by what happens in that space but is defined by what happens in that space. the space is maintained by certain key principles by sticking to keep propositions but within that space politics is not about decibels. politics is about prudence, what we can achieve in everyday politics is not a constant appeal to an egalitarian idea or any other ideal within and towards changing everything about how we live so we can live in a very different way. it's about improving what we have to solve problems that
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arise. and so for that kind of approach to government something like the u.s. constitution is a tremendously power and effective and appealing instrument because it defines the space that allows you to sustain the space and allows for a great deal of disagreement or difference in change within the space. if what you want is motion and constantly keep going forward than the restraints on government in the constitution are just bridles. they feel like they are always holding the bag. things move much too slowly and you can't transform the whole thing at once and they never get the majority need to get what you want. for pain this is the biggest problem with this system. >> host: it's funny you said hagel but you are right and it's one of the reasons why i would argue the left has changed is this importation of the hegelian dialectic which not to beat a dead horse but to get a lot from woodrow wilson. he's the first president that
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says the president needs a vision of where the country needs to go and prior to wilson the president wasn't just a night watchman at the heck this defined set of obligations to protect the country and to do this and that but not to drive the latte politic in a specific direction. ..
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and talking about reason, i have a strong whiff of some political studying of this sort of postmodern life that i guess tech with a college, these bastards rejecting the sort of thing. and i get a strong wave of very strong libertarianism. it seems to me the most keynesian element is more the tea party that it is the democrats. >> it depends on what you mean. i think that is true in some ways and the number of different kinds of reasons. i think that there are a lot of libertarians to start where cain starts. in some ways libertarian ism contains multitudes.
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some forms of that are very birkie in. the belief in organic growth is the essence of burke's you, but some forms of it are very rationalist chicken really believe that society, by applying certain kinds of rules, especially economic principles that are not scientific as we understand and can maximize freedom and therefore maximize happiness. in the course of his own thinking in the evolution of his own thinking he shows us how radical individualism leads to the desire to liberate the individual from reliance upon other people which is, i would say, the essence of his goal and leads to the creation of a kind of faceless provider of material benefits. he gets their himself. he takes the steps and shows you
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why they are connected. there is tendency to think of the welfare state and as you save a fork, progressivism itself is aid import, and in a lot of ways it is, but this is very different and much more like paint. the purpose of it is to enable the individual to have a kind of illusion of independents, to enable people to meet their material needs without being dependent upon people around them where dependence upon people around you is the human condition. there is no real way aware of that. burke says society should be formed around that fact, that these and chosen obligations to people immediately around us should be the core of society. payne says in order to break that we have to actually have a distant, faceless provider of material benefits to the core. and that is what the american
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welfare state more less looks like. it is not -- it does not really exist in the service of social democracy in practice although a lot of arguments around it sound that way, but very radical individualism. i think the left in america is much more radical individualist and the right. where you find radical individualism is in the sense that society should take its bearings from individual preference, individual want above all. libertarians are in a kind of no man's land. they tend to end up on the ride begins they think the greatest threat to liberty is government excess. think that is true. makes sense, but they are not exactly conservative. >> libertarianism, opportunism, much more grounded in hummel economics, what other people tell me libertarians, they start
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off, well, not in the area that they're concerned about which is economics but conservative economic thinkers are libertarian economic thinkers. >> and there is also, i think, increasing in libertarianism, a sense of society as this kind of unindicted, organic thing that should be allowed to grow and experimental. consider themselves, different views about where the limits on that kind of experimentation should be set, but that basic view of society is not a rational, planned thing. it is a view that many libertarians share in common with conservatives. >> i have long argued with most conservatives. from modern-day liberalism is the college campus now. instead of society it is a place where you have college kids, especially elite colleges,
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sheltered, security, people clean up after them. the most independent people. so very quickly because we're running out of time, the current political climate, i guess particularly on the right due to the top of this badly informed credential in a birkie in sense, not dismiss it but certainly skeptical. side with burke at the end it is very much out of tempo with the time. particularly on the right. see you think that the american conservative movement can move back to a more birkie in sentiment? >> yes, you know, forward. i think it part of the reason
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for the book is to offer a different intellectual history of our cells. intellectual history is very important to conservatives. we define ourselves that way. most of the left is not. too often when conservatives make a reach for intellectual history or philosophy, we reach for the most radical version to make kind of jeffersonian tale of what american means. and then we squeeze lincoln into the story in ourselves into the story, and it ends up being too radical a story. but burke offers is a different way to understand liberal society. as an achievement, not a break from the past, but that achievement of western civilization it was another achieved by throwing away what came before making the most of the best of it is therefore as a
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society that improves and grows by gradual -- gradually becoming itself. it is not a process that requires revolution but one that requires conservatism. i think one of the lessons we can take is that in part that process involves an engagement of governing proper policies. the six public problems before they get so big that they invite radical solutions. he was interested in the details . fall of tables and economic statistics. that is how we thought. conservatives should do more of that. that is what i do in my day job, and this is -- i think it is important for conservatives to be involved in governing. it is also important for conservatives to approach our society from a disposition of gratitude and care rather than
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to begin from a place of a year and what is being lost. i am angry about what is being lost. the left today is destructive to the american ideal and has too much power and is destroying the american ideal. the solution to that, the way to dissuade the american people of a different path is to offer that different path in a concrete way and to make a case for this friendly to the present in the future but does not seem like because it is not like a kind of simple nostalgia. the idea that i have is not in the past. it is in a better future for america that looks more like the best of all we have. i think conservatives could do with improvement and may be in a way the book is suggesting a corrective. at the very least it is my own town.
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this book out about the british exceptional as an. the american, the british men left alone or something like that. i was trying to get at this earlier, so much of what counts for american principle, the american way in the constitutional liberty is really a cultural product of english. so the question i have, only two minutes left, but if that is true in the say that our liberties are more conceptual and a cultural product but what does that say but immigration. the protection of these rights to mackle show product, --
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>> what it means to americans is an actual living space and not just an idea on paper. this will lead think about that. these days and cultural continuity. is this society. america is something that can transmit itself to the future generation. i was born in israel, came here as a child, and alter patriotic american because the at the end of this country and the reality of this country which are one appeals to me in a powerful way which has been the case for generations and generations of immigrants. i think america is able to be open to immigrants because it is not simply britain. our way of life does not require that your family can trace its of continuously to william the conqueror.
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that is because our way of life is defined by the actual living existence of our incredibly free and open society it allows itself to be constantly influenced and improved provided that these ideas and changes are grounded in an american idea of free society. what they want to conserve is that whole, that reality, not just the abstract principles, not just what we have made of them in the present to mob of the combination that makes possible the free society and the most open. i think we can still integrate immigrants if only we tried to. the problem is we don't really try to teach ourselves and said to teach outsiders about what american life is all about. we have a terrible failure of assimilation. if we can address that them we
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don't have to be any less of a nation of reverence that we have never been. i don't know if that is what burke would have thought, but that is where i think. >> thank you for doing this. i hope you enjoyed it. it is a great debate. >> thank you very much. >> that was book tv signature program in which authors of the latest nonfiction books are interviewed by journalists, public policy makers, and others familiar with their material. there's every weekend on 10:00 p.m. on saturday, 12 and 9:00 p.m. on sunday, and 12:00 a.m. on monday. you can also watch online. go to and click on after words in the book tv series and topics list. >> the sheer number of books that people are self publishing
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is tremendous now. i think they have a lot more available to them i think the more they sort of learned, the more they realize that there are things they can do themselves. before that a lot of them are going to this self publishing company and purchasing the package. i also think that now there are a lot of traditionally published authors. their still publishing traditionally. self published on their own. that they get is a makes, but the sheer numbers come from the idea that people are starting to
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learn how to do it right, determine the amount quicker, writing better, finding an audience. >> also explained how the expo has reflected the growth of the self publishing industry and assisted it. >> in the beginning we had to reach out to foreign speakers to find exhibitors. now people are coming to us and saying, can we speak. we would like to be an exhibitor can we take a table. what does a sponsorship entailed . a table set kind of turned. i'd think that people recognize that there are not a lot of thows like this.


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