It is a great pleasure for us to be writing this first editorial of the Burkean Journal and to welcome you all to this project which is no longer just an idea, but a reality. And though we cannot say that with the magazine’s launch we’ll be starting a revolution (conservatives aren’t into those things as you know), we can confidently say that we are representing the beginning of a movement. A movement which will hopefully not only expand across Trinity College and Dublin, but across Ireland in its entirety.
As it is written in our mission statement, the Burkean Journal hopes to show people what true conservatism is all about and thus to transform the negatively perceived role which this concept has across Ireland. The word conservatism is full of history and meaning and that is why its definition cannot be confined to one sentence or even one paragraph alone. Hence, this magazine will hope to be like a dictionary entry of conservatism in its own right, with every article trying to function as a clause for that definition.
We have already been compared indirectly by a university’s newspaper with Breitbart News, a conservative magazine in the U.S. considered to be of the extreme right or the alt-right. However that comparison came about, is not really of our concern. We have reached a point in Irish society in which declaring yourself a conservative is almost like coming out of the closet 30 years ago. Nobody cares about the good and genuine intentions that you might have to improve society. The conservative is rather labelled as an extremist, alt-right, deplorable, etc, etc. Why for instance, were we not compared to the “well established and principled” conservative magazine in America, National Review? In any case, we are neither NR, nor Breitbart, nor the Irish Catholic nor The Spectator. We are the Burkean Journal and we make our own paths.
Our conservatism is entirely Burkean. And what does this mean exactly? Edmund Burke’s entire conservative philosophy, or at least most of it, is displayed in his magnum opus, “Reflections on the Revolution in France”. In this brilliant and superb letter, while he condemns such a movement, Burke comes up with some “radical” political ideas, still the pillars of the modern conservative movement. Such ideas include the unchangeableness of human nature, and thus a rejection of social engineering (from top to bottom); limited government; respect and veneration for tradition and religion; wariness of revolutions; the family as the foundational block of society rather than the individual; the existence of responsibilities and restraints for a citizen rather than purely the “rights of man”; and so on and so forth.
The magazine is being launched with 8 terrific and diverse set of articles. All of them will surely give the reader an idea of the sort of topics we like to discuss. We are very grateful to the people who were the first ones to form part of our team of writers. On the historic and the more immediate topics, we have two articles (“Electability Lost, Principle Regained” and “Reclaiming the History of Irish Catholicism”) written by the same author, James Bradshaw. Both articles challenge the contemporary Irish society to think about the priorities when it comes to public service and to be well-informed about one’s own history as a nation before making general judgements of institutions that have helped to build up our beautiful country. Adam Hobson starts off the free speech section in our magazine, a section which will definitely feature regularly considering the present attack that freedom of expression is currently undergoing in the universities and the Western world. Gary Kavanagh continues this same debate by writing about the current disdain that elites have towards the voices and wishes of the populus. Feminism is not a topic that we will avoid. Liz Mckeon questions the current self-victimisation of women using a literary topic and Cora Sherlock starts big on the abortion debate. There is a profound and philosophical letter from the Skorupscys in Poland which opens up the possibilities for having more than just “mainstream articles”. And finally Cormac Lucey, another of our prominent writers, challenges the narrative of Ireland being a right-wing state when it comes to economics. So if you haven’t read all of them, what are you waiting for? But as we said, this is only the taste of the beginning. There will be interviews, art, reviews, debates, videos, and way more to come.
The Burkean Journal starts in Trinity College, which for better or worse is now considered to be Ireland’s cradle of left-wing and liberal-progressive thought. But it does not end there. Part of our goal is to become Ireland’s leading conservative magazine. And we will conclude this editorial by inviting you all who are reading this to form part of this movement in one way or another. As a friend, as a reader, as a writer, as an editor, as a committee member, as a donor, and even if you consider yourself to be a strong progressive liberal, we invite you to form part of the Burkean Journal by becoming an intelligent critic of this magazine, because as John Henry Newman said: “The energy of the human intellect does from opposition grow”.
So once again, welcome to the Burkean Journal! Read. Think. Discuss. Enjoy.
Editorial Note (Nov 18th, 2017): “We have reached a point in Irish society in which declaring yourself a conservative is almost like coming out of the closet 30 years ago.” We wrote this in the sense that “coming out of the closet” thirty years ago was a very hard thing for any person to do. It should not have been like that. You would instanlty be cruelly and unfairly labelled and insulted in a majority of social and intellectual circles just as it happens when you describe yourself as a conservative nowadays.
Correction: Nov 4th, 2017
An earlier version of this piece incorrectly mispelled the word wariness.