The Rockford Files

Giving the Devil His Due

Early in the morning factory whistle blows,

Man rises from bed and puts on his clothes,

Man takes his lunch, walks out in the morning light,

It’s the working, the working, just the working life . . .

One of the oddest ironies of our postindustrial age is that conservatives—true conservatives, not the various utopian progressivists who call themselves by that name—find themselves defending the remnants of the industrial system, the onset of which their intellectual and spiritual forebears viewed with dread.  It is not that the crazy mystic William Blake was wrong when he wrote of the destruction of the English countryside by “these dark satanic mills”; still less Robert Burns, in his “Impromptu on Carron Iron Works”:

We cam na here to view your warks,


  In hopes to be mair wise,


But only, lest we gang to hell,


  It may be nae surprise . . . 

Rather, conservatives, knowing that Jacobin optimism is more dangerous politically (and, possibly, even more destructive spiritually) than despair (you can,...

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