The anti-revolutionary principle is nothing other than the Christian principle, the Reformation principle; it is nothing less than faith in the living God.
The religious question is the supreme question; the fundamental question; the question that includes and determines the political question.
We have to go back to the eternal verities. Nothing more, nothing less, will do. In my view, the anti-revolutionary party is the party of Christians: “It is a party quite different from all others, precisely because it is not as such a party. It is a party that will never kowtow to the Ministry, whatever it does, or to the Opposition, whatever it wants; it will side with the one as readily as the other with justice and, if necessary, abandon both.”
For man there is ever only one path that is safe and lawful: it is the path of faith and of obedience to God’s authority and revelation. We must return to it if we have been unfortunate enough to stray from it. And such a desire to conserve the two Larry foundations of society is in itself the spirit of genuine progress. We want no other return, no other conservatism, no other reaction.
There are two kinds of conservatism that we equally disapprove of.
First of all, there is the kind that wants to re-create the past, unaware that “every attempt to do so very quickly becomes a grotesque caricature, or that the former days cannot be conjured up and will, or that even when it does think it is managing to do so, it only adopts their outward forms.” It exhibits a ridiculous and fatal attachment to things that are worn-out and obsolete. It has lost sight of the fact that all that can be conserved of the past is what evolves out of it, and that whatever is truly living changes; and that the living is only known by emotion and progress. This kind is sometimes of a mind to restore what the revolution wiped out as abuses. It tries to repost the conquests of the modern spirit, and undo the improvements that, despite the revolutionary spirit, have been good and laudable outcomes of the social upheavals: religious freedom, abolition of the excessive privileges of the clergy and nobility, equality before the law, reform of the Penal Code, the unifying of the Civil Code, political centralization, and the routine involvement of the nation in the government of their affairs.
Then there is the revolutionary kind of conservatism. Alarmed by the unexpected consequences of the principles it has adopted, it fights against them, but refuses to change its erroneous principles. It hesitates, but not in order to change course; it simply doesn’t want to go forward. But this is no more than a station or hole from whence the car, after a forced rest and with the barriers now removed, rushes on again at an even more frightful speed. Neither do the governmental forms and exceptional laws behind which it takes refuge offered anything but a fleeting security, one that vanishes that the first width of danger. At every turn, and everything it does, it only proves that physical force and violence have to give away to logic. We have nothing but contempt for such an unstable and dangerous form of “deliverance.” However, we have no desire for a counter-revolution; we want the polar opposite of revolution.
I have often been criticized for using the motto: “In isolation lies our strength.” This was not something that I let slip out accidentally; I have only used it after giving it very careful consideration. What do I mean by it? Simply that we are not a shade of opinion that with other shades of opinion make up a single party; we are a separate party in our own right; we are bound together by fundamental yet neglected verities, and by a principle that is opposed to a whole array of opinions that – whatever differences they might have or appear to have – are united in a common contempt for what we regard as the indispensable condition for social order.
Separation in this regard is absolutely vital. At the least, in any alliance with other parties we have to be extremely careful to avoid being confused with them. We run the risk of being sidelined or wiped out, of being drawn into their schemes. Moreover, we must remain aloof from the revolutionary current; and the authority of God’s law must ever be our unshakable standard, if we are not to succumb to the popular current.
Groen Van PrinstererSee More Essays
Groen van Prinsterer was a Dutch politician who birthed the great Anti-Revolutionary Party which Abraham Kuyper came to lead. Possessing a formidable mind; Groen was the first to articulate the concept of worldview, articulated in his “Revolution and Unbelief,” a landmark work showing the great antithesis in worldviews.