Order, justice, and freedom

“Order is the first need of the soul.” – Russell Kirk

It’s also the first need of human society of any size, beginning with the family. I would even go so far as to say that the particular *kind* of order is, generally speaking, not as important as the *fact* of order itself. You can organize a library in many ways – by author, by subject, by date of publication, etc. – but it’s better to decide on an “inferior” classification system than to endlessly feud about what kind of system there will be. And once settled, if it works well enough, leave it alone. Now you have an established basis for true *freedom* in a library.

Some conservative thinkers jump directly from order to freedom. I think this is a mistake. Between order and freedom is the need for goodness and justice. While many particular kinds of order will be sufficiently functional to enable freedom in a healthy way, it’s also true that *some* kinds of order are so inferior as to be counter-productive and harmful. For example, both monarchies and republics, if organized justly, can provide a decent enough order for human flourishing – even if one may be regarded as superior to the other. But Communism and Islamism are fundamentally unjust systems, and the “order” they provide is too inhuman for genuine freedom (and let us remember that freedom means freedom to do good, or else it is useless). There is no fixing them. Perhaps the conservative says “the order we have is sufficient”, and maybe it is — but if not, we need the reactionary or the revolutionary to say “the order we have is destructive and must be overturned”.

Getting all of this right is no easy task. Revolution and reaction are dangerous. Temperament and ideology are unreliable guides. Natural law apart from divine revelation is radically inadequate. The Catholic Church alone provides the necessary values and the right priorities, ordered in justice, and as Catholics we are not free to ignore them. Recognizing this makes you an Integralist.