Burke’s Right Minds is a project exploring and promoting viewpoints within the conservative intellectual sphere, jointly run by The Burkean and the Edmund Burke Institute

I don’t actually like political labels. They’re restrictive, often poorly understood and regularly misinterpreted. All the same, if I had to label myself in simple terms, it would probably be simply that I am a realist, or maybe a pragmatist. 

Politics, in my view, is simply the system we create for organising our societies. Obviously, we want productive, healthy, functional societies. Those that aren’t have a tendency to collapse. To properly explain my outlook , we have to engage with the very practical concept of civilisation as a linear progression.

We humans are creatures of flesh and blood, evolved from stardust and energy on a rock travelling the endless expanse of space. This biological life, and by extension the civilisation that it develops to give itself an order and a purpose, is a one-way street. You either reach the stars and spread among them, or your species eventually dies on its rock, either destroying itself or being destroyed via cosmic accident.

A civilisation advances through its eras of complexity. In our case; tribal, feudal, industrial, modern and so forth. There is no room for mistake, for regression or for subjectivity. You advance quickly or you exhaust your planet’s resources and die having lost the only race that ever mattered. If our civilisational goal is the advancement of ourselves and by extension humanity – as it should be – then through realism and pragmatism is the only way.

As part of a pragmatic approach, some measure of nationalism might be necessary. Without a unifying force, nations will often degrade and fall apart over time. Nationalism when understood as pride in one’s people, history, culture and the struggle for a better future for your country – rather than aggressive expansion, can be that unifying force, It grounds people, gives them purpose, motivation.

We see this very clearly now in Europe, whole countries lose sight of why they exist. They ask whether they even deserve to exist. The door is flung open for incredibly damaging and nonsensical philosophies to take advantage of a demoralised people.

The belief in your people with whom you share centuries, if not millennia, of history and culture – is integral to the long-term functionality of any society, any civilisation. Perhaps most importantly of all, it allows actions to be taken purely for the good of the nation as a whole. You also tend to need a healthy moral and social footing to keep a nation together, something that is not necessarily inbuilt into nationalism and deserves a longer analysis.

As a species, we yearn for the future, as any biological organism should. That’s the principle this entire article is based around. However it is no secret that the future contains problems, dangers, and difficult questions. With the advancement of technology, many disturbing possibilities arise. That is the role of the moral side of this futuristic coin, to identify the new possibilities that emerge, and decide the ethically sound course of action that will not harm society.

This will be a very important role going forward. Technologies like gene-editing, cybernetic augmentation and plenty of others are only around the corner. We’ll almost undoubtedly live to see them. If one is only concerned with technological advancement or national advancement, it is easy to overlook the societal questions that arise from them. Should we edit genes merely to destroy disease, or should we make humans faster, stronger and more intelligent than ever before?

Caring about your country and your society, while at the same time working towards the advancement of all humanity is the only belief that promises to let all people reach the fullest of their potential. Libertarian society will fail because it cares only for the individual. Religious society will fail because they care only for heaven. Marxist society will fail for a plethora of reasons. Conservatism alone will stagnate. Nationalism alone is simply not enough.

Find a good combination of all their best bits, and maybe then we’ll have something to work with.

Michael O'Dwyer Connolly

Posted by Michael O'Dwyer Connolly

Long-time geopolitics and history enthusiast.


  1. Dr. Joseph Sheehan 27/11/2018 at 5:06 pm

    Simply, I am a Catholic Celt proud of my ancestory because they stood firm for the honesty of Christianity and the love of everone even our enemies. What wrong with that!


  2. Is maith liom roinnt de na smaointe a Mhicheáil, ach níl aon tagairt don Ghaeilge san alt sin. Cén fáth nach bhfuil? Má chreideann tú go bhfuil stair na hÉireann tábhachtach nó go bhfuil gá le ceangal idir na glúine a d’imigh romhainn, na glúine atá ann faoi láthair agus na glúine a bheidh ann amach anseo, caithfear an Ghaeilge a áireamh mar rud tábhachtach. In éagmais na Gaeilge, ní gá go mbeadh aon stát Éireannach ann.


    1. Michael O'Dwyer Connolly
      Michael O'Dwyer Connolly 03/12/2018 at 11:52 pm

      Aontaím leat a Sheán, ach is é an Gaeilge rud a bhfuil mé chun labhairt foai in alt eile. Tá an alt os cionn ach faoi mo chuid tuarimí ar Náisiúnachas agus Coimeádachas.


  3. Owen Bermingham 20/01/2019 at 6:39 pm

    We have not evolved from space. God,Christ,created us. Ireland is founded on Catholicism since the 6th century.It’s were all morals come from, without morals your left with immorality which is evil.Today we see Ireland as immoral especially in our young because they don’t go to Church.
    I’ve been a subscriber for a while reading great articles but I must unsubscribe because I cannot promote evolution, my job is to promote God and Irish history founded on His Church.
    I thought theburkean was Catholic but pushing atheism is obviously more of it’s thing…


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