September 22, 2016

THE LAWS OF NATURE AND OF NATURE'S GOD:

Edmund Burke on Constitutions & Natural Law (Bradley J. Birzer, 9/21/16, Imaginative Conservative)

The real goal of political society, Edmund Burke claimed in his arguments against the French Revolutionaries, is not to create new laws or new rules, but "to secure the religion, laws, and liberties, that had been long possessed." If one creates a law out of theory, he will explain much later in his Reflections on the Revolution in France, those laws will be supported only by their own terrors and not because of justice or nature or right make it good. The true revolutionary--that is, the conservator of moral and ethnical norms--will reclaim and reform rather than overturn. He sees not what could be, but what has been. In particular, he wants to re-secure that which "had been lately endangered." A real revolution, therefore, prevents tyranny rather than merely paving the way toward uncertainty. 

Burke, who considered himself an Old Whig, found the best expression of a proper revolution in the English tradition of 1215 and 1688.

You will observe, that from the Magna Charta [sic] to the Declaration of Right, it has been the uniform policy of our constitution to claim and assert our liberties, as an entailed inheritance derived to us from our forefathers, and to be transmitted to our posterity. [...]

Had the French followed the example of nature rather than reason, they would have stood with the Americans and the English as great examples of manly virtue and Liberty. Instead, hating all that came before and dreaming of every possibility the mind can conjure, they have captured, ironically, nothing "beyond the vulgar practice of the hour," they behave not as civilized men but as savages, shielding their lust under the name of reason. Had they behaved according to eternal truths, they would "have shamed despotism from the earth." Instead, by despising what has come before, the French Revolutionaries have prostituted their culture and their very being. Thus, France has "sanctified the dark suspicious maxims of tyrannous distrust."

Posted by at September 22, 2016 7:01 PM

  

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