March 15, 2018

THUS BEGAN THE lONG wAR:

Edmund Burke & the French Revolutionaries (Bradley J. Birzer, Mar. 7th, 2018, The Imaginative Conservative)

When Burke examined the French Revolutionary arguments against the French aristocracy, he found, not surprisingly, that while the Revolutionaries had acquainted themselves very well with the particular evils as practiced by particular aristocrats, they had missed the norm, the essence of the aristocratic class.

Certainly, the Anglo-Irish statesman and philosopher agreed, one could find mistakes, some of which might be horrendous. Of those French aristocrats who lived at the end of the eighteenth century, Burke observed three general failings. First, French aristocrats behaved as children long after they had attained adulthood. They took from their families more than they gave, well past the years of irresponsibility. Second, too many French aristocrats had absorbed and manifested the ignobility of enlightenment philosophy, themselves disgusted with the past and ready thoughtlessly to revolutionize society. They had come to see the past, tradition, mores, norms, and association as means by which to shackle rather than to promote human dignity and freedom. They had, in other words, Burke worried, read way too much Locke and Rousseau and not enough Socrates and Cicero. Third, he claimed, the old aristocracy has held onto its privileges too long and too tenaciously, not allowing the many who had earned it in the eighteenth century into their own ranks. Thus, Burke noted with regret, by being both ignorant in philosophy and selfish in position, they had failed to see the creation of their own enemy class, those who had worked and given, but had not received the titles and honors so richly bestowed. Nowhere in French society did this prove more blatant than in the military orders. There, the old aristocracy remained obnoxiously over-represented, endangering the internal as well as the external order of French society.

Despite these failings, though, Burke noted with much satisfaction that when the French Revolution began in 1789, the monarch as well as the majority of aristocrats apologized for their selfish errors and had been the first to admit that their own orders needed reform for the good and benefit of the whole of society.

Read their instructions to their representatives. They breathe the spirit of liberty as warmly, and they recommend reformation as strongly, as any other order. Their privileges relative to contribution were voluntarily surrendered; as the king, from the beginning, surrendered all pretence to a right of taxation. Upon a free constitution there was but one opinion in France. The absolute monarchy was at an end. It breathed its last, without a groan, without struggle, without convulsion.

Such an apology and a reform (or series of reforms) the real revolutionaries mightily feared. Never had they actually sought reform of French society, whatever their claims and protestations. Instead, from the moment they began the revolution in 1789, they wanted to destroy and overturn all that opposed them and to do so utterly and completely, leaving no remnant and no possible opposition.

The distinction between Anglospheric revolutions and others is that we only ask to be treated as Englishmen and preserve as much as we possibly can.  The others reject everything they had.


Posted by at March 15, 2018 4:39 AM

  

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