BurkePaine - The French Revolution Idea of revolution "Old"...

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1 The French Revolution • Idea of revolution • “Old” order no longer natural • Human will can reorganize society and government • Birth of ideology (the “isms”) • Much of our political world: left and right, terrorist, propaganda 19 th century “isms” • Political order now has to be explained – is not a given • Organized doctrines about political and social order = ideologies • Conservatism (Burke), radicalism (Paine), feminism (Wollstonecraft), liberalism, socialism, communism in 19 th century Edmund Burke, 1729-1797 Statesman, historian, theorist of aesthetics Trinity College, Dublin, 1748 • Burke’s relationship to the Enlightenment • Highly learned but scornful of deism, freethinking and skepticism • Anglo-Irish – a study in contradictions • Protestant in a Catholic land; privileged yet identified with the oppressed • Desire to cut a public figure as a writer and commentator (an enlightened template) Burke hated empire • Deep sympathy for the plight of the Irish • Partly follows Hobbes in his earliest writings: “The first accounts we have of Mankind are but so many Accounts of their Butcheries. All Empires have been cemented in Blood….” A Vindication of Natural Society , 1756 Dark Vision of Human Nature and Politics • “And in those few Places where Men enjoy what they call Liberty, it is continually in a tottering situation, and makes greater and greater Strides to that gulf of Despotism which at last swallows up every Species of Government.” A Vindication , 1756
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2 Burke confronts the French Revolution • Note reference to “certain societies in London” in the title, i.e. the corresponding societies, set up to communicate with the French revolutionaries and around the whole of Britain • constitutions are “a matter of the most delicate and complicated skill” (p. 89), therefore only a few possess such ability “a deep knowledge of human nature” required • The science of governing like every other experimental science • Causes and effects often obscure • “infinite caution” needed when “pulling down an edifice which has answered in any tolerable degree for ages the common purposes of society” p. 90 • humans like governments are complex Rights of man – what are they? • “the pretended rights of these theorists are
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This note was uploaded on 04/12/2008 for the course GE CLUST 21B taught by Professor Porter during the Winter '08 term at UCLA.

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BurkePaine - The French Revolution Idea of revolution "Old"...

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