By Ulick Fitzhugh, The Burkean
A Historicist Revolt in Jurisprudence
“The Guilty Have No Past” – Death in June
Edmund Burke’s ‘Reflections on the Revolution in France’ cemented, in the eyes of conventional scholars and lay people alike, his place as the father of modern conservatism. Although frequently posited, there are a number of issues with this contention.
Burke was a life-long member of the Whig party. Further, he supported the American Revolution and legitimised the Revolution of 1688 in his aforementioned work. Notwithstanding this, the title confers to Burke undue credit, and erases his more interesting contemporaries. He is by no means as important to contemporary rightists as: Joseph de Maistre, Adam Müller, and Karl Ludwig von Haller.
Nevertheless, Burke’s text is not completely without merit. In his polemic against the Revolution, Burke contends that the revolutionaries erred in their endeavour to recast the French social order along anti-monarchical, egalitarian, and secular lines. For Burke, any attempt to ground the social edifice upon abstract ideals was bound to fail.
For society is not a tabula rasa which can be moulded by revolutionary hankering. Rather, the social order derives from a particular history, and thus encompasses an array of inherited prejudices, norms, and accompanying peculiarities. Revolution acts in a punctuating manner, and therefore, even when done with the best of intentions, is a disruptive force thrust upon the social organism.