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Reflections on the Revolution in France: A Critical Edition Paperback – March 1, 2002
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Burke cited conditions in France prior to the French Revolution. He certainly did not give a false representation of the economic and social conditions in France, but he was clear that, while not perfect, the French had advanced culture and tolerable living standards. He also warned the French that abrupt changes without recourse to tradition and legal norms were dangerous and would end in tyranny. Readers should be aware that Burke's assessment of the French political system was that the French had reasonble politcal freedom and prosperity. To destroy this political system would end in political disruption, social and political violence, lack of law-and-order, and the rise of tyrannical military leaders.
One should note Burke's assessment of the members of the French National Assembly which was vacilating and subject to the whims of any "political interest group" was serious. He suggested that military officers would be among those "pleaders" would be military officers who would be difficult to control. He also warned that when someone who understood the art of command got control of the military officers, the days of the French Republic and the National Assembly were over.Read more ›
One of his most important principles is "prescription", by which the possession of property and authority are given (at least some) legitimacy by the passage of time. Burke did not oppose all change but believed that if things are going well then they are best left alone. He wrote "A state without the means of change is without the means of its conservation", but believed that change should be for "proved abuses". Burke saw society as organic, as a "partnership" bridging all generations. In typical Burkean language he wrote that citizens "should approach the faults of the state as to the wounds of a father, with pious awe and trembling solicitude." As in any natural organism change must be slow and gradual. He observed that "I do not like to see anything destroyed, any void produced in society." He was, of course, opposed to abstract theories that he thought at best irrelevant and at worst dangerous. Society, thought Burke, needed not abstract reasoning but practical and pragmatic statesmen. He was even more opposed to revolution for it leads to excesses and unintended results.
Not surprisingly Burke stresses the importance of codes of conduct, custom and what he called "prejudice". He writes of the "pleasing illusions" that constitute "the decent drapery of life". These "antient opinions and rules of life" include politeness, deference, the chivalrous treatment of women, the "spirit of a gentleman" and the "spirit of religion".Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Reflections on the Revolution in France is one of the great political writings in English. My two stars are addressed to this edition. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Burke Worker
Classic work of political philosophy that remains relevant two centuries later. A must read in a well annotated editionPublished 2 months ago by H.C. Trapper
Needed for a class. Got it real quick. Donated to local library when I was done with it. Makes for a great read for those interest in Political Science.Published 4 months ago by ExITGuy
Classic, interesting but controversial. See the recent excellent book by Rebecca Sprang: Stuff and Money in the Time of the French Revolution, and de Toqueville for differing... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Edmund Burke wrote Reflections on the Revolution in France in 1790. At that time Louis XVI was still king of France, and the French were doing what the British had achieved a... Read morePublished 5 months ago by John Engelman