Transpartisan Note #27
by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner
Edmund Burke, member of the British Parliament during the American Revolution and “conservative” icon, whose name adorns one of the most “progressive” schools in Washington, DC, said:
“Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites…in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”
Burke attacked the French Revolution as bloody, doomed and controlled by men of intemperate minds. He embraced the American Revolution as “advancing the reasonable expectations of peoples rooted in longstanding practice.” (More)
Burke said that while a “quarrelsome” people, Americans, deeply concerned with the protection of what they saw as their longstanding rights and privileges, objected to British interference. He saw political parties as “providing consistency and strength in administration, or principled criticism in opposition.” (More)
As the quarrelsome year of 2016 passes, 2017 arrives with the possibility of strength in administration and principled criticism in opposition by all Americans, including the more than half who disassociated themselves from the Presidential election. Burkiean vision offers a guide to action.
Welcome to a happy 2017!
(Public domain portrait of Edmund Burke from the National Portrait Gallery in London, UK.)