Reflections on the Revolution in France is a political pamphlet written by the British statesman Edmund Burke and published in November edmund burke reflections on the revolution in france pdf. One of the best-known intellectual attacks against the French Revolution, Reflections is a defining tract of modern conservatism as well as an important contribution to international theory. Above all else, it has been one of the defining efforts of Edmund Burke’s transformation of “traditionalism into a self-conscious and fully conceived political philosophy of conservatism”.
The pamphlet has not been easy to classify. Academics have had trouble identifying whether Burke, or his tract, can best be understood as “a realist or an idealist, Rationalist or a Revolutionist”.
Thanks to its thoroughness, rhetorical skill, and literary power, it has become one of the most widely known of Burke’s writings and a classic text in political theory. In the twentieth century, it greatly influenced conservative and classical liberal intellectuals, who recast Burke’s Whiggish arguments as a critique of communist and revolutionary-socialist programmes. Edmund Burke served in the House of Commons of Great Britain, representing the Whig party, in close alliance with liberal politician Lord Rockingham.
In Burke’s political career, he vigorously defended constitutional limitation of the Crown’s authority, denounced the religious persecution of Catholics in his native Ireland, voiced the grievances of Britain’s American colonies, supported American Independence, and vigorously pursued impeachment of Warren Hastings, the Governor-General of British India, for corruption and abuse of power. For these actions, Burke was widely respected by liberals in Great Britain, the United States, and the European continent. French Revolution was a disaster and the revolutionists ‘a swinish multitude. Burke replied with two letters.
The longer, second letter, drafted after he read Richard Price’s A Discourse on the Love of our Country in January 1790, became Reflections on the Revolution in France. Published in November 1790, the work was an instant bestseller: thirteen thousand copies were purchased in the first five weeks, and by the following September it had gone through eleven editions.
Reflections has become the “most eloquent statement of British conservatism favoring monarchy, aristocracy, property, hereditary succession, and the wisdom of the ages”. He did not like abstract thinking, he believed freedom and equality were different, he also believed that real equality was not real unless it was when God judged, and he saw liberty as something within the law and not as an excuse to do whatever one would like. He was not comfortable with radical change, and he believed that the revolutionaries would find themselves further in trouble.
Their actions would cause more problems. With his view of what he believed would happen to the revolutionaries one can see why he did not like change. Men cannot handle large amounts of power.