Edmund Burke. Reflections on the revolution in France. London: Revised Apollo Press, 1814. Print. I decided to choose this book to read since it is a primary source written by an English politician. Additionally, it is considered to be one of the most significant declarations of the contemporary political conservatism (Burke, 1814).
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One of the key reasons why I selected this book is the fact that it is a primary source written by an English politician who was present during the occurrences of the French Revolution. This implies that there is a possibility of providing detailed information regarding the exact events that took place, including the expert view of all the circumstances. Additionally, since there is a full view of the book available, it was very easy for me to go through the book and understand the background, as well as the context in which it was written.
Topic and Summary of the Book
The book Reflections on the revolution in France isbasically a depiction of the local occurrences in France, as well as the radical constitution. The author addresses the actions of the Revolution Society, which was an English group that had approved the happenings in France. In the book, the author goes a long way elucidating how this group was used as an instrument in misrepresenting the monarchal changes in England (Burke, 1814). All in all, the book is about the futility of the revolution.
In the author’s view, England could not pursue the same direction taken by France basically because the English highly regard their kingdom, nobility, democratic system, as well as religion. Burke also addresses a number of these key issues, but amazingly discards the whole plan before completing (Burke, 1814).
Additionally, the author reviews the new government in France, taking into account the executive power, judiciary, legislature as well as the military. He critically the flaws of each of these areas, concluding the fact that France failed to establish a free government (Burke, 1814). According to Burke, the French carried out superficial improvements, but not without the flaws being so evident. As it is cognitively vital to read through the book, it is evident that the flow of the arguments of the author is very difficult to follow and it is not easy to come across some tangible historical background (Burke, 1814).
According to Burke, the revolution portrays France as the country of conquest. In this regard, he author is of the view that the French copied a policy of ruthlessness (Burke, 1814). This is because of the fact that the revolutionaries had a rightwing notion, which was not only foreign, but also evil. Burke is also very skeptical about the “mob rule” that was evident in the legislative assembly (Burke, 1814).
On the whole, the author advocated for implementation of the representative, instead of direct democracy. He wanted a system, in which there were vigilant checks and balances, coupled with proper defense of basic rights from government intrusion. In the book, the author asserts that a slow but sure constitution reform is the key foundation of the stability of a nation, instead of revolution, which can simply be abused to validate despotism.
What the Book Tells Me About the Past in Which It Was Written
The book indicates that the French Revolution was a period in which there was a far-reaching social and political turmoil in the French society. It also indicates that the Revolution, which took place between 1789 and 1799, had a major influence not only on France, but also all over the continent of Europe (Burke, 1814). Following the collapse of the monarchy supremacy which had ruled France for centuries, there was an epic transformation, which took place with regard to governance, human rights, and adherence to the rule of law.
This basically led to the establishment of radical left wing political groups as well as disturbances on the streets. Eventually, the traditional system and hierarchy was overthrown, with all that being replaced by principles of equality and citizenship (Burke, 1814). Throughout the pages of the book, it is also evident that there was widespread confidence in a divinely appointed monarchic power. In this way, people were not used to deposing oppressive governments as it is the case of this generation. This was very evident in the past couple of months following the French revolution (Burke, 1814).
How the Book Helps Me to Understand that Period Better
By and large, the author is very effective in portraying how the French were not keen in upholding the rights accorded to all and sundry. This is an indication that during this period, human rights were not upheld by the authorities (Burke, 1814). It is for this very reason that the revolution had to take place, with the masses demanding their rights. Following the French Revolution, the author is skeptical about its architects. This is mainly because of their obstinate intolerance, as well as recklesss demolition of the institutions established by the society (Burke, 1814).
The Author’s Approach
In many ways, the author adheres to a critical approach in writing the book. As the father of modern conservatism, he criticized the architects of the French Revolution. This is because he considers the revolution dangerous, illegal, and unconstitutional. Clearly, Burke distastes revolutions (Burke, 1814). On the contrary, he is of the view that traditions of a society ought to be respected, with a gradual approach to altering institutions. In his view, there should be the elimination of a tradition or replacement of an institution only if there is a realistic guarantee that the whole society is bound to gain (Burke, 1814).
The Evidence Used by the Author to Support His Points
In order to support his points, Burke argued that the inherited rights, which he saw in England, were reliable to implement continuity in a nation. This included the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Right. He also asserted that when the society is provided with private property, tradition, and social order, and adherence to value, then the political doctrine could not be abused (Burke, 1814). Additionally, Burke called for the lawful ratification of definite, actual rights, as well as liberties, which would be instrumental in shielding the populace against governmental tyranny (Burke, 1814).
My Perceptions of the Book
The reading of the book did not change my view of the topic that the book covers. This is basically because his prediction that the Revolution will end up in simultaneous turmoil came to pass. In his prediction, a popular general with a good command of soldiers would become the master of the entire republic (Burke, 1814). His prophesy came to pass in the person of Napoleon. This event took place two years after his demise. The fulfillment of Burke’s prediction as well as the reality behind his points actually reaffirms my understanding of the book.
The Approach Taken in the Book in Comparison with What I Have Learnt
The approach taken in this book is in line with what I have leant about the subject in this course. This is mainly because it is primarily based on the history of Europe, as well as its impact on the rest of the world. By and large, it focuses on the European lives as well as experiences with regard to specific areas like imperialism and colonization.