Magazine December 17, 2020, Issue

Bipartisan Burke

Edmund Burke (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The lessons of the Reflections apply to conservatives and liberals both 

If the history of European philosophy is a collection of footnotes to Plato, the history of philosophical conservatism may be a collection of footnotes to Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France. “Conservatism” as a conscious political doctrine emerged after Burke. Yet the core tenets of his criticism of the French Revolution — the dangers of abstract reason, the fallible nature of man, the distilled wisdom of the ages, the perils of leveling society, the menace of social engineering, the virtue of prudence, the complexity of circumstance, the sanctity of property, the hazards of fiat money, the balance between

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Gregory M. Collins — Mr. Collins, a postdoctoral associate and lecturer in the Program on Ethics, Politics, and Economics and the Department of Political Science at Yale University, is the author of Commerce and Manners in Edmund Burke’s Political Economy.

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