Quotes Suitable for Framing: Edmund Burke

Friday, April 21, AD 2017

 

 

“The temper and character which prevail in our Colonies are, I am afraid, unalterable by any human art. We can not, I fear, falsify the pedigree of this fierce people, and persuade them that they are not sprung from a nation in whose veins the blood of freedom circulates. The language in which they would hear you tell them this tale would detect the imposition. Your speech would betray you. An Englishman is the unfittest person on earth to argue another Englishman into slavery.”

Edmund Burke, On Conciliation With America, March 22, 1775

 

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Quotes Suitable For Framing: Edmund Burke

Wednesday, September 28, AD 2016

 

 

Your literary men, and your politicians, and so do the whole clan of the enlightened among us, essentially differ in these points. They have no respect for the wisdom of others; but they pay it off by a very full measure of confidence in their own. With them it is a sufficient motive to destroy an old scheme of things, because it is an old one. As to the new, they are in no sort of fear with regard to the duration of a building run up in haste; because duration is no object to those who think little or nothing has been done before their time, and who place all their hopes in discovery. They conceive, very systematically, that all things which give perpetuity are mischievous, and therefore they are at inexpiable war with all establishments. They think that government may vary like modes of dress, and with as little ill effect: that there needs no principle of attachment, except a sense of present conveniency, to any constitution of the state. They always speak as if they were of opinion that there is a singular species of compact between them and their magistrates, which binds the magistrate, but which has nothing reciprocal in it, but that the majesty of the people has a right to dissolve it without any reason, but its will. Their attachment to their country itself, is only so far as it agrees with some of their fleeting projects; it begins and ends with that scheme of polity which falls in with their momentary opinion.

Edmund Burke, From Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)

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7 Responses to Quotes Suitable For Framing: Edmund Burke

  • Someone at work just sent me an article about how the US NRC isn’t sufficiently innovative with safety regulation. The article ignored the 50+ years of experience acquired in building nuclear regulation – accidents like Windscale, SL-1, Chalk River, TMI, Chernobyl and Fukushima, and the almost accident of the Davis Besse hole in the reactor vessel head. This quote from Edmund Burke was therefore most timely. Thank you.
    .
    In the NRC’s own words:
    .
    “…nor is the novel means for compliance a reason why the regulation would not apply.”
    .
    Or as Edmund Burke wrote:
    .
    “They have no respect for the wisdom of others; but they pay it off by a very full measure of confidence in their own.”

  • E. Burke did not use the word narcissism, as we do so often today, but as I read that quote I think of a pandemic of narcissism among the literary class, the politcal class and the enlightened- not just as individuals, but as a whole.

  • This recalls Jefferson’s letter to Madison, dated significantly 6 September 1789:-
    “[N]o society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation: they may manage it, then, and what proceeds from it, as they please, during their usufruct. They are masters, too, of their own persons, and consequently may govern them as they please. But persons and property make the sum of the objects of government. The constitution and the laws of their predecessors are extinguished then, in their natural course, with those whose will gave them being. This could preserve that being, till it ceased to be itself, and no longer. Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of thirty-four years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force, and not of right… This principle, that the earth belongs to the living and not to the dead, is of very extensive application and consequences in every country, and most especially in France. It enters into the resolution of the questions, whether the nation may change the descent of lands holden in tail; whether they may change the appropriation of lands given anciently to the church, to hospitals, colleges, orders of chivalry, and otherwise in perpetuity; whether they may abolish the charges and privileges attached on lands, including the whole catalogue, ecclesiastical and feudal; it goes to hereditary offices, authorities and jurisdictions, to hereditary orders, distinctions and appellations, to perpetual monopolies in commerce, the arts or sciences, with a long train of et ceteras; renders the question of reimbursement, a question of generosity and not of right.”
    He was, on recalls, an extravagant hater of tailzies and introduced a bill to abolish them in Virginia.

  • Sorry, I meant to write, “An extravagant hater of entails.”
    The Scottish term just slipped in.

  • Jefferson did say the most appalling rubbish at times, and this statement has always struck me as very near the top of the list. Jefferson died a near pauper of course, and his relatives had to sell his slaves, Jefferson not making any arrangements in his will to free his slaves as Washington did. It is unfortunate for the country that Jefferson did not die soon after penning the Declaration of Independence.

    “People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors.”
    Edmund Burke

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour : The devil is always in the “entails”

  • “Michael Paterson-Seymour : The devil is always in the “entails””

    Ha! Mary, if I hadn’t already given comment of the week, that would have earned it.

Burke v. Paine

Tuesday, February 9, AD 2016

 

The things one finds on the internet!  A debate between Edmund Burke, the foremost critic of the French Revolution, and Thomas Paine, an ardent defender of the French Revolution.  Filmed in 1974, the setting of this imaginary debate is a dinner party of playwright Richard Sheridan.  The arguments largely are taken from Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) and Paine’s answering pamphlet, The Rights of Man (1791).  Ironically Paine later would narrowly miss being executed by French Revolutionaries.  Elected to the National Convention he argued against the execution of the King stating instead that he should be exiled to the United States.  His moderate politics, at least moderate in the context of the French Revolution, made Paine a marked man by the radical Jacobins.  Arrested in December 1793 he narrowly missed execution, saved by the fall of Robespierre.

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Quotes Suitable for Framing: Edmund Burke

Wednesday, December 31, AD 2014

Edmund Burke Quote

 

Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites, — in proportion as their love to justice is above their rapacity, — in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption, — 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.

Edmund Burke,  Letter to a Member of the National Assembly, 1791

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8 Responses to Quotes Suitable for Framing: Edmund Burke

  • He is addressing here the virtues of Justice, Temperance, Prudence– and though not exactly spoken, Fortitude.

  • Anzlyne: He is addressing here the virtues of Justice, Temperance, Prudence– and though not exactly spoken, Fortitude.
    .
    Thank you, Anzlyne. All I could think of was America,The Beautiful.

  • Sadly what came to my mind was how the so much the opposite in being taught and lived in our culture today.

  • This is at the root of all politics. Those who will not control themselves provide opportunity for power-hungry tyrants to act “in the name of public safety.”

  • I’m not seeing it in those terms. We have seen that the decay of family life has social effects which require resort to administrative controls (police and prisons), but that’s been done half-heartedly and belatedly. More of what we’ve seen (after a couple of generations of cleansing state and local politics of the worst rogues and the extirpation of creatures like Theodore Bilbo) has been the escalating distaste for democratic institutions among professional-managerial types, the co-incident implosion of professionalism among attorneys (especially law professors and appellate judges), and the race-to-the-swift among electoral politicians advancing first and foremost the most blatant hucksters (e.g. the Clintons). Co-incident with that, academic life is now a stew of smelly orthodoxies and organized appetites and most of the clergy are notable for their unseriousness. It is not tyranny we face, but idiocracy. The man who identified the incipient pathology in our public life was not Burke, but Ray Bradbury.

  • Idiocracy is but a step. Dissatisfaction with the status quo and two-bit ideologues simply set the stage for the charismatic Great Leader that all such decadent spirals eventually produce. Your POV of the current landscape is impeccable; it’s 5 to 10 years from now when eventualities will start to coalesce.
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    Of course it can be reversed but such a tsunami of stupidity usually takes a cataclysm to undo. Hopefully Don’s predicted miracle of great proportion will occur.
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    PS – And Robert Heinlein.

  • simply set the stage for the charismatic Great Leader that all such decadent spirals eventually produce.

    Nope. Not unless there’s some horrific crisis (see Spain, 1934-36). Contemporary electoral institutions have outside the United States proven remarkably durable in the face of much worse than we face here (see Greece or Argentina).

Fortnight For Freedom: Edmund Burke

Sunday, June 30, AD 2013

burke

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have proclaimed a second Fortnight for Freedom from June 21-July 4th, and, as last year, The American Catholic will participate with special blog posts each day.

 

“For I must do it justice;  it was a complete system, full of coherence and consistency, well digested and well composed in all its parts.   It was a machine of wise and deliberate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.”

So wrote Edmund Burke, brilliant writer and member of Parliament, of the Catholic penal laws in the Eighteenth Century.  Son of a Protestant father and a Catholic mother, suspected in his lifetime, probably incorrectly, of being a secret Catholic, Burke was a man who fought during his life for many causes:  reform in Parliament, support for Americans in their fight against oppression by the English government, prosecution of Warren Hastings for his misrule in India, his crusade against the French Revolution, all these and more engaged his formidable intellect and his luminous pen.  However, one cause he championed from the beginning of his career to the end of it:  relief for Catholics in Ireland and England from the Penal Laws.

What were the Penal Laws?  A series of statutes dating from the time of Queen Elizabeth I, and codified and harshened after the so-called Glorious Revolution in England in 1688, to transform Irish Catholics into helots in their own land and to keep English Catholics a despised and helpless minority.  Burke summarized the penal laws nicely in a speech to his Bristol constituents on September 6, 1780:

“A statute was fabricated in the year 1699, by which the saying mass (a church service in the Latin tongue, not exactly the same as our liturgy, but very near it, and containing no offence whatsoever against the laws, or against good morals) was forged into a crime, punishable with perpetual imprisonment. The teaching school, an useful and virtuous occupation, even the teaching in a private family, was in every Catholic subjected to the same unproportioned punishment. Your industry, and the bread of your children, was taxed for a pecuniary reward to stimulate avarice to do what Nature refused, to inform and prosecute on this law. Every Roman Catholic was, under the same act, to forfeit his estate to his nearest Protestant relation, until, through a profession of what he did not believe, he redeemed by his hypocrisy what the law had transferred to the kinsman as the recompense of his profligacy. When thus turned out of doors from his paternal estate, he was disabled from acquiring any other by any industry, donation, or charity; but was rendered a foreigner in his native land, only because he retained the religion, along with the property, handed down to him from those who had been the old inhabitants of that land before him.

Does any one who hears me approve this scheme of things, or think there is common justice, common sense, or common honesty in any part of it? If any does, let him say it, and I am ready to discuss the point with temper and candor. But instead of approving, I perceive a virtuous indignation beginning to rise in your minds on the mere cold stating of the statute.”

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3 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom: Edmund Burke

  • I have always admired Edmund Burke and take to heart his admonition that “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men [and women] to do nothing.”

  • I haven’t heard one word mentioned in church about Prop 8, ever, and I attend Mass at two different churches alternating between them throughout the week in O.C. CA. Fortnight of Freedom (FOF) is not something getting down into the pews from the pulpits. There is no grass movement being organized by the clergy or parishioners in the parishes. And highlighting the sainthood of Catholics in the distant past does not resonate with the Catholics of today. Catholics don’t know they are in a war. FOF2 is falling flat just like FOF1 did. And Mr. Obama and the pro-abortion, pro-homosexual marriage, anti-Freedom of Religion Democrat Party is not quivering in their boots because Catholics are securely snuggled up closely to Democrat Party bosom believing all the falsehood that they “care for the poor,” which is the only thing the bishops and the clergy teach regularly from the pulpits that we sheep should be concerned with, according to the bible and the USCCB and State Catholic Conferences lobbying.

    The only “caring:” the pro-abortion party has for the poor is how many votes they can get from them and those others, like Catholics, sympathetic to them. That is why they are always building more and more poor. Today, under Obama and the Democrat Party, 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and are having to pay $4 to $5 for gasoline for years now. That is why President Obama “admires Cardinal Bernardin so much,” he said in 2009 in a roundtable discussion with 8 different Catholic newspaper editors and religion writers; admires him because of his “seamless garment” especially the “social justice” issues. Catholics who are suckers for those “social justice” issues remain in and support the pro-abortion party giving it the elective power to keep the murdering of the unborn babies legal, now totally 56,000,000 after 40 years. Do you think that the destruction of our culture leading to the bishops need to call for a second FOF could have something to do so many babies, created by God, continuing to being murdered because so many Catholics, including the clergy, continue to prop up the sole organization responsible for that happening?

  • “Fortnight of Freedom (FOF) is not something getting down into the pews from the pulpits.”

    Indeed? In my Parish the priest spoke about it last Sunday and there was a bulletin insert about it which appeared in all the parishes in the Peoria diocese. Looks to me Stillbelieve that you need to set up appointments with the two priests in the parishes you attend and also set up an appointment with your Bishop to express your concern about their lack of action in defending religious liberty. Too many faithful Catholics leave all of this up to God or the clergy. We are God’s instruments on Earth and nothing will get better until we get off our hind ends and take action ourselves. It is easy to bemoan evils, it is much harder to take action to remedy and redress them.

Misappropriating Burke

Thursday, May 2, AD 2013

One of the most tiresome and repeated tricks I see in political discourse is right-leaning moderates using Edmund Burke’s name in justifying big government conservatism. The latest to use Burke’s name to justify political moderation is Peter Berkowitz in his book Constitutional Conservatism: Liberty, Self-Government, and Political Moderation. Here’s a blurb from the book.

The first entrenched reality is that the era of big government is here to stay. This is particularly important for libertarians to absorb. Over the last two hundred years, society and the economy in advanced industrial nations have undergone dramatic transformations. And for three-quarters of a century, the New Deal settlement has been reshaping America’s expectations about the nation-state’s reach and role. Consequently, the U.S. federal government will continue to provide a social safety net, regulate the economy, and shoulder a substantial share of responsibility for safeguarding the social and economic bases of political equality…..the attempt to dismantle or even substantially roll back the welfare and regulatory state reflects a distinctly unconservative refusal to ground political goals in political realities.”

And here’s a blurb from Harvey Mansfield.

Peter Berkowitz makes a match between Edmund Burke and the American Founders to give ‘political moderation’ a good name on our partisan battlefield. A short, effectual book with shining prose, a telling argument, and a lasting message. –Harvey C. Mansfield, Harvard University

Jeffrey Lord takes on Berkowtiz as well as Jennifer Rubin, Joe Scarborough and others who are preaching the value of capitulation moderation. As usual, Lord does a fantastic job of eviscerating the case for moderation. First, addressing the blurb quoted above, Lord writes:

So the New Deal is now the Founding principle of America? And attempts to “dismantle or even substantially” roll back the New Deal “reflects a distinctly unconservative refusal to ground political goals in political realities”?

Really?

Even Bill Clinton waxed Reaganesque when he said in that famous 1995 State of the Union message that “the era of Big Government is over.”

Berkowitz’s thinking — which Rubin shares — is a pluperfect example of what led a couple generations of American leaders to believe the Soviet Union was here to stay. Those were the folks rolling their eyes in their supposed sophistication when President Reagan insisted the Soviets were headed to the “ash heap of history.” Only to watch astonished as the Berlin Wall came down followed shortly thereafter by the Soviet flag over the Kremlin. Precisely as Reagan predicted.

Lord further examines how this bedrock principle and the programs created by the New Deal are crashing around us. As he writes:

The fact of the matter is that the New Deal is imploding all around us. With all manner of experts repeatedly warning the U.S. is being relentlessly driven towards a financial cliff, with entitlement spending on track to eventually consume first the defense budget before polishing off the entire federal budget. The fact that Democrats are tying themselves to the equivalent of an unexploded political IED is their decision.

But what, pray tell, is moderate, Republican or conservative about accepting the idea that America is headed irrevocably to bankruptcy and chaos?

There’s much more at the link as Lord explains how the social consensus keeps moving the left. “Moderation,” therefore, will only lead to more government control and, eventually, less freedom.

Jeff Goldstein also discusses Lord’s article and has more insights as well.

Lord and Goldstein both do great jobs of explaining the problems with Berkowitz’s position, but I want to focus on the admittedly more academic point, and that’s Berkowitz’s misappropriation of Burke.

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5 Responses to Misappropriating Burke

  • whenever Burke or Kirk are cited today (and they seem to be cited interchangeably by select people,) 99% of the time what follows is “I’m for the liberal position, and here’s a conservative-sounding reason why” only maybe taking it a bit slower. In that case, what’s the point — why should liberals agree that society should move slower toward the goal if you’re accepting their conclusion anyway, and why should conservatives accept the conclusion.

    Political ideologies should have come to a defined set of things that they either do/don’t accept, period, although obviously some issues are a little more complex depending on the situation. Maybe this makes politics too much like religion but far as I can see it’s the only way conservatism can avoid playing perennial catch-up to liberalism, and looking stupid protesting a change but later conceding to it.

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  • Those seeking to use Burke as a defense of Big Government need to ponder this section of Burke’s speech on Conciliation With America:

    “For, in order to prove that the Americans have no right to their liberties, we are every day endeavouring to subvert the maxims which preserve the whole spirit of our own. To prove that the Americans ought not to be free, we are obliged to depreciate the value of freedom itself; and we never seem to gain a paltry advantage over them in debate, without attacking some of those principles, or deriding some of those feelings, for which our ancestors have shed their blood.”

  • Midge Decter used to chide Richard John Neuhaus thus: “you don’t think low enough”. Consider the possibility that Scarborough is doing what he was hired to do. (One might suggest the same of Rubin, but the Washington Post Writers Group was at one time (still?) the home of George Will as it was for the two most capable liberal opinion journalists of the last three decades, Henry Mitchell and Richard Cohen).

    Betwixt and between, Dr. Berkowitz alludes to something true. In 1929, public expenditure amounted to 9.5% of gross domestic product. Reproducing the sort of political economy congenial to a metric like that would be the sustained work of a generation or more. What that metric would incorporate would be allocations to the military of Canadian dimensions, paying down most of the public debt, reducing public expenditure on law enforcement and the courts to shares found in 1980 or thereabouts (when the homicide rate was twice what it is today), limiting welfare spending to foster care and nursing homes, quite possibly ending public education, &c.

    Dr. Berkowitz sketched out some of his ideas years ago in an article and the whole project sounded inane, something I would be far to lazy to attempt to digest if distended to the length a 250 monograph. Could one of you with patience and a head for political theory give us a summary of just how Edmund Burke’s writing justifies the budget of the USDA or HUD, or covering Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac deficits for a half generation, or putting sometime lawyer Barack Obama and lapsed academic Steven Chu in the venture capital business?

Electoral Defeat-1780

Thursday, November 8, AD 2012

 

 

“For I must do it justice;  it was a complete system, full of coherence and consistency, well digested and well composed in all its parts.   It was a machine of wise and deliberate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.”

(I originally wrote this post in the wake of Obama’s election four years ago.  It tells the story of how the great Edmund Burke suffered electoral defeat in 1780 for standing up for principle.  It reminds us that fighting for that which one believes in, no matter the outcome at the polls, is never a real defeat over time.)

So wrote Edmund Burke, brilliant writer and member of Parliament, of the Catholic penal laws in the Eighteenth Century.  Son of a Protestant father and a Catholic mother, suspected in his lifetime, probably incorrectly, of being a secret Catholic, Burke was a man who fought during his life for many causes:  reform in Parliament, support for Americans in their fight against oppression by the English government, prosecution of Warren Hastings for his misrule in India, his crusade against the French Revolution, all these and more engaged his formidable intellect and his luminous pen.  However, one cause he championed from the beginning of his career to the end of it:  relief for Catholics in Ireland and England from the Penal Laws.

What were the Penal Laws?  A series of statutes dating from the time of Queen Elizabeth I, and codified and harshened after the so-called Glorious Revolution in England in 1688, to transform Irish Catholics into helots in their own land and to keep English Catholics a despised and helpless minority.  Burke summarized the penal laws nicely in a speech to his Bristol constituents on September 6, 1780:

A statute was fabricated in the year 1699, by which the saying mass (a church service in the Latin tongue, not exactly the same as our liturgy, but very near it, and containing no offence whatsoever against the laws, or against good morals) was forged into a crime, punishable with perpetual imprisonment. The teaching school, an useful and virtuous occupation, even the teaching in a private family, was in every Catholic subjected to the same unproportioned punishment. Your industry, and the bread of your children, was taxed for a pecuniary reward to stimulate avarice to do what Nature refused, to inform and prosecute on this law. Every Roman Catholic was, under the same act, to forfeit his estate to his nearest Protestant relation, until, through a profession of what he did not believe, he redeemed by his hypocrisy what the law had transferred to the kinsman as the recompense of his profligacy. When thus turned out of doors from his paternal estate, he was disabled from acquiring any other by any industry, donation, or charity; but was rendered a foreigner in his native land, only because he retained the religion, along with the property, handed down to him from those who had been the old inhabitants of that land before him.

Does any one who hears me approve this scheme of things, or think there is common justice, common sense, or common honesty in any part of it? If any does, let him say it, and I am ready to discuss the point with temper and candor. But instead of approving, I perceive a virtuous indignation beginning to rise in your minds on the mere cold stating of the statute.”

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3 Responses to Electoral Defeat-1780

  • Regarding the Relief Act of 1791, the Sheriff Court Books of Ayr show a flurry of people taking the oath in late September 1807. A lineal ancestor of mine did so on Monday 14 September. This pattern is repeated throughout the country.

    I believe the reason for this is that they had probably just received news of the death of the Cardinal Duke of York (Bonnie Prince Charlie’s brother), which took place at Frascati on the 17 July, bring the direct Stuart line to an end. Many Scottish Catholics had religious scruples about acknowledging “the Elector of Brunswick-Luneberg” as king, in the lifetime of “King Henry the First and Ninth,” as they would have called the Cardinal Duke, after his brother’s death in 1788.

  • “If, from this conduct, I shall forfeit their suffrages at an ensuing election, it will stand on record an example to future representatives of the Commons of England, that one man at least had dared to resist the desires of his constituents when his judgment assured him they were wrong”.

    Taking Edmund Burke’s eloquence out of context and applying it to the result of Nov. 6, 2012; Mitt Romney, due to both his support of the Constitution of this republic and his desire to repair its economy, could say much the same. It seems that in 2012, we are in the pre-Penal Law stage of history being repeated given the admin’s treatment of Catholic population. In light of the Middle Eastern and African oppression of Catholics, for whom Pope Benedict asks prayer, there is cause for grave concern.

  • This is why I enjoy TAC. Masterfully you bring out the history that aptly fits into today.

    ….we lost all measure between means and ends and our headlong desires became our politics and our morals.

    Blue state mentality.

Bastille Day and the Transformative Power of History

Saturday, July 14, AD 2012

Something for the weekend.   The La Marseillaise scene from Casablanca.  Today is Bastille Day, the great national holiday in France, the equivalent our Independence Day.  In France it is known as La Fête Nationale, the National Celebration, or Le quatorze juillet, the fourteenth of July, rather like Independence Day is often known here as the fourth of July.  There the similarities end.  Although almost all Americans look back at the American Revolution with pride, many of us dedicated to the great truths embodied in the Declaration of Independence, the French Revolution is looked upon much more ambiguously in France.

Bastille Day recalls an event July 14, 1789 in which the mob of Paris, joined by mutinous French troops, stormed the Bastille, a fortress-prison in Paris which had in the past held political prisoners.  The Bastille fell to the mob after a fight in which some ninety-eight attackers and one defender were killed.  After the fighting, in an ominous sign of what was to come in the French Revolution, the mob massacred the governor of the prison and seven of the defenders.  The Bastille held a grand total of seven inmates at the time of its fall, none of political significance.

So began the Revolution which promised Liberty, Equality and Fraternity in theory and delivered in practice, Tyranny, Wars and Death, with France embarked on a witches’ dance of folly which would end at Waterloo, after almost a quarter of a century of war which would leave Europe drenched in blood.  Edmund Burke at the beginning of this madness, in 1790, saw clearly where all this would lead:

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17 Responses to Bastille Day and the Transformative Power of History

  • He actually mentions the Allies in passing. Sacre bleu!

  • Bastille Day is a great tragedy in Western Civilization.

    Spawning Communism, Socialism, and sexual deviancy.

  • If Paris is worth a mass, all of France is worth a La Marseillaise?

    Henri IV got the better bargain.

  • It was, indeed, a tragedy. And really it happened for no better reason than the French bankers, despairing of repayment by the bankrupt French government, engineered the Revolution so that they could loot the Church and thus recover their money. Of course, it did get out of hand – the Revolution threw up plenty of men who had other ideas beyond the age-old desire of robbing a Church or two along the way. But, really, it was a disgrace from start to finish – begun with ill motives, descending in to madness and then military dictatorship and endless war.

  • The most significant event in the French Revolution occurred, not on the 14 July, but on the 17 June previously. Then, the deputies of the Third Estate declared themselves be the National Assembly and told the other two estates, the nobility and clergy, in effect, “We represent the nation; you represent only yourselves and your private interests.” As the priest-philosopher, Abbé Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyes had written, in a recently-published book, the Third Estate represented the unprivileged majority of France. To constitute itself as the nation, it needed to assume power and abolish all privileges that placed the ruling minority above and outside the nation. Those who associate themselves with the common struggle for equality, the rights of Man and against privileges, these constituted the nation.

    This theory contains two elements that have become dominant in the French concept of the nation First, the nation is the community of all those who are not exempt from taxation, military service and other public duties, and, second, it includes all those, and only those, who are willing and capable of sharing in the service of the country. This is what Renan meant a hundred years later, when he said the nation was based on a « plébiscite de tous les jours » – on a daily vote of confidence.

    This was the great legacy of the Revolution; the monarchy could be restored, but it was impossible to re-impose feudal dues, heritable jurisdictions or the detested dine or tithe on the 10 million peasants, whom the Revolution had turned into heritable proprietors. This was also true everywhere that the armies of Napoléon had given a code of laws to a continent and restored the concept of citizenship to civilisation.

    Abbé Sieyes, by the by, was the instigator of Napoléon’s coup d’état of 18 Brumaire; so long as the nation was subject to one equal law, he saw no reason why it should not be ruled by one man.

  • “Bastille Day is a great tragedy in Western Civilization.

    Spawning Communism, Socialism, and sexual deviancy.”

    The modern doctrine of Communism awaited Karl Marx. Primitive communist doctrines have been around since antiquity. Socialism found its first modern proponent, at least in theory, in Saint Thomas More’s Utopia. The idea of common sharing of goods and a powerful state to maintain such equality also goes back to antiquity. As Holy Writ indicates, sexual deviancy is as old as Man. The French Revolution did abolish the penalties for sodomy, but such offenses were still punished under statutes against public lewdness. There were few prosecutions, as there had been few prosecutions against sodomy under the Old Regime, although homosexuality was rife among the nobility at Versailles as many memoirs of the nobility indicate.

  • “And really it happened for no better reason than the French bankers, despairing of repayment by the bankrupt French government, engineered the Revolution so that they could loot the Church and thus recover their money.”

    No, that is simply not true. Financial bankruptcy in state finances caused Louis to call the Estates General, but the idea that the French Revolution was caused by a cabal of French bankers to loot the Church is rubbish.

    For those interested in learning the true historical causes of the French Revolution, a good starting point is Alexis de Tocqueville’s The Old Regime and the Revolution, which may be found online at the link below. Chapters XVI-XX can’t be beat for explaining why the Revolution happened.

    http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=2419

  • They sang them into the ground!

    The LOVE of the people for their country, the home of their families as long as they can remember.. I love that clip– the german soldiers occupiers were musical aggressors –even the music seems bellicose-and those de la Patrie sang them into the ground. Yay!

  • Donald R McClary

    On the supposed connection between the French Revolution and Socialism, there is a very interesting speech of De Tocqueville that he delivered as a deputy to the National Assembly on 12 September 1848.

    He says (my translation) “And finally, gentlemen, liberty. There is one thing that strikes me above all. It is that the Old Regime, which doubtless differed in many respects from that system of government which the socialists call for (and we must realize this) was, in its political philosophy, far less distant from socialism than we have believed. It is far closer to that system than we are. The Old Regime, in fact, held that wisdom was only in the State and that the citizens were weak and feeble beings who must always be held by the hand by the hand, lest they fall or hurt themselves. It held that it was necessary to obstruct, thwart, restrain individual freedom, that to secure an abundance of products, it was imperative to regiment industry and impede free competition. The Old Regime believed, on this point, exactly as the socialists of today do. It was the French Revolution which denied this.”

  • Mrs Thatcher on the French Revolution

    Human rights did not begin with the French Revolution; they stem from a mixture of Judaism and Christianity. We had 1688, our quiet revolution, where Parliament exerted its will over the King. It was not the sort of Revolution that France’s was. ‘Liberty, equality, fraternity’ — they forgot obligations and duties I think. And then of course the fraternity went missing for a long time.

    on Bastille Day
    Who can trust a people who celebrate, as their national event, a jailbreak?

  • Donald,

    In 1789 the National Assembly declared the property of the Church to belong to the State and did this in order to resolve the financial crisis of the French government. It was robbery, pure and simple. It was the bankers of France – who had loaned the French government vast sums the government simply could not repay – who financed the revolutionary pamphlets as well as providing funds to bring out the mob on queue (what the heck was the purpose in attacking the Bastile? Only something to get the mob fired up and, of course, fearful of Royal retribution if the King’s authority should be restored). The financiers staged the revolution – which was not needed as the King was in favor of deep and lasting reforms of French government – in order to grab the only source of money in France which could possibly repay the bankers: the Church, which owned about 10% of all property in France as well as still having the right to collect the tithe (which was also seized for the State). To be sure, there were starry-eyed (and fanatically hating) people who were willing to ride the revolutionary wave to places the bankers didn’t want to go, but someone like Robespierre could never conduct a Revolution…such as him could only take control of it after others had got rid of the old regime and replaced it with something weaker.

    The whole thing was a terrible tragedy – and the worst part of it was that Louis XVI could have stopped it had he ordered his soldiers to shoot…but honorable and gentle Christian monarch that he was, he wouldn’t do it…he didn’t realize what demons were lurking in his domains and that a little blood shed early would have saved rivers of blood later.

  • never, never, never underestimate the willingness of financiers to use whatever comes to hand to avoid the bankruptcy they all so often richly deserve. Heck, our whole system of fake money and mounting debt was put in place simply to allow bankers to pretend they hadn’t screwed the economic pooch…and they have just carried it on and on and on through a century of mounting economic disintegration…and if they can get away with eventually shoving all their idiocy on to our backs via hyperinflation, they’ll do it (because the only place left to steal money to save the bankers is in the savings and property of the middle class…ruin the dollar and the bankers can pay back their idiot debts with debased money and still come out of it rich…the people will be ruined, but since when has that ever disturbed a banker?).

  • Mark Noonan

    The English legal historian, F W Maitland is very good on the Revolution and corporations

    “The State and the Corporation.—in this, as in some other instances, the work of the monarchy issues in the work of the revolutionary assemblies. It issues in the famous declaration of August 18, 1792: “A State that is truly free ought not to suffer within its bosom any corporation, not even such as, being dedicated to public instruction, have merited well of the country.” That was one of the mottoes of modern absolutism: the absolute State faced the absolute individual. An appreciable part of the interest of the French Revolution seems to me to be open only to those who will be at pains to give a little thought to the theory of corporations. Take, for example, those memorable debates touching ecclesiastical property. To whom belong these broad lands when you have pushed fictions aside, when you have become a truly philosophical jurist with a craving for the natural? To the nation, which has stepped into the shoes of the prince. That is at least a plausible answer, though an uncomfortable suspicion that the State itself is but a questionably real person may not be easily dispelled. And as with the churches, the universities, the trade gilds, and the like, so also with the communes, the towns and villages. Village property—there was a great deal of village property in France—was exposed to the dilemma: it belongs to the State, or else it belongs to the now existing villagers”

    It is easy to see how this reasoning would apply to the property of ecclesiastical corporations, sole or aggregate. Plainly, the individual bishop or rector was not the owner of the lands of his benefice, for he could not dispose of them, so who was?

    Recall that the notion of a trust is quite unknown to French law of any period.

  • No Mark that is simply incorrect. Blaming the Bankers for the French Revolution is ahistoric rubbish. Please cite one reputable history that supports this view. As for hapless Louis XVI, the man lacked the ability to be the mayor of a small town, let alone be king of a great power. He would have been better off as a locksmith. A dramatic demonstration of the weakness of hereditary monarchy: invariably the luck of the genetic draw will place on the throne for life someone completely unsuited for the job.

  • Mark, I have small tolerance for conspiracy mongering as opposed to historical knowledge. Rants against various groups are no substitute for historical fact. I am placing you on moderation for the time being.

  • Donald – it is your blog and you may do as you wish. But you are “Moderating” me because you cannot, by use of historical fact, controvert what I said.

    Goodbye, God bless and the best of luck to you.

  • No Mark, you are being moderated because you persisted in blaming Bankers for causing the French Revolution, which is simply erroneous. I invited you to cite one reputable history to support your thesis and you failed to do so. History is very important to me, and I will not allow it to be treated cavalierly on this blog.

The Ever Quotable Edmund Burke

Thursday, July 12, AD 2012

My favorite political philosopher is without a doubt Edmund Burke.  The reasons why I set forth in a post which may be read here.  Any day is a good day for some Burke quotes, and here are a few:

We know, and it is our pride to know, that man is by his constitution a religious animal; that atheism is against, not only our reason, but our instincts; and that it cannot prevail long. But if, in the moment of riot, and in a drunken delirium from the hot spirit drawn out of the alembic of hell, which in France is now so furiously boiling, we should uncover our nakedness, by throwing off that Christian religion which has hitherto been our boast and comfort, and one great source of civilization amongst us, and amongst many other nations, we are apprehensive (being well aware that the mind will not endure a void) that some uncouth, pernicious, and degrading superstition might take place of it.

For I must do it justice;  it was a complete system, full of coherence and consistency, well digested and well composed in all its parts.   It was a machine of wise and deliberate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man. (Burke on the Irish Penal Laws)

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19 Responses to The Ever Quotable Edmund Burke

  • I was about to give one of my faves from Billy Joe Shaver, but I moderated myself.

    Camus: Something to the effect that the common good is the alibi of all tyrants.

    Beware the ides of September.

  • “Camus: Something to the effect that the common good is the alibi of all tyrants.” and the Constitution is the refuge of all reprobates or something to that effect, does not nullify the common good or the Constitution, nor do these reprobates and tyrants, besmerchng our principles, founded on TRUTH, have any claim on either.

  • Robespierre was equally scathing about atheism, which he called “wholly aristocratic” “The idea of a great Being, who watches over oppressed innocence and who punishes triumphant crime is the belief of the people… censured only among the rich and the guilty.” [Discours pour la liberté des cultes: Prononcé aux Jacobins le 21 novembre 1793 – 1er frimaire An II]

    Unlike Burke, or us today, Robespierre knew that in attacking the militant atheists of that time – Hébert and the Énragés – he was staking his life on the issue. He did it, even though few would challenge his admission to being « un assez mauvais catholique » (a pretty bad Catholic).

  • “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” This is a good thought for our bishops– and for all who love the Church.

    I think we agree that Robespierre and his Club did not attack atheism in defense of the Faith.
    We sometimes remark that it takes a lot of faith to be an atheist.. and in that they are like us. Despite claiming to believe in nothing they still seem to constantly seek order and explanations, sometimes in secular humanism. Organized atheists can work toward some kind of social order sans the Lord.
    The real lack of belief has no form. Terror and chaos reign. Diabolical.
    De-Christianizing France- he was more than a pretty bad Catholic.

  • Burke, speaking against proposals to coerce the American colonies: “If liberty be not countenanced in America, it will sicken, fade away and die in this country”.

  • I thought Robespierre was an atheist and thus hated the Church and all things Christian.

    ???????????

  • Robespierre despised and persecuted the Church. However, he was opposed to the atheist faction among the French revolutionaries. He attempted to start a new Deist religion, the Cult of the Supreme Being. It died when he did.

    “Is it not He whose immortal hand, engraving on the heart of man the code of justice and equality, has written there the death sentence of tyrants? Is it not He who, from the beginning of time, decreed for all the ages and for all peoples liberty, good faith, and justice? He did not create kings to devour the human race. He did not create priests to harness us, like vile animals, to the chariots of kings and to give to the world examples of baseness, pride, perfidy, avarice, debauchery and falsehood. He created the universe to proclaim His power. He created men to help each other, to love each other mutually, and to attain to happiness by the way of virtue.”

  • Thank you, Donald. This is why my field of expertise is science and engineering, not history and the law.

    😉

  • Robespierre did say that those who wanted to stop the mass were more fanatical than those who said it. « Celui qui veut les empêcher est plus fanatique que celui qui dit la messe »

    He denied that the Convention had proscribed Catholic worship; on the contrary, he declared its intention had been to maintain freedom of worship. As Hilaire Belloc shows, he used his influence to remove the names of Non-Juring priests from the proscription lists. In fact, Belloc is one of the few historians to give a balanced portrait of him.

    His belief in the Supreme Being was perfectly sincere, as Danton said, Robespierre worshipped l’Etre Suprême every morning, in his shaving mirror.

    The reason I cited him was to show that, like his master, Rousseau, he believed “ it matters very much to the community that each citizen should have a religion. That will make him love his duty; but the dogmas of that religion concern the State and its members only so far as they have reference to morality and to the duties which he who professes them is bound to do to others. Each man may have, over and above, what opinions he pleases, without it being the Sovereign’s business to take cognisance of them; for, as the Sovereign has no authority in the other world, whatever the lot of its subjects may be in the life to come, that is not its business, provided they are good citizens in this life.”

    This is a view that some of America’s founding Fathers would have shared. Any Republic will best thrive, where the citizens believe in “the existence of a mighty, intelligent and beneficent Divinity, possessed of foresight and providence, the life to come, the happiness of the just, the punishment of the wicked, the sanctity of the social contract and the laws.” A lot of what passed for Christianity, over the past two centuries has been of this character.

  • “He denied that the Convention had proscribed Catholic worship; on the contrary, he declared its intention had been to maintain freedom of worship. As Hilaire Belloc shows, he used his influence to remove the names of Non-Juring priests from the proscription lists. In fact, Belloc is one of the few historians to give a balanced portrait of him.”

    Belloc never gave a balanced portrait of anything, especially anything related to his true native country, France. I have all of Belloc’s “historical” works and he is not to be trusted as an historian, although he can be read for amusement. Robespierre was a devotee of terror and contra “Old Thunder” that terror fully applied to the Church.

  • Belloc sometimes almost intuitively hits the nail on the head but overall he is too opinionated to be a reliable historian. However, English historians of the day still subscribed to the ‘Whig’ view of history, with its skewed version of the Reformation and Glorious Revolution so at least he provided a corrective (which by its nature is generalized and overstated but should not be dismissed out of hand).

    I admire Belloc enormously but cannot agree with him that a) the French Revolution was a ‘good thing’ or b) that Dreyfus was guilty, a conviction he carried with him to the end of his life. His forays into history are at least far better than those of Lytton Strachey or HG Wells.

  • “Lytton Strachey or HG Wells”

    He could hardly have been worse John, although I have always had a secret fondness for Well’s Outline of History which I read at the age of 8. Even then I knew that it was more Wells than History, but I did enjoy the melding of novelist with History, which is actually also the charm of Belloc. If one views his histories as novels they make for enjoyable reading.

  • Don, so despite cutting off all those heads, Robespierre wasn’t such a bad guy after all? Any chance he will be in heaven along with deists Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin?

  • I can only assume Joe, that you didn’t wipe your spectacles before reading what I wrote. No, I do not think that Robespierre was “not such a bad guy after all.” Few figures of the French Revolution I find more loathsome than “vile Robespierre”.

  • I think St. Just may have had him beat.

  • Thank you for this discussion. A lot has been added already today!

    It seems the quotable Burke is for and about Good. Robespierre was perhaps as brilliant as Burke but his manipulation of polemics and his quotable quotes give us pause. Robespierre’s memory is not kept because of his quotes but because of what he presided over.

    Part of the quote Donald gave us showing his Deism: “He created the universe to proclaim His power. He created men to help each other, to love each other mutually, and to attain to happiness by the way of virtue.” is galling seen in light of his actions as the head of the committee for public safety while presiding over the slaughter of the public.

    He admitted to being a pretty a bad catholic; he revolted against the Faith and rationalized deism out of any realm of the humane referred to in his quote above.

    It seems he was carried on the current of the fine words and as the meanings were clouded he tried always to find the reason or justification hidden in chaos, contriving terror to be an “emanation of virtue” and “ a natural consequence of the general principle of democracy” (Principles of Political Morality)
    I am learning more about him and the cautionary tale of our history as a result of this post.

  • John Nolan

    I agree with your general assessment of Belloc as an historian. Occasionally, however, he shows remarkable insight. He was the first historian to grasp that Carnot, the War Minister, was the real power in the committee of Public Safety that was, in effect, the War Cabinet. Robespierre was never more than its spokeman in the Assembly – the Leader of the House, rather than Prime Minister.

    Anzlyne

    Before the Revolution, Robespierre refused a magistracy, because of his opposition to capital punishment. You might care to read his speech of 22 June 1791 to the Constituent Assembly, calling for the abolition of the death penalty. It anticipates the argument in Evangelium Vitae:

    “Outside of civil society, if a bitter enemy makes an attempt on my life or, pushed away twenty times, he returns again to ravage the field that I cultivated with my own hands; since I have only my individual strength to oppose to his I must either perish or kill him, and the law of natural defence justifies and approves me. But in society, when the force of all is armed against only one, what principle of justice could authorize it to kill him? What necessity can absolve it? A victor who kills his captive enemies is called a barbarian! A grown man who kills a child that he could disarm and punish seems to us a monster! An accused man condemned by society is nothing else for it but a defeated and powerless enemy. Before it, he is weaker than a child before a grown man.

    Thus, in the eyes of truth and justice these scenes of death that it orders with so much ceremony, are nothing but cowardly assassinations, nothing but solemn crimes committed, not by individuals, but by entire nations, using legal forms…

    It has been observed that in free countries crime was more rare and penal laws more gentle. All ideas hold together. Free countries are those where the rights of man are respected and where, consequently, the laws are just. Where they offend humanity by an excess of rigor this is a proof that the dignity of man is not known there, that that of the citizen doesn’t exist. It is a proof that the legislator is nothing but a master who commands slaves and who pitilessly punishes them according to his whim.”

    On 18 December 1792, on the trial of the King, he said, logical as always, “Yes, the penalty of death generally is a crime, and for that reason alone, according to the indestructible principles of nature, it can be justified only in cases when it is necessary for the safety of individuals or the social body. Public safety never demands it against ordinary offenses, because society can always guard against them by other means and make the offender powerless to harm it. But a dethroned king in the bosom of a revolution which is anything but cemented by laws, a king whose name suffices to draw the scourge of war on the agitated nation, neither prison nor exile can render his existence immaterial to the public welfare: and this cruel exception to ordinary laws which justice approves can be imputed only to the nature of his crimes.”

  • Michael.
    “Before the Revolution, Robespierre refused a magistracy, because of his opposition to capital punishment.”
    Apparently his sensitivity to the subject was evolved… he didn’t leave the position for about 6 years and a death warrant for a murder with his signature on it still exists. (Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution)
    At any rate, people change their views to suit utility. His stated opposition to capital punishment did not describe his life.
    Were those fine words remembered by him in summer 1974 at the execution of a convent full of nuns? His deeds spoke louder than his elegant words.

    The speech concerning the Supreme Being was given shortly before his death, and of course, after the deaths of thousands of victims, even in the streets of Arras, his home town.

  • Anzlyne

    It is pleasing to recall that, on 17 September 198, Robert Badinter read Robespierre’s speech of 22 June 1791 to the National Assembly. This time, it had the desired effect and capital punishment was removed from the Penal Code, by 363 votes to 117

Father Barron and Edmund Burke on Atheism

Sunday, February 26, AD 2012

 

 

We know, and it is our pride to know, that man is by his constitution a religious animal; that atheism is against, not only our reason, but our instincts; and that it cannot prevail long. But if, in the moment of riot, and in a drunken delirium from the hot spirit drawn out of the alembic of hell, which in France is now so furiously boiling, we should uncover our nakedness, by throwing off that Christian religion which has hitherto been our boast and comfort, and one great source of civilization amongst us, and amongst many other nations, we are apprehensive (being well aware that the mind will not endure a void) that some uncouth, pernicious, and degrading superstition might take place of it.

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9 Responses to Father Barron and Edmund Burke on Atheism

  • In Obama We Trust

    E PLURIBUS OBAMA

    Obama Bless America

    We swear on our sacred Obama . . .

    I love my master . . .

    Stop me!

  • Atheism – the easy way out.

  • The American Catholic The finite mind cannot comprehend the Infinite Mind. The sovereign being cannot comprehend the Supreme Sovereign Being. If there were two Supreme Sovereign Beings, neither would be Supreme. There can be only ONE Supreme Sovereign Being or each will preempt the other as the word” Supreme” implies.
    There is no way a finite mind will comprehend an Infinite Mind because the finite mind does not have the capacity to encompass and make his own, the intimate knowledge of an infinite nature. There is no way a finite mind can be offended by an Infinite Mind, because of the lack of information needed to make an informed consent. Unless the finite mind perjured itself and pretended to know, the finite mind can only know what the Infinite Mind instills in it. Therefore, since God is not offended by Himself, neither can man be offended by God. God instills only love in man’s finite mind.
    The devil, created as Lucifer, the Great Angel of Light is a creature with a finite mind having had a beginning and needing to be created. Lucifer rebelled against the Infinite, Supreme Sovereign Being, our Creator, without the knowledge of WHO God really is. Lucifer made war against God without knowing WHO IS LIKE UNTO GOD. Lucifer lies and murders the soul of man. Lucifer does not know God, yet, Lucifer promises to make Adam and Eve, already created as finite human beings into Infinite Human Beings. A pretty good trick since Lucifer himself is not infinite. WHO is like unto God.
    Almighty God adopts the children of men and makes of us children of God and, as his children, almighty God refers to man as “lesser gods”. God does not change the nature of man as Lucifer promised to do. God accepts man as his children and loves us forever.
    Militant factions have demanded legal equality under the law and have successfully achieved their goals. Among these are atheists, homosexuals and feminists. And now, they are MORE equal than the body of people. The atheist denies to ALL men the freedom to acknowledge almighty God, our Creator, who endows men with freedom and creates men equal. The atheist denies to all men the infused immortal soul. Man’s immortal, rational soul makes of man the crown of God’s creation. Atheism makes of man despair and hopelessness, property of the state, soulless, powerless and servile. The homosexual militants practicing psychiatry have foisted arrested development as “normal” on the medical profession. The radical feminists have emasculated our culture. Militant feminists have refused to be feminine and have refused to allow other women to be feminine. So, women are acting out, appearing in public naked to prove that they are female, rather than neuter. Men, too, are acting out in violence to prove that they are not neuter, murdering other people, raping and vandalizing. Some people are teaching trans-genderism in public school to prove that they are not neuter.
    Man’s immortal soul and his human dignity is denied to us by our current interpretation of rights, giving to atheists the freedom to tyrannize, to deny the same freedom to all people. The freest soul among us is the newly begotten sovereign person in the womb when two become one. This free soul has no moral or legal guilt, is endowed with virtue and has the gift of virginity. This free soul is hunted down and aborted, killed by his parents, neutered to make him equal to the atheists. The free will choice by the atheist has denied the American citizen his free will right to acknowledge God, our Creator, the freedom to express his immortal soul through response to the gift of Faith from God in speech, press and peace.
    The atheist uses “our Creator endowed UNALIENABLE rights” to deny to others the self-same “our Creator endowed UNALIENABLE rights”. To paraphrase Pope John Paul II “When one person is denied human rights all persons are denied human rights.” When that one Person is the Person of God and the nation is America, every citizen is a victim of the anti-Christ. It is time for a renewal of the Spirit of ’76.

  • and speaking of superstitions again: Superstition in the Supremacy of TRUTH is Catholic. If it is not true, than it is a lie. The infallibility of the Truth is Catholic. Moral relativism is like wandering in the desert. We know where we are to go but we do not know how to get there. Moral relativism is a map to nowhere, a map to more moral relativism and more relativism and finally to being nowhere. God bless us one and all…from a Christmas Carol

  • Pingback: MONDAY MORNING EDITION | ThePulp.it
  • Very true Atheism has become the opium of the masses

  • I actually liked the bus sign campaign by atheists precisely because it wasn’t directly anti-religion (i.e., it did not bash any particular religion to make its point). If religious adverts were like political campaigns, these ads would clearly not be considered a negative/attack ad.

  • The superstition of religion brings comfort and has calmed some groups while causing friction and killing among others. Our instincts do seek this kind of ease but reason creates doubts. Reason and close communication can ulitimately bring peace to our species. I wish I had the comfort of “the gift of faith” but it was not given to me.

  • There is a difference between superstition and true religion as revealed by God Frank. It is one of the key teachings of the Catholic Church that faith and reason are completely compatible. God is always extending the gift of faith to us, but we have to accept that gift. Some of the greatest saints in the Catholic Church have struggled with their acceptance of that gift. A prime example is Saint Augustine who possessed one of the sharpest intellects of his day, or any day. Good luck on your journey.

Edmund Burke and Political Reform

Thursday, November 17, AD 2011

Edmund Burke is the political thinker most central to shaping my own political views.  Regarded as the founder of modern conservatism, Burke was an odd mixture of idealistic philosopher and practical politician.  Although he presents his ideas in luminous prose, he has often been caricatured as a mere reactionary.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Burke realized that societies change all the time, just as individuals change as they proceed through life.  How the change occurred in the political realm was to Burke of the greatest moment.

Rather than a reactionary, Burke was actually a reformer, fighting against abuses in his time, for example the penal laws which treated Irish Catholics as helots in their own land, and English Catholics as foreigners in theirs’.  When the colonists in America carried on a decade long struggle against the colonial policies of the government of George III before rising in revolt, Burke ever spoke on their behalf in a hostile Parliament, and defended his stance before a hostile electorate.  He prosecuted the first British Governor General of India, Warren Hastings, for crimes committed against the native population.

One of the things that has always struck me about Burke is his consistency, whether defending the rights of Irish and English Catholics, of the American colonists, of the Indians under British rule or attacking the tyranny of the French revolutionaries.  He was always against arbitrary power and held that government could not simply uproot societies.

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One Response to Edmund Burke and Political Reform

5 Responses to The Liberal Mind Explained

  • That one quote explains all one needs to know about liberalism.

  • The best definition of liberalism is “equal freedom,” and it is deeply embedded in the American founding. Unfortunately it has evolved today into anarcho-tyranny, and the “conservative” movement has waaaay too much right-liberalism (“freedom” as of a high value). Yet liberalism is also inescapable in our socio-political context (we are not the French and the Spanish conservatives of old, and cannot be, sadly, being born of revolution).

    This can be seen even in Burke, the Whig and defender of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 (and a man I very much admire).

    Catholic conservatives have extremely little place in Anglo-American thought, and the reason is the turn away from Aquinas, from Henry VIII to the Prince to both George III and the revolt.

  • Ambrose Bierce may have had it right: “A conservative is a statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the liberal who wishes to replace them with others.”

  • My father-in-law always says that the word “liberal” (in the political context) means a “liberal application of laws” (ie. more laws) while “conservative” (also in the political context) means “a conservative application of laws” (ie. less laws).
    When I used these in a discussion with a liberal friend, he called me a liar and that it was exactly the opposite. You know what they say, denial is the first step towards acceptance.

  • A liberal is a person who is:

    Valiantly fighting the injustices
    Caused by the last generation of liberals
    Thus providing injustices
    To be valiantly opposed
    By the next generation of liberals.

Burke on Marie Antoinette

Sunday, January 31, AD 2010

The French Revolution had the effect of lessening anti-Catholicism in England.  The English admired the courage with which many Catholics fought against the Revolutionaries in France and tolerance was extended to French Catholic refugees in England.  This was a great change as all the French had traditionally been regarded as the mortal enemies of the English.  Edmund Burke began to change this traditional attitude with his Reflections on the Revolution in France.  Here are his comments on Marie Antoinette:

“It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the queen of France, then the dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she had just begun to move in, glittering like the morning star full of life and splendor and joy. 0h, what a revolution! and what a heart must I have, to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall! Little did I dream, when she added titles of veneration to those of enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in that bosom; little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her, in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honor, and of cavaliers! I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards, to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult.

But the age of chivalry is gone; that of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded, and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever. Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom! The unbought grace of life, the cheap defense of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise is gone. It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honor, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all its grossness.”

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3 Responses to Burke on Marie Antoinette

  • The history of the French Revolution is still unfolding. The causes and explanations behind it and the ramifications that are still felt up to today.

    One thing is certain, there is absolutely nothing in common between the French Revolution and the American War for Independence.

  • Tito:

    In high school I had a card carrying communist as a history teacher (he was actually a good teacher) who stated the the American Revolution, despite some abuses, was remarkable for how unbloody it was.

  • Faustina,

    That is one of the startling contrasts between the two.

    The French Revolution was vindictive and evil in who they targeted and the various decrepit methods used to execute people, which were mostly loyal Catholics to Mother Church.

Electoral Defeat-1780

Thursday, December 4, AD 2008

burke

“For I must do it justice;  it was a complete system, full of coherence and consistency, well digested and well composed in all its parts.   It was a machine of wise and deliberate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.”

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6 Responses to Electoral Defeat-1780