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. Continue reading
When the Shah fell from power in 1979 it was after a year of strikes and demonstrations. Revolutions in Iran tend to proceed at a stately pace. After a stolen Presidential election in Iran in the late Spring, the Iranian regime found itself faced with an active and growing opposition. The regime has been unable to crush it. On December 7, huge demonstrations erupted throughout Iran on college campuses. Now cracks may be beginning to appear in an institution that is key for the survival of any dictatorship: the military. The below story was reported in Pajamas Media by Iranian exile Afshin Ellian, who fled Iran in 1983 and who is a law professor at the University of Leiden. He is the sole source I can find for this report, so take it with a grain of salt.
On December 10, a statement signed by a number of officers and commanders of the Iranian army was released. The regular army of Iran had not been involved in the suppression of the population. The statement was signed by:
•Pilots and personnel of the aviation division of the regular army (Havanirooz)
•Commanders and personnel of the 31th artillery division of Isfahan of the regular army
•Pilots and airmen of the regular army
•Teachers of the Shaid Satari University of the regular air force
•Officers and staff of the logistics training unit the regular army
•Professors and lecturers of the Imam Ali University for officers of the regular army
•Officers, staff, and commanders of the chief of staff of the regular army
In summary, they wrote:
Together we fought in the war with our brothers in the Revolutionary Guards in order to defend the country, the people, and the honor of the nation. They also emphasize that “the value of the land means the value of the Iranian nation.” This is very interesting. ??Value of the nation.
Not abstract concepts such as Iran or Islam, but the value of the nation determines the value of the land. Therefore, the weapons of the army and RG are to be used to protect the nation: “When we fought together, we could never suspect that parts of the RG would ever use its weapons against the people.”
The last section of this brief but powerful statement will surely immortalize these brave officers: “The army is a haven for the nation and will never want to suppress the people at the request of politicians. We shall remain true to our promise not to intervene in politics. But we cannot remain silent when our fellow citizens are oppressed by tyranny.”
They go on: “Therefore, we warn the Guards who have betrayed the martyrs (from the war between Iran and Iraq) and who decided to attack the lives, the property and the honor of the citizens. We seriously warn them that if they do not leave their chosen path, they will be confronted with our tough response. The military is a haven for the nation. And we will defend the peace-loving Iranian nation against any aggression.”
Keep up with the Iranian protests at:
Liberte, Egalite, Fraternitie. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Often when we look upon these mottos of two of the three great revolutions, the French and the American (the third of course being the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia), we often feel they are comparable and born of the same mother, the so-called Enlightenment. We certainly have been taught this in school, and it is true to an extent. The desire for man to be free is inherent in us. But how and by what means we attain that freedom is often the deciding factor in whether we really become free, or exchange one slave master for another. That is where the mottos of these revolutions show us why one failed, and descended into unspeakable horror and bloodshed, and the other, with all its imperfections, succeeded and became the greatest democracy in world history.