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

Military Mutiny Brewing in Iran?

Monday, December 14, AD 2009

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.”

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9 Responses to A Coup in Iran?

  • This could be a very dangerous situation very quickly. Serious civil unrest in a nation that has been racing to get the bomb is a frightening combination. Meanwhile the lunatics running North Korea are warning of nuclear war.

    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20090614/D98QDSOO0.html

  • Good comments Donald:

    AND, I don’t really get into listening to the alarmists:

    But, North Korea building a bomb, being defiant, an alarmist type on Michael Savage’s show said they could “market” the bomb according to one guest… this same guest appeared on Relevant Radio. I think it is alarmist but it might still be a possibility.

    I believe listening to a Dennis Prager rerun show, another guest was saying if Israel hit Iran’s facilities, they may well do “Commando Raids.”

    Bleak stuff, like seeing Drudge this morning, “threatening nuclear war”, I just don’t know.

    But I would think, if there were someone that would be nervous about N. Korea’s weapons, it’d be Japan, since Japan acted real ugly in WWII and in fact, is the only nation to suffer the nuclear bomb. Or maybe we the USA is the great Satan, seeing how NK is allied with Iran it seems.

    The 3rd loose cannon is Pakistan, if things ever happened fast, that government could fall too. However, India is there ancient rival.

    I really, really feel sympathy for the Iranian people. I think they are largely good people because they have shown some “Western” inclinations in the past. So, God help us, anyone getting killed in Iran or rioting I think largely are those who want a more moderate state.

    There is 1 movie out there worth watching, “Off side” and it is about 5 young women in individual ways, try to get in to see a game with the National Football game of Iran in a world cup qualifier It’s a bit of a comedy, made in Iran and banned in Iran. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0499537/ It’s an interesting take.

    I didn’t mean the long post but comments are welcome.

    And Obama said they were having a “vibrant debate”, rolls eyes!

  • Tom, a large portion of the Iranian people have been fed up with the mullahs and their crazy President for quite some time. This obviously rigged election might be the thing that causes the whole country to blow up. The mullahs will not go quietly however, and I would not put anything beyond them in their quest to hang on to power at all costs. In regard to North Korea, a nervous Japan could go nuclear overnight. The South Koreans of course have the greatest reason to feel alarm. Seoul is so close to the border that even a crude missile carrying a nuke could take it out in a matter of minutes. This could be a very turbulent summer for the world.

  • I’d been expecting this sort of thing ever since the prelim reports had someone besides the messianic midget winning.

    Praying for ’em. All I can do, I fear…..

  • I don’t see how this can be defined as a coup. The Mullahs were in charge last week, they’re in charge now and will be next week.

    The Mullahs have simply been forced to bring out in the open the fact that Iran is not a democracy. This isn’t the first time this has been the case, though they prefer to keep this fact quiet enough to allow liberals some cover.

    Frankly, I applaud what the counter-revolutionaries are doing right now in Iran, I hope this can take hold and that there would be a coup.

    Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are a cause of concern, but there are plans and mechanisms in place to ensure they are secured, deactivated, and/or destroyed in the event of political instability. Remember, unlike Iran, Pakistan’s military is not run by fanatical Islamic fascists. THey do not want their country destroyed, as it surely would be if there was a risk of it’s weapons falling into the hands of fanatical Islamic fascists.

    The threat to South Korea is not just nuclear. The DPRK has thousands of conventional artillery tubes pointed at Seoul, if

  • See this excellent roundup by Michael Totten — it would also appear ‘The Mullahs’ aren’t as cohesive a religious unit as one might suppose.

  • A country has an election. The outcome is not what you would like it to be; therefore, there had to be election fraud.

    Just continue on with the Weekly Standard neocon blather.

  • awakaman,

    dig a little deeper than that.

    Frankly, I don’t think it matters who got elected, the Mullahs run that country…. what matters is the response of the people who’ve had their legitimate aspirations of self-governance dashed once again. It looks promising, but I don’t have my hopes up just yet.

  • “A country has an election. The outcome is not what you would like it to be; therefore, there had to be election fraud.

    Just continue on with the Weekly Standard neocon blather.”

    Yep, all those Iranians out in the streets protesting and rioting over the fixed election must be neo-cons!

    http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSEVA14340720090614?sp=true

Life and Liberty

Monday, October 6, AD 2008
A State owned church in France

A State owned church in France

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.

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8 Responses to Life and Liberty

  • Walter,

    Once you allow the state to issue rights, they can easily take those rights away. Witness the Soviet Union with their gulags, Nazi Germany with their concentration camps, and Revolutionary France with their Committee of Public Safety (Comité de salut public).

    All of them systematically and without jurisprudence took people from their homes and executed them without due process.

    Excellent posting.

    In Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,

    Tito

  • When I was teaching Social Studies to middle schoolers, my co-teacher (and technical superior) interrupted my lesson on the French Revolution to tell my class that “it was like two other revolutions, the American and the Russian, because they were all about the have-nots versus the haves”.

    I humored her until she left, and then explained that my boss had perhaps mispoken and that the French and Russian revolutions were nothing like the American Revolution.

  • Tito! Hey brother, great website and good article! I’m proud of you and will pray for your websites future success.

    God Bless,
    Craig

  • Without religion and morality government is a mere struggle for power, and all means, including mass executions, are licit. As Burke brilliantly put it in his Reflections on the Revolution in France: “In the groves of their academy, at the end of every vista, you see nothing but the gallows.”

  • Thoughtful post.

    You make a good distinction between freedom and license. The Founders never understood freedom to mean license, hence their insistence on a moral people.

    They did, however, think freedom from government interference was important. This is why they constructed a government that had limited and defined powers.

    But that government I’m describing is long gone. We gave up on a government of limited and defined powers a long ago – turns out it’s not very popular when things get rough.

  • The reason that we have a radical notion of freedom running rampant is that have made idols of sexual pleasure, material wealth, vanity, excess, addictions, and a host of other vices. We live in a world where God is a dubious assertion and the most fundamental, central reality is denied. Therefore, we’ve reached a point where we can deny anything — even the right-to-life itself. The American “god” as Stanley Hauerwas once claimed is fundamentally our way of life and a notion of limitless freedom. We are relentlessly self-determinate beings, or thats how we’d like it to be. We craft our idea of God, of “rights”, of freedom, of morality in an arbitrary manner with the end goal to protect this notion of freedom.

    Having spent a decade of my life as an atheist and having a wide circle of atheist and agnostic friends, many of them don’t believe that there is such a thing as ‘natural rights.’ They claim that such a reality doesn’t bother them, but I know they’re lying to themselves. No one can truly be a moral relativist. It’s just inconsistent. But this all fundamentally comes back to the question of God. If all we really are animals that ponder, there is no reason for us to believe that our thinking will reveal to us anything ‘true’ about reality — whatever that is, no reason as to why there should be logic, or that we can really know anything outside of ourselves. More importantly, if all we are fundamentally is a collection of atoms, no different in substance than say a table or a chair, then we’re nothing but a complex biochemical phenomenon with no meaning and no purpose with a finite life-span on a tiny dot called earth in a sun-beam in a cold and infinite cosmos. What is the dignity and worth of some mere collection of atoms, if its no different in substance than some inanimate object? The idea of ‘rights’ collapses on itself.

    The problem with “rights” and a sense of moral objectivity cannot exist in a world without God. That’s our fundamental problem.
    How do we solve this? Your guess is as good as mine.

  • Eric Brown: “The reason that we have a radical confused notion of freedom running rampant…”

    I corrected your spelling. You may wish to correct your reasoning that followed from that error early in your comments. Zach’s remarks about the fathers of our country recognizing that at the root of freedom is a distinction between liberty and license can guide you. This distinction is at the base of the teaching of the Church that exercising our free will to choose righteousness is the greatest freedom of all (i.e., it’s the rejection of license).

  • Thanks Craig.

    We hope to expand our audience exponentially.

    Good postings help get the word out and Walter has posted a fine one.

    Please if you’ve enjoyed this, forward this to your friends and favorite blogs.