Sunday, October 16, 2011

Edmund Burke and Joseph DeMaistre-Age of Reaction

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Edmund Burke and Joseph De Maistre were, indeed, both conservatives. The conservatives were the reactionaries of the Age of Reaction. Where they reflective of the Age of Reaction? I would say, yes, they were!

The reactionaries believed in a traditional rule. They wanted kings, an aristocracy, and a clergy. A matter of fact, most of these reactionaries were one of the three! They believed that due to the French Revolution tradition was ruined in Europe due to the rise of Napoleon, who got rid of kings, aristocrats, and the clergy. Also the Revolution brought on violence, terror and war. Something, in their mind, that would have never happened with a traditional government in power. They also believed that the Jacobins (“liberals”) were assassins because of the Terror.

Burke, who was an Anglo-Irishman, wrote in Reflections on the Revolution in France that liberty and social order are maintained by the traditional rights and duties embedded in custom and law. And when these traditions are overthrown in revolutions, society is threatened with chaos, bloodshed and despotism. Is this reflective to the Age of Reaction? Absolutely, it is!

De Maistre was a man that fled is own country after the invasion of the French army invaded it. So he was not happy with the French already! He wrote the Essay on the Generative Principle of Political Constitutions. He, again, wrote about how he disagreed with the “liberals” feelings on belief and authority. Basically he said that human beings can not create a civilization themselves. We need religion and we need authority! He also mentions that without Christianity we will see anarchy!

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These two men are indeed a reflection of the Age of Reaction! These people wanted things to be like they were before the war. You could say that this began with the Congress of Vienna which established the borders of the European states the way they were before the Revolution!

I’m sure that conservatives would believe in the things that both these men mentioned in there essays to an extent! As we have talked about in class, the liberals of this time were equivalent to the conservatives today. So obviously they would not agree with everything. I do know that most conservatives today want to have a powerful authority in charge and strongly believe in religion. Therefore, instead of the “status quo” theory that most conservatives believe in now, I’m sure most would want to revert back to they way things were in Europe.

I do feel that conservatism is a philosophy of its own and is not just an opposition to liberalism! I feel that even throughout history, we have always seen both sides. Sometimes the liberals are right, other times the conservatives are right. I feel there are times when it is good to stay “status quo.” Sometimes in a world of disarray it is good to have organization and structure. I feel that both parties balance each other out and not one nor the other is more powerful than the other. If anything, I would say that liberals are more an opponent to conservatives! Most people today do not like change. Again, they want to keep things “status quo,” however, the liberalists make the conservatives settle for change! Even if it is just a little. If we did not have change we could never have better technology and better medicines to keep us living longer!

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