Saturday, August 31, 2013

Reflections: Reflections on the Revolution in France

Adam C. Zern opines on Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France:

"Yet another political science book to stash away in my ever-growing collection.  Reflections on the Revolution in France is a perfect example of why I love political science and why there is such a large barrier for the average reader to embrace it, especially the historical treatises like Burke's.  Reflections is both insightful and incoherent.  It's not incoherent because of the author's writing; rather, it's due the reader's, in this case me, lack of knowledge of the historical context and lack of understanding of certain ideas. 

There are some wonderfully pithy remarks made by Burke throughout the course of Reflections.  His opinions are fascinating and were something new to me.  As a British legislator, Burke places an extremely high premium on stability and order and spends a great deal of time defending monarchy because it provides the aforementioned qualities for a society.  Burke is, in my opinion, the ultimate Conservative.  He defends the status quo and it's hard not to see his points, especially when viewed within the context of the revolution in France.  However, history and experience has obviously shown mankind a different viewpoint and Burke's apologies of monarchy are now intellectually interesting but not actually viable.

Reflections, like so many other books, treatises, and political tracts of the time loses its audience the farther and farther away we get from the time period.  The writing is dense and complicated, albeit excellent.  There are multiple and varied complex ideas even in one sentence and the onus is entirely on the reader to keep up.  Therefore, many modern readers would no doubt become frustrated and abandon Reflections before completion.  For my part, Burke's discussions on government financing and monetary policy was almost entirely lost on me.  I wouldn't blame someone for not reading Burke, even though I believe there is plenty of good to be found.

In conclusion, Reflections on the Revolution in France is an exhibition of astute and rigorous political thought and writing.  I admire Burke for his skill but am somewhat left behind by him because of his prose and my lacking contextual knowledge.  It's a fine addition to my political science collection and one I hope to learn more about as I read other works and gain more historical knowledge."

Other Topics of Interest:
Reflections: Democracy in America
Reflections: Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty
Reflections:What Every American Should Read

1 comment:

  1. Try watching Mel Brook's movie, "Don't Start the Revolution Without Me." That should get you up to speed on the French Revolution . . . or maybe not.