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Tag: Edmund Burke

Burkean vs. Randian Conservatism

As is my want first thing, I got up and turned on the news this morning.  They were talking to two lawyers from the Federalist Society about their opposition to Trump and his attacks on the rule of law. One of the questioners made a quip that it must be tough to go home for Thanksgiving to a house full of Republican relatives who must be Trump supporters now, and she said it wasn’t because her parents are Democrats.  She said she became a conservative as a teenager when she first read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.  

A couple of minutes later, another one of the questioners of these two lawyers made a joke about throwing in some Burke to round things out.  The juxtaposition of Ayn Rand with Edmund Burke was jarring to me, and I’ve been thinking about it on and off all day, because it highlights the two major strains of conservatism in very stark contrast. 


What Is A Conservative Conception Of Society?

I am reading a fascinating analysis of The Great Debate between Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine at the end of the 18th century about the rights of man and the founding of our modern political divides.  The book is entitled The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left by Yuval Levin.  It is a fascinating book that traces the arguments between these two giants of political thought who essentially began the modern debate between the Right (Burke) and Left (Paine).  However, having read many of the original writings of these two men (Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, Conciliation with the Colonies; Paine: Common Sense, Age of Reason, Rights of Man), and now reading Levin’s excellent analysis of their long argument in print, it gives one pause to think how far and yet how little this argument has come.  


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