Edmund Burke: Defending Our Inheritance

At the time Baroness Orczy’s fictional protagonist, the Scarlet Pimpernel, was gallantly rescuing members of the French nobility from the guillotine, Edmund Burke was inveighing in the British Parliament against the principles of the French Revolution, even urging war to prevent their spread. The French Revolutionaries were engaged in wholesale slaughter of their political enemies in the name of abstract principles like equality. They stood for the belief that society could be remade from the ground up if all vestiges of the past were removed and all political power could be wielded by the state, ostensibly for the common good. The guiding mind of these revolutionaries was Jean-Jacques Rousseau who believed that in a fictional state of nature all men would have lived amicably with perfect freedom and that it was only social constraints that were keeping them from achieving this potential now.

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