Conservative thinkers: Edmund Burke (1729-97)

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  • described often as the father of conservatism
  • his thinking was conservative, but was an MP at Westminster and described himself as a Whig, and he was also a supporter of US revolutionaries and spoke for them in Parliament
  • he believed that the USA had been misgoverned by Britain and the actions of the republicans were justified
  • the French Revolution however provoked utter disproval and prompted him to develop his conservative ideology

Key ideas:

  • he opposed all rational ways of thinking about political and social issues, beleiving that action must be based on practical experience, and should never threaten the security of society
  • 'Good order is the foundation of all good things'
  • he berated the French revolutionaries on the grounds that they hadn't just threatened order, but they'd thrown society into the melting point and attempted to reform it along rational lines
  • for him, social and political change should be undertaken with great caution, and only with reference to the


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