Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Edmund Burke: Den Første Konservative

Edmund Burke er ofte blitt kalt den første konservative. En viktig politisk tenker som tenkte mange viktige tanker før andre. Fra boken: He is the first great theorist of political parties and representative government, and the first great modern theorist of totalitarian thought. More widely, he offers a compelling critique of what has become known as a liberal individualism, and the idea that human well being is just a matter of satisfying individual wants. (Kindle Loc 99) 
Burke er kjent for å kjempe flere viktige politiske kamper: 1) Kampen for lik behandling av katolikker i Irland (han ver selv protestant). 2) Imot Britisk undertrykkelse i de 13 koloniene i Usa (han var selv Engelsk). 3) For grunnlovs restriksjoner for utøvende makt av de kongelige. 4) Han var imot mektige bedrifts krefter i East India Company (India). 5) Og kanskje aller mest kjent er han for sine presise analyser og motstand mot den Franske revolusjonen. Burke var en fiende av urettferdighet og misbruk av makt. 

Noen gode og viktige tanker fra Burke: Human reason is limited in scope, and insufficient as a basis for public morality. (En viktig påminnelse med hensyn til kaoset den Franske Revolusjonen skapte) Loc 466)

- The Christian religion is generally a civilizing force, great leaders are marked by their capacity for work, divine providence creates opportunity, and chance for failure to redeem itself. 

- Burke var i stor grad inspirert av Montesquieu som mente at historien var styrt av lover av generelle årsaker som var begrenset av tingenes natur, fysisk geografi og lov. Resultatet ble en metode som vektla viktige historiske eksempler. 

- Burke advarte mot the Stamp Act i England sine kolonier i Usa fordi han mente at Amerika aldri kunne styres effektivt fordi koloniene var Engelsk folk som trodde var frie og skatten var dermed en fornærmelse. 

- Om Amerika: Their idea of liberty was specific and concrete, not abstract, expressed in their popular assemblies and their resistance to taxation, and it was invigorated by dissenting religion, which opposed established temporal authority as such. All Protestantism... is a sort of dissent. But the religion most prevalent in our northern colonies is, the dissidence of dissent, and the protestantism of Protestant religion. (Loc 1185)

- Burke levde i en tid der religiøs toleranse var ingen selvfølge. Han argumenterte likevel for full beskyttelse av religiøse minoriteter. Men i likhet med John Locke så mente Burke at denne toleransen ikke kunne gis til ateister. 
- Burke om slaveriet: Rather than suffer it to continue as it is, I heartily wish it to and end. Han var altså en motstander av slaveri. Dette var i 1792. Slave handelen ble avskaffet i 1808 og slaveriet i 1833. Burke var før sin tid. (Loc 1448)

 - I 1950-1960 så ble Burke sine tanker om anti-totaltiær retorikk adoptert av Amerikanske konservative i kampen mot Kommunismen. 

- Burke definerer seg selv i stor grad imot Rosseau som spredde radikale ideer som ledet til den Franske Revolusjonen. Burke i 1790 sitt sentrale politiske og intellektuelle prosjekt ble å forhindre ødeleggelsen av Europa imot spredning av radikale revolusjonære ideer, mange fra Rosseau. 

- Burke ble også beskrevet av Adam Smith som, 'the only man I ever known who thinks on economic subjects exactly as I do, withy and previous communications having passed between us'. 

- For Burke var den sosiale ordenen noe som utviklet seg over tid. Burke var ikke imot modernisering  og forandring, men mente at dette ikke burde skje over natten. En burde utvikle seg naturlig over tid ettersom en konserverte det gode og avviste det dårlige.


- A successful social order thus affords rights and liberty to individuals, as well as imposing duties on them. Burke is often thought to be unremittingly hostile to natural rights. But in fact this is not true, indeed rights are an essential component of his worldview. What he rejects are universal claims divorced from an actual social context, or based on man's rights (given by God, the author of nature) which is developed and reinforced within human society by process of law. (Loc 2895)


- The genius of the British constitution, for Burke (drawing on classical republican theory, Montesquieu and several centuries of English political reflection), is that it has evolved in a way which balances the area interests that dominate the social order: The monarchy, the aristocracy and the commons. Because the constitution is balanced, it is flexible and can adapt to circumstances and new social demands; it has the means of its own correction.

- Thus Burke is not opposed to change as such, only to radical change. 

- Even morality and law themselves depend on manners, according to Burke, for manners affect society, the basis of all law, directly. Manners are more important than laws. Upon them, in a great measure, the laws depend. Manners too are the product not of reason, but of unreflective individual habit and social wisdom. ( Loc 2996)

- Liberty, then is the result of a well ordered society; it is the product of complex constraints and possibilities imposed by the habits, traditions, institutions and manners that make up a given society. Burke thus draws on a traditional distinction between liberty and license. License is the imagined freedom to do anything one wants, regardless of circumstance. It emerges from a view that values, not the well being of society as such, but the sanctity of the individual will. On the this view social benefit is a by product of individual action, and for it to be fully realized the individual will must be unfettered. For Burke however, this view is deeply mistaken, both in ignoring man's fundamentally social nature and the true sources of individual well-being and in its utopian claim that man can and should somehow transcend society. Not only that: it corrupts and undermines the social order itself, which alone makes liberty possible. (Loc 3011)

- Burke thinks of democracy as the direct and unbounded expression of the popular will; and in this sense he is no democrat. But But he is insistent that power must be accountable, and that that it must be publicly exercised at all levels on behalf of the people. These are strikingly modern, indeed democratic, thoughts. 


- In general, he would have celebrated the growth of free markets, of religious toleration, of responsible and open government, and of personal liberty and the rule of law. We have so far seen him as a powerful advocate of these ideas during his own life, and as the great theorist and early practitioner of representative politics, the hing of our political modernity. (Loc 3465)

- A value free description of morality or politics can never be achieved; indeed, a world free of values is not a world we should ever want to inhabit. Human reason is a wonderful thing, but Burke insists that we are above all creatures of sentiment, emotion, passion and allegiance for good or for ill. (loc 3711)

- He was an early supporter of free markets, but only within as trong context of personal probity, law, market norms and trust. He helped to establish modern conception of nationhood and national allegiance, but had the deepest respect for other cultures and rejected military adventures. He celebrated religious observance, but despised moral absolutism. Burke is an anti-ideologist, and he is so because he is a conservative. (Loc 4138)


Burke oppsummert:

1. Den ekstreme liberalismen er i krise. Fornuften er viktig, men kan ikke alene løse alle problemene og spesielt ikke det moralske. Ekstrem liberalisme fremmer egoisme og arroganse. Burke sin konservatisme demmer opp for ekstrem individualisme og flertallets tyranni.

2. Burke advarte mot de som ville bryte ned nasjonal identitet fordi trofasthet mot nasjonen ville da bli svekket. Eliter må også lytte til folket om de vil ha deres støtte. Elitens overtramp leder til opprør. Amerika sin krig i Vietnam er et eksempel på dette.

3. Politikkens meninger er å opprettholde og fremme sosial orden og nasjonens beste. Burke sin metode er å studere folket, skikkene og institusjonene for å fremme et bedre samfunn. Hans metode er mer historisk enn den er vitenskapelig. Erfaring og tradisjon er viktigere en ideologi. 

4. Burke hatet maktmisbruk. 

5. Burke ville beskytte en representativt regjering og støttet styring av grunnloven. Dette var en beskyttelse mot maktmisbruk. 

6. Burke vektla også viktigheten av menneskets kultur. Kultur var arvet og funnet opp over lange historiske perioder.  


Kilder: Edmund Burke: The First Conservative by Jesse Norman

Interessant artikkel: Why we need Burke now more than ever


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