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Empire and RevolutionThe Political Life of Edmund Burke$
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Richard Bourke

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691175652

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691175652.001.0001

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Whig Principles And Jacobin Dogma, 1791–1793

Whig Principles And Jacobin Dogma, 1791–1793

(p.740) XIV Whig Principles And Jacobin Dogma, 1791–1793
Empire and Revolution

Richard Bourke

Princeton University Press

This chapter details Burke's political life from 1791 to 1793. After 1790, Burke's career was shaped by the reaction to the Reflections. The work was a sophisticated polemical assault on attempts to reduce the rights and responsibilities of citizenship to a perilous ideal of self-government. However, it was widely construed as an attack on the equality of human beings and the accountability of governments to the people whom they ruled. In fact, it was a critique of the resort to primitive equality as a justification for destroying equitable relations in civil society. At the same time, its aim was to distinguish responsible government from popular tyranny. From Burke's vantage, the doctrine of the rights of man represented a crusade against the values of cohesion and responsibility, and was therefore liable to shatter society and government altogether. However, the force of his argument was drowned out by subsequent political rhetoric.

Keywords:   Edmund Burke, political thought, Reflections on the Revolution in France, rights of man

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