Saturday, 4 July 2009

4th July - Revolution & Conservatism

Just still time to wish my American friends well in their 4th July celebrations.

The later French Revolution followed hot on the heels of the American Revolution (1776-83 American, 1789-99 French, this timescale was pretty quick in them days) and historians have debated equally hotly about the similarities and differences of these events. However, the timing and connection was not lost on some contemporaries.

Here's Richard Price:

'Behold all ye friends of freedom... behold the light you have struck out, after setting America free, reflected to France and there kindled into a blaze that lays despotism in ashes and warms and illuminates Europe. I see the ardour for liberty catching and spreading; ...the dominion of kings changed for the dominion of laws, and the dominion of priests giving way to the dominion of reason and conscience.'

But while some hailed the spirit of the French Revolution, others did not want this kindling to spread to Britain and thus the Grand-daddy of modern British conservatism, Edmund Burke, penned his Reflections on the Revolution in France, seen as an important conservative manifesto.

So this period of history was a bit of a mixed bag really.


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