Edmund Burke is one of the most important — if not the most important — political thinkers in the last three hundred years. Those who have never read him directly have interfaced with someone either influenced by him or caught up reckoning with his views. He was, as it were, the snake in the Leftist garden, reminding those bent on revolutionary bliss they are not as gods.
But Burke is hardly a household name beyond a widely-shared paraphrase of a quote. Those who can summon up a high school-level review of Locke, Hobbes, Washington, Jefferson, etc more often draw a blank if asked about this great “philosopher in action.”
This article is, first and foremost, a primer for those out there drawing a blank.
“Our patience will achieve more than our force.”
Edmund Burke was a Member of Parliament who spent some of Britain’s most pivotal decades in the public eye. He was an intellectual leader among the Rockingham Whigs, comparable to Newt Gingrich and Bernie Sanders in his “ideas man” style of influence, but certainly better than both at that game unless the old coots have been holding out on us.
His career spanned the Seven Years War to the French Revolution. He was either instrumental in the conduct of every major event in between or credited with providing indispensable observations of them; such as his magnum opus, Reflections on the Revolution in France .
Unlike other “great” politicians, Burke never attained the highest office in the land or exerted much in the way of direct personal influence. In this respect, his career reached its apex during Rockingham’s, two stints as Prime Minister (1765-1766, 1782). Outside that very brief time, Burke served as Parliament’s reforming gadfly by powerfully orienting Parliament’s concerns t