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Edmund Burke: The Conservative Liberal

The Role of Family

Social institutions such as family, religious communities, villages, or cities are the primary source of public understanding and the school of life where a person can develop the feeling of love for the country, fellow citizens, and all of humanity. Traditionally, the family is used to be the central institution of education. What children acquire during their childhood, they retain throughout the subsequent life. Freedom means the existence of such human rights based on which civil society was formed: to have the right to live abiding by the laws, own, acquire and inherit property, live with parents and siblings, and avoid violating other individuals’ rights. The importance of the family as an educational institution is in laying the foundations of personality. The basis which parents give their children may affect the nation as a whole and create a positive perception and right attitude towards citizenship.

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Burke’s Understanding of Human Nature

Burke argued that human nature is the reason for society’s weakness, as people cannot deal with their passions and appetites, which often get out of control. According to Burke, human emotions and desires should be restricted due to moral chains as civil liberty is not a disordered social state. Since liberation is abused in many ways, and true love of freedom is rare, a person’s will must be controlled by the “equality of restraint,” which defines tolerance as the most crucial feature of a conscious society. As the family is the primary social institution that implants the feelings of allegiance, it becomes the ambiance where these kinds of feelings may place human passions and appetites under control. This leads to the crucial role of the family as it helps individuals civilize their desires, providing further attachments to larger social institutions, including neighborhood, school, religion, businesses, city, and nation as a whole.

Burke’s Understanding of Progress

For Burke, the progress meant a gradual evolution rather than a radical revolution. The growth should occur due to the natural changes in society, where the evolutionary path of development is the smooth, gradual modifications. Civil liberty can exist within the framework of law and order. Reforms should be carried out in an evolutionary rather than revolutionary way. Radical changes are counterfeit progress. Burke argued that revolution destroys society and traditional state institutions. He saw the root of the trouble in neglect of traditions and values ​​inherited from the ancestors. The revolution eradicates the resources of society and the cultural and ideological heritage accumulated over centuries. He contrasted the French revolutionaries’ radicalism with other fundamental values: concern for political continuity and natural development, respect for customs and specific rights instead of the abstract idea of ​​law, speculative constructions, and innovations based on them.

Reforms should appear across generations, slowly becoming a new tradition. In the first instance, these transformations occur within the family, then slowly grow outward – to neighborhood and community, schools, religion, and businesses, and then to city and nation. Society develops along the ascending line of progress, along the path of combining the old with the new, the volatile – with the constant and the eternal. Burke considered the preservation of the past with continuous changes the general principle, and the order being protected never becomes entirely out of date. With regard to the government and politicians, their role should be diminished, as the quick changes would not be accepted among citizens. Sudden transformations will disrupt the sophisticated attachments that make society work.

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