Saturday, May 09, 2015

French Revolutions: Burke (final)

This "letter to a gentleman" turned into a long winded book as Burke proceeded to critique the whole of the French government, military and economic system as it was then stumbling along.  There are a number of highlights.  The first was the note on how the intellectuals (i.e. "philosophers") managed to achieve a monopoly of the teaching institutions, so that a monotonous teaching of a single viewpoint was enforced to a degree that exceeded what the inquisition had obtained.  At the same time, the confiscation of the church property largely blocked further clergy from becoming learned, leading to a situation like our current one in which the orthodox christian clergy are generally less learned than the government funded clergy of atheism.  Charity was taken up by this government, not in the sense of Christian charity, but rather a false one that uses other peoples' money together with various contrivances for buying the favor of the masses.

The legislature itself took all power unto itself, and thus a major feature was the abolishment of checks and balances, so that the French Revolution first gave way to a classical democracy:  government of the mob.  A republic is what they had scorned.  A last point of amusement is the usage of paper money.  At that time, the government of England managed to retain a strong paper currency, but this was based on the convertibility of the money to gold.  The French had been more creative, so that the paper currency likely had more in common with that of the current Venezuela.  Burke laments what would happen with the public finances in the hands of populist crooks, which is another one of those perennial problems of government.  There is vastly more to this work, much of which almost prophecies the ailments of our current era.

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