Lecture 5 - The Restoration of Europe - Conservatism
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Conservatism was a political force introduced right at the beginning of the
French Revolution and the ideology was so strong it has remained a viable
political force that it lasts even today.
Conservatism wanted to ensure the survival of the previous
political structure, the pre-revolutionary system.
This was a backlash to the enlightenment and attempted to
undermine the changing movement in Europe. Enlightenment
argued that God did not put absolutist monarchies there rather
that the rich placed.
They argued that enlightenment led to the French revolution
which led to the Reign of Terror. Hence we have to go back to the
old ways and must preserve the old political system.
Two philosophers who promoted the idea who’s premise was
accepted were Edmund Burke and Joseph de Maistre
He greatly criticized the revolution and claimed that private
property must always be preserved and respected. Any political
system that attacks private property will result in a carnage.
Furthermore, much better a political system be based on
prejudice and traditions with change coming slowly, bit by bit
rather than a radical and immediate transformation. He was a
member of the liberal party and promoted constitutional
monarchies. He wanted to curtail his own British monarchy even
more. He had no political agenda. He declared that no political
system can be placed on reason, there will never be a clean cut
political system that suits all. Such a political system will lead to
the foundations of a dictatorship that would undermine the
political system, society and threaten the world.
Every prediction of Burke came true. Since then, his vision of
conservatism became one of the most accepted aspects of
conservatism modern, not promote violent upheavals, try and
Joseph de Maistre
He criticized the elimination of all classes and stated it would
result in great disaster. This came true as this elimination of
classes led to violent upheaval.
De Maistre thought in different terms, he wanted to return back
to the two pillars of society, the throne and the altar. Go back to
the old political structure of all European states. Safe-guard the interests of the throne the monarch, and the altar the
church. He declared that by destroying the monarchy and
nationalizing the church, it resulted in an atheist state that
plunged Europe into a war. His additional sentence was that on
all aspects of life outside of the political realm, the pope should
reign supreme on all decisions.
They suspended the ‘Habeas Corpus’, this caused for any
arrest to need some sort of evidence, there could be no
arterial arrest. This caused great dissent among the British
who called for greater political representation, more rights
and a more modern society. This resulted in a Peterloo
demonstration for more rights.
In England, following the Peterloo Massacre of August 16,
1819, the British government a