Edmund Burke


Edmund Burke, the passionate defender of the "ancientprinciples" of his forebears, might be surprised to discoverthat he originated a new school of political thought. By allaccounts, however, Burke is the "modern founder of politicalconservatism," and generations of conservative thinkers havefound his life and work a rich source of philosophical and practicalwisdom. Edmund Burke was a statesman and not a politicalphilosopher, and he never produced anything that may be regardedas a systematic political treatise. Nevertheless, he embraceda consistent political creed that governed his actionsthroughout his life. The aim of this essay is to show that Burke’simplicit political creed is, in all essential respects, the doctrineelaborated in the twentieth-century by the social philosopherF.A. Hayek. Hayek’s aim, he said, was to restate or systematizethose basic principles whose observance generated and sustainWestern constitutional government and the free society. As we’llsee, the "classical liberal" or "Old Whig" principles articulated byHayek were also those that inspired and guided Burke.