Edmund Burke and the Totalitarian Future

By Ferdinand Bardamu for the Occidental Observer

In May of 1789, an armed Parisian mob stormed the Bastille, a potent symbol of the ancien regime’s autocratic power. Their eventual aim was to forge a new social and political order based on the utopian theories of the French Enlightenment. This was historically unprecedented. The cry of the revolutionaries, “Liberté, fraternité, égalité, ou la mort,” reverberated across the Atlantic; it served as the inspiration for revolutions in the Caribbean and Latin America in the years between 1791 and 1826. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, drafted with the help of Thomas Jefferson, was adopted by France’s National Constituent Assembly in August of 1789. This document is the primary ideological basis of modern-day human rights. Over a century after the French Revolution, Bolsheviks and other radicals were still drawing inspiration from the original revolt against Gallican church and aristocracy. The preponderance of liberal, secular democracies among the world’s sovereign political entities is lasting testimony to the widespread influence of Jacobin thought.

Across the channel, the Whigs, one of the two political parties of the old British parliamentary system–the other being the Tories–openly sympathized with the aims of the French Revolution. Charles James Fox, a noted Whig leader, believed that it was a continuation of the Glorious Revolution, which had ended the threat of Roman Catholic absolutism in Britain by establishing a constitutional monarchy. Months after the storming of the Bastille, a prominent Whig, the dissenting clergyman Richard Price, delivered a sermon in the Old Jewry, a Presbyterian meeting-house. He enthusiastically praised the French Revolution, drawing a favorable comparison between the recent turmoil in France and the events of 1688. Price’s discourse was on the fundamental “principles” of the Glorious Revolution, which he identified as liberty of conscience, resistance to tyranny and the right to “chuse our own governors; to cashier them for misconduct; and to frame a government for ourselves.”

Edmund Burke, an Anglo-Irish Whig with strong Tory leanings, vehemently objected to the idea of cashiering errant rulers for misconduct. Fearing that an unchecked Jacobinism would fan the flames of revolution across Britain, he responded with an impassioned defense of the old order, Reflections on the Revolution in France, written in 1790.  Price’s interpretation of the Glorious Revolution and its significance was mistaken, Burke argued. King James II, through his actions, was considered to have abdicated the crown; William of Orange was then invited to depose James and rule in his stead. By invading Britain, he would save it from the prospect of a Catholic dynasty and a resurgent Catholic faith. Far from being an instance of cashiering and electing “our own governors,” what happened was “a small and a temporary deviation from the strict order of a regular hereditary succession.” The vacant throne would be filled by Mary, the eldest daughter of James; William, her husband, would rule alongside her as co-regent.

Among conservatives, Burke was original precisely because he allowed for change in his political philosophy. In the Reflections, he wrote: “A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation.” This made Burke an evolutionary conservative. The English Restoration of 1660, which followed the Puritan ascendancy of the Interregnum, and the Revolution of 1688 best exemplified Burke’s gradualist approach. In both instances, Parliament had “regenerated the deficient part of the old constitution through the parts which were not impaired,” preserving the social and political order that had been in place since Magna Carta. Although this necessitated a slight deviation in the line of hereditary descent, it was still hereditary descent, a direct acknowledgement of the inviolability of British constitutional principles. In English jurisprudence, no fixed or set principle could be derived from this, notwithstanding Price’s assertions to the contrary. The change that paved the way for William and Mary’s accession to the throne affected the offending part only, but did not result in the “decomposition” of the entire social order. This was in stark contrast to the French Revolution, which threatened to end Western civilization in France and reduce the country to a state of barbarism.

The Reflections is a foundational text of modern conservatism, an interesting synthesis of empiricist epistemology, utilitarianism and traditionalism, but it is also more than that. It is one of the most trenchant critiques of modern democracy and utopian reformism ever written; as a formal repudiation of rationalism in politics, modern conservatives (of the classical or traditionalist variety) have discovered within its pages a bottomless fount of wisdom from which to draw. This makes it a valuable resource in the struggle against the suicidal post-modern Leftist ideology of the globalist elite and its political stranglehold over the governments of the West. His message was that mass democracy was dangerous; if the threat were not immediately excised from the body politic, it would metastasize and destroy everything around it. In Burke’s apocalyptic vision, “a swinish multitude,” empowered by democracy and freed from all civilized restraint, would trod under foot the great pillars of Western civilization, paving the way for a final descent into a cruel and bloodthirsty savagery.

Modern White Leftists, who are more bigoted and fanatical than the French revolutionaries of yesteryear, have begun their own revolution: the great Non-White Demographic Revolution that threatens to permanently submerge the West under a tidal wave of Third World detritus. This “rising tide of color,” to use T. Lothrop Stoddard’s apt phrase, steadily imported by globalist elites into Western nations for decades, is far more representative of the dangers of democracy and utopian reformism than the French Revolution ever was.  At least France was able to recover, both intellectually and materially, from the revolutionary fervor of the 1790s; even if the French Revolution had been successful, only the Gallic branch of Western civilization would have been destroyed. This would have still left the door wide open for a possible future recovery by royalist émigrés or an invading counter-revolutionary alliance of European powers. On the other hand, if the West’s Non-White Demographic Revolution is successful, not only will Western civilization be utterly destroyed, but the White race in Western Europe and North America will be racially dispossessed. This latter fate would have been unimaginable to Burke, who took it for granted that all men had an instinct for ethno-racial self-preservation.

For Burke, civil society rested on the pillars of aristocracy and clergy. The clergy instilled a sense of awe in the people for their rulers by consecrating the political power of the aristocracy. If either of these should be trodden under foot by the “swinish multitude,” civilization would vanish from Europe. Burke’s belief that clergy were just as necessary as aristocracy for civilized life in the West originally stemmed from a conviction that religion was only as valuable as its social utility. For this reason, he condemned Unitarianism because of its connection with political radicalism. He also despised deism and atheism for similar reasons. Although Burke was an Anglican Latitudinarian, he did not wish to see the entire world converted to Christianity. If some religions were more suited to a nation’s ethno-racial character than others, these nations would be better off if they remained “heathen.” In some areas of the world, such as in India and the Middle East, Hinduism and Islam were a beneficial influence, promoting national flourishing, social cohesion and rule of law among non-Whites.

If aristocracy and clergy were the scaffolding upon which civilization rested, the French Revolution would lead to its undoing. It was the first large-scale attack on aristocracy and clergy, leading to the confiscation of ecclesiastical property and the dispossession of aristocracy. The Non-White Demographic Revolution is even more far-reaching in its aims; globalists have waged all-out war on natural aristocracy, which is even more crucial for civilizational advancement. They have enacted policies like affirmative action and employment equity, which dilute the native talent pool by diverting resources away from more able citizens and giving it away to undeserving non-Whites, typically blacks and Hispanics; as a consequence, both educational and vocational standards are in steep decline. At the same time, mass importation of less qualified non-Whites, usually East Asians, to compete for STEM jobs has put downward pressure on wages and forced talented Whites to seek remunerative employment elsewhere.

It is true that Christianity has lost its hold over the elites because of science and reason. But if religion can be used to foster group cohesion and legitimize political authority among the lower orders of society, why not combine fervent devotion with empirical rationality? This would give us a science of eugenics made into a civil religion, as Sir Francis Galton had originally proposed. The radical egalitarian ideology that underlies the Non-White Demographic Revolution has taken this option off the table; there can be no aristocracy, social cohesion or talk of race improvement if the browning of the West is to be successfully completed by mid-century.

The traditional social order, as conceived by Burke, is an ongoing partnership “between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.” If there was to be any civilizational continuity, people had to “look forward to posterity,” otherwise they would not “look backward to their ancestors.” Lack of future concern is always disruptive of familial and societal bonds, leading to the eventual disappearance of the entire social order. By pulling down the pillars of Western civilization, i.e., by giving the franchise to those without property or education or by undermining the institution of monogamy by encouraging women’s sexual liberation, the post-modern Left displays nothing but contempt for previous generations of Whites. An active propaganda campaign in the education system has been orchestrated by Leftists to suppress White racial consciousness. This attack on Whiteness has gathered momentum over the decades.  Leftists are even rewriting history, presenting Western civilization as the accomplishment of sub-Saharan Africans, Moslems and other non-Whites; in North America, they are trying to extinguish all traces of Western civilization’s White racial character by pulling down its most cherished historical and cultural monuments. This program is obviously far more radical than anything pursued by French revolutionary leaders. If the post-modern Left can display this kind of iconoclastic hatred for all things Western, then their attitude to the White race’s posterity must be one of ethnomasochistic hatred. This is why they have been flooding the West with non-Whites from the worst areas of the Third World, namely Mexico and Central America, the Middle East, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. In replacing the West’s historic population with non-Whites, it is clear that globalist elites do not care about future generations of Whites.

As a supporter of natural hierarchy, Burke believed that government should adequately represent both ability and property; this would entail an hereditary aristocracy open to men of talent after a probationary period. Socially engineering society to make all men equal in terms of both opportunity and outcome was a perversion of “the natural order of things.” The French revolutionaries “load the edifice of society, by setting up in the air what the solidity of the structure requires to be on the ground.” Hair-dressers and tallow-chandlers in government are usurping the prerogatives of aristocracy; they are at “war with nature” because they are the worst of men occupying positions that should be reserved for the best of men. If the members of France’s National Constituent Assembly were mostly contemptible mediocrities in Burke’s eyes, then imagine how much worse are the representatives of today’s globalist ruling elite. Post-modern Leftism has produced a succession of laughable mediocrities in government. This has only worsened as globalists increasingly “diversify” their parliaments and congresses so as to reduce White males to a minority. Instead of the dignified White leaders of the past, men of ability and owners of property, we find, for example in the US Congress, a motley collection of Puerto Rican barmaids, Arab Muslims in Third World costume and Somali refugees (with a penchant for incest?)—the worst of the worst. Justin Trudeau’s cabinet is the most “gender equal” in Canadian history; candidates are deliberately selected on the basis of ethno-racial identity and sexual anatomy than ability and property, a perfect example of the egalitarian mediocrity prized by globalist elites. These people have neither ability nor property, which means that they have no stake in the society they rule over. Without any connection to the society they rule over, they would be more willing to engage in radical utopian experiments than those who do belong to the talented and propertied classes. Furthermore, Burke was disgusted by the mere thought of female participation in politics, which he regarded as “abominable” and “perverted.” Women in politics were “lost to shame” and the men who allowed it were under the influence of the Devil.

As the radical leveling of the French Revolution gathered momentum, Burke would witness France descend into an impenetrable darkness. In the crude mechanistic philosophy of the Jacobins, “a king is but a man, a queen is but a woman; a woman is but an animal, and an animal not of the highest order.” By reducing all men to the lowest common denominator, the post-modern Left has exposed the “defects of our naked, shivering nature.” We see fierce intergroup competition for increasingly limited resources in the formerly White countries of the globalist West, rather than a world that celebrates diversity by ensuring that each ethno-racial group remains within its own geographical boundaries. Lives are destroyed as men of ability and property are reduced to a mean condition, while those who lack both are allowed to humiliate and tyrannize over their betters; this has led to the intellectual, cultural and economic stagnation found in all Western countries. Gone are the leaders and thinkers, animated by the West’s Faustian spirit, who once advanced civilization to the furthest reaches of the cosmos. Because globalism demands that Western culture be placed in the straitjacket of political correctness, stifling creativity, great literature, art and music are things of the past. The delights of erotic love and romance, as well as stable monogamous family life, have been rudely suppressed, revealing the ruthless Darwinian sexual selection that lies underneath. Social welfare liberalism, multiculturalism and feminism, the reigning ideologies of the globalist West, have done much to turn men into “animals” void of the refinements of civilized life.

Burke embraced an empirical rationality as the underlying methodology of the social sciences, just like his mentor the Scottish philosopher David Hume. “The science of constructing a commonwealth, or renovating it, or re-forming it,” he wrote, “is, like every other experimental science, not to be taught a priori.” Hume advised readers to cast their books on metaphysics into the flames; similarly, Burke disdained “abstract metaphysicians” and their “airy speculations.” Political science was useless without direct experimental knowledge of human behavior. Reformers should never pull down an edifice that has stood the test of time; rather, changes should be made on a small scale and with due caution. Whether a change should be maintained or not should be evaluated on whether it conserves the old order or not, an assessment that can only be made empirically.

Burke’s insistence on empirical rationality in the political realm also justified prejudice, i.e. classism, sexism and racism, as useful and necessary. In Hume’s epistemology, our knowledge of sensible phenomena is rarely derived from reason; instead, it is based on the mind’s association of different sense impressions in constant conjunction with each other. On this, Burke agreed with Hume, minus the emphasis on inference based on observation; since each man’s “stock of reason” was small, men should rely on the “general bank and capital” of prejudice, the living embodiment of the collective historical experience of mankind. Rather than eliminating it, prejudice should be encouraged and investigated because it was based on hundreds or even thousands of years of human experience. This made it useful in emergency situations, when split second decisions had to be made in the face of danger.

Like Jacobinism, all the political theorizing of the globalist elite is just “airy speculation.” No one had any experimental evidence that the abolition of traditional sex roles or the forced integration of different races and ethnicities in the West would produce a harmonious society. No evidence was ever produced for any of the Left’s anti-racist propaganda. The influence of Boasian anthropology and New Left Critical Theory has oriented post-modern Leftists in a far more radical direction than previous generations of revolutionaries. Because abstract metaphysics is everything and actual conditions on the ground nothing, multicultural and feminist policies were implemented in North America and Western Europe regardless of the potential civilizational consequences.

The “pretended rights of man,” the basis of the post-modern Left’s concept of human rights, is a case in point. Burke dismissed all metaphysical talk of rights as useless. “What is the use of discussing a man’s abstract right to food or medicine?” he asked. Absolute rights are invalidated by the complexity of human nature. “The primitive rights of men,” he wrote, “undergo such a variety of refractions and reflections, that it becomes absurd to talk of them as if they continued in the simplicity of their original direction.” The social and political order can only accommodate civil, but not absolute (so-called “human”) rights. In his address to the old Whigs, Burke wrote: “The pretended rights of man … cannot be the rights of the people. For to be a people, and to have these rights, are things incompatible. The one supposes the presence, the other the absence of a state of civil society.” Man’s absolute rights would have to be surrendered in exchange for protection from the civil government; this would make government an institution of “political convenience,” established to satisfy human wants and ensure that all citizens performed the duties required of them. Absolute rights, such as the right to govern oneself, would lead to anarchy; their legal implementation would require either one’s personal representation in the political process or the appointment of a personal deputy to act as one’s representative. As opposed to these pretended rights, there were the “real” natural rights of man, such as the right to justice, property, and the fruits of one’s labor, the only rights that can be effectively administered by the machinery of civil government. In Burke’s political philosophy, government must always serve a practical purpose; it should never be used for utopian social and political experimentation.

The elites that control all Western societies no longer care for the well-being of their populations. They have abandoned empirical rationality and practicality in favor of an empty metaphysics. According to Burke, rights are an inheritance to be passed on from one generation of Englishmen to the next. In contrast, the globalist concept of rights is the “pretended rights of man” taken to their furthest logical extremes. All men have rights in Western societies, regardless of race, ethnicity or even geographical location. A man born in China, who has lived all his life there, would acquire the same rights as an indigenous Englishman if he were to emigrate to the UK. Non-Whites have the right to emigrate to White societies, provided they have the necessary financial resources. The globalist obsession with human rights has reached such levels of fanaticism that even this requirement is no longer an impediment; NGOs have squandered taxpayer money importing penniless non-Whites into Western countries. Indeed, one of the chief ideological justifications of the current Non-White Demographic Revolution is found in the almost religious devotion to human rights so typical of globalist ideologues. From Burke’s perspective, only a system of natural rights based on practical necessity can be effectively administered by the machinery of civil government. Natural rights never become human rights because man’s relationship with his fellow man is determined by a series of concentric circles. These get larger and larger the further they radiate outward.  In the words of Burke: “To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed towards a love to our country, and to mankind.” Men who put love of family, community, nation and race before love of mankind are not easily swayed by Leftist talk of universal “human rights”; only men who are “selfish” and “mischievous” would disregard familial, communal and racial bonds in favor of some abstract brotherhood of man. Any Western society based on metaphysical rights will eventually self-destruct. If everyone has a right to White societies, no one will have a right to those societies once their resources are exhausted and they eventually cease to exist as viable political entities.

Burke is fully cognizant of the dangers of mass democracy. The masses can always avail themselves of the machinery of state repression whenever the need arises. The tyranny of the majority is less likely to be condemned as morally indefensible the larger the number of citizens involved: “The share of infamy, that is likely to fall to the lot of each individual in public acts, is small indeed; the operation of opinion being in the inverse ratio to the number of those who abuse power. Their own approbation of their own acts has to them the appearance of a public judgment in their favour.” The fact that the majority can cloak its worst tyrannical excesses in the garb of public approval is why a “perfect democracy is …  the most shameless thing in the world. As it is the most shameless, it is also the most fearless.”

Modern Western governments are mass democracies at their most tyrannical and repressive. Although some White nationalists believe that the non-White Demographic Revolution is being forcibly imposed on the West in the face of mass White opposition, the evidence says otherwise. It is true that the non-White Demographic Revolution was initially imposed from the top down by a globalist elite. Nevertheless, most Whites either enthusiastically support the browning of the West or are indifferent to it. How else does one explain that the same politicians who promote mass non-White immigration and multiculturalism have been repeatedly elected to office for over half a century? One could say that Whites are presented with a limited set of electoral options; but if Whites were truly opposed to the browning of the West they would have already established their own anti-immigration, identitarian parties by now. These would grow in influence, eventually eclipsing and then replacing the conventional political parties of the globalists, like the US Democrats and Republicans. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. White separatists are confronted with the same problem that confronted conservative thinkers like Edmund Burke: the tyranny of the majority. The Southern political theorist John C. Calhoun tried to solve this problem with his ideas of nullification and concurrent majority, but to no avail.

In the Reflections can be found a number of prophecies. Burke predicted that the French Revolution would lead to nationwide chaos and usher in the tyranny of an oligarchy. His most remarkable prophecy concerns the rise of a charismatic general:

It is besides to be considered, whether an assembly like yours … is fit for promoting the obedience and discipline of an army. It is known that armies have hitherto yielded a very precarious and uncertain obedience to any senate, or popular authority; and they will least of all yield it to an assembly which is only to have a continuance of two years. … In the weakness of one kind of authority, and in the fluctuation of all, the officers of an army will remain for some time mutinous and full of faction, until some popular general, who understands the art of conciliating the soldiery, and who possesses the true spirit of command, shall draw the eyes of all men upon himself. Armies will obey him on his personal account. There is no other way of securing military obedience in this state of things. But the moment in which that event shall happen, the person who really commands the army is your master; the master (that is little) of your king, the master of your Assembly, the master of your whole republic.

The French Revolution, which began with cries of  “Liberté, fraternité, égalité, ou la mort,” ended with Corsican general Napoleon Bonaparte as First Consul of the French republic. In 1804, he would crown himself as Emperor of the French. Leftist revolutions always require leaders and followers; the expectation is that they would conform to some idealized vision of humanity. Because the enforcement of utopian dogmas requires the bureaucratic regimentation of daily life, power is inevitably concentrated in the hands of a small number of demagogues. Since Leftism is a perversion of the “natural order of things,” only authoritarian and, in the twenty-first century, totalitarian control can sustain the illusion of an infinitely malleable human nature. All across the globalist West, hate crimes and hate speech legislation have been enacted to silence potential White dissidents. The non-White Demographic Revolution, like the French Revolution before it, will become increasingly autocratic, ending in a military dictatorship  similar to what Marshal Tito had established in Yugoslavia. This is a fact grounded in human biology: the lower the degree of genetic relatedness between populations, the lower the likelihood of intergroup cooperation and harmony, but the greater the need for armed force to ensure that everyone gets along and abides by the rule of law.

“The tyranny of a multitude is a multiplied tyranny,” declared Burke in a letter of 1790; this is why there can be no political solution to the central problem of mass democracy, the tyranny of the majority, other than by revolution from within to bring about regime change or by eliminating democracy altogether as a viable form of government. For example, the worst excesses of the French Revolution were mitigated by sending its principal architect to the guillotine. This required courageous men in positions of power to do what was right and end the Reign of Terror, before the Revolution spiraled out of control and began devouring its own children; the same must happen in the globalist West if the White race is to survive. If there are courageous men in the ruling elite who can foresee the dangers posed by a “rising tide of color,” then the West may be saved, the traitors brought to justice, and the invading non-Whites repatriated. Otherwise, we must wait and see whether Whites are able to regroup and re-establish their civilization after the West has been swamped by a tidal wave of non-Whites.

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