Two Revolutions for Freedom - Intercollegiate Studies Institute: Think. Live Free.

Two Revolutions for Freedom

Shortly after the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris on July 14, 1789, the English political theorist Edmund Burke wrote a letter to Lord Charlemont, the first president of the Royal Irish Academy. It is Burke’s earliest known statement about the French Revolution:

The spirit it is impossible not to admire; but the old Parisian ferocity has broken out in a shocking manner…if it should be character, rather than accident, then that people are not fit for liberty, and must have a strong hand, like that of their former masters to coerce them. Men must have a certain fund of natural moderation to qualify them for freedom, else it becomes noxious to themselves, and a perfect nuisance to every body else.

We know the rest of the story. The French revolutionaries proved themselves to be unfit for liberty. Barely a decade after executing their hated monarch — and after years of political instability, social chaos, and the remorseless violence of the guillotine — the freedom-loving revolutionaries installed an emperor to replace him. Napoleon Bonaparte, dictator for life, would become a perfect nuisance to the rest of Europe.

Read the rest over at National Affairs.

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