Edmund Burke was the dominant political thinker of the last quarter of the eighteenth century in England. His reputation depends less on his role as a practising politician than on his ability to set contemporary problems within a wider context of political theory. Above all, he commented on change. He tried to teach lessons about how change should be managed, what limits should not be transgressed, and what should be reverently preserved. Burke’s generation was much in need of advice on these matters. The Industrial Revolution, the American Revolution, and catastrophically, the French Revolution presented challenges of terrible proportions. They could promise paradise or threaten anarchy. Burke was acutely aware of how high the stakes were. The Reflections on the Revolution in France was a dire warning of the consequences that would follow the mismanagement of change.
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