Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Bold Assertion About the Foundations of Conservatism

WARNING: In this blog post I am going to make a bold assertion about the foundation of the Conservative movement based on a prejudicial assumption about a class of people.

I've come across multiple sources claiming that Edmund Burke (1729-1797) was the father of Conservatism.

Conservatism is the ideology of the Conservative Party. The Conservative Party was created in 1834 by a group calling itself the Tory Party.

The Tories were thrown into crisis by the Representation of the People Act of 1832. Prompted by rioting in the street, this reform act forced a redistricting of political boroughs so that the parliament would be somewhat more in line with the population. The act also expanded suffrage to upper middle class property owners.

The Tories were in crisis because their position in parliament was dependent on "rotten boroughs" which had very small populations. To retain power, the Tories needed to rebrand their party.

This rebranding occurred when the Tory politician Sir Robert Peel (1788 – 1850) made concessions to the Whigs and created an ideology that drew heavily on a rift between Edmund Burke and Charles James Fox (1749 – 1806). Fox and Burke who were both members of the Whig Party. Apparently Fox was a firebrand who supported the French Revolution who later became horrified by the atrocities of the revolution, while Burke was skeptical of the French Revolution and was also horrified by the atrocities of the affair.

Peel was also deeply influenced by William Pitt the Younger (1759 – 1806) who was often called a Tory but called himself an Independent Whig.

The Conservative Party appears to have been created by Peel and his followers who were influenced by Pitt and the rift between Burke and Fox.

Now for my bold assertion based on a prejudicial assumption about a class of people. I am going to reject the claim that Edmund Burke, who died in 1797, was the founder of the Conservative Movement in 1834.

As you see, in 1834 Edmund Burke was member of the class of dead people. Burke had been numbered among the dead for a good thirty years before the Tory Party changed its name to "The Conservative Party."

I base this assertion on my personal observation that dead people tend to be somewhat lifeless. I've observed that the dead tend to lie about all day and are not prone to doing things like starting political parties.

I know, I know. I know. It is not uncommon for dead people to register and vote. Dead people often register for the opposition party. This is especially true for dead people living Chicago cemeteries, but I assert that dead people only take a passive role in politics and that dead people do not go around starting political movements.

Burke was a member of the Whig Party and it appears that Burke called himself a "Whig." I feel that information is sufficient to classify his beliefs as "Whiggism." Conversely, I do not feel that it is right to call Burke either a "conservative" or a "liberal" as these parties did not exist yet.

The Conservative Party, and consequently conservatism, seems to have a lot more to do with a guy name Sir Robert Peel than with Burke as Peel was both living and present at the start of the Conservative Party.

Now, it would be tempting to say that Sir Robert Peel formed the Conservative Party to counter the radicalism of the evil liberals except for the unfortunate fact that the Liberal Party didn't exist yet.

Peel's Conservative coalition fell apart in 1846 over the issue of free trade. Mainstream conservatives opposed free trade. Peel and his closest followers supported free trade.

The Liberal Party was formed in 1859 when the self-described Peelites, who supported free trade, left the Conservative Party to join Whigs to form a new party.

It is difficult to say that Peel founded Conservatism to fight against the evils of Liberalism when his followers left the Conservative Party to help form the Liberal Party.

I admit, my political ideas are driven by quaint notions about the linearity of time. My statement that dead people don't start parties is based on my prejudicial view that dead people are lifeless. The people living in cemeteries are just a bunch of layabouts ... I tell ya. I say this knowing that large numbers of dead people seem to change party affiliation after they die and continue to vote. This is (especially those living in Chicago cemeteries), but I will take the controversial position and state that dead people tend to be passive members of the party at best. I hold firmly to my view that the dead (also known as life challenged citizens) lack the animation to actually start political movements.

Counter to the rhetoric of Conservative pundits, I will assert that Edmund Burke, who died in 1797, did not start the Conservative Movement in 1834.

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