Edmund Burke and the Invention of Modern Conservatism, 1830–1914: An Intellectual History by Emily Jones - review by Richard Bourke

Richard Bourke

What’s the Big Idea?

Edmund Burke and the Invention of Modern Conservatism, 1830–1914: An Intellectual History

By

Oxford University Press 273pp £60 order from our bookshop
 

Is there a political philosophy of conservatism? This seems unlikely. Communism in eastern Europe ended while trying to preserve itself with militant determination. Socialists have often cleaved with rigidity to their own traditions. Various liberalisms have identified themselves with a conservative as well as a radical ethos. It would appear impossible, therefore, to connect conservatism to any specific set of doctrines. Even the disposition to conserve has been common to most political positions. 

These observations tend to unsettle the Left as well as the Right, leaving the latter disorientated and the former with nothing coherent to oppose. As a result, both sides have eagerly defended the idea of a conservative tradition. Textbooks on the subject, and most general histories that touch upon

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