Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine: A Comparative Analysis of Their Views on the French Revolution

913 Words Feb 5th, 2018 4 Pages
In his book Reflections on the Revolution in France the conservative Edmund Burke argued that the concept of universal human rights that applied internationally across all societies was a meaningless abstraction that was subversive of social order, while in The Rights of Man the radical democrat Thomas Paine insisted that all human beings had equal rights and citizenship. Burke had been a defender of the American Revolution because he thought that it had upheld the traditional English rights of life, liberty and property. Paine had participated directly in it, working with Benjamin Franklin to write a democratic constitution for Pennsylvania in 1776, as well as the famous pamphlet Common Sense that justified independence from Great Britain. Burke and Paine parted company over the French Revolution, though, when Burke claimed that France had no liberal-democratic tradition in its history and political cultural and that the revolution would probably end in tyranny.
Burke was a defender of the idea of civil society, which had existed long before the French Revolution as had the concept of natural rights. In retrospect the French and American Revolutions appear to be a culmination of developments that originated in the Renaissance and Reformation, and the development of capitalism and a middle class in the…

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