I’m by no means a conservative person, but I do understand why conservatism emerged in relation to liberal revolutions, especially the French Revolution. Liberty, equality and democracy always ideals people are trying to achieve within society. Then how could the revolution in the name of our pursuing actually lead to huge terror and chaos? More seriously, “the whole chain and continuity of the commonwealth would be broken.” Because of such worries, people like Burke started to think the society should be stable, in which people “want of a steady education and settled principle.” Learned from lessons of the French Revolution, people would become more practical than idealistic as before. As Burke said, “they will be more careful how they place power in base and incapable hands.”
Though I agree with Burke’s reflection on the French Revolution, conservative thoughts are still not that sound to me. It’s necessary to separate ideas and the practice of ideas. The fault of a wrong practice is not accredited to the idea, and what we need to do is to find a right way to actualize those ideas. Conservatism tends to give up those ideals, as it claims ideals could never be realized, and the most practical thing is to protect what they already had.
I ever did some readings comparing the French Revolution with the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and in contrast to the American Revolution. I wrote it in Chinese first in high school, and then someone helped me to translate it. I would like to post it here as a separate blog entry.