Vindication of Natural Society Hogeye Condensed Version
page 0
  • Here in the left column, I will put comments about the text. Generally, I will note the points and themes that are important to anarchist thought, and relate how Burke's ideas have been modified or enlarged by later theorists.

  • For more about the satire or not question, see Edmund Burke, Anarchist by Murray N. Rothbard, and Rothbard and Burke vs. the Cold War Burkeans by Joseph R. Stromberg.

As an introduction to libertarianism, you can't do much better than this. "A Vindication of Natural Society" is the first explicitly anarchist essay ever written. Its powerful polymic against the State still resonates; one can't read this essay without applying it to our modern welfare-warfare States.

There is controvery regarding whether Vindication was intended by Burke to be serious or satire. For our purpose here, that is irrelevant. It is a fact that many reasonable and learned men did take it quite seriously. Burke's themes were recalled and elaborated in many later writings on political philosophy; among those people influenced by Vindication were such anarchist luminaries as William Godwin and Benjamin Tucker.

Whether Burke was giving his own point of view, or providing his opponents with vital intellectual ammunition, his main points are still made today in debates about the legitimacy and proper extent of the State. Of course, it is ironic that the man who was to become the legendary "father of conservatism" wrote the seminal treatise on anarchism. This sort of thing happens when a man critically "examines a received Opinion with all that Freedom and Candour which we owe to Truth wherever we find it, or however it may contradict our own Notions, or oppose our own Interests."

Hogeye Bill

ToAnarchPg Vindication of Natural Society