The effect of the contemporary Rousseauist ideas of social contract was to place the present members of society in a position of dictatorial dominance over those who went before and those who came after them . In Burkes eyes the self-righteous contempt for ancestors which characterized the Revolutionaries was also a disinheriting of the unborn. Rightly understood, he argued, society is a partnership among the dead, the living, and the unborn, and without what he called the hereditary principle, according to which rights could be inherited as well as acquired, both the dead and the unborn would be disenfranchized. Indeed, respect for the dead was, in Burkes view, the only real safeguard that the unborn could obtain, in a world that gave all its privileges to the living. His preferred vision of society was not as a contract, in fact, but as a trust, with the living members as trustees of an inheritance that they must strive to enhance and pass on.
but I had not grasped the deep negative thesis, the glimpse into Hell, contained in [Burkes] vision of the Revolution .
Perhaps the most fascinating and terrifying aspect of Communism was its ability to banish truth from human affairs, and to force whole populations to live within the lie, as President Havel put it . To me it was the greatest revelation, when first I travelled to Czechoslovakia in 1979, to come face to face with a situation in which people could, at any moment, be removed from the book of history, in which truth could not be uttered, and in which the Party could decide from day to day not only what would happen tomorrow, but also what had happened today, what had happened yesterday, and what had happened before its leaders had been born. This, I realized, was the situation that Burke was describing, to a largely incredulous readership, in 1790. And two hundred years later the situation still existed, and the incredulity along with it.
These are, indeed, exhilarating ideas, beckett. The unscrupulous modernist (rationalist) belief in progress and the future has perverted more than just modern politics it has arguably perverted science, philosophy, and art as well.
What an outstanding essay, beckett! Thank you so much for pinging it to me.
p.s.: Looks like I need to make another trip to amazon.com, for Scruton's From Descartes to Wittgenstein.