The consolations of philosophy: Edmund Burke was a prophet without honour in his own time | Samizdata.net

Burke was several times defeated politically – sometimes as a direct result of being honest – and later (usually much later) resurged simply because his opponents, through refusing to believe his warnings, walked into water over their heads and drowned, doing a lot of irreversible damage in the process. Even when this happened, he was not quickly respected. By the time it became really hard to avoid noticing that the French revolution was as unpleasant as Burke had predicted, all the enlightened people knew he was a longstanding prejudiced enemy of it, so “he loses credit for his foresight because he acted on it”, as Harvey Mansfield put it. Similarly, when ugly effects of Obama’s second term become impossible to ignore, people like you and me will get no credit from those to whom their occurrence is unexpected because we were against him “anyway”.

Even eight years is a shorter time than any of Burke’s epochs. If the euro dies in less than another four years, maybe we should think ourselves very lucky. In our health service, the ratio of administrators to doctors and nurses passed 100% much longer ago than four years or even eight, and the NHS is still a sacred cow. Perhaps US citizens should think themselves lucky that adverse effects of ObamaCare may show soon and be noticed.

Since Burke was admired by Churchill, here’s a Churchill quote: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

And a related Burke one: “The conduct of a losing party never appears right: at least, it never can possess the only infallible criterion of wisdom to vulgar judgments, – success.”

via The consolations of philosophy: Edmund Burke was a prophet without honour in his own time | Samizdata.net.

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