Edmund Burke, in “Reflections on the Revolution in France”, expresses his opinions on the French Revolution and the consequences of rebellion. His opinions later formed what came to be known as a conservative ideology. Favoring tradition and the status quo, he became known as the father of conservatism, which can also be seen in modern politics today.
He claims that attempting to change society through revolution is not a feasible triumph, therefore it will easily fail. “The management of the state” he says, “is a thing to be settled by convention” (Burke). In regards to politics, he simply advises that people stick with what they have set in place for them already. Though his influence on political theory certainly had enormous implications, I disagree with some fundamental aspects of his political opinion.
If government can be seen as the management of any body of people, then a student organization can be considered in discussing Burke’s political ideology. Every year or so, student organizations on campus as well as at other schools, change how they are run in an effort to keep up with current trends and continue to attract members. This can be done by coming up with new events, shifting focus to newer trends, and utilizing new methods to carry out the organization’s purpose.
Professional organizations like DECA, Ross Net Impact, and Nexecon, all change some aspect of their organization. Is this considered a bad thing? Will adopting any new policies lead to the destruction of the organization’s entire purpose? Is there a point in maintaining the method of governance is the people being governed will change annually? Burke would advise these organizations to continue to work as they had for years, but that would never work especially in a college setting. College students are fickle in their interests, and they may choose to take up any new activity if they are bored participating in a school club. If student organizations want to retain dedicated members, they should not take up Burke’s advice, and should bring about change. From personal experience, destroying the status quo is sometimes the only method of keeping the subjects of any governing body satisfied.
As manager of a dance team on campus, I can attest to the destruction of the status quo in regards to the performing arts. Given that we perform in fusion circuits throughout the nation, I have seen a drastic change in dance styles. This is simply because the thousands of spectators who go to dance competitions want to see an entertaining show. The term “entertaining” is clearly subjective, but the majority favors modern and versatile type of dance as opposed to more traditional styles. I advised that the team change their routine to something that would please the crowd at more competitions, which would then lead to more trophies and the success of my organization. Burke may hope that the team stayed with whatever the dancers have been doing. If the team did not adjust to modern times, it would detract fun from the spectators, which is a major failure in the eyes of any performing arts team. Change is necessary, in regards to extracurricular student activities, as well as national dance circuits. Favoring tradition as Burke says, would not lead to any advancement, which is essentially the same thing as a destroyed society. Rebellion will at least form a new society from the ground up, as opposed to deterring away from what was already built.
Though I have already compared political theory to my personal experiences, I can think of another way that conservatism and reliance on tradition can lead to some harsh consequences. For example, consider the natural resource crisis with petroleum. With fossil fuels being consumed so quickly by vehicles, there is a constraint on how much gas is left in the world.
Companies like, Fiskar, Solar City, and Tesla are currently attempting to fix that major global crisis through the use of environmentally friendly technology such as solar panels and electric car batteries. Traditional cars use gas, so why change that? Houses normally use gas for heat, so why should that be changed? With a global issue like the depletion of natural resources, Burke’s ideology would never work. By saying that we should rely on tradition, he is essentially claiming that no work should be done to progress society into the future. Change is the driving force behind advancement and improvement in society. Maintaining the status quo will essentially continue to keep flaws as opposed to correcting them.
Personally seeing how Burke’s philosophy would never be successful on a college campus as well as beyond, I believe that change is necessary to some extent. It will lead to positive impacts in the world, and even if it cannot be seen easily, all change can be good change. All change can lead to a learning experience, thereby benefiting society and teaching people what methods work best for what purposes.