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Baah, oink. Are people just sheep and pigs?

November 8, 2010

Burke certainly would have thought so. According to his “Reflections” Burke wasn’t a man of the people. He had one big superiority complex and in his opinion governing should be left to selected individuals and out of the hands of commoners. On page 502, Burke compares people who start revolutions to drunkards. They are irrational, sloppy, discoordinated and will act upon their first instincts, with no thought to the repercussions of their actions. While it seems a little harsh to compare the average man to a slobbering drunk, Burke wasn’t entirely off when he said that people were uneducated. In modern elections, you see a vast number of people who are completely uneducated about candidates, their policies and any other propositions that might be on the ballot. In fact, it seems like our country is uneducated about a number of things. Watch the below video to see what I’m talking about.

I showed this video to a friend and his first response was to shudder and go “These people have the power to vote in our country.” This is not to say I believe we should follow Burke’s lead and do away with democracy. I love voting and I’m lucky enough that I live in a country that allows me to vote. It’s just dishearting how a majority of the American public are becoming the “swinish multitude” that Burke predicted. In the same respect, voters have a horrible habit of becoming sheep and blindly following the masses. In discussion today, my group performed a skit in which two people said they were voting “yes” on prop 1 because they knew a friend who was voting “yes.” Burke knew this tendency in people but he attempts to correct this problem in the wrong way. Instead of better educating the public about issues, Burke believed that politics should be left to higher, more divine people such as a King. What we, the common people need to do is educate ourselves before elections. Be a Shepard, not a sheep! Break away from that “swinish multitude.”


One Comment
  1. arichnerjr permalink
    November 8, 2010 8:58 PM

    I am a bit skeptical of Burke’s intellectual elitism, but can definitely see where he’s coming from. My response to your belief in education would be that you can’t educate the complacent. It doesn’t work, the most obvious proof of this being the modern world, where nearly everyone has access to a computer and therefore some degree of education; but as you say, a vast number of people remain uneducated about basic politics. Do you think that, in the history of mankind, a good education and knowledge of world affairs has ever been easier to come by? And better, even, than Burke or Locke or Hobbes themselves had?

    I agree that we need to strive to educate ourselves individually. Unfortunately, this makes us a minority, the same informed minority Burke preferred to have in charge of things. So, in lieu of an educated aristocracy, I’m sure he would have enthusiastically agreed with your closing statement.

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