Burke is Backwards
“Kings will be tyrants from policy when subjects are rebels from principle.”
What about tyrannical Kings that are just power hungry (and insane) such as Muammar Gaddafi?
I think that Burke’s statement need be changed to “subjects will be rebels from principle when kings are tyrants”. Just think about it, which happens more often? Do we see just kings that have their people attempt to rise up against them in our world today, or do we see civilians in oppression attempting to find justice and fairness in their lives? Even in Burke’s day and age– the French Revolution era, which followed the American revolution, civilians fought to overthrow unjust governments in order to escape oppression and obtain democratic leadership. Burke doesn’t seem to understand why the French people felt oppressed, as he said:
“If it could have been made clear to me that the king and queen of France (those I mean who were such before the triumph) were inexorable and cruel tyrants, that they had formed a deliberate scheme for massacring the National Assembly (I think I have seen something like the latter insinuated in certain publications), I should think their captivity just.”
Maybe, if Burke had been in the french working class, he would have realized the effect of the huge taxes that Louis XVI placed on them in order to pay back the debt from his ridiculous spending problems. And maybe he would have realized that this led to famine for the french working class, and that hungry people get angry easily. Maybe, Burke should have lived 100 more years and read “A Tale of Two Cities” like we all had to in high school in order to understand the plight of the french working class and consequently the build-up to a revolution.
On a more recent note, after his military coup in 1969, Gaddafi was dictator of Libya and has been until this day. Very recently, however, Libyan citizens started their attempt to overthrow their corrupt government. The Libyan people have lived for over 40 years in a police state that tries to keep its people in a bubble, as Libyans can be put in jail for extensive periods of time for expressing any anti-Libya view or even attempting to learn a different language. Finally, after the people of Libya have had enough, they begin to revolt against their government and only now are trying to overthrow it.
So, back to Burke, will the already tyrannical Gaddafi become more of a tyrant now that his subjects are rebelling from principle? I think that in one sense, Gaddafi’s “subjects” are lacking any principle to rebel from, considering Gaddafi’s own lack of such a thing. Further, Burke’s statement is proved semi-legitimate in the sense that if Gaddafi could possibly become more of a tyrant, he has done so using militias to assassinate officials and kill innocent civilians. But even if the Libyan people had not attempted to overthrow him, Gaddafi is 40+ years of proof that “Kings” can be tyrants far, far before their “subjects” rebel from principle.