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The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left

with Yuval Levin

This edition of Liberty Law Talk is with Yuval Levin, author of The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left. A 2013 Bradley Prize recipient, Levin connects us with the actual contest between Burke and Paine as they debated the central claims of the French Revolution and much of modern political thought with its focus on rights, individualism, the social contract vs. Burke’s more expansive notions of social liberty, the contract among the dead, the living, and those yet to be born, and his belief in prescription or the notion that change should be guided within the broad lived experience of the nation. Levin and I discuss the terms of the Burke-Paine debate while considering how it continues to shape the contours of current political conversation.

Reader Discussion

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on December 06, 2019 at 22:11:25 pm

Hi! I'm reading this book right now, and it's excellent! Edmund Burke is one of my great heroes, and you do a great job of explaining him to modern readers in a balanced way (he's so much more complicated than "just" right or left wing, and his trial of Warren Hastings was, I think, one of the great moral stands of all time.)

I'm curious about one thing though: why do you say he was Anglican? When I see an Irish family where only the men converted but the women all stayed Catholic, I usually assume they're crypto-Catholics. Especially when the sons marry back into Catholic families like Edmund Burke did. Plus his mother being a Nagle. And his being sent to a Quaker school.

Anyway, I'd always assumed Burke was a crypto-Catholic. Not that it really matters since it's impossible to ever know for certain. I'm just curious....

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JBW
on January 27, 2020 at 06:07:04 am

[…] I’m glad to welcome Yuval back to Liberty Law Talk. He has appeared on the show to discuss The Great Debate and The Fractured Republic. Maybe this book is the completion, it seems of a system, a tripartite […]

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America, Land of Deformed Institutions

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.