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

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9781482946758: The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left
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This groundbreaking exploration of the roots of our political order shows that American partisanship originated in the debates over the French Revolution, fueled by the fiery rhetoric of two ideological titans.

For more than two centuries, our political life has been divided between a party of progress and a party of conservation. In The Great Debate, Yuval Levin explores the origins of the Left-Right divide by examining the views of the men who best represented each side of that debate at its outset: Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine. In a groundbreaking exploration of the roots of our political order, Levin shows that American partisanship originated in the debates over the French Revolution, fueled by the fiery rhetoric of these ideological titans.

Levin masterfully shows how Burke's and Paine's differing views, a reforming conservatism and a restoring progressivism, continue to shape our current political discourse --on issues ranging from abortion to welfare, education, economics, and beyond. Essential reading for anyone seeking to understand Washington's often acrimonious rifts, The Great Debate offers a profound examination of what conservatism, liberalism, and the debate between them truly amount to.

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About the Author:

YUVAL LEVIN is the Hertog Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and the founder and editor of National Affairs. A contributing editor to the Weekly Standard and National Review, he lives in Maryland.

From Booklist:

Why are conservatives conservative, and liberals liberal? Seeking out sources of the two casts of mind, Levin sifts through the political philosophies espoused by Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine. Their major writings, Reflections on the Revolution in France and Rights of Man, respectively, both premised their ideas about government and revolution on basic ideas about human nature and society. Engaging with these ideas, Levin endeavors to map the intellectual links that led Burke to be skeptical about radical political change and Paine to champion it. Paine reached his conclusions from a starting point that imagined people as autonomous individuals, who are rationally free to construct their society and design their government. Burke’s concept was drastically different: reason is but a part of human nature, which includes passions, impulses, and appetites. Society and government cannot be entirely rational constructions but are, rather, evolutions through generations of experience; political change should, therefore, be gradual, not abrupt. Making intricate contrasts between Paine and Burke throughout, Levin perceptively demonstrates the philosophical routes to liberalism and conservatism for politics-minded readers. --Gilbert Taylor

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780465062980: The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left

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ISBN 10:  0465062989 ISBN 13:  9780465062980
Publisher: Basic Books, 2014
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9780465050970: The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left

Basic ..., 2013
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