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Rothbard Vindicated on Burke's Vindication?

October 24, 2007

Tags Media and CulturePhilosophy and MethodologyPolitical Theory

Edmund Burke always claimed that his 1756 defense of anarchism, A Vindication of Natural Society, was intended satirically, and most Burke scholars have agreed.

In a 1958 article, Murray Rothbard argued that Burke’s youthful anarchism was sincere, and that his later repudiation was politically motivated. But few Burke specialists were swayed. (Readers with JSTOR access can see one reply.)

But in his 1977 Burke biography, Isaac Kramnick offers some evidence in at least partial support of Rothbard’s interpretation – for it turns out that some of the allegedly ironic passages in the Vindication have close parallels in Burkean texts generally agreed to be sincere.

Check out the relevant excerpts from Kramnick.

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