Edmund Burke was no conservative

Richard Bourke in Aeon:

Header_ESSAY--162279583Edmund Burke, one of the great statesmen and philosophers of the 18th century, is the founder of modern conservatism. Or so it is commonly held: authorities, from Corey Robin on the left to Niall Ferguson on the right, agree that conservative ideology can be traced to this original source. The view has in fact been commonplace in the United States since the 1950s and has steadily been gaining currency across the globe. Admirers of Burke’s ‘traditionalism’ can be found in numerous countries, as different as the Netherlands and Japan. Yet there is something deeply misleading about this view of conservatism’s origins. Burke was a reforming Whig of the 18th-century British parliament whose ideas were not developed with modern politics in mind.

Even if we imagine Burke as our contemporary, his commitments are not in any way compatible with conservatism. For example, he was a defender of colonial rights against the British Empire during the period of the American Revolution. In lending his support to American defiance, he opposed the reigning tenets of British imperial policy and took a stand against successive ministries at Westminster. His defence of colonial rights included support for insurrection, for violent resistance against established authority. It is hard to reconcile this endorsement of revolt with what are usually regarded as conservative ideals.

More here.