Burke or De Condorcet, who was the true king of Universalism?

Two men from very different backgrounds, with very different ideas on implementing their ideas, but with the same common core: universalism.

Edmund Burke

In one corner you have Edmund Burke, the Irish Whig politician, whom Sarah Palin (though not always the best backer, as seen through her Trump backing) once praised as one of the greatest conservatives, and who was involved within British politics.

Image of Sarah Palin

In the other corner you have one of France’s finest philosophers Nicolas de Condorcet, whom was a radical liberal, thoroughly behind the French Revolution, and the American one.

De Condorcet

Two people with different backgrounds, yet they agree on one thing: for universalism to be implemented within the British and French colonies across the globe. For Burke, he saw first hand how British rule was being changed in India by various different people to be harsh on the indigenous people. De Condorcet felt that the British had in the past been too unfair on their colonies, and wanted a change overall. Both wanted this change, but both wanted it in different ways. So who then is the true king of universalism?

Universalism of course is a modern-day term that would not have been used by both Burke and De Condorcet, but their work hints to what would be modern-day universalism. Burke by many historians is dubbed as the King of Universalism, that it was his views which helped pave the way towards it being a reality. As a politician, he saw the ugly side of the British Empire, whilst working in India.

Flag of the East India Company

The East India Trading Company carried the flag of the British Empire, not only showing the glory of the mass trade links that they had, but sadly highlighting the corruption that can come within an Imperial Empire. Warren Hasting’s in particular was a problem, taking the law into his own hands whilst in Bengal, and Burke knew that change was needed. The people within the colonies needed equal rights to the colonisers, they needed to be able to keep their cultural beliefs and religions but also be taught the British way. Rather than completely overthrow the British system, as had been done in France and America, Burke wanted slight changes carried out which would positively portray the British to their colonies. It was only one man wanting slight change, but it was the beginnings of the universal thought.

Image of Warren Hastings, a man who helped tarnish the Empire’s image

I realise whilst writing this post that the British Empire was not all tea and merriness, but was in many cases repressive and horrid, as was the Second French Colonial Empire in some cases. But the thoughts of a few people were aiming to get equal rights for the people within these colonies, to make the mother countries more respected, and to benefit the colonies more.

Similarly, Marquis de Condorcet, who was a French philosopher of the Enlightenment and was an advocate for Educational reforms and women’s equality. Like Burke, he wanted a universal set of languages, teachings and rights for everybody. However unlike Burke, his opinions changed just as much as the leadership of France. Living through the revolution created a very liberal viewpoint for Condorcet, who would happily overthrow the system if it meant that change could be made. Unlike Burke he viewed the French Revolution and American revolution as positive, seeing them as necessary. However he was similar to Burke in the belief that not only was it the big country’s duty to colonise these countries, but the people within the colonies had to benefit , that the big countries had to do it right.

Liberty Leading the People, one of the most famous French revolution images

When it comes to comparing the two, they both had the same sort of ideas when it came to universal thought. Burke was more vocal perhaps in his beliefs, writing up documents which would lead to Hastings getting tried, although not convicted. Condorcet also had the views that Burke did, though because of the revolution they often changed. However when it comes down to who is the true king of Universalism, the crown does have to go to Edmund Burke, who was happy to slightly tweak the system in order for the indigenous people within the colonies to benefit.

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