Reflections on the Revolution in France... a book written by a rich Englishman of leisure, critiquing the working-class French Revolution from the other side of the pond…
Revealing, (although perhaps more revealing of Burke himself than the author may have intended) as much for what it gets wrong about the French revolution itself (Burke was brutally criticised by his peers for his lack of understanding of the on-the ground French affairs, hence the phrase “stop being a Burke”) as what it gets right about the (unnatural) nature of human power dynamics.
I consider this book to contain an excellent case study for behavioural economics – how what people think they want and say they want are entirely different from the things they actually do.
Today, as democracy is once again darkening all around the world; Reflections of the Revolution in France serves as a good reminder of what our alternatives are; and of the unintended consequences of ignoring the lessons of our messy, irrational, emotional past.
In times like these, we need cool heads to prevail against hot ones; foresight to prevail over impatience, and pragmatism to prevail over greed and envy.