Report: Third Meeting of Edmund Burke’s Club (Australia) Inc. 18 January 2013

The third meeting was again at the very congenial Savage Club, Bank Pl, Melbourne City, of which Sir Robert Menzies was President 1947-1962. As there was not any business to conduct during this meeting, we proceeded directly to the presentations. Richard Lyons gave an excellent survey of the historical events leading up to the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and those directly following. His survey also included ‘in a nutshell’ Burke’s view of the 1688 Revolution, balanced against counter arguments. I am providing a link (below) to the notes Richard handed out to members to accompany his talk. The notes do not do justice to the quality and comprehensiveness of Richard’s talk. Well done, Richard. A key point that came out of Richard’s survey was that James II’s political manoeuvring leading to the revolution was in Burkean terms extremely imprudent. The talk provided a good lead in for the President’s talk, ‘The constitution and inconsistencies in Burke’s defence of the Glorious Revolution 1688.’

The President does not feel that his talk was as structured and therefore as clear as his previous talks. A comment was made after the meeting that the lengthy quotations from the Reflections and An Appeal could have been broken up by some more explanation. On reflection, the President agreed. He has revised and developed the talk with the result that it is longer and (hopefully) clearer. It will be posted shortly.

The value of the talks in the second and third meetings is that some of the most important passages from the Reflections and An Appeal are included and linked in such a way as to bring out Burke’s thinking on political obligation, whether or not the reader judges him to have made his case. Whatever the decision on that matter, the passages quoted demonstrate convincingly that Burke maintained an astounding consistency in his writings on the French Revolution.

After some discussion and a poetry reading, the subject of Tony Abbott’s apparent shift in his attitude to abortion and IVF was raised. A vigorous discussion followed during which most members seem to think that Abbott’s public change in attitude was a let-down for some of his strongest supporters and even a betrayal for others. A minority, led by the President, claimed that one could not ignore the reality of the politics surrounding the issue of abortion. To take an inflexible stand against the abortion legislation would virtually mean political suicide. For an elected politician, a position against abortion had in some way to take into consideration the political reality. Objections and explanations followed in a vigorous manner. Most agreed that whether or not a strong argument could be made in defence of Tony Abbott, he had clumsily explained the apparent shift. His explanation could have been more nuanced. The discussion ended with the President volunteering to examine whether a Burkean defence of Tony Abbott’s position could be mounted. This discussion will be continued during the next meeting.

The next meeting will take place some time in March. Members will be advised of the date and the agenda.

Once again the members present declared their thorough enjoyment of the evening, especially of the vigorous discussion, and look forward to the next meeting.

The third meeting of Edmund Burke’s Club with its fixed venue demonstrated that the Club is developing well as an association. This should give members the confidence to spread the news about the Club and encourage like-minded people to join. The more people, the more success, especially in this crucial election year, the Club will have in entering in the public discourse. The next step in the development of the Club is a more professional website. The President is already in discussion with a website designer.

Gerard Wilson President

Notes on Glorious Revolution: (