Collective Intellect

Burkeans respect the institutions that people have developed over time, such as family, religion, civic organizations and representative government.  Not that these institutions are perfect or immune from change, but that they are a product of the Collective Human Intellect.  They are thus carriers of accumulated knowledge and practice.

The Collective Intellect evolves more slowly than radical change agents would desire.  Given that it is the result of a Wisdom of the Crowds effect over an extended period of time, it tends to reflect proven means of civilized interaction.

Lack of respect for the Collective Intellect often takes the form of unintended consequences from social engineering.  Indeed, every form of social engineering is a leap into the unknown since the Collective Intellect is rarely knowable to any given individual, even very smart individuals with nothing but the best intentions for social change.

Burke wasn’t unalterably opposed to social change.  Indeed, he championed the American Revolution, one of history’s most consequential social changes.  However he came to that conclusion in part because of his respect for the Collective Intellect.

Reformers and politically astute citizens of the 21st century should have similar respect.

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