The More Things Change: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Evolution of the Left-Right Divide

The Annual Herbert W. Vaughan Lecture on America’s Founding Principles

April 23, 2014
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Yuval LevinEditor, National Affairs; Hertog Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

Our political life has long been divided between a broadly progressive and a broadly conservative party. But what does this division amount to? Where did it originate? And why does it persist? By considering one of the first real iterations of the modern left-right divide—the intense debate in Britain and America over the French Revolution—we can come to see where the left and right began, why they remain at odds, and how they have changed over the centuries.

Yuval Levin is the editor of National Affairs magazine and the Hertog Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He is also a senior editor of The New Atlantis and a contributing editor to National Review and the Weekly Standard. He has been a member of the White House domestic policy staff (under President George W. Bush), executive director of the President’s Council on Bioethics, and a congressional staffer. His essays  and articles have appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street JournalCommentaryFirst Things, and others, and he is the author, most recently, of The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left. He holds a BA from American University and a PhD from the University of Chicago.

Endowed by the late Herbert "Wiley" Vaughan, founding member of the Madison Program's Advisory Council, the Herbert W. Vaughan Lecture on America’s Founding Principles is an endowed Princeton University lecture that is hosted by the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions in the Department of Politics.  Its purpose is to promote and advance understanding of the founding principles and core doctrines of American constitutionalism. 

Video:

The More Things Change: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Evolution of the Left-Right Divide

Location:

McCormick Hall 101

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