Mission and program
The conservative Edmund Burke Stichting (“Foundation”), founded in December of 2000, aims to conserve the virtuous elements of Dutch society, and to restore those virtuous elements that have been lost.
The foundation realises its mission by focusing on:
•Publications (books, articles and reports) and media appearances to carry the central ideas of conservative thought to as wide an audience as possible and propagate these ideas.
•Conferences, master classes, summer schools and other programs for students, to spread conservative ideas among a growing group of members of the new generation. You can support this mission and our programs by becoming a donor of the Edmund Burke Foundation.
“Change ideas, and you can change the course of history”
We are committed and dedicated to a free and decent society of strong citizens, a strong civil society and a small but effective government. This group of people has found refuge at the Edmund Burke Foundation, the platform for the formation of conservative thought in The Netherlands. The Burke Foundation is free and independent–from both the government and political parties. The Edmund Burke Foundation does not exist to transform interests into power; the Foundation believes in the power of ideas and in the importance of a healthy cultural-societal debate to future political decisions. Ideas-both good and bad ideas-have consequences.
The power of ideas
People-including politicians, activists, teachers, journalists, members of the clergy, etc.-can sometimes be agents of change, but ideas are the actual creators of change. In the formulation and execution of policy-including the pivotal choice between free enterprise and socialism, democracy and dictatorship-ideas are of the highest, maybe even of supreme importance. The convictions that people hold say a great deal about their behavior, about their choice at the ballot box, about the laws and rules which they embrace, and about the kind of system they wish to see implemented. Change ideas and you can change the course of history. People can be entranced by ideas-good and bad ideas. Ideas incite passions and ignite revolutions. The last century has witnessed the rise of an Evil Empire based upon the ideas of Karl Marx, followed by the dismantlement and disappearance of this empire as a result of an even more powerful idea-the idea of human freedom and dignity.
Ironically, the socialist John Maynard Keynes once expressed this thought eloquently: ‘The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas.. But, soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.’
No one is untouched by the kind of society in which we live: citizens, entrepreneurs, organizations. Whoever thinks that changes to the current system are essential, and at the same time is convinced of what was said above regarding the importance of ideas, cannot remain passive. He will want to make a contribution to the formulation and the spread of good ideas.
The Edmund Burke Foundation
Resisting the prevailing ‘progressive’ political and cultural climate in The Netherlands, a group of young conservatives hoisted the flag of conservatism high in December of 2000. They named their foundation after the founder of intellectual conservatism, the British Member of Parliament Edmund Burke (1730-1797). In the spirit of Burke we are of the opinion that much that was worth preserving and cherishing has been destroyed in recent decades in our country. Many fundamental ideas from the Judeo-Christian and classical-humanist traditions-the two pillars of our civilization-were unjustly pushed aside, social connections were broken, and within this vacuum of individualization and increasing anonymity the role of government has grown to grotesque proportions.
Our plea for a restoration of traditional values and decency, for the importance of family, civic associations, neighborhoods and churches, for education, for a free market and for a limited government focusing on its main duties-such as guaranteeing safety for its citizens-has received an unexpectedly warm welcome in Dutch society.
Because the Edmund Burke Foundation wants to be and remain free and independent, we do not accept any government subsidies, and so we are completely dependent on the contributions and donations of private citizens, other foundations and companies- of people and organizations, in short, that are convinced of the necessity to invest in ideas.
A widely discussed book Lof van het conservatisme (“In Praise of Conservatism”), published in 2003 by Balans in Amsterdam, more than 550 articles, opinion pieces and interviews in the media, in addition to numerous lectures and successful participation in evening debates, have further spread conservative thought and philosophy in the Netherlands.
Many seminars and lectures have been held in the offices of the Foundation: key topics have included ‘Holland as an idea’, foreign policy and the issue of the ‘multicultural society’. These meetings repeatedly led to lively exchanges between specialists, members of parliament and cabinet ministers, all under the watchful eye of the media. In recent years Roger Scruton, Herman de Dijn, a Belgian philosopher, and Onno Ruding, a former Dutch finance Minister, have held the annual Burke Lecture. The Burke lecture is published in book-format each year.
Of particular importance to the Burke Foundation is work done to train students in conservative thought; those students are not exposed to conservative thought and ideas in Dutch universities, which remain bastions of ‘progressive’ thought. The Burke Foundation organizes summer- and winter-schools, one-day conferences and master classes, where talented students are taught the foundations, appearances and practical translation of conservatism.
Our mission is far from complete. For its important and heavy work-laid out each year in ambitious programs-the Burke Foundation seeks the support of
•individuals and groups that are concerned about the numerous changes currently taking place in Dutch society, and are willing to think about and discuss these issues, and are not only searching for a position but want to understand the arguments for that position and carry out those arguments
•businessmen and entrepreneurs who are willing to invest in a group that propagates the ideal of a free and decent society, and who wish to do so out of the realisation that their success is not only due to their own talents and creativity, but also due to the opportunities and freedom which society offered them, and who out of gratitude for those opportunities and that freedom are willing to make a contribution to maintain and reinforce the good in society.
With your support, the Edmund Burke Foundation can develop into a stream of influence and significance within Dutch society and the Dutch political structure. If you wish to support the work of the Burke Foundation, you can choose from amongst the following possibilities:
• Student donor, for 25 euros per year.
• Donor, for a minimum contribution of 65 euros per year.
•Edmund Burke Donor, for 500 euros per year.
•Corporate donations. The possibilities for these donations are available upon request.
All donations given to the Burke Foundation are tax-deductible.
Kamer van Koophandel Haaglanden (Chamber of Commerce of Haaglanden), nr. 27199376. Please make your donations available to “Edmund Burke Stichting te Den Haag”, Rabobank nr. 3832 75660