Friday, August 26, 2011

Mary Wollstonecraft on Primogeniture

There is much speculation on the origins of revolt. Yes, it is true that the French Revolution was not a spontaneous event but rather a carefully planned and well-orchestrated movement by those who had long wanted to overturn the social order. However, we cannot blame everything on a handful of evil conspirators plotting in dark corners. The Revolution was fed by those in positions of authority who abused their power and failed to care for those whom they were duty bound to protect. Nancy Means Wright explores the injustices endured by Mary Wollstonecraft which contributed to her devotion to revolutionary politics.
No doubt Mary was, in part, vindicating the abuses of her own life in her rebuttal to conservative Edmund Burke who considered primogeniture an anchor of social order, but she had known the “demon of property…to encroach on the sacred rights” of legions of unhappy men and women.

“I glow,” she cried, “with indignation!” (Read entire post.)

More on Mary Wollstonecraft, HERE. Share


Clovis said...

What is missing from this critique of primogeniture is any consideration of its option.

Consider for a moment how primogeniture protects a farm.

The English crushed the Irish families by mandatory division of property. Every generation the farm was split into smaller and smaller plots, which quickly became too small to support a farmer.

"Equal" division of property by no means eliminates rivalry between siblings. Rather, it frequently foments such disgraceful rivalry to the point of irreconcilable hatred.

If the farm is to be divided "equally" to all children, who gets the house? Who gets the barn? Who gets the most fertile fields and who gets the grassland?

Primogeniture means that the second son onwards will have to conquer his land and fortune for himself. It lead to the historically rapid expansion of the Christian West.

elena maria vidal said...

I agree. I think primogeniture is good. I agree with Edmund Burke. The problem is the cases when men who inherited the bulk of the property would not take care of the women in the family, who were left to fend for themselves. It also happened in many Jane Austen novels.

Julygirl said...

...and the inheritors were spoiled narcissistic wastrels while younger children who were more capable of controlling the property were left with virtually nothing.