To some, Robert Burns was a political radical and thinker, a seditious revolutionary and a staunch republican. Research suggests that Burns was an active member of The Friends of the People, formed in 1792 and the first organisation in Scottish history to openly call for universal suffrage for all men, rich or poor. This early proto-democracy movement never really had mass support in Scotland, and was crushed by government forces by 1794. "Robert Bruce's March To Bannockburn", better known as "Scots Wha Hae", was written in response to the trial of the radical Thomas Muir. Thomas Muir sentenced to 14 years imprisonment and deportation to Botany Bay, amongst the charges he was indicted with was singing ‘Ca Ira’ in public, an unofficial anthem of the French Revolution. The last line of Scots Wha Hae is “Let us Do or Die!” - was the oath of the French revolutionaries.
Burns was an advocate of "make love not war" as penned in "I Murder Hate".
"In wars at home I'll spend my blood-
Life-giving wars of Venus.
The deities that I adore
Are Social Peace and Plenty,
I’m better pleased to make one more
Than be the death of twenty.”
In ‘Address of Beelzebub’ Burns uses satire and has the poem’s narrator, Auld Nick, praising the landlord class encouraging them to actually brutalise their tenants even more than they have been doing.
“And they, be Damned, what right hae they
To meat or sleep or light of day
Far less to riches, power or freedom
But what your Lordships like tae gie them.”
"Man Was Made to Mourn - A Dirge" is a cheerless poem and yet another example of Robert Burn's loathing of the class differences between the workers and the land-owners. Burns once told his brother that "he could not well conceive a more mortifying picture of human life than a man seeking work." Burns felt it was horrible that a "wight," a human being, needing to earn money and wanting to be useful to people, was able to work only by permission of somebody else - somebody who could make profit from him! That humiliating and desperate "sentiment" came to life with "Man was Made to Mourn," It shows again his deep compassion for the man trying to find work in order to feed and house his family. Two lines raise it to the level of a modern proverb:
'Man's inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!'
Throughout history, countless thousands continue to mourn as a result of pain, torture, and loss of life inflicted upon them or those near and dear to them--innocent men, women, and children.