Conservatism - Core Themes

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  • Core Themes of Conservatism
    • Tradition
      • Tradition can reflect religious faith
        • Traditional customs and practices are regarded as 'God given'
          • BURKE: Society was shaped by 'natural law'
            • By changing society, we are tampering with the will of God.
      • BURKE: society is a partnership between 'those who are living, those who are dead and those who are to be born'.
      • Tradition creates a sense of identity for both society and the individual which in turn generates social cohesion
    • Human Imperfection
      • Human beings are:
        • Psychologically limited and security seeking
        • Dependent, Drawn to the known, the familiar and the tried and tested
        • Irrational, unreliable and morally corrupt
        • Imperfect and imperfectible
        • Seek the security of knowing 'their place'
      • O'Sullivan (1976): Conservatism is a 'philosophy of human imperfection'
      • Emphasis is placed on social order.
        • This ensures stability and predictability
        • Hobbes: 'sacrificing liberty the cause of social order'
      • Crime & Punishment
        • Immoral or criminal behaviour is rooted in the individual.
          • Hobbes: Humans are morally imperfect
            • They are innately selfish and greedy, and cannot be perfected
              • This is often accounted to 'original sin'
          • Crime is a consequesnce of base human instincts and appetities
            • The only effective deterrent is strict law enforcement
    • Organic Society
      • Society is an organism or living entity
        • It exists outside of the individual
        • It is held together by the bonds of tradition, authority and a common morality
          • Durkheim: Without social cohesion there is a will be a state of anomie (normlessness)
    • Hierarchy and Authority
      • Hierarchy
        • Social mobility on a large scale is dangerous
        • There must be leaders and followers
          • The rich rule the poor
            • Noblesse Oblige: Privilege entails responsibility
            • Paternalism: authority being exercised over others with the intent of conferring benefit or preventing harm
        • Nature and society are naturally hierarchical
          • Social equality is: undesirable, unattainable
      • Authority
        • Is necessary and beneficial
          • People need guidance in order to know their place
        • Should be limited naturally, not constitutionally
        • Does not arise out of a 'contract'
          • Consent is not required
            • Comes from ABOVE, not BELOW
    • Property
      • Provides security
        • Promotes respect
          • Property owners have a 'stake' in society
            • This gives them more interest in law and order (as they will not breach the property of another)
        • Something for the individual to fall back on
      • The current generations are the 'custodians of wealth'
        • People have a duty to protect it


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