Conservatism

Complete set of notes taken from the Heywood textbook

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  • Created on: 16-05-13 17:40
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CONSERVATISM
Origins and development
grew in reaction to growing pace of political, social and economic change
symbolized by French Revolution
conservative thought adapts to the existing traditions and national
cultures
Edmund Burke epitomised this new set of values when he critiqued the
revolution as the classic example of what happens when one attempts to
transform an ancient society overnight according to a man made ideology
based on fixed principles.
Core themes
tradition
human imperfection
organic society
hierarchy and tradition
property
Tradition
argued against change on number of grounds
central and recurrent theme of conservatism is its defence of tradition
emphasis on tradition reflects their religious faith
since 18th Century it became more difficult to maintain that tradition
reflects the will of god
as pace of historical change accelerated old traditions were replaced by
new ones
e.g. free elections and universal suffrage clearly seen to be
manmade rather than being controlled by god
religion objection to change has been kept alive by modern
fundamentalists, especially those who believe Gods wishes have been
revealed to humankind through literal truth of religious texts
most conservatives support tradition without needing to argue divine
origins
Burke
described society as a partnership between `those who are living,
those who are dead and those who are to be born'
tradition reflects the accumulated wisdom of the past
institutions and practices have been `tested by time'
should be preserved for the benefit of living and for generations to
come
we should respect the actions of the dead, who will always
outnumber the living

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Darwinian belief that institutions and customs
that have survived have done so because they have worked and are
of good value
endorsed by a process of natural selection and demonstrated
their fitness to survive
Conservatives in the UK argue institution of monarchy should be preserved
because it embodies historical wisdom and experience
conservatives respect tradition because it generates, for both society
and the individual, a sense of identity
individuals recognize established customs and practices
tradition consists of more than political institutions that have stood the…read more

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Conservatives believe that human beings are dependent and security-
seeking creatures
implies they cannot exist outside society but desperately need to
belong, to have `roots' in society
the individual cannot be separated from society but is part if the
social groups that nurture him/her
friends
family
peer group
groups provide individual life with security and meaning
traditional conservatives
reluctant to understand freedom in `negative' terms, in which
individual is left alone and suffers
Durkheim describes it as anomie (a weakening of values and
normative rules,…read more

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Hierarchy and authority
Conservatives have traditionally believed that society is naturally
hierarchal
characterized by fixed or established social gradations
social equality is rejected as undesirable and unachievable; power,
status and property are always unequally distributed
agree with liberals in accepting natural inequality among individuals (some
people are born with talents that others aren't) however conservatives
don't believe in meritocracy
conservatives believe that inequality is rooted in Organicism
pre democratic conservatives such as Burke were able to embrace
the idea of a `natural aristocracy'
the idea…read more

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Conservatives believe that caution in the management of money is a virtue
and have sought to encourage private savings and investment in property
also promotes a range of important social values
more likely to respect others property
have a `stake' in society therefore an interest in maintaining law
and order
property ownership can promote conservative values of respect for
law, authority and social order
Support property ownership as it can be regarded as an extension of and
individuals personality
possessions are not only external objects…read more

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One nation conservatism
Disraeli associated with paternalistic tradition. Wrote two novels which
emphasized principle of social obligation in contrast to extreme
individualism, dominant within the political establishment
Disraeli's argument based on combination of prudence and principle
Said that social inequality has the seed of revolution, poor and
oppressed would not happily accept misery.…read more

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Libertarian conservatives are not consistent!
believe in economic individualism but less eager to extend principle
of individual liberty to other aspects of life
have a more pessimistic view of human nature
believe a strong state is required to maintain public order/ensure
authority is respected - some conservatives attracted to free
market because it promises social order
New Right
- New right= marriage between two contrasting ideas
- 1.…read more

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Liberal new right attempted to establish dominance of libertarian ideas
over paternalistic ones within ideology
- Dominant theme is commitment to free market
o in 1970s governments found it difficult to deliver economic stability and
sustained growth hence the growth and renewed credibility of free
market
o doubts as to whether it was the government's role to solve all economic
problems
o Hayek and Friedman expressed their view that the task of allocating
resources is too complex for state bureaucrats to handle successfully
o virtue…read more

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New right also don't like welfare as they are committed to individual rights.
Egotistical individualism says that people owe nothing to society and are
owed nothing by society
o Thatcher expressed this when she said `there is no such thing as
society'
Conservative New Right
- Emerged as backlash to ideas and values of 1960s.…read more

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