Conservatism notes

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  • Created by: Liv Scott
  • Created on: 10-05-15 16:49
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Key concepts
Hierarchy, elites, individualism, inequality
Organic society, nationalism, patriotism, authority, paternalism
Pragmatism, opposition to ideology, inclusiveness
Libertarianism & authoritarianism
Economic liberalism, protectionism, private property, mixed economy
Debates about the nature of Conservatism
Conservative views & attitudes towards human nature, authority & private property
The different strands of Conservative thinking in both the UK & elsewhere
The significance of Conservative attitudes towards government, the free market, the
state & the individual
The impact of Conservative thinking on the actions & the policies of political parties &
Conservatism was a response to the French Revolution. Its founding father was
Edmund Burke who looked in horror at what was happening in France & argued that
revolutionary change was inevitably flawed. The removal of the aristocracy created a
disorderly power vacuum so he Burke warned against the perils of revolutionary
change. He therefore sought to promote evolutionary change above revolutionary
change. Arguably, it is not an ideology at all. It is a view of the world which places the
desire to conserve successful institutions & practices at its heart. Pragmatism is
driven by a belief that humans are flawed, intellectually & morally & that therefore
any blueprint devised by humans is inevitably imperfect.
Key Concepts
Hierarchy & Authority, elites, individualism, inequality, authoritarianism
Hierarchy & inequality is natural & desirable
Burke- " A natural hierarchy", some people are born to lead, leaders &
followers, everyone has their place - Liberals believe in meritocracy
"The rich man at his castle the poor man at his gate" (all things bright &
Authority does not arise form a `liberal' contract, it is natural
Discipline is important, respecting authority is essential to maintaining social
Authority is limited by responsibility (noblesse oblige)
Human ImperfectionPragmatism, opposition to ideology, inclusiveness
Utopian ideals are idealistic (unrealistic)
Humans are flawed- Hobbes "The life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish &

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Psychologically & intellectually limited
Fear isolation & instability- dependent creature
Social order is more important that liberty
Pessimistic view of human nature- original sin
People are selfish & greedy
Law is a deterrent- strong govn't- long prison sentences Whitelaw "short sharp
shock treatment"
Intellectual imperfection- limited
Conservatives are suspicious of abstract ideas
Ideas should be grounded in experience
So conservative are pragmatic, except Thatcher
Ian Gilmour: "The wise conservative travels light"
Michael Oakeshott: "The ship of state should be suspicious of would be pilots
claiming…read more

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Noblesse oblige
Parents have authority over children- paternalism, Burke- the relationship
between citizen & state is like a parent & child
Benjamin Disraeli (1804)
`One nation conservatism'
1845- `Sybil' describes 2 nations rich & poor
Concern about unrest of poor so noblesse oblige, obligation of the nobility-
charity- `the little platoons' (the churches, charities & volunteers in Britain)
1867- Reform act- widened the franchise
Organic society
Michael Oakeshott (1901- 1990)
`On being conservative' 1962- the ship of state analogy
"The ship of state should be…read more

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David Cameron (1966- present)
Compassionate liberal conservative
Cameronism ­ "I don't do isms"
Changing the `nasty party' image
Environmentalism ­ Vote blue, go green (2006 local elections)
think green, vote blue (2010 General elections)
Changed logo from a fist to a tree
2006- The "Built to last" agenda
o Focus group confused it with new labour policies
o GWB (general well-being) not GDP (gross domestic product)
o Family- diverse families
o Celebrate multi-cultural diversity
o Support for the public sector
o National sovereignty ­ Eurosceptic…read more

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Small government
o Law & order
o Section 28
Compassionate Conservatism
Drug rehabilitation
Hug a hoodie
Protecting NHS
Work life balance
Red Toryism…read more


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