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"Modern Conservatism is more concerned with economic freedom than with social stability" Discuss.

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Introduction

Caroline Howard December 2005 "Modern Conservatism is more concerned with economic freedom than with social stability" Discuss. There is debate among political scientists as to the extent to which the Neo-Conservative and Neo-Liberal elements that form Modern Conservative ideology can work coherently. This can be seen most poignantly in their Neo-Liberal commitment to economic freedom which directly contrasts the Conservative ideas of stability within society. Neo-Liberal economics have been influenced by Classical Liberalism, including Adam Smith and David Ricardo and Modern Conservative economic policy is merely a re-discoverance of free-market economics. Post-1945, Keynesianism had been the dominant economic policy, advocating "managed capitalism" but Modern Conservatives believed this was responsible for decline that had occurred in Britain. Their main aim in the late 1970s/early 1980s was to reverse this decline, even if it did cause social instability. Modern Conservatism ideology stipulates that governments cannot deliver economic stability/growth which they believe was the main factor in causing economic decline. They object to government intervention in the economy, epitomised by planned economies such as that of the former Soviet Union, as it does not allow for the "invisible hand of capitalism" to control the market and ensure it functions using the principles of supply and demand. ...read more.

Middle

Based on their believed link between the money supply and inflation they developed two strategies to control the money supply; targets and interest rates. The targets were known as the MTFS but were stopped after 1984 as it was proved they did not work, because from 1979-1984/5 money supply grew faster than the targets but inflation fell. This left their strategy of interest rates which is now relied upon and the current economy is based on consumer spending. This again demonstrates the Modern Conservative contradictions within their ideology in that the free economy is more important than relative, full employment. This shows that Modern Conservatives place more emphasis on the free economy than social stability as full employment is one condition of social stability which is not regarded as highly as controlling inflation and thus, keeping the economy free. The ideas and policies of free-market economics conflict those of Keynesianism and many Modern Conservatives argue that Keynes' ideas promote economic decline through the use of progressive taxation. They believe that because Keynesianism increases tax levels it so removes the incentive to wealth-create and impacts on the property rights of the individual, an inherently Classical Liberal principle. ...read more.

Conclusion

During this time, young people became more affluent than they had ever been and began to question traditional authority and values which leads to youth culture. Youth culture during the 1960s rejected moral norms such as no pre-marital sex and political norms shown by opposition to the Vietnam War for the first time ever. Neo-Conservatives viewed this as moral/social decline and want to return to moral/social stability and "Victorian values". This commitment to reversal of perceived moral/social decline demonstrates the contradictions between the Neo-Liberal and Neo-Conservative ideas that form Modern Conservative ideology. The main aspect of Modern Conservative ideology follows Neo-Liberal economics and aims for economic liberalisation. However, the Neo-Conservative aspects state a commitment to a strong state and moral/social standards. Gamble stated that this contradiction is epitomised in the economy as economic liberalisation causes poverty and inequalities within society and so the state needs empowering to counter this which is exactly what Modern Conservative ideology argues against. Modern Conservative ideas are fundamentally flawed because they attempt to combine aspects of two different ideology with contradicting views of Human Nature at their cores. This is why it is impossible to follow both Modern Conservative free-market economics to their full extent while retaining social/moral stability and standards. ...read more.

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