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CONSERVATISM - a brief overview

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CONSERVATISM Beliefs/values: tradition, human imperfection, organic society, authority, property. Tradition - If a custom or institution has been around for a long time then it's "tried and tested", which is a reason for keeping it. Tradition represents accumulated wisdom. - Tradition gives the individual a sense of belonging and identity. Familiar customs produce a feeling of "rootedness", a sense of historical identity. - But this doesn't mean conservatives are opposed to all change. Burke: Human imperfection - humans are imperfect, and no circumstances can perfect them. - people fear isolation and instability, and need the security of knowing "their place". Hence social order and stability are more important than liberty (which generates change and uncertainty). - Humans are innately selfish and greedy. - Human understanding is limited, particularly when it comes to the political and social world, therefore we should rely on experience and history/tradition rather than on abstract ideas and systems of thought. A pragmatic approach is preferable to doctrinaire beliefs. Change based on ideals (e.g. ...read more.


Suspicion of foreigners and alien cultures is also natural and, up to a point, constructive. Authority - Authority is a natural phenomenon; it doesn't arise from a contract or consent. Parental authority is a model: it's natural, for the children's good, does not arise from agreement from below, but is imposed from above. - Humans and society need authority, and it is beneficial. Teacher in school, employer in workplace, government in society. Everyone need to know where they stand and what is expected of them. Authority counters rootlessness and anomie. - Discipline is not mindless obedience, but a willing and healthy respect for authority. - But authority has limits set by the natural responsibilities that it involves. (e.g. parental authority is for the benefit of the child, so it doesn't include the right to sell them into slavery.) - Inequality is natural: inequalities of privileges/wealth go with inequality of social responsibilities. - A strong state (as opposed to the liberal minimal state) is needed to preserve order and the moral fabric of society. ...read more.


Not rigidly supporting either state or individual. Wealth and social privilege entails social duty/responsibility. For example, welfare state might be justified on paternalist grounds, rather than reasons of social equality. (2) The New Right (Regan, Thatcher) Usually involves two values: (A) The free market ("neoliberalism") and (B) The defence of order, authority and discipline. ("neoconservatism") Neoliberalism: Anti-state. "Private good, public bad." The state is coercive, limiting liberty, and collectivism restricts individual initiative and saps self-respect. Neoliberals have faith in individuals, who should be encouraged to be self-reliant and to make rational choices in their own interests; they also have faith that the market has general benefit. Neoconservatism: The need for social order implies a need for authority in social life. 1960s permissiveness (i) allowed people to choose immoral views (e.g. ), and (ii) encouraged moral pluralism, which destroys the cohesion of society, and undermines the individual's feeling of security, endangering order, and causes rising delinquency and crime. Neoconservatives therefore advocate strengthening traditional "family values" (kids respect parents, husband has job, wife is homemaker), and more severe punishment (to deter offenders and to express society's revulsion). They also see national pride and identity as being important. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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