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'Conservatism has always been characterised by tension between paternalism and libertarianism.' Discuss.

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Introduction

'Conservatism has always been characterised by tension between paternalism and libertarianism.' Discuss. There are many different strands of conservatism within the ideology, the most significant of which in modern terms are paternalism and libertarianism. This conflict can be illustrated by the rival traditions of one-nation conservatism and New Right, or in particular neoliberal, conservatism. The basic idea of paternalism is to have authority over people for their own good. Whereas continental conservatives in the nineteenth century opposed any change, an Anglo-American tradition began with Edmund Burke which was more cautious, modest and pragmatic - these type of conservatives were willing to 'change in order to conserve'. Therefore, those in a privileged position should use their power to help those less well off. These ideas are known as one-nation conservatism, and are often traced back to Benjamin Disraeli, a nineteenth-century British Prime Minister. ...read more.

Middle

This is often seen as a form of Tory welfarism. One nationism reached its peak in the 1950s and 1960s when conservative governments in the UK promoted social welfare, in stark contrast to later, New Right conservative governments such as the Thatcher Government (1979-90). In the 50s one-nation conservatism was seen as a 'middle way' between 'laissez-faire' liberalism and socialist state planning. Therefore, paternalistic conservatism could be seen as the way of moderation. Libertarian conservatism is very different. Libertarianism sees liberty as a priority over all other values, and many conservative ideas are libertarian in that they support the greatest possible economic liberty and the least possible regulation of social life. Libertarian conservatism differs from liberalism as it advocates these values alongside a more conservative social philosophy based on authority and duty. This is linked to the ideas of Edmund Burke. This tradition of conservatism is strongest in the UK and USA, where classic liberal ideas were strongest. ...read more.

Conclusion

Therefore, according to libertarian conservatives the free market - along with institutions such as the police and the courts - can guarantee social stability, although other strands of conservatism disagree with this theory. The liberal new right contrasts completely with one nation principles in that it opposes social welfare, both on economic and moral grounds. The welfare system pushes up taxes and is often inefficient, but also creates a 'culture of dependency' by taking away people's initiative and desire to better themselves. It is also blamed for family break-ups as women do not need to depend on men as breadwinners, and is seen as violating property rights because it involves compulsory redistribution of wealth. Although up until the 1960s conservative governments both in the UK and elsewhere supported paternalistic, one-nation principles, since the 1970s New Right ideas have become much more prominent, and therefore libertarian ideas within conservatism, particularly in economic terms, are more significant in modern conservatism. ?? ?? ?? ?? Meghan Rimmer February 2006 1 Politics - Conservatism ...read more.

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