Another part of ideology is the attempt to understand human nature; conservatives very clearly say that the premise of their political ideas is that humans are imperfect. The very fact that their beliefs have a premise itself makes it an ideology. The conservative view on human nature states that we are both imperfect and imperfectable. They believe individuals fear isolation and so are psychologically drawn to the safe and familiar, they seek the security of knowing their place in society. It is from this that the conservative’s emphasize the importance of social order; individuals need to know where they stand in society. Conservatives have a very pessimistic view of human nature and see us to be selfish and greedy for example they believe crime isn’t because of social inequality or disadvantage it’s because of human instincts. This strong belief in human imperfection and the need for social order show that the conservatives have attempted to understand human nature this again makes conservatism an ideology.
One final criteria of an ideology is that it offers a solution to how individuals should be organized in order to create the ‘ideal’ world. Within conservatism it is believed that society is naturally hierarchical and that therefore, social equality is unachievable and undesirable. Power and status are inevitable features of an organic society. Conservatives believe leadership qualities are inbred they can’t be acquired. Therefore authority develops naturally. Conservatives have a paternalistic approach to authority they believe the state should act as the father figure because of human imperfection individuals don’t know what’s good for them so the state need to enforce when necessary harsh punishment and rules over the people. Authority and a social hierarchy is needed because it is beneficial to everyone when they know where they stand. This suggestion of a hierarchy and strong government are again within the outline of an ideological political view. All of the beliefs within conservatism tie in to one another and fulfill the structure of an ideology.
Another area that shows conservatism to be an ideology rather than a state of mind is the new right. The new right is much more liberal with its faith in human rationality and therefore believes in change in an economic sense. The new right preaches economic freedom with free markets, no government interference and the acceptance of change. Faith in the neo-liberal view should be placed in the market not on the government. It also believes in individual liberty and the defence of freedom from the state. The idea of a free economy and a lesser state are set out in strict guidelines within the new right’s policy. Having such a strict set of rules on the economy and society simply proves even further that Conservatism is an ideology; the new right are setting out policies on how to in their opinion fix the world, a characteristic of an ideology.
An argument against conservatism being ideological is that it is simply a political attitude in defense of the status quo. Conservatism only wants to defend the institutions from the past and make sure they are kept for the generations of the future, its emphasis on historical principles and experience make it simply a political attitude. Many different groups are considered to be conservative, in the sense that they support tradition but have no conservative political views at all for example socialists who campaign for the welfare state could be considered conservative in their actions but not in their political beliefs.
In conclusion conservatism clearly is an ideology. It has a set of political beliefs which define human nature, explain society and attempt to show a solution on how to organize individuals to make the world a better place.