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To what extent can conservatism be described as ideological

To what extent can conservatism be described as ideological...

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To what extent can conservatism be described as ideological? Ideology is, according to David McLellan ‘the most elusive concept in the whole of the social sciences’. Its definition is not only elusive, but also controversial. Wittgenstein (1889-1951) even went so far as to say that any definition was impossible; either the definition would be too vague, thereby excluding or blurring the key fundamental points, or it would be too narrow, thus not encompassing the key elements to ideology. It may be simpler to look at a selection of different parts of an ideology individually, and use that list to decide what constitutes, and what does not, an ideology. Ideologies usually have a view of human nature. Some will argue that human nature in inextricably selfish, whereas others may argue that it is society that has created that selfish nature. Most ideologies contain a critique of existing society (all of course except conservatism for whom it would defy their basic principles to have such a critique). With this critique, they usually will have a vision of a better society, and perhaps more importantly, should outline the method or process of attaining that better society. Many ideologies, and Marxism is a case in point, also include a “call to arms”- Karl Marx himself declared “workers of the world, unite!”. Andrew Heywood gives us a short definition of what constitutes, in his view, an ideology; ‘more or less coherent set of ideas that provides the basis for some kind of organised political action’. For the purpose of this essay, the term ideology will be considered to constitute three characteristics – (a) offer an account of the existing order, usually in the form of a ‘world-view’, including an interpretation of human nature (b) advance a model of a desired future, a vision of the ‘good society’, and (c) explain how political change can and should be brought about. Based on these characteristics of an ideology, it is possible to determine whether or not conservatism could be described as ideological. Firstly, conservatism most certainly satisfies the first point. People are thought be imperfect, dependant, selfish, greedy, and need to belong and have
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