210-9780230367241

210-9780230367241 - 9780230_367258_04_Ch3_Heywood...

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Chapter 3 Conservatism Preview In everyday language, the term ‘conservative’ has a variety of meanings. It can refer to moderate or cautious behaviour, a lifestyle that is conventional, even conformist, or a fear of or refusal to change, particularly denoted by the verb ‘to conserve’. ‘Conservatism’ was first used to describe a distinctive political position or ideology in the early nineteenth century. In the USA, it implied a pessimistic view of public affairs. By the 1820s, the term was being used to denote opposition to the principles and spirit of the 1789 French Revolution. In the UK, ‘Conservative’ gradually replaced ‘Tory’ as a title of the principal oppo sition party to the Whigs, becoming the party’s official name in 1835. As a political ideology, conservatism is defined by the desire to conserve, reflected in a resistance to, or at least a suspicion of, change. However, although the desire to resist change may be the recurrent theme within conservatism, what distinguishes conservatism from rival political creeds is the distinctive way in which this position is upheld, in particular through support for tradition, a belief in human imperfection, and the attempt to uphold the organic structure of society. Conservatism nevertheless encompasses a range of tendencies and inclinations. The chief distinction within conservatism is between what is called traditional conservatism and the ‘new right’. Traditional conservatism defends established institutions and values on the ground that they safeguard the fragile ‘fabric of society’, giving security-seeking human beings a sense of stability and rootedness. The new right is characterized by a belief in a strong but minimal state, combining economic libertarianism with social authoritarianism. 65 Proof Preview 65 Origins and developments 66 Core themes: the desire to conserve 68 Authoritarian conservatism 78 Paternalistic conservatism 80 Libertarian conservatism 84 New right 86 Conservatism in a global age 94 9780230_367258_04_Ch3_Heywood 21/10/2011 14:41 Page 65
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Origins and development Conservative ideas arose in reaction to the growing pace of political, social and economic change, which, in many ways, was symbolized by the French Revolution. One of the earliest, and perhaps the classic, statement of conserva- tive principles is contained in Edmund Burke’s (see p. 00) Reflections on the Revolution in France ([1790] 1968), which deeply regretted the revolutionary challenge to the ancien régime that had occurred the previous year. During the nineteenth century, western states were transformed by the pressures unleashed by industrialization and reflected in the growth of liberalism, socialism and nationalism. While these ideologies preached reform, and at times supported revolution, conservatism stood in defence of an increasingly embattled tradi- tional social order. Conservative thought varied considerably as it adapted itself to existing tradi-
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2012 for the course BUS 104 taught by Professor Johnson during the Spring '11 term at FIU.

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210-9780230367241 - 9780230_367258_04_Ch3_Heywood...

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