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					Conservative Ideology


A reaction against radicalism
Traditional Conservatism

 Developed in reaction against the
  excesses of the French Revolution (the
  Reign of Terror).

 Conservatives blamed the bloodbath on
  the Enlightenment idea that political
  society could be consciously created by
  humans.
Founder of Traditional
Conservative Ideology
Edmund Burke
British writer &
Member of
Parliament in
Late 18th century
Edmund Burke

 Born and raised in Dublin; studied law in
  London. Left law to be a political writer.
 Served in Parliament; rose to prominence in
  Whig Party because of his eloquence.
 Strongly opposed to the government of Lord
  North (PM from 1770 to 1782) because of its
  corruption and extravagance. In particular,
  opposed North’s attempts to coerce the
  American colonies.
 Supported American revolution; opposed
  French revolution.
Traditional Conservative:
Differences with liberalism
1.The origin of political society.
  Conservatism argues that political
  society develops gradually over time out
  of human experience and custom. It is
  not the product of conscious human
  effort or rational thought. There is no
  social contract.
Differences with liberalism

2.   Human nature is not rational.
     People’s ability to reason is severely
     limited. Nor is the world is
     understandable and malleable as
     revolutionaries assume. Therefore,
     efforts to improve a society will likely
     have terrible unanticipated
     consequences.
Differences with liberalism

3.The acceptance of authority. Members
  of political society need to accept their
  roles in order for the whole society to be
  healthy and strong. People who assert
  their rights and question authority break
  down the social order and undermine the
  security and happiness for everyone
  else. There is no right of revolution.
Differences with liberalism

4. Human beings are naturally unequal in
    their abilities. This has several
    implications:
      politically, people should defer to
       natural rulers to govern.
      socially, problems like inequality and
       poverty are an inescapable part of the
       human condition.
Differences with liberalism

5.The purpose of government.
  Government’s goal is to provide for
  human needs, not natural rights,
  particularly needs for order, stability and
  control. Chaos destroys people more
  than tyranny ever did.
Key values

 Tradition - including religious values –
  important; they are grounded in generations of
  reflection on ethical questions and therefore
  have greater weight than the ethical decisions
  of any individual.
 Authority hierarchical. Government should be
  strong in law & order, to control the unruly
  elements in society. Morality and religion are
  important sources of order.
Traditional conservative
thinking about the economy
 Opposed to free market capitalism because it
  broke down old social roles. Destabilizing
 Acceptance of social welfare for the poor. The
  elite - the higher and better class - had a
  responsibility to take care of the “less fortunate”
  [noblesse oblige].
 No fear of an active large government
  becoming tyrannous; the elite would be the
  governors.
 Helps to explain his different views about the
  American and French revolutions.
Burke’s contradictory positions
on revolution
 Burke thought British society had become
  crassly commercial, and had lost sight of
  English tradition. Americans sought to reclaim
  this tradition (including the idea of rights), so
  their revolution was “conservative.”
 In contrast, France's revolution was the first
  modern attempt to consciously re-make society.
  No tradition of rights in France, so the
  revolutionaries had to invent rights. Old
  traditions rejected.
Attitude about change

 Change is possible, but should be
  gradual, a slow evolution.
 Conservatives are not fascists, people
  on the extreme right of the political
  spectrum. Fascists believe human will
  can remake society. Fascists are radical
  reactionaries.
Contemporary conservatism

 Conservative thought in the U.S.
  different because it grew out of classical
  liberalism, including support for
  capitalism and suspicion of government
  power.
 Since WWII, U.S. conservatism has
  influenced conservative ideology
  elsewhere.
Contemporary conservatives

 See justice as equal opportunity, not
  equal outcome;
 Advocate market incentives to achieve
  socially desirable goals, rather than the
  state;
 Prefer state and local government action
  over federal, which is potentially
  tyrannous.
Example of a contemporary
conservative
Barry Goldwater
Arizona senator
Candidate for
President in
1964
Contemporary conservatism

Developed after WWII in response to:
 Soviet communist threat
 The rise of the government welfare
 Political protests
 The civil rights movement
 Urban riots.
How was government welfare
dangerous?
How was government welfare
dangerous?
 Created high expectations about
  entitlements
 Created a giant bureaucratic state
 Created a culture of permissiveness;
  society blamed & not individual failure
Can the U.S. achieve equality?
Can the U.S. achieve equality?

 Equality means equal opportunity
 Can be achieved through the free market
 Affirmative action programs unfair
What role does government
play?
What role does government
play?
 Role of government limited but powerful
  in its sphere - national security and
  domestic order.
 Should support free market mechanism.
 Not worried about a large government in
  itself; more concerned about the danger
  of too much individual liberty and moral
  license.
The New Right in the United
States
 Emphasis on traditional moral values
   Strongly oppose abortion, homosexuality,
    and sex education in the schools.
   Strongly support state-supported prayer in
       public schools.
      Critical of women’s rights movement for
       producing higher divorce rate, more
       juvenile crime, increased teen pregnancy
       and other social problems associated with
       lax morality and parental oversight.
The New Right in the United
States
 Shares many attributes of traditional
  conservative ideology
     Importance of religion, morality & tradition
     Suspicious of talk about rights
The New Right in the United
States
 Breaks with some attributes of
  contemporary conservatism:
     Critical of free market & global economy
     Less concerned with individual rights than
      moral values
     Not concerned with large, active
      government, if it promotes moral values.
Example of a New Right
conservative
Patrick Buchanan
Served in 3
White Houses
Ran for GOP
Nomination in 1992
Compare & contrast
Contemporary vs. New Right
 What role should government play?
Compare & contrast
Contemporary vs. New Right
 What role should government play?


Contemporary:
 limited - economic liberty; law & order
New Right:
 activist - Christian morality
Compare & contrast
Contemporary vs. New Right
 Should welfare benefits to single women
  who have children be cut?
Compare & contrast
Contemporary vs. New Right
Should welfare benefits to single women
  who have children be cut?

Contemporary:
 Yes; tax relief important


New Right:
 No; it might encourage abortion
Compare & contrast
Contemporary vs. New Right
Should government policies treat
  homosexuality like other civil rights?
Compare & contrast
Contemporary vs. New Right
Should government treat homosexuality like other
  civil rights?

Contemporary:
 Yes; government should be small & stay out of
  private lives.

New Right:
 No; it violates morality & undermines the family
Compare & contrast
Contemporary vs. New Right
 Support for NAFTA and free trade?
Compare & contrast
Contemporary vs. New Right
 Support for NAFTA and free trade?
Contemporary conservatism
 Yes, policies support capitalism &
  economic growth

New Right
 No, policies cause economic disruptions
  for American workers
Conservatives & drug policy

 Former Governor Gary Johnson pushed
 for reform of drug policy, to decriminalize
 marijuana and possibly heroin. He
 argued that the war on drug has failed.
 He is a Republican; what type of
 conservative is he?
Conservatives & drug policy

 A contemporary (classical liberal)
  conservative.

 He argued that legalization would lead to
  reduced crime and permit some
  government regulation and taxation. He
  did not mention morality.

				
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