Conservatism - Different Views and Tensions

Mickey Morris
Mind Map by Mickey Morris, updated 3 months ago
Mickey Morris
Created by Mickey Morris 3 months ago
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A level Politics Mind Map on Conservatism - Different Views and Tensions, created by Mickey Morris on 02/11/2020.
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Conservatism - Different Views and Tensions
1 Radicalism
1.1 Radicalism is the belief or expression that there should be significant / extreme political and/or social change.
1.1.1 These changes should occur through revolution
1.1.2 Conservatism is directly opposed to radicalism in any form.
1.2 The father of modern conservatism (Edmund Burke) famously argued that the abstract notions of equality, fraternity and equality were contrary to the traditions of French society.
1.2.1 The result of radicalism would be chaos and social disorder.
1.3 In the modern era, conservatives in the West are deeply opposed to the spread of Islamic fundamentalism.
1.3.1 This is most notable within the United States; a country in which the conservative movement is coloured by a much greater level of religiosity than the United Kingdom.
1.4 Conservatives have always claimed that radicalism is driven by ideologues and seeks to impose a dogmatic vision of life upon society.
1.4.1 Throughout history, there have been numerous illustrations of radical groups capturing the apparatus of the state and imposing their ‘truth’ upon others.
1.4.1.1 The result has often been characterised by destruction rather than conservation.
1.5 Indeed, it is difficult to envisage anything as contrary to the conservative mindset as that of radicalism.
1.6 Conservatives are, by nature and temperament; supporters of the status quo and opponents of dramatic upheaval driven by ideologues.
1.6.1 Radicalism is simply not part of conservative language.
2 Empiricism
2.1 Empiricism is an epistemological approach which claims that knowledge comes primarily (or solely) from experience.
2.2 By definition, all conservatives thereby adopt an empiricist stance.
2.2.1 The conservative mindset is characterised by a combination of tradition and pragmatism
2.2.2 Conservatives also reject the rationalist approach of liberalism and the scientific socialism advocated by Marxists
2.2.2.1 Neither rationalism nor scientific socialism is rooted in empiricism.
2.3 Empiricism is clearly consistent with Burkean themes such as the accumulated wisdom of previous generations.
2.3.1 It is also encapsulated in traditional Tory opposition to the views of experts
2.3.1.1 Those who claim they have all the ‘right’ answers have often been shown to be wrong by the consequences of events.
2.3.2 Empiricism is also consistent with the Burkean perspective upon the social contract as opposed to the rather arrogant view that the current generation knows what’s best.
3 Traditional Conservatism
3.1 Traditional conservatism is relatively insignificant within the field of British politics.
3.2 As the term clearly implies, traditional conservatism is the oldest format of conservative thought.
3.3 Traditional conservatism is associated strongly with the concept of hierarchy.
3.4 With regards to conservatism, the main division is that between the one-nation perspective and the New Right
3.5 In order for society to function effectively, there must be some form of hierarchy.
3.5.1 Individuals within society need to be aware of their place within and accept their duties accordingly.
3.5.2 For instance, those who hold the highest status have a responsibility to look after those further down the social scale.
3.5.3 Such ideas later developed into the concept of noblesse oblige, one of the fundamental ideas within the mindset of conservatism.
4 Neo-liberalism
4.1 As the term implies, neo-liberalism represents a modernised form of the classical liberal tradition.
4.2 The distinction between neo-liberalism and the New Right is relatively straight-forward.
4.2.1 As the term implies, neo-liberalism represents a modernised form of the classical liberal tradition
4.2.2 In contrast, the New Right school of thought belongs within the ideology of conservatism
4.2.3 To some extent, a relationship exists between neo-liberalism and the New Right due to their shared common ground.
4.2.3.1 This is most notable in the field of economic policy, with both schools of thought highly supportive of laissez-faire capitalism.
4.2.3.1.1 Frankly, there is no discernible difference in terms of the economic policies advocated by neo-liberals and the New Right
4.2.3.1.1.1 Indeed, during the 2010-15 coalition government, right-wingers within the Tory Cabinet and Orange Bookers in the Liberal Democrats co-operated over austerity measures and the need for a flexible labour market.
4.3 There is also strong opposition amongst neo-liberals and the New Right towards egalitarian measures
4.3.1 Both strands of thought claim that socialism represents the sacrifice of the individual for collectivist goals
4.3.1.1 They claim that Britain is over-governed via state intervention within the economy and the nanny state within the personal realm.
4.3.1.1.1 The former Conservative Minister Keith Joseph succinctly encapsulated this view when he argued that “inequality of income can only be eliminated at the cost of freedom.”
4.4 there are major differences between neo-liberals and the New Right.
4.4.1 Such divisions reflect the traditional points of departure between liberals and conservatives such as law and order, multiculturalism, constitutional reform and morality.
4.4.2 A liberal society is built upon mutual tolerance of diverse lifestyles, and all liberals (including neo-liberals) adopt a position of moral relativism.
4.4.2.1 Liberalism represents an atomistic society and will always oppose the stifling conformity of social mores
4.4.3 In stark contrast, conservatism adopts a stance of moral absolutism.
5 Anti-permissiveness
5.1 Permissiveness refers to a situation in which behaviour that some people might disapprove of is allowed (often by a change in the law).
5.1.1 Therefore, anti-permissiveness refers to a lack of change in the law or society to allow such behaviour.
5.2 Libertarian conservatives differ from neo-conservatives in their views on many lifestyle issues.
5.2.1 Liberalism celebrates the diversity of human life and emphasises tolerance.
5.2.1.1 This even extends to the realm of sexual behaviour.
5.2.1.1.1 For liberals, the key phrase is that of consenting adults.
5.2.2 However, conservatives claim that the increased number of one-parent families, divorce, extra-marital affairs, contraceptive usage and a general decline in social mores undermine the social fabric.
5.2.2.1 Such behaviour is particularly harmful to children; which experience has shown tend to grow and thrive within the security and stability offered by the conventional nuclear family
5.2.2.1.1 In a modern context, the Tory Party’s argument that Britain was a broken society under New Labour is consistent with this line of argument.
5.3 When considering anti-permissiveness, it should also be noted that certain strands of conservatism emphasise lifestyle issues more than others.
5.3.1 For instance, libertarian conservatives take a more relaxed approach to such matters whereas neo-conservatives adopt a more traditional approach.
5.3.2 This is a feature of American politics and the culture wars that divide the two main parties
5.3.2.1 Abortion has been described as the last great divide between Republicans and Democrats.
5.3.2.1.1 Conservatives in the US argue that the pro-choice side of the debate champion the rights of the living over the as yet unclaimed demands of those yet to be born.
5.3.2.1.1.1 On a related point, some of those rights for the living have been discovered from penumbras identified by unelected members of an unaccountable and out-of-touch judiciary.
5.3.2.1.1.1.1 This forms part of the broader conservative critique of the ‘liberal’ judiciary.
6 Laissez-faire
6.1 A laissez-faire system is an economic system in which the government tries to avoid interfering in the economy; it is closely associated with capitalism.
6.1.1 Conservatives argue that a system based upon private ownership (namely capitalism) is superior to the statist alternative for a number of reasons.
6.2 Firstly, it is argued that laissez-faire facilitates those who wish to ‘get on’ in life.
6.2.1 The Conservative Party has consistently sought to present itself as offering help to hard-working individuals and families.
6.2.1.1 In order to back up this argument, one might consider polices such as providing mortgage tax relief to the sale of council homes at a substantial discount.
6.3 Secondly, conservatives are sympathetic towards laissez-faire capitalism because they feel it benefits everyone
6.3.1 This particular line of argument relates to an economic term called the trickle-down effect.
6.3.1.1 The economic activity generated by those on high incomes is advantageous for all members of society due to economic growth, greater levels of consumer choice and an increase in investment.
6.3.1.2 Whilst the result of the trickle-down effect is an uneven distribution of wealth and income, conservatives take the view that such an outcome is both inevitable and desirable.
6.4 Thirdly, conservatives claim that the freer the market the freer the people.
6.4.1 The ability to spend the wealth we earn is an important leitmotif / symbol of a free society.
6.4.2 State intervention within the economy inevitably limits our economic freedom as it entails the government confiscating our wealth.
6.4.3 For instance, home ownership means that we are relatively free to do as we wish with our property
6.4.3.1 Conservatives claim that this taps into a broader mindset reflected in the aphorism that ‘an Englishman’s home is his castle.’
6.5 Unlike those voices on the left, conservatives take a positive view of an economic system based upon private ownership
6.5.1 All conservatives believe that laissez-faire capitalism is a better system than common ownership of the means of production
6.5.1.1 The individual is much more likely to respect their own and others property as opposed to the bureaucratic hand of the state.
6.5.1.1.1 He/she has a very clear incentive to improve their home in terms of its sentimental and financial value
6.5.2 Yet whilst conservatives share a great deal of common ground with liberals on the issue of property, there is a subtle degree of disagreement to be aware of.
6.5.2.1 Conservatives reject the liberal argument that we have a right to property.
6.5.2.1.1 Instead, there should be an emphasis upon the obligations that derive from private property (such as respect for others).
6.6 Laissez-faire in more depth
6.6.1 The issue of private property is a particularly significant dividing line between left and right within the political spectrum.
6.6.1.1 According to figures from the left, the acquisition of private property is the result of the pursuit of self-interest and thereby represents social inequality
6.6.1.1.1 In a particularly famous quote, the collectivist anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon argued that “all property is theft.”
6.6.1.1.2 In contrast, all conservatives believe strongly in the benefits of private property.
6.6.1.1.2.1 Ownership of private property provides us with a sense of security
6.6.1.1.2.2 It offers physical and psychological protection from the pressures of the world outside and something to fall back on during difficult financial times.
6.6.1.1.2.3 Homeowners also have a clear stake within society, which thereby promotes conservative values such as the maintenance of law and order
6.6.1.1.2.4 Private property also enables us to reflect our sense of individuality and what values are important to our family
6.6.1.1.2.4.1 In addition, home ownership enables us to pass down our wealth to members of our own family, who then act as custodians of that wealth.
6.6.1.1.2.4.1.1 reflects the Burkean view of society.
7 Human Imperfection
7.1 The concept of human imperfection holds that “humans are flawed, which makes them incapable of making good decisions for themselves.”
7.2 First and foremost, conservatives adopt a pessimistic view of human nature.
7.2.1 According to conservatives, we are all psychologically flawed and imperfect.
7.2.1.1 The conservative view of human nature is largely grounded upon the Catholic notion of original sin and Biblical warnings over human wickedness.
7.2.2 Indeed, during the Enlightenment conservative theorists rejected the rationalist assumption that we should be optimistic about humanity and seek to improve it.
7.3 Conservatives also believe that we are driven by baser instincts rather than higher reasoning
7.3.1 this is a fundamental difference with liberalism.
7.3.2 For instance, conservatives believe that we seek protection for ourselves, our homes and our families.
7.3.2.1 As such, we are by instinct suspicious of outsiders and prefer to live in a society based upon cultural homogeneity.
7.3.3 Human beings are also drawn towards competition over the acquisition of money, status and property
7.3.3.1 At times, this can lead to behaviour that needs to be regulated by the forces of law and order.
7.4 Thirdly, those ideologies which adopt a fixed view of human nature are inherently wrong.
7.4.1 Moreover, we cannot predict the future and should simply recognise the limits of our understanding.
7.4.2 Those ideologies that promise a utopian system must be open to criticism in order to expose such thinking as a doomed exercise in self-deception.
7.4.3 Ultimately, all humans are intellectually flawed.
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