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Conservatism ‘key words’ Essay

Authoritarianism – Strong authority imposed from above is necessary or desirable and therefore demands unquestioning obedience. ‘Harsh’ form of social control via the legal system and criminal policies.. Thatcher’s slogan ‘TINA’ is associated very much with authoritarianism. It translates into ‘There Is No Alternative’ – we must be harsh!

New Right – An ideological trend within conservatism that embraces a blend of the laissez-faire economics and social authoritarianism. (Reagan + Thatcher) New Right conservatism is an amalgam of neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism. In this combination exist two counter ideologies which ultimately go hand-in-hand to make each other work; Classical liberalism and Traditional conservatism. Traditional conservatism is much about the community as a whole working together to create social cohesion.

In Traditional conservatism the individual should work, be disciplined and have a sense of self-realisation. Authoritarian rules can cater for individualism by moulding a social matrix within which autonomous peoples can pursue their interests, and prosper accordingly. Classical liberalism referred to as ‘neo-liberalism’ is about the free market, allowing the individual to be free from state intervention in private family life such as spending. Privacy here gives the individual a motive – work hard, earn money, and spend it in any way within the legal boundaries.

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Anomie – A weakening of values and normative rules associated with the feelings of isolation, loneliness and meaninglessness. (Durkheim argument against negative freedom.)

Organicism – Belief that society operates like an organism, whose parts work together. The organism is sustained by a fragile set of relationships between & amongst its parts. Organisms are shaped by ‘natural factors’. i.e the family was not invented by a social thinker but is a product of natural social impulses.

Disraeli’s One Nation conservatism was very much framed by the Organic model… For a body to function healthily all of its organs and limbs must correspond in a symbiotic relationship. Taking the latter formula into account and applying it to a human society we see that the paternalistic government has to carry out its duty of care known as noblesse oblige whilst the people pursue their legal obligations such as tax-paying and law-abiding. The Organic model gathers all individuals; irrespective of class, race, gender or sexuality, and places them into one whole – a nation.

Hierarchy – A system of social positions or status

Natural aristocracy – The idea that talent and leadership are innate/inbred qualities and can not be acquired through effort or self-advancement. (Burke supported this; “there must be leaders and there must be followers…”

Authority – The power or right to exert influence (give orders, make decisions, enforce obedience). Conservatives authority develops naturally in society –> Parents have authority over their children. Thus –> Authority refers to the ability to exert influence over a people either by force or by legitimate procedures. In a self-determined nation-state authority is de jure, the people have accepted the body of authority and thus have accepted the policies imposed by such authority. However, in a failed society such as Mogadishu where there is no identifiable centre of authority, bodies of government operate by force, fear and de facto authority. –> So yes, the POWER (de facto) or RIGHT (de jure) to make decisions.

Property – The ownership of physical goods or wealth. Burke used property as a metaphor for tradition. We should respect traditional institutions as we inherit them just as we inherit property. Property provides security –> something to ‘fall back on’. Those who own property are more likely to respect the property of others and be aware that property must be protected from disorder and lawlessness. (Property–>stake in society)

Privatisation – Transfer of state assets to the private sector. Free market/laissez-faire approach. Reflects a contraction of state’s responsibilities.

Populism – the political doctrine that supports the rights and powers of the common people in their struggle with the privileged elite. (Per�n –> helping the ‘shirtless ones’)

Paternalism – the attitude (of a person or a government) that subordinates should be controlled in a fatherly way for their own good. (Laws such as wearing a seatbelt. ‘Soft’ and ‘Hard’ paternalism)

Neoliberalism – Liberal political views with an emphasis on economic growth. Free market as the ideal form of social organisation and as a means of solving all central political issues. (Friedman)

Neoconservatism – A modern version of social conservatism that emphasises the need to restore order, and return to traditional values. One must observe the context within which Thatcherism developed. Thatcher came into office at a time when society had become permissive. Gay rights were being sought after, multiculturalism was on its highs, teenage pregnancies became modern fads, rebellion became the Rock’n’Roll attitude of the time –> society was loose. Thatcher thus decided that order must be restored. And she brought this restoration about by punitive laws and restrictions.

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