What Is Conservatism?

In his 2015 book, Key Concepts in Politics and International Relations, Andrew Heywood wrote:

* The central themes of conservative ideology are tradition, human imperfection, organic society, authority and property. For a conservative, tradition reflects the accumulated wisdom of the past, and institutions and practices that have been ‘tested by time’; it should be preserved for the benefit of the living and for generations yet to come. Conservatives view human nature pessimistically in at least three senses. First, human beings are limited, dependent and security-seeking creatures; second, they are morally corrupt, tainted by selfishness, greed and a thirst for power; third, human rationality is unable to cope with the infinite complexity of the world (hence conservatives’ faith in pragmatism and their preference for describing their beliefs as an ‘attitude of mind’ rather than an ideology). The belief that society should be viewed as an organic whole implies that institutions and values have arisen through natural necessity and should be preserved to safeguard the fragile ‘fabric of society’. Conservatives view authority as the basis for social cohesion, arguing that it gives people a sense of who they are and what is expected of them, and reflects the hierarchical nature of all social institutions.

…conservatives argue that they merely advance certain enduring, if at times unpalatable, truths about human nature and the societies we live in. That human beings are morally and intellectually imperfect, and seek the security that only tradition, authority and a shared culture can offer, merely underlines the wisdom of ‘travelling light’ in ideological terms. Experience and history, conservatives warn, will always provide a sounder basis for political action than will abstract principles such as freedom, equality and justice.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
This entry was posted in Conservatives. Bookmark the permalink.