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The Importance Of Social Stability And Economic Freedom To Conservatism

2100 words - 8 pages

The Importance of Social Stability and Economic Freedom to Conservatism

Traditionally Conservatism has generally focussed on both social
stability and economic freedom, believing that the two are inherently
intertwined.

The central theme of Conservative thought, namely “the desire to
conserve”, is closely linked to the emphasis placed on respect for
tradition, established customs and institutions that have endured the
“test of time”. Conservatives fervently believe that tradition
reflects the accumulated wisdom of the past, and that institutions and
customs which have been tested by time, should all be preserved for
the benefit of the living and for those still to come. In this way,
tradition is believed to have the virtue of promoting stability and
security within society as it provides individuals with a sense of
social and historical belonging. This is underpinned by the
conservative’s pessimistic view of human nature, believing humans to
be naturally dependent and security-seeking creatures, drawn to the
familiar and desiring to live in safe and orderly communities.

Conservatives have traditionally viewed society as an organic whole or
a living entity whose parts work together in the same fashion the
brain, heart and lungs do in a human body. If society is organic, its
various institutions have been shaped by natural necessity and forces
so as to provide security and social cohesion. Any attempts to alter
this structure are thus fraught with danger as reform or change may
lead to the collapse of society. Conservatives have therefore been
suspicious of change and have generally adopted a pragmatic approach
believing in change only where it is absolutely necessary. However, as
expressed by Burke, societies without the means to change lack the
means to conserve. They have therefore been forced to accept minor
change over the years. The issue of Devolution largely illustrates
Peel’s belief in “reform in order to preserve”. While Devolution was
strongly opposed by Thatcher, who advocated centralisation of power
and the conservation of the United Kingdom, under Hague and Duncan
Smith, the Conservative party was obliged to accept Devolution owing
to a growing feeling of nationalism in Wales and Scotland and
resentment of Whitehall centralisation. Rather than face these areas
moving towards full independence, the Conservatives thought it wise to
accept Devolution as a compromise and as a way of preserving social
stability within a united Britain.

Owing to their negative belief that humans are morally corrupt and
crave “power after power” according to Thomas Hobbes, Conservatives
have traditionally supported tough law and order policies to ensure
social stability. They believe that crime is a consequence of basic
human instinct and appetite, rather than a product of social
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