Political Science 1020E Lecture Notes - Liberal Conservatism, Traditionalist Conservatism, Organicism
Course CodePolitical Science 1020E
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Conservatism and the State
What is the state’s role in conservative thought?
- Traditional conservatism
- Paternalistic Conservatism
- Liberal Conservatism
What is conservatism? Someone who lives a conventional or conformist lifestyle. Has a moderate or
Conservatism is about keeping things intact and in order. It’s in the nature of human beings to conserve.
We have a natural resistance to change. The reason for that is that we distrust the unknown (we don’t
know what is next).
Traditional Conservatism developed as a reaction of the French Revolution in 1779.
Edmund Burke (1729-1797) – The ideas of the enlightenment and the French Revolution. Reason can be
used to reorder society so that everyone can be equal. You can make everyone happy and bring about
equality. There are ideas of living freely. Burke says look what happens when change is rushed. The
French revolution caused many people to die. He says the emphasis liberalism puts on individual
freedom is dangerous. You sacrifice key sources of unity within society and maintaining stability. Family
is a key source of protection. With liberalism stressing individuals doing anything as they wish causes
families to break apart. For some traditional conservatives religion is important because religion
provides people with comfort, ideas and teachings. Peace stability and harmony gives us order. Once
you infect people with the idea of overthrowing the ruler or someone in place of authority it can ruin all
of society. Tradition is values practices and institutions that have endured through time. Tradition exists
for a reason. The fact that they have existed for such a long time is because they reflect the stored up
wisdom of the past. They have survived the test of time and they have a purpose.
Organicism – Society Is like a living body. The problem with liberalism and socialism is that they see
society as a machine. All you have to do is change the bad parts and replace it and everything is fine.
Like the body societies various parts of the body (society) works differently and its complex. Changing
one part of the body will affect the parts of the body. Once you change one aspect of society it will
affect the whole or part of it. Change brings harmful outcomes. The emphasis on individual freedom
brings destruction to the social body. Society isn’t composed of individuals but rather part of a group.
It’s through groups that we get security, identity and meaning. The emphasis on individual freedom
means individuals get away from groups with the result being no one can protect them when they go
through a hard time. What it means to be free is to do your duty (doing ones duty). We all have a role.
Fulfil your obligations for those who depend on you.
The worse kind of change is sudden change such as a revolution:
“A radical and widespread change in society’s social, political and economic order, especially one made
suddenly and often accompanies by violence.
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