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20. November 19 -Conservatism.docx

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Department
Political Science
Course
Political Science 1020E
Professor
Nigmendra Narain
Semester
Fall

Description
Conservatism  Classical Conservatism  Contemporary North America Conservatism o Traditional Conservatism o Individualist Conservatism o Neo-Conservatism o Social/Religious Conservatism Key Ideas  Differences between early or classical conservatives and self-proclaimed conservatives of recent years =they’re getting older?  Opposed to "social engineering" of society by society, social groups, or government o Humans are imperfect & no structure can make them perfect  Government has very limited or particular role in society  Cautious approach to change — preferable to keep traditions  Religious/divine aspect  Inequality is a necessary fact of li–people are imperfect, therefore cannot be made not so  Opposed to social engineering – therefore accept people are imperfect Classical Conservatism  Sought to preserve some form of aristocratic society that was under attack by liberalism  Defended traditional social hierarchy  Insisted on the need for strong enough state to restrain people's passions  Skeptical of attempts to promote individual freedom  Edmund Burke (1729-1797) Classical Conservatism: Burke  Basis of the political ideas of conservatism  Historical situation o Developed his views in the heat of the French Revolution o 1788-89 many observers in England hailed it as great for the cause of liberty o Burke saw it as a dangerous, threatening enterprise  Key Books o 1790: Reflections on the Revolution in France o Only incidentally about France 1 of 5 o More about the British liberals/radicals who would like to follow in France's revolutionary footsteps –dedicated it in SARCASTIC way of telling them they’re all idiots  Ideas: o Humans are not rational, but rules by passions and desires o About politics:  Not a science, but an imprecise art ------MACIAVELLI  You can try to rationalize & remake politics and society = terrible consequences inevitable –reign of terror; Soviet Russia; AM Reconstruction  Goal: order & stability 1. It is within order: we can get things done and live peacefully o Concerning society:  Opposed liberal’s "atomistic conception of humans and society" 1. Criticized Locke's liberal view of society  Organic: political society is a living and changing organism, a whole greater than the sum of its parts. 1. Society is about intergenerational connected-ness, not a social contract  Society has a "social fabric": woven together, they are strong and beautiful, and may needs patching & repair, but do NOT rip it ALL up 1. Canada: what’s our social fabric?  Elitist: believes there are natural aristocrats; inequality among people is a fact of life 1. Who are our natural leaders and aristocrats? o Role of state/government:  Government is to provide for human shortcomings: restrain passions, interests  State must be rooted in customs and traditions of the people to be stable 1. The people, through time, acquire the habit of obeying it – rules from your parents? From the class? 2. Cannot change this lightly or easily =CHAOS  No one best form to government: must reflect the particular history, habits of a particular people, serve their particular needs o Conception of Freedom:  Good only if controlled and put to good use  People freed from all legal and traditional restraints can wreak chaos  Negative freedom: individuals should be free to pursue their goals, but when their goals threaten the social order, freedom must be restricted  * Society and Order come before individual freedom * 2 of 5  Think about residences? Parties? Teens? Corporations? Polygamy? o Private property is a necessary, stabilising and conservative force in society  People who own property, especially land, will have strong attachments to the society and government that protect their property 1. Caledonia? Roommates? Your parents?  Does not share Locke's interest in ensuring that everyone can create their own property 1. Not earned but inherited right of elite  BURKE’S IDEAS: common basis for conservatism Conservatism: 1800s  Burkean classical conservatives: want to preserve the traditional features of existing society through cautious reform  Reactionary
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