Conservatives are a group of people who have a common believe and respect for cultural institutions such as the family, church and other such institutions. They are people who have a strong believe that their faith and family principles are the fundamental pillars of human beings. They hold the two institutions in high esteem and believe that they have no replacement. However, in the modern days, the media is known to be attacking the two institutions. The conservatives are normally skeptical that any one could attempt to criticize the two institutions. The origin of conservatism is attributed to several historians who were prosperous thinkers in the public domain.
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The beginning of conservatism dated back in the Great War in Britain. During this time, powerful debates about the soul and the thoughts of conservatism were widely spread. The participants were mainly the prominent historians who were the great thinkers in the society. The historians had many arguments in common about the nature of the human beings. However, their areas of specialization differed in terms of the interpretation of issues. They were always aligned to particular political classes. The prominent historians often had chances to address huge multitudes that eventually purchased their works thereby promoting their doctrines further. Many people also read their works in print media as well as in television and radio. They were a great inspiration to the people.
The conservatism that exists in the current day in Britain can be traced back in the mid 1750s to early 1800. This came as a reaction to the swift changes and a series of prospects that faced the nation as well as other neighboring European nations. During this period, the Torry party was transformed in to the conservative party. This mainly came as a result of the electoral reforms in 1832 that was aimed at educating the conservatives on ways in which they could become productive and self reliant in the society. This came as a result of the common believe that personal initiatives are usually more effective in bringing the desired results than those that are done communally. Conservatism in the Britain is somehow interrelated with that of other Western Nations (Daunton 1995 pp.27-31). However, it is unique in a way that distinguishes it from the others. Conservatism in Britain established in under the patronage of renowned historians. The torry party was the first to establish the original characteristics of conservatism. It was later transformed in to the conservative party. The party mainly advocated for the monarchy while the feelings of those who owned land in the rural areas manifested in it. They defended the social order by the use of the Anglican Church as well as institutions such as the family.
The characteristics of conservatism are many depending on the issues at hand. First, conservatism is an advocate of little ambitions in the political sphere. The conservatives believe in simplicity when it comes to political matters. They believe that the politics of the state should be continuous and that the government can be an authoritative one if only simplicity and continuity are achieved. In this case, they tend to agree that continuity can also be achieved. Conservatism holds traditions and religion in high esteem, but they never disregard progress under unsubstantiated circumstances. They believe in both sides of the outcome.
To the conservatives, progress can either have positive or negative consequences to the human beings. They believe that freedom and desirable qualities are of utmost importance, and that this is what the society should strive to achieve. The other most contentious characteristic is the fact that they prefer liberation in place of equality. This is usually confusing for many people since in reality, the two issues are inseparable. This is because equality without liberty can not yield the desired satisfaction while on the other hand liberty without equality does not work. Most of the world societies emphasize on freedom and equality.
Conservatism advocates for a slim government. They believe that the problems of the people come from the government, and that, the government is not part of the problems that people can bother so much about. They tend to visualize the government in a negative perspective in that it does not provide a solution for the problems of the people but rather it creates more problems. However, conservatism appreciates the presence of a government due to the fact that its absence can be fatal for the good and the poor. It agrees that however evil a government could be, it is important in protecting the good from the ones who are evil.
They have a common believe that each and every person should be able to govern him/her self before fighting for a chance to govern others. It is usually difficult for a person who can not live in a straight self governance to lead others. To some extent, this is true. However, it beats logic when it comes to the question of who is the perfect person with the capability of governing the rest. This is because no one is perfect and therefore following that doctrine, then there will never be governance. They accept the fact that there are people who are gifted with superior characteristics such as intelligence. Such people are allowed to make use of their naturally acquired characteristics in the most beneficial way.
There is a common characteristic of conservatism in which the talented people are allowed to uplift the people. Promotion of individualism is common in conservatism. Soil conservation is usually facilitated by the fact that it is a natural resource which sustains them just as air which contains the oxygen that intellectuals breathe. Every person is supposed to cater for his personal development and he/she should make personal choices which are supposed to govern individual life.
In political terms, conservatism is a social-political expression that has a variety of meanings depending on the situation. In Britain, it is a term that is used to describe a group of people who support the status quo. It encompasses the two common believes which tend to support the preservation of the culture of the society as well as its heritage. Conservatism supports property ownership and the presence of a free market. Conservatives are known to strictly identify with their nation, respecting their heritage, while ignoring the way things are expected to be. They do not like rushing to institutions that crop up and fail in a short period of time. Rather, they prefer gradual development of institutions. Such institutions give them the desired confidence and therefore it is usually difficult for them to shift their trust from one institution to the other. There is a common believe in the conservative that defines the scope of the government. They tend to prefer a government that serves people as their servant rather than their master. Government activism is usually a factor that raises concern among them. They always tend to be inclined towards preserving the status quo or the traditional order.
There usually exists a theory of political practices and attitudes that emphasize on the importance of respecting the traditional methods of governance and institutions as well as rejection of any changes that may be effected suddenly without taking in to consideration of the traditional institutions. Government activism is regarded as one way of denying people the liberty that they deserve. They tend to oppose radical change viewing it as an inconsiderate attempt to change the lifestyles of the people. Their philosophy is usually inclined towards preservation of what they feel has been and that which is best for them.
Conservatism manifests in several forms with each form having particular characteristics although there are those that are common in all forms of conservatism. Liberal conservatism has characteristics that tend to be a combination of values that are of a conservative orientation as well as principles of a liberal perspective. It has a characteristic value of economic liberalism which tends to promote the markets of Laissez-faire type. These respect traditions, religious values as well as authority. The section of the liberal movement that adopted a more conservative stand point is the one that forms the liberal conservatives. This is commonly known as the right wing. Fiscal conservatism is the ideology of economic philosophy whereby the government is supposed to be prudent in its spending. It strictly states that the money that government spends is belongs to the public and that the citizens have all the rights to have their money spent in the best way. It prevents the government to incur so many debts on behalf of the citizens. This is because this type of conservatism does not agree to the idea of overtaxing the citizens in order to refurbish government debts.
There is a group of conservatives who have incorporated particular values in their manifesto. This form of conservatism is known as green conservatism. There also exists cultural conservatism which is largely inclined towards the preservation of the culture of British. They normally tend to preserve the values and principles derived from the past. These could be of any kind whether institutional or related to family issues. The other form of conservatism is that which is manifested in religious circles. These conservatives tend to influence the state through their teachings.
Many times the conservatives have been successful in influencing national policies proclaiming that their teachings are valuable to the nation’s progress. Radical religious conservatives some times have materialized due to the preservation of the fundamentals of the religion. These usually tend to advocate for a change in the status quo in order to get back to the origins of the teachings. This form of conservatism is occasionally faced with problems in case of differences in the people’s culture in a particular area of interest. On other occasions, there occur conflicts of religious conservatism when two religious cultures with different customs collide. It is at certain times supported by principles of secular orientation, but may also support secular organizations in order to achieve a common goal (Norman 2005 pp. 87-90).
Conservatism is characterized by a strong sense of defense. Many of have an attitude that or a feeling that aristocrats are better positioned in the society than themselves. In conservatism, it is significant for people to adore the group that dominates them. The traditional conservatives attached a lot of meaning to this argument. Holding high offices is not an important issue for the conservatives. They also do not find a lot of meaning to voting as a form of democracy. They tend to understand democracy as a psychological condition. They believe that the dominance exhibited by aristocrats is right. Many non-conservatives disagree with these ideologies and view them as converse to democracy. They are mainly concerned with formal issues which are mainly of secondary importance. Conservatism tends to be re-invented in all subsequent generations. This is usually as a result of a variety of reasons including shifts in institutions the regular conflicts that manifest in the aristocrats and perpetual wars (Evans 1992 pp.23-25).
It tends to be complex in the present day due to the fact that the society has moved towards a more democratic orientation rather than sticking to culture leaving the traditions to fade as time moves on. The social arrangements are changing rapidly from generation to generation. Conservatism tends to be implicit in general and it is usually difficult for a person to analyze it realistically. It is delicate and requires to be preserved, due to the impact of losing it in the society. Anarchy and tyranny are some of the probable consequences that have been identified for a society that may lack conservatism. Thoughts based on reason may be worse for conservatism due to the risk of people who do things with a fundamental reason deciding to change for the better. This is because some of the characteristics indicate undoubtedly that prejudice is better than inventions. It is easy for people to replace their usual habits with more recent and better ones. In conservatism, such decisions are unacceptable and impossible. Theirs is to preserve their traditions.
Conservatism tends towards conserving institutions. Their most successful claim is maintenance of the status quo and conservation of the traditional institutions. However, this may be untrue because many institutions are becoming modernized progressively. Innovations are the major driving force of these developments. It is difficult for conservatives to maintain the status quo while other institutions are moving ahead in due to inventions. However, conservatism is somehow successful in preserving specific institutions such as the family as well as religious believes. These are mainly the institutions that serve as a reinforcement to conservatism. Conservatism hardly ever engages in conservation of institutions that are related to social security and economic wellbeing. These help to promote self reliance and reduce the dependence of the people on aristocrats. It upholds the arrangement of the society in to social orders which forms a hierarchy. This leaves the highest class in the highest level of the hierarchical arrangement to control the rest. Many critics of conservatism argue that it supports meritocracy instead of aristocracy.
The changes in conservatism are usually in a constant trend. They tend to ensure that it is effectively adjusted to in order for the desired freedom to be acquired. This freedom ensures that the cohesiveness in the society is maintained failure to which conservatism may fail. It promotes activism in the government in order to uphold the interests of aristocrats. It has demonstrated a regular shift of governments since the eighteenth century, with much cultural influence. It is often argued that the arguments of conservatism are naturally subjective. However, there is a manifestation of fairness in conservatism as well as the general willingness of poverty eradication. It is usually seen as an issue of common sense rather than an ideology. It tends to preserve the natural systems. It tends to conserve the people’s history and incorporate the past events in to the current political orientation. The conservatives strictly respect the value of the elite. They also support the sovereignty of the nation.
- Daunton M. J. Progress and Poverty: An Economic and Social History of Britain, 1700-1850 Oxford University Press, 1995.
- Evans G. Economics and Politics Revisited: Explaining the Decline in Conservative support 1992 – 95. Crest, Number 60, 1992.
- Norman T. An electoral curse yet to be lifted, New York: Routledge, 2005.