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PS 240 Conservatism Fall 2014

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Lecture on Conservatism for PS 240 Intro to Political Theory, Fall 2014, University of Kentucky

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PS 240 Conservatism Fall 2014

  1. 1. Conservatism Dr. Christopher S. Rice
  2. 2. What IS a conservative? (cc) 2008 Flickr user NewsHour
  3. 3. Ambrose Bierce
  4. 4. Michael Oakeshott
  5. 5. Samuel Huntington
  6. 6. Russell Kirk
  7. 7. All conservatives want to conserve/preserve something (hence the name) (duh)
  8. 8. 2 ways of considering conservatism as an ideology
  9. 9. Conservatism as resisting change
  10. 10. Human Condition Time
  11. 11. Human Condition Time
  12. 12. Conservatism as a distinctive political position
  13. 13. Classical Conservatives vs. Individualist Conservatives
  14. 14. Divisions run deep… (cc) 2008 flickr user Fundenburg
  15. 15. How Conservatism differs from other ideologies 1. Rather than being defined in terms of abstract principles of justice, conservatism is commonly defined in relation to changing historical contexts. 2. Conservatism can be considered more of a disposition or temperament, rather than a strict belief system. 3. Conservatism as a belief system (if it is a belief system at all) is marked by many internal tensions. 4. Conservatives, because of their lack of agreement over philosophical principles, tend to unite around specific issues. 5. Conservatives, according to Charles Kessler, often find it easier to say what they are against than what they are for. Specifically, they often tend to oppose aspects of liberal capitalism.
  16. 16. How Conservatism differs from other ideologies 1. Rather than being defined in terms of abstract principles of justice, conservatism is commonly defined in relation to changing historical contexts. 2. Conservatism can be considered more of a disposition or temperament, rather than a strict belief system. 3. Conservatism as a belief system (if it is a belief system at all) is marked by many internal tensions. 4. Conservatives, because of their lack of agreement over philosophical principles, tend to unite around specific issues. 5. Conservatives, according to Charles Kessler, often find it easier to say what they are against than what they are for. Specifically, they often tend to oppose aspects of liberal capitalism.
  17. 17. “To be conservative…is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss.” Michael Oakeshott “On Being Conservative”
  18. 18. It is easier to say who is a conservative rather than what conservatism is.
  19. 19. How Conservatism differs from other ideologies 1. Rather than being defined in terms of abstract principles of justice, conservatism is commonly defined in relation to changing historical contexts. 2. Conservatism can be considered more of a disposition or temperament, rather than a strict belief system. 3. Conservatism as a belief system (if it is a belief system at all) is marked by many internal tensions. 4. Conservatives, because of their lack of agreement over philosophical principles, tend to unite around specific issues. 5. Conservatives, according to Charles Kessler, often find it easier to say what they are against than what they are for. Specifically, they often tend to oppose aspects of liberal capitalism.
  20. 20. How Conservatism differs from other ideologies 1. Rather than being defined in terms of abstract principles of justice, conservatism is commonly defined in relation to changing historical contexts. 2. Conservatism can be considered more of a disposition or temperament, rather than a strict belief system. 3. Conservatism as a belief system (if it is a belief system at all) is marked by many internal tensions. 4. Conservatives, because of their lack of agreement over philosophical principles, tend to unite around specific issues. 5. Conservatives, according to Charles Kessler, often find it easier to say what they are against than what they are for. Specifically, they often tend to oppose aspects of liberal capitalism.
  21. 21. How Conservatism differs from other ideologies 1. Rather than being defined in terms of abstract principles of justice, conservatism is commonly defined in relation to changing historical contexts. 2. Conservatism can be considered more of a disposition or temperament, rather than a strict belief system. 3. Conservatism as a belief system (if it is a belief system at all) is marked by many internal tensions. 4. Conservatives, because of their lack of agreement over philosophical principles, tend to unite around specific issues. 5. Conservatives, according to Charles Kessler, often find it easier to say what they are against than what they are for. Specifically, they often tend to oppose aspects of liberal capitalism.
  22. 22. IS conservatism an ideology?
  23. 23. The public interest “is what men would choose if they saw clearly, thought rationally, acted disinterestedly and benevolently.” William F. Buckley
  24. 24. Are Buckley and other conservatives making Marx’s mistake?
  25. 25. Classical (Burkean) Conservatism
  26. 26. Sir Edmund Burke
  27. 27. A reaction to the French Revolution
  28. 28. A few basic points… • Accepted some increase in democratization, but retained a belief in the importance of strong authorities. • Accepted some aspects of capitalism, but feared that the economic liberties of individuals posed moral dangers to the good of society. • Wanted to protect the world from the onslaught of rapid social, economic and technological changes.
  29. 29. IMPOSSIBLE!
  30. 30. slow the modernization of society as much as possible
  31. 31. The Problem of Abstract Rights
  32. 32. the historical development of rights
  33. 33. PROBLEM: Abstract demands for rights can lead to redistribution of land and money.
  34. 34. Conservatives Say: Politics based on abstract rights promotes individualism at the expense of historical understanding, mitigating institutions and the bonds that hold society together
  35. 35. protection of private property provides social stability
  36. 36. Noblesse Oblige
  37. 37. Undesirable Results of Capitalism
  38. 38. What to do?
  39. 39. Human Nature
  40. 40. human beings are, and always will be, flawed
  41. 41. Original Sin
  42. 42. Rationality?
  43. 43. Law of Unintended Consequences
  44. 44. Weak Rationality
  45. 45. Atomistic Individualism Vs. Organic/ Interconnected Individualism
  46. 46. Social Fabric
  47. 47. Liberty worthwhile ONLY when properly ordered
  48. 48. Government not perceived as an obstacle
  49. 49. Conservatives & Change
  50. 50. Reckless & Rapid Change
  51. 51. Ideological Change Change based on preconceived ideological notions which give no concession to the inherent limits of the human condition.
  52. 52. The Problem of Innovation
  53. 53. An “Anti-Ideology”?
  54. 54. Reform change that is slow, thoughtfully considered and based on the past
  55. 55. Conservatism and Democracy
  56. 56. The Natural Aristocracy
  57. 57. Concentration of Power
  58. 58. “Little Platoons”
  59. 59. 21st Century Conservatism: 4 Strands
  60. 60. Traditional Conservatism
  61. 61. Individualist Conservatism
  62. 62. The New Christian Right
  63. 63. James Dobson
  64. 64. Neoconservatism
  65. 65. Irving Kristol
  66. 66. Irving Kristol on Neoconservatism • Support for welfare state, opposition to bureaucratic paternalism & intrusion • Respect for the free market • Support for traditional values and religion (vs. “counterculture”) • Opposition to “egalitarianism” • Strong anti-communist foreign policy

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