The idea of conservatism

Peter King

in The new politics

Published by Policy Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9781847428547
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303923 | DOI:
The idea of conservatism

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Conservatism is about what is established, taken for granted, and accepted. The simplest definition suggests that conservatives (with a small ‘c’) seek to conserve, aiming to keep things as they are. To understand the nature of conservatism, this chapter discusses the traditions of Conservatism (with a capital ‘C’) and ways that traditions are compatible with progress. It also describes any merit in claiming to be both ‘new’ and the ‘same old Tories’. Much of the discussions are on small ‘c’ conservatism rather than Conservatism. Conservatism relates to the institutions of the British Conservative party, while conservatism is more general and relates to an ideology that might enclose the Conservatives, as well as other political institutions and ideas. This chapter also discusses the central elements in conservative thought: traditionalism, skepticism, and organicism.

Keywords: conservatism; Tories; Britain; British Conservative; institution

Chapter.  12028 words. 

Subjects: Organizations

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