'Conservatism Merely Reflects the Interests of the Privileged and the Prosperous'. Discuss

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Submitted By tomdshep
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Critics of conservatism have argued that the ideology only reflects the interests of the privileged, however it is not as simple as that. There can be several reasons why this argument has strong validity; conservatives will point to One Nation conservatism and Christian Democracy as examples of conservatism’s way of pleasing all.

First, Conservatives turn to paternalism as a way in which the less privileged in society are helped by conservatism. Paternalism follows the principle of ‘noblesse oblige’, where the better off have a moral duty to help the less well off. For conservatives, freedom is not understood in negative terms. Instead, freedom is a willing acceptance of social obligations, therefore is considered to be the duty of conservatism. This thought was first put forward by Benjamin Disraeli and led to the establishment of the Second Reform Act, which gave the working class the right to vote. ‘Tory Democracy’, a strand of One-Nation conservatism, can also be seen to be reformist as it also aims to implement social reform; therefore this does not just reflect the interests the privileged.

Secondly, Christian Democracy is a branch of conservatism that can be seen to support the interests of the less well off. Christian democracy follows the paternalistic social traditions of Catholicism and advocates the social market economy, where the market economy is supported by a welfare system and effective public services. This endorses partnership and cooperation, therefore focusing more on the social group than on the individual. Furthermore, Christian democracy advocates the importance of institutions such as churches, unions and business groups working together in social partnerships. Therefore, it can be seen that Christian democracy does not just reflect the interests of the privileged and prosperous, and instead seeks to help those who are less well off.…...

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