Reassessing Political Ideologies: The Durability of Dissent

By Michael Freeden | Go to book overview

5

The doing of conservatism

Robert Eccleshall


Introduction

Does oblivion beckon? This is the kind of question which, though sometimes favoured by authors in search of a snappy headline - 'Is ism dead?', 'Does ism have a future?', and so forth - is probably best avoided, particularly in a chapter which casts a centennial eye on an ideology whose adherents have often been fastidious in their reluctance to predict the future. I raise the question because the argument of much recent writing is that conservatism, particularly in Britain, is in a terminal condition. In doing so my intention is neither to sketch the likely nuances of conservative thinking nor to consider whether this century, like the last, will be a 'conservative' one in which centre-right governments are in power for much of the period. It is the more modest one of suggesting that much recent prognosis of conservatism rests on a shaky analysis of how the ideology operated in the past, and that it perhaps underestimates the capacity of conservatives for self-renewal.

John Gray attributes 'the undoing of conservatism' to the New Right's crusade of bourgeois modernization which swept through much of Western Europe in the final decades of the last century. The consequences of a project of radical individualism have been particularly damaging to British conservatism on this account, because its adherents customarily claimed to be custodians of an ancien régime. In relentlessly pursuing a neo-liberal programme of minimal government, Thatcherites cast themselves adrift 'from the larger tradition of European conservative philosophy of which British conservative thought has always been a part', 1 and instead aligned themselves with the American right by embracing an alien form of Enlightenment rationalism. In doing so they 'hollowed out' the culture in which a coherent mode of conservative discourse and political practice had flourished. Traditional institutions were dissolved by market forces, and with them went those attitudes of deference which had sustained the claim of Tory patrician statecraft to govern by evolutionary adaptation rather than by schooling in the techniques of permanent revolution towards a free-market brutopia.

Gray, a lapsed convert from the New Right project, is inclined to make an intellectual splash, and his apocalyptic pronouncements about the obsolescence of conservatism ought to be treated with caution. Yet other commentators,

-67-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Reassessing Political Ideologies: The Durability of Dissent
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 216

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.