16. ENTERPRISE

CONTINUITY is the one condition of progress. But there is another. Continuity can maintain and improve a situation in which the other conditions of progress already exist.

Continuity guarantees the enforcement of law. Continuity assumes the preservation of peace. Neither internal disorder nor foreign conquest are compatible with the principle of continuity.

But peace and contentment are only conditions precedent to progress. Themselves, they create nothing new. The divine spark is lacking. The actual content of innovation comes from some inspiration in the hearts of individuals living in these favourable conditions.

We must look elsewhere for the motive power which sets the virtuous circle moving in a favourable direction. What is the secret of this movement? What is the factor which makes new things, good or bad, come into existence? How can we assist or accelerate the process? This is one of the major problems of statesmanship.

Conservatives claim that the source of human change, whether beneficial or the reverse, is not some impersonal law of nature, nor yet a matter of coincidence or chance, but the sum of an infinite number of tiny impulses created by the individual efforts of innumerable men and women occasionally accelerated or retarded by the influence of a genius.

To this factor they give the name "individual enterprise". Are they wrong to do so? Whether the activity be that of a state, a commercial corporation, a hospital or a school, the impulse which created it came from the brain and will of individuals, in the last resort that of an individual.

Individual enterprise in this sense is thus at the very heart and origin of progress. In using this phrase Conservatives are fully aware that it has become somewhat shopsoiled and worn in the course of constant political controversy.

Often, but not always, enterprise is called into being by the so-called profit motive. Whether this be so or not, and if is not by any means always so, it remains the secret of all human improvement.

Modern nursing was not brought into being by the Army Medical Service, but by Florence Nightingale. Elizabeth Fry

-89-

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The Case for Conservatism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Part I. Preliminary 7
  • 1. the Philosophy of Conservatism 7
  • Part II. Basic Conservative Ideas 16
  • 2. the Religious Basis of Society 16
  • 3. the Organic Theory of Society 24
  • 4. Country 31
  • 5. Commonwealth and Empire 36
  • 6. International Order 41
  • 7. Authority 44
  • 8. the Liberal Heresy 48
  • 9. the Socialist Heresy 54
  • 10. Liberty 60
  • 11. the Idea of Law 68
  • 12. Natural Law 70
  • 13. the Rule of Law 76
  • 14. Progress 83
  • 15. Continuity 86
  • 16. Enterprise 89
  • 17. Incentives, Liberal and Socialist 91
  • 18. Property 97
  • 19. Trading for Profit 103
  • 20. Competition, Big Business and Public Ownership 107
  • 21. the Land 119
  • 22. Trade Unions and Co-Operatives 125
  • 23. the Politics of Abundance 133
  • 24. Education 143
  • Part III. the Socialist Case Examined 147
  • 25. Introduction to Part III 147
  • 26. Profit and Use 150
  • 27. Public Ownership 154
  • 28. Planning 163
  • 29. Inequality of Income 167
  • 30. Inequality of Wealth 174
  • 31. Poverty--Its Cause and Cure 181
  • 32. War 189
  • 33. Standard of Life 192
  • 34. Housing 197
  • 35. Public Health 200
  • 36. Social Insurance 202
  • 37. Unemployment--The Facts 207
  • 38. Unemployment--Cause and Cure 213
  • Part IV. Policy To-Day and To-Morrow 225
  • 39. General Election, 1945 225
  • 40. Foreign Affairs 235
  • 41. Social Policy 250
  • 42. Economic Policy 260
  • 43. Food and Agriculture 277
  • 44. Nationalisation 284
  • 45. Britain at the Cross Roads 296
  • 46. the Politics of the Next Election 303
  • 47. Epilogue 311
  • Index 315
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