Conservatism today suffers from a failure to identify a clear framework of thinking to distinguish it from, and constrast it to, the ideological assumptions of Left wing thinking. This writer seeks to counter the persistent heretical drift into godless Materialism with all the serious consequences that entails.
In my edition of Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, I identify 3 core principles and ten associated tenets of Conservatism. I outline them below in order to provide a framework by which all Conservative proposals for policy can be assessed and checked.
The principle of Perspective is historical: therefore the paradigm for political theory and practice should be actual experience, not abstract Ideals or ideology.
The primary principle of Belief is the sanctity of individual life which is made in the image of God: therefore the person and property of the responsible individual are inviolate.
The principle of Governance is Stability: change or reform must address “a great grievance” and aim for comprehensive conservation of existing arrangements.
These 3 fundamental points of reference give rise to more specific principles or tenets in Edmund Burke’s Reflections, which may be stated briefly as follows.
Reference Principle TWO
- identity is derived from family, local networks like churches, tradition and nation; society is organic, local and liberal – it is not ideological, Statist, totalitarian
- the individual is a valued, responsible, independent member of society and yet can fail; individual rights must be protected by the State, not threatened; sanctions against lawless behaviour must be effective and ensured by the State
- traditional freedoms are our birthright to be passed on intact to coming generations; the State must conserve, not abuse those rights
- personal property rights are inviolable and inalienable; no government has the right to undermine them
- law and order is essential to safeguard all individuals in their person. liberty and property
- exchange of property is voluntary and private; the State should support not abuse this
- “all persons possessing any portion of power … … …. are to account for their conduct in that trust to the one great Master, Author, and Founder of society” [paragraph 151 the Catlin edition of Edmund Burke’s Reflections]
Reference Principle THREE
- “good order is the foundation of all good things” which the government must ensure for all, in all ways including economic stability
- government ensures its own stability and efficacy by operating within Constitutional constraints and with prudence in its own finances
- government must comprise composite and counter-balancing institutions, such as an independent Judiciary and having a second parliamentary chamber
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