The conservative New Right developed during the 1970s __as a reaction to the changing values of the __1960s __and __1970s. Neo-conservatives stressed that liberal social attitudes had spread ‘permissiveness’ (people making their own moral choices without a central moral authority). Anti-permissiveness__ __is therefore a rejection of this. Neoconservatives stress the importance of the state as a way of strengthening leadership, authority and joint moral thinking. They worry that individual values will weaken and damage society and that the shared bonds between people should be strengthened. Although both neoconservatives and paternalistic conservatives support the idea of organic society they interpret it in different ways. Paternalistic conservatives wish to strengthen society by providing guidance, support and a reduction in poverty. The conservative New Right wish to strengthen society by creating more authority, social discipline and uniformity. It is this idea that links neoliberal economics with neo-conservatism; greater discipline in society is created and this justifies ‘rolling back’ (minimising) the state’s economic role. Society is disciplined and morally upstanding and will therefore be able to look after itself.
The conservative New Right has clear views about the state’s role in society. They have two clear domestic (within the country) priorities- law and order and public morality. Neoconservatives believe that anti-social behaviour is caused by a general decline in respect for authority that has been created by liberal individualism. People function better when they know ‘where they stand’ and what their place is in society (supporting the conservative belief in human imperfection). This authority provides stability and security. Clear examples are children obeying their parents, students obeying their teachers and employees obeying their employers. They therefore believe in both social and state authoritarianism – this involves strict traditional family values (children obeying parents, the husband as the wage earner and wife as home maker). This is a naturally forming hierarchy. The state supports this authority by being authoritarian itself through strong law and order policies. Clear examples of this are the Thatcher governments of the __1980s __which introduced greater police ‘stop and search’ powers as well as longer prison sentencing.
The neoconservative campaign against ‘permissiveness’ from the __1970s __onwards was based on two principles. Firstly, that individuals were likely to make the ‘wrong’ moral choices and therefore destabilise themselves and society. Secondly that individuals may all make different choices and therefore undermine the nature of the naturally connected organic society, undermining the bonds of society. In the UK therefore, Thatcher attempted to promote ‘Victorian values’, and in the USA organisations such as the ‘Moral Majority’ campaigned on family values.
The conservative New Right are also concerned with the need to have a unifying connective identity in society. This is created by individuals and families being connected by shared identities and values. This identity has been referred to as the ‘bonds of society’ or ‘civic values’; liberal individualism would therefore weaken this idea.The society is bonded through shared values of morality, culture and traditions. These ideas explain the neoconservative opposition to immigration; immigration creates multiculturalism and therefore dilutes a single identity or culture in society.
Neoconservatives also see external threats to society that may weaken the bonds and identity of that society. They see membership of transnational organisations as a clear threat to national identity and therefore campaign on ideas of sovereignty and identity. An example of this would be the UK Conservative party, many of whose members have consistently opposed membership of the EU. They also advance a theory of national identity based on dominance in foreign affairs. Neoconservative (‘neocon’) foreign policy is based on exporting liberal democracy to other nations on the basis of moral superiority. It also relies on being internationally dominant in terms of military power. These ideas are once again based on developing a proud and unifying national identity to bond society together. An example of neoconservative foreign policy is the USA; successive US governments (especially Reagan and Bush) have used the ideal of US foreign power as a way of creating a strong unifying US national identity.
- To what extent does conservatism support free-market capitalism? (24 marks - aim for 2-3 arguments for and 2-3 against)
- Your answer should include: New Right / Efficiency / Libertarian / Noblesse / Oblige / One Nation / Welfarism