Tag: Conservatism

The History of the Decline and Fall of Conservatism

by Dr. James Alexander The Covid crisis is of great political significance. It may in fact mark the end of the Conservative Party. The history of conservatism is usually told in terms of politicians – from Peel, Disraeli and Salisbury through Churchill to Thatcher, Major, Cameron, May and Johnson; or in terms of shifts in economic policy: from protection to free trade in the mid-19th century, from free trade to tariff reform in the early 20th century, from Keynesian consensus to monetarism in the late 20th century; or in terms of thinkers like Burke, Oakeshott, Scruton etc. But I want to propose something a bit different, not only for the sake of history itself, but in order to understand the contemporary crisis of the Conservative Party. The history of conservatism, when seen from sufficient distance, falls into four, perhaps now five, stages. Conservatism was named in the 1830s for the politics of Peel. But it was not a happy politics. It was a reactionary, even late, politics, a politics of a belated and reluctant concession to the events of 1828 to 1832 in which the old order of church and state and of mixed government (King, Lords and Commons) was replaced by the English version of a revolutionary, enlightened order in which the sorts of ideas which had been espoused ...

April 2024
Free Speech Union

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