A level politicsWatch
My exam board is Edexcel by the way.
Thanks in advance!
Some would argue that conservatism is more towards a state of mind rather than being called a political ideology. There are different types of conservatism ; Traditional , One-Nation and New Right which includes Neo-Liberals Conservatives and Neo-Conservatives. Generally, conservatives believe in evolution in which change is necessary ,however, it must be done in a gradual manner. They tend to take pragmatic approaches and strongly uphold the principle of paternalism. By definition, paternalism is an approach to running the country in which members of the elite seek to govern in the best interests of the people. It closely associated with the concept of noblesse oblige which means people with status have a responsibility towards the less fortunate. However, not all types of conservatives agree on the importance of paternalism as there will be types of conservatives that disagree on having the concept of having paternalism in their economic policy-making.
Intro - this is a good introduction that defines what paternalism means. It also clearly lays out the various forms of conservatism that will be discussed in the essay.
Traditional conservatives argue that paternalism ensures protection and provides guidance. Those on top of the hierarchy of the society has a social duty to look after the less fortunate within the community. This is closely related back to the concept of noblesse oblige. Edmund Burke argued that the social elite provides leadership because of its hereditary abilities just as how a father would exercise authority to ensure protection and provide guidances. He also advocates respect for tradition and empiricism as this will promote social continuity and stability. Hence, establishing an obligation for each generation to pass on the accumulated wisdom. As traditional conservatives strongly uphold the principles of tradition, they see paternalism as the only way to protect social stability in the society as it has been done for the past generations.
1st paragraph - a good paragraph that mentions a key thinker.
Apart from that, One-Nation conservatives relied more on government regulation in the economy and social welfare measures to improve conditions for the poorest in the society. From an economic perspective, One-Nation truly believe that paternalism is needed especially in policy-making. They argued that the state has an obligation to intervene in the economy and maintain the welfare state to combat poverty and deprivation. However, this goes against conservative’s principle in which firms and enterprises are not given freedom and liberty to run their own operations.
2nd paragraph - would have been good to have mentioned Disraeli here as a way to further support your writing. Some modern day examples would also have helped e.g. Cameron and Theresa May
On the hand, there are differing tensions within conservatism. For an instance, neo-liberals reject paternalism. As Neo-liberals believe in liberal principles, they promote free-market economics and a minimal state in which less state intervention in the economy. This is because this gives people their individual freedom and liberty as freedom of market is the guarantee of individual freedom. Moreover, it generates a more dynamic economic. If there is more state intervention, then firms and businesses will be in a situation called ‘the nanny state’ in which they are not able to contribute to the economy freely. Based on Ayn Rand’s idea, she argued that to control or regulate an individual’s action corrupted the capacity of that person to work freely as a productive member of society. Therefore , we can say that neo-liberals oppose the concept of paternalism as it does not provide a minimal state hence does not ensure individual freedom.
3rd paragraph - this is a good paragraph and mentions another key thinker. You could have perhaps mentioned the New Right here to highlight the shared common ground that they have with neoliberalism.
Since individuals are rational , self-interested and self-pursuit, neo-conservatives and neo-liberals both reject the concept of paternalism as it does not promote a minimal state. They believe that society based on individualism will be able to reach their human potential. Despite the fact that neo-conservatives support for minimal state intervention in their economy management, they advocate more state intervention for individual liberty as tighter law and order will ensure stability in the society. As John Locke says ,” When there is no law, there is no freedom”. They reject paternalism as they see humans may be selfish , rational and entitled to pursue their own interests in their own way as long as they accept others can do the same.
Robert Nozick argues that an individual cannot be forced against their own will to work for others’ purposes although it might be for a good cause. Therefore, we can say New Right conservatives strongly oppose paternalism as they see humans as a self-pursuit living and do not need any constraints.
4th paragraph - this paragraph is a little less clear. One moment it seems to claim that neoconservatives advocate state intervention on individual liberty (a form of hard paternalism) but it then goes onto say that they reject paternalism. I would also suggest that Nozick would be better placed in your 3rd paragraph.
In conclusion, conservatives believe that paternalism is a social duty or obligation in which the ruling class or elite have responsibilities to look after the less fortunate in the society. Through paternalism, state intervention is needed However, there are differing tensions within conservatism especially when it comes to economic policies and regulations. New Rights conservatives oppose paternalism as it does not advocate freedom in their economic policies. Hence, less paternalism might be a more pragmatic approach in the society.
Conclusion - your conclusion isn't bad but it could I feel it could be a little stronger. Remember, it's your last chance to really bring together all of the points made in your essay.
Well done for writing a good essay on what is quite a tricky question. Without a proper mark scheme to look at for this question, I would probably score it around 18/24.
In general, liberals argue for limited government or less role of the state, with checks and balances on the exercise of power. They support the idea of constitutionalism in which government power is distributed and limited by a system of laws in order to prevent a concentration of power. However, within liberalism itself, there are differing views between classical liberals and modern liberals. Classical liberals believe that the state should be limited and controlled by government based on representative democracy while modern liberals believe that the power of the state and government should be controlled by strong constitutional rules in which state intervention can be justified. From an economic perspective, classical liberals believe that the economy should be based on less state intervention while modern liberals see the flaws in capitalism.
Different strands of liberalism believe in one common matter which is decentralization of government and protection of civil liberties. The state should be organized on the bases of rational ideas of government rather than on traditional principles. Therefore, the government should be based on the principles of a limited government. In order to do so, governmental power should be limited by dividing power between different branches of government. This is known as the separation of powers in which power is distributed to three branches of government – legislature, executive and judiciary. Thus, preventing the concentration of power in too few hands. The concept of social contract strongly suggests that the state is based on a contract between the people and the government, hence, making the government accountable by the people and serve the people in their interests. John Locke believed that the state was a result of a social contract between citizens and the government. He also believed that government should be limited and its powers should be divided between different agencies, government and parliament.
In sum, most branches of liberalism do agree on the decentralization of governmental power and the protection of civil liberties. Dividing governmental powers to different hands will ensure a more democratic country. The concept of social contract ties a bond between government and the people in which the government should serve the people in their best interests.
Both liberals favor a free-market based economy, however, modern liberals believe that free-market capitalism leads to too much inequality in the society while classical liberals agree that the state should be limited, merely lay down the conditions for orderly existence and leave other issues in the hands of private individual and businesses. They support the idea of minimal state intervention or a night-watchman state to maintain social order. This stresses out that the state should never interfere in economic and social life more than is strictly necessary as this would undermine individual liberty. The state should always provide a stable framework in which a laissez-faire capitalism system can operate smoothly as it is the best way of creating wealth. John Stuart Mill believes that individuals should be free to take whatever actions they want as long as it does not cause harm to others. He agrees with Isaiah Berlin’s harm principle in which the state can only interfere with individual freedom when it is to prevent some citizens doing harm to others.
On the other hand, modern liberals agree on the role of state in the economy. They believe that injustices caused by capitalism should be reduced by the state through welfare and redistribution of income. Hence, arguing that state intervention is necessary to minimize the effects of economic downturns which can lead to mass unemployment and poverty if not corrected. The state should set up certain regulations and laws to ensure that firms operate smoothly. As John Locke once said, ‘when there is no law, there is no freedom’. However, since liberalism values the primacy of the individuals, state regulations might erode individual liberty and therefore goes against the liberalism’s principles.
In sum, both strands of liberalism advocate for a free-market system but classical liberals believe in a less state regulation in the economy while modern liberals see the flaws of capitalism and suggest that state intervention is still necessary. Therefore, we can argue that although liberalism values the free-market system, different strands of liberalism still agree on a certain extent of the role of state in the economy.
Apart from that, modern liberals believe in an enabling state – a state that does not necessarily provide for people directly but creates conditions where people can help themselves. In other words, a state that helps individuals to achieve their potential and be free. This opposes with classical liberals’ concept of Social Darwinism. Because individuals differ in abilities, it is likely that some individuals will succeed and others will fail. Therefore, the idea is that government should not intervene to support people through the provision of social welfare. This will ensure a more dynamic society as the state will not intervene when individuals become dependent on welfare.
In conclusion, classical liberals and modern liberals do agree on the role of the state but to a certain extent only. Classical liberals believe that the state should have minimal powers and should never intervene in economic and social matters of society. On the contrary, modern liberals believe that state intervention is necessary in the economy as it will set up regulations for firms to operate smoothly. Although both strands of liberalism advocate for decentralization of governmental powers, modern liberals believe in an enabling state while classical liberals believe that government should not intervene to support people. All in all, both strands of liberalism have differing views regarding the role of the state.