Why, and to what extent, have conservatives been committed to tradition and continuity?
Conservatism was a reaction to all other ideologies. It believed in conserving the best of the past and governing society with reform, not revolution. In the French revolution there was a lot of uncertainty because people did not know what to do afterward and they ended up in a worse position then they were before. Conservatives believe that humans are; psychologically imperfect, which means that we are security seeking creatures who dislike change. They believe we are intellectually imperfect which means we are incapable of acting rationally and are very instinctive. They believe we are morally imperfect which means we are born sinful and conservatists have a profound scepticism about our natural goodness.
Conservatives have always been committed to tradition, ever since Toryism was first formed. They only believe in slow change which relates to peoples changing views and opinions like the English Legal System. Because they believe we are psychologically imperfect, they don’t want us to undergo any uncertainty whatsoever and so they dislike revolution because even though people may have a ‘better’ idea of how things should work, it has not yet had the test of time and so there is no need for risk. Conservatives believe society is like a living organism i.e. a tree, so it needs to reach out to both the past and the future and cannot be severed from its roots to survive. Since individuals lack wisdom, tradition is a better test of goodness and virtue, as Edmund Burke said, ‘the accumulated wisdom of the ages as the heritage of society is the best source of virtue and goodness’.
Conservatists are pragmatic, which fits into their commitment for continuity, they are not opposed to change, but question it and only accepts slow, specific, evolutionary change. Conservatists preserve the best and change what is essential. Tories changed to Conservatories because they needed...
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