Edmund Burke wrote his classic, Reflections on the Revolution in France, in response to a speech by Welsh philosopher, Richard Price. Price had embraced the revolutionary changes that were taking place in mainland Europe, welcoming the attack on the King's authority in France as an expression of long-term processes - processes that enfranchised humanity and moved it towards a happier, more moral and virtuous society. However, the arguments of Price were abhorrent to Burke, particularly his emphasis on fundamental principles and universal values. To Burke, such ideas were fiction - for him, the only values and morals of true substance were those established and nurtured by organic communities, across the ages. And this lifts the edge of the curtain on a key Conservative theme - the tendency to resist abstract principles, and to emphasize, rather, the concrete, the traditional and what has become apparent to people through their day-to-day experiences.

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    Richard Price
  • Burke, of course, is not the only important figure of the Conservative tradition, and the values behind his Traditional Conservatism do not represent the breadth of the ideas. For example, the Frenchman Joseph de Maistre is associated with Authoritarian Conservatism, while the New Right tradition is a mix of different ideas, encompassing neo-conservative social principles and neo-liberal economic principles. What tends to link these different streams of conservatism is an emphasis on some key elements, each of which emphasises values such as tradition, authority and hierarchy, or place a value on concepts such as pragmatism, human imperfection, an organic society and property.

    Adopting conservative perspectives usually leads to professing strong views on the topics of the day. For example, the influence of Conservative ideas is seen when considering discussions on a range of contemporary issues, such as changes to the structure of the traditional family, the role of the church within society, or the significance of immigration and the development of a multicultural society. In addition, we come across strong Conservative perspectives when considering discussions about the economy, with the role of the free market being a frequently emphasized element - yet with some recognizing that the state can also take on important economic responsibilities.

    In the context of Welsh politics, there is sometimes a tendency to assume that Conservatism has been a very marginal tradition. However, Conservatism should not be disregarded when discussing the history of modern Wales. Finally, while Conservatism itself is not recognized as a key ideology in the context of discussions about international politics, the influence of aspects of the Conservative world view can be seen when considering the ideas and arguments of Realists and neo-liberals.