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By Peter Dorey

Protection of inequality has regularly been a middle precept of the Conservative occasion in nice Britain. but the Conservatives have loved nice electoral luck in a British society marked by means of common inequalities of wealth and source of revenue. Peter Dorey the following examines the highbrow and political arguments which Conservatives use to justify inequality. He additionally considers debates among Conservatives over how a lot inequality is fascinating or appropriate. should still inequality be limitless, with the intention to advertise liberty, incentives and rewards? Or may still inequality be stored inside sure bounds to avoid social breakdown and political upheaval? eventually, he examines why a few much less filthy rich sections of British society have still supported the Conservatives rather than political events selling equality. This e-book should be a massive source for college kids and commentators of up to date British politics.

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Extra info for British Conservatism: The Philosophy and Politics of Inequality (International Library of Political Studies)

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For example, Cecil argued that ‘For the State to intervene directly to regulate the amount of wealth which an individual may be permitted to acquire seems to involve injustice’, because ‘Even if it were true that poverty be the effect of injustice, it would not be right to relive it by confiscating property’, for that would be ‘to commit one injustice for the sake of remedying another … To carry out, then, the enrichment of the poor by the impoverishment of the rich … would not be just’, quite apart from being impracticable (Cecil, 1912: 187, 197).

The essential corollary to intellectual scepticism is an empirical approach to practical problems … It implies that, faced with any 34 British Conservatism particular problem, the following propositions will be considered in reaching a decision: (i) Past experience is the basis for working out any policy. (ii) The known workable is preferable to the theoretical improvement. (iii) For making judgements, traditional values should be used instead of general dogmas. (iv) Concrete particulars are a better basis than general ideas (Thatcher MSS, Oxford University Conservative Association, Policy Sub-Committee Report, Michaelmas Term 1945) A particularly eloquent summation of this aspect of Conservative empiricism was provided, in the 1960s, by Michael Oakeshott, when he explained that To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss … The man of conservative temperament believes that a known good is not to be lightly surrendered for an unknown better … he has no impulse to sail uncharted seas … to wish for or to look for something else … or what may be.

Unless all three were to be paid exactly the same, any difference in remuneration would oblige the politicians and/or bureaucrats to explain and justify the variations. Of course, any such variations would themselves entail entrenching existing inequalities, or introducing new ones. As such, Conservatives are convinced that any attempt at determining earnings on the basis of such values or criteria as equality, fairness and/ or ‘social usefulness’ would be doomed to fail. Moreover, if all individuals received a wage or salary determined by government or state administrators, ostensibly on the grounds of some notion of ‘fairness’ or ‘social justice’, then, Conservatives warn, individuals would have little incentive or motivation to work harder and become more productive, unless they were personally to How Conservatives Explain and Justify Inequality 29 receive additional remuneration in return for their enhanced performance – in which case, they would be earning more than their work colleagues, and thus re-establishing inequality of incomes.

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