Conservatives are less prone than social liberals to rely upon the state to address and solve social problems through direct intervention in the economic and social systems. Whereas some liberals have put forward reasonably radical proposals, conservatives talk about the importance of preserving what we have and protecting our cherished traditions from unfamiliar and untried political schemes. This is not to say that conservatives are against all change. Conservatives often argue that slow and methodical social reform is necessary to preserve the fundamentals of the existing order and to reduce the appeal of revolutionary ideas and movements (see Kendall, 1963; Macmillan, 1966). Although this chapter will make use of some international examples, it will concentrate in the main on conservative ideas and movements in Britain and the United States. We will take a look at the ideas of theorists from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries including Edmund Burke, Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin and Matthew Arnold. Key British conservatives like Iain Gilmour, Harold Macmillan and Lord Hailsham will have a central place in the chapter alongside some American theorists. In addition to covering these theoretical developments, key conservative administrations will be discussed. These include the Macmillan governments in Britain and the Eisenhower, Nixon and George W. Bush administrations in the United States.
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