Il conservatorismo britannico tra politica e ideologia


This article considers the evolution of British conservatism, looking both to conservative political thought and to the history of the Conservative Party. It takes as a starting point an overview of the main political concepts of conservatism as an ideology and as a political theory, then the categories of individualism and collectivism are used to show how in British conservatism there exists two attitudes. On the one hand, there is the Paternalism, which was the base for the Disraelian Tory democracy, and then, starting with the early 1930 s, was the theoretical justification to promote a broad State’s intervention on economy and on society. On the other hand, there is the tradition of laissez-faire, solid during the late Victorian age with Salisbury, and more recently reintroduced, after a theoretical rethinking, by Margaret Thatcher during the eighties. These two attitudes live side by side within the Party, and one was prevailing upon other according to the different historical circumstances and necessity. But both have been defended and advocated with the same purpose: defend some key values of the conservative political tradition. Values which for Disraeli were undermined by the egoistic individualism of the capitalists, and for Thatcher were profoundly threatened by the welfare consensus. The Big Society’s project by David Cameron tries to solve the tension between collectivism and individualism in a new way, but it clashes with some difficulties which make unconvincing its accomplishment.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22808949a3n2p135

Keywords: Conservatism; individualism; collectivism; British history

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