Dissertation > Political, legal > Political Theory > History of Political Science,History of Political Thought > World History of Political Thought

A Research on Democracy of Contemporary Western Conservatism

Author XiaoKe
Tutor WangCaiBo
School Jilin University
Course Political Theory
Keywords Conservatism Elite Democracy Neo-conservatism Ordered free Liberalism
CLC D091
Type PhD thesis
Year 2008
Downloads 663
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This paper studies the contemporary western conservative democracy from the perspective of ordered liberty and elitism justice. Political philosophy is to discuss the politics phenomenon origin in human society, rethinks profoundly contemporary political relations and provides value direction to future politics development. In modern western society there is a big confusion and failure in ethics and disastrous result of market economy to which people feel disappointed. So scholars are looking back upon tradition, trying to explore thought and theory resource in conservatism tradition. Authority, belief and order -these theories have become weapons against liberalism. As one of the three big west politics trends of thought existing simultaneously with the liberalism and the socialism, to comb conservatism and their democratic ideas, and to analyze their core viewpoints, not only are good for us to study western political thoughts , but also to have the profound influence to formulate the essential rules and regulations in western countries, and bring rational wisdom absorbed in conservatism thought to the present China, applying to our country institution reformation under the globalization compression. The synthesis by the methods of politics thought history, historical materialism, political philosophy and ethics analysis, wields the main body of the paper, makes every effort to have one kind of clear but deep assurance to conservatism democracy ideas.The main body of the paper is arranged to six parts in structure. Part I,“core elements in western conservatism and its history evolution”. This part analyses the content of conservatism concept firstly: what is“conservative”? Is the definition of the conservatism clear? If not which character brings divergence? How big this divergent degree? These are problems needed to discuss firstly by this part. The conservatism does not develop isolated from ancient Rome and ancient Greece. Its some viewpoints have existed always in western history of politics thought, to comb this thought source is very necessary. The conservatism headstream in the modern times starts from Burke, whose thought plays a basic role in development of conservatism afterwards.One of the purposes of this part is to study the core political thought in conservatism, reveals a real conservatism from five aspects such as religion, human nature, ethics, society and institution. Conservative democracy ideas have deep politics philosophy basis, and use Christianity“original sin”concept as human being’s constraint; human stationary nature as original human nature constraint; morality and decree as objective reality constraint in ethics; certainly needing with authority and outstanding person as society constraint; defendence to personal estate as institution constraint. Conservatives spread this conservative thought, emotion and life-style effect further in politics, order and law, and authority, and believe that the order is built above fear for punishment.Part II,“tradition, order and virtue: The present western conservatism democracy core ideas”. Any politics thought needs to have certain influence, needs to have a directive function in reality. To study conservatism, we can’t be separated from its comparison with the liberalism. It is not only because that the conservatism is a reaction and amendment to the liberalism, but also because human development comes from thought, and at present main western politics trend of politics thought also can’t be separated from its relationship to liberalism. The chapter begins from defect in liberalism democratic politics of the present west society, and shows clearly the present liberalism crisis is just why conservatism democracy has a big and powerful influence. Conservatism not only gives severe criticism to the liberalism, but also offers its own solution: to rebuild public space, limit government authority and throw doubt and criticism on the rise of masses society. As the same as Republicanism doctrine, the conservatism advocates noble morality in political practice, and think it as inherent qualities of conservatism democracy but different from republicanism.Part III,“Elitism Democracy: base and approach of conservatism democracy”. Elitism Democracy does not means conservative democracy exactly, but the intersection set between them is still very obvious. Conservatism thinks highly of grade, pays more attention to order and nobleman qualities. Obviously it can be concluded from both Burke’s criticism to Jacobin and Oakeshott’s discontentment to masses politics. The conservatism sets off from history and experience, believes that the inequality in power is normal in any society. But this society is also democratic if authority is given by the ruled. It is better to say that conservatism considers democracy as the outcome of game among different interests rather than citizen participation in political affairs, and conflict possibly brought about by democracy is also what the conservatism does not want to see extremely.Part IV,“Ordered Liberty: realization and restrain in conservative democracy”. The last goal of democracy is freedom and the last goal of freedom is democracy. To conservative democracy, liberty means“ordered liberty”. In the conservatives’opinion that it’s right to say democracy is for gaining liberty, but the real value of democracy comes from ordered liberty. The premise of ordered liberty is that liberty is got in organic community, and takes organic community as unit to acquire freedom. From the concept that society is organic, the conservatism makes naturally the conclusion that liberty must be ordered. In conservatism’s opinion, liberty is not anarchic state, and liberty has an intense connection with order, and the condition for liberty is good relation with laws and orders. The premise of ordered liberty is virtue; ordered liberty is not only liberty for individual but also for group; the nature of ordered liberty is not about will, but about“circumstances”; and ordered liberty implies the balance between liberty and authority.Ordered liberty requires that the country’s endurance and the country can not carry out encroachment on individual liberty. Conservatism seeks balance between the country and individual, and probes the country’s role in protecting conservative democracy. In both Carl Schmidt and Leo Strauss’opinions that the country plays a great role in maintaining ordered liberty. We can find clearly a development trend: country intends to serve individual liberty, and its character nature still has no confidence on "masses”, emphasizes certainty on order and authority, and thinks country is still the most important guarantee to democracy.Part V,“the international democracy: a political analysis in conservative democracy internationalization of Neo-conservatism.”The neo-conservatism has been to inherit the classical liberalism and the classical conservatism, mixed with other political thought. Any political thought is both historical and contemporary. The conservatism has very big influence in USA political ideas, and the renaissance of neo-conservatism is the proof. The focus of this chapter is to study neo-conservatism rationale of the source and basis of political philosophy in“exporting democracy”with a political theory as tool. After analysis, we found that the“democratic peace theory”, David Held’s“world democracy”theory,“global justice”theory and Huntington’s“authoritarian democracy and the clash of civilizations theory”, and so intertwined, together constitute the political science foundation of the neo-conservative democratic output theory.The neo-conservatives think of transformation of the world as their own responsibility, and put foreign policy-oriented ideology in higher position, and at the same time make full use of the United States’ability to get a leading position in the world to promote values of freedom and democracy. We can find Bush dministration’s foreign policy had been influenced by the neo-conservative both in that the United States launched a preemptive strike on Iraq and to promote regime change in the war in Iraq as well as in that America want to transform the Middle East as a starting point of the democratic experiment. Ever since the age of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, liberalism has always been the leading political thought in the west. In the mean time, conservatism also got its due development. There is a wide variety of conservatisms, which have different meanings in different historical and geographical backgrounds. Due to the historical and practical reasons, conservatism has been deeply rooted in America. It had a profound influence on American society and experienced changes by integrating into other political thoughts. After the stages of classic conservatism, organic community conservatism and liberal conservatism, it developed into neo-conservatism in American, which became the leading political thought for Ragan and George W. Bush’s administrations. Neo-conservatism plays an apparent role in Bush-administration’s domestic and foreign policies, which result in the disintegration in the domestic society and the contradiction with European Union in international society.Part VI:“The evaluation on conservative democracy and its Enlightenment in contemporary China.”The full text of this chapter is a summary of the evaluation of the conservative democracy. In a shout sentence, conservative democracy has both an active role in the West and is a buffer valve under the guidance of the Western liberal democratic society. It is the essence of bourgeois democracy, even though many in the West have also been dissatisfaction and criticism, the Bush administration by the pursuit of the international“exporting democracy”to the world not only caused a great impact on world situation, but also for the United States itself is more harm than good.Postmodernism, with a rational excuse for the overall design of the world, results often in ambitious and empty utopia, and causes the suppression of individual freedom. Facing an aggressive posture from Postmodernism, the conservative democracy has been inevitable impacted, and the answer to postmodernism shows the reaction of the trend of the future development of conservative democracy.Finally, this chapter pointed out that the conservative democracy in the following several aspects of the Enlightenment brought us: tradition and order, and the concept of organic community to overcome the drawbacks of the market economy, the role of reasonable understanding“rational”and the role of the very least, seeking truth from facts; remaining vigilant in drawbacks in democracy and the elitism politics, dealing well with the relation between reservation and change in traditional culture.

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