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English conservatism since the Restoration provides both the most incisive short account of the doctrine of conservatism available, and a selection of extracts from key writings to elucidate its argument. Robert Eccleshall traces the history of the doctrine from its origins in divine-right monarchy to the current preoccupation with the enterprise culture. Challenging the accepted view of conservatives as pragmatists who eschew philosophical abstractions, he argues that they have been consistent in selectively using principles to construct a distinctive image of the social order. They have emphasisized, on the one hand, the military virtues of duty, obedience, loyalty and submission to the authority of the state, and, on the other, the need for political leadership by a ''natural aristocracy'' or entrepeneurial elite. Also highlighted is the persistent and continuing tension within the Conservative Party between, on the one hand free-marketeers, and on the other patrician Tories, who favour government intervention in the economy and the ''One Nation'' approach to the social order. The conservative writers from whose works extracts are provided include Bolingbroke, Burke, Peel, Shaftesbury, Chamberlain, Macmillan, Butler, Tebbit and Thatcher, but also lesser known figures often ignored by other scholars.The breadth of coverage of the book and its accessibility will make it invaluable for students of politics and history and indeed anyone interested in political ideas.
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