The contradictions of conservatism
Government and Opposition
Cambridge University Press
594 - 615
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This article is a study of the contradictions of conservatism. It shows that most modern writers since Oakeshott have defined conservatism in an abstract manner. Here I argue that their definition, although not wrong, is an incomplete definition which is only coherent because it is incomplete. It is only the first stage in understanding conservatism, which has to be understood also as a negation of rival ideologies and, further, as a political position which points to a tradition or truth outside itself and which can, in service of this tradition or truth, be radical. Since it is part of the standard definition of conservatism that it cannot be radical, this means conservatism, taken as a whole, contradicts itself. © The Author 2013.