Paternalistic conservatism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Paternalistic conservatism is a strand of conservatism,[1][2] which reflects the belief that societies exist and develop organically and that members within them have obligations towards each other.[3] There is particular emphasis on the paternalistic obligation, referencing the feudal concept of noblesse oblige, of those who are privileged and wealthy to the poorer parts of society. Consistent with principles such as duty, hierarchy, and organic unity, it can be seen as an outgrowth of traditionalist conservatism. Paternalistic conservatives do not support the individual or the state in principle but are instead prepared to support either or recommend a balance between the two depending on what is most practical.[4]

Paternalistic conservatism emphasizes the duties of government to entail fairly broad state interventionism to cultivate a good life for all citizens.[5] This leads to a dirigiste path in which the government is envisaged as a benevolent paternal figure setting goals and ensuring fair play and equal opportunity,[5] with a stress on the importance of a social safety net to deal with poverty and support of redistribution of wealth, along with government regulation of markets in the interests of both consumers and producers.[6] Although accepting of state intervention, paternalist conservatives are not supportive of anything resembling a command economy.[7]

Paternalistic conservatism first arose as a result of the industrial revolution during the 19th century, which had created social unrest, appalling working conditions and inequality. In Britain, Benjamin Disraeli's one-nation conservative sought to deal with these effects.[6][8] In the United Kingdom, there has been a continuation of one-nation conservative governments, such as those of Stanley Baldwin, Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill, and Harold Macmillan.[9] During the 19th century in Germany, Otto von Bismarck established the first modern welfare state, with the goal of undermining socialism by gaining working-class support.[10] He implemented policies of state-organized compulsory insurance for workers against sickness, accident, incapacity and old age as part of his State Socialism programme.[11] Leo von Caprivi also promoted a policy called the New Course.[12]


Paternalist conservatism has its origins in the Industrial Revolution, which had caused widespread economic inequality, poverty, and social discontent.[13] In Britain, Tory politicians, such as Richard Oastler, Michael Thomas Sadler and Lord Shaftesbury combined their elitist responsibility and a strong humanitarian element with their involvement on the Factory Acts.[5] Critical of individualism and classical economics,[5] they also disliked the 1834 New Poor Law and believed in the role of the state in guaranteeing decent housing, working conditions, wages and treatment of the poor.[5]

Benjamin Disraeli is widely considered to be the architect of one-nation conservatism.

One-nation conservatism[edit]

One-nation conservatism was first conceived in the United Kingdom by Conservative prime minister Benjamin Disraeli,[14] who presented his political philosophy in two novels, Coningsby and Sybil, Or The Two Nations, published in 1844 and 1845 , respectively.[13][15] Disraeli proposed a paternalistic society with the social classes intact but the working class receiving support from the well off. He emphasised the importance of social obligation rather than the individualism that pervaded British society.[14] Disraeli warned that Britain would become divided into two nations (of the rich and poor) as a result of increased industrialisation and inequality.[13] Concerned at that division, he supported measures to improve the lives of the people to provide social support and protect the working classes.[14]

Disraeli justified his ideas by his belief in an organic society in which the different classes have natural obligations to one another.[14] He saw society as naturally hierarchical and emphasised the obligations of those at the top to those below. This was a continuation of the feudal concept of noblesse oblige. Which asserted that the aristocracy had an obligation to be generous and honourable. To Disraeli, that implied that government should be paternalistic.[13] One-nation conservatism identifies its approach as pragmatic and non-ideological. There is an acceptance of the need for flexible policies, and one-nation conservatives have often sought compromise with their ideological opponents for the sake of social stability.[16] Disraeli justified his views pragmatically by arguing that should the ruling class become indifferent to the suffering of the people, society would become unstable and social revolution would become a possibility.[14]



Otto von Bismarck, who promoted State Socialism as remedial measures to appease the working class and detract support for socialism and the Social Democratic Party of Germany following earlier attempts to achieve the same objective through Bismarck's Anti-Socialist Laws.

In 1878, the German conservative and Lutheran figure Adolf Stoecker founded the Christian Social Workers' Party with intent to align workers with Protestant Christianity and the German monarchy.[17] Stoecker respected existing social hierarchies but also desired a state that would be active in protecting the poor and vulnerable citizens.[18] On occasion, Stoecker used antisemitic rhetoric to gain support; he urged supporters to practice Christian love even towards Jews.[18]

As Chancellor of Germany, Otto von Bismarck pursued a state-building strategy designed to make ordinary Germans more loyal to the country, implementing the modern welfare state in Germany during the 1880s.[19] Bismarck was fearful of a socialist revolution, and he created the first welfare state in the modern world with the goal of gaining working class support that might otherwise go to his socialist opponents.[10] He adopted policies of state-organized compulsory insurance for workers to guard against sickness, accident, incapacity and old age in what has been named State Socialism.[11] The term State Socialism was coined by Bismarck's German liberal opposition; it was later accepted by Bismarck.[20] Bismarck was a conservative, not a socialist, and he enacted the Anti-Socialist Laws. Bismark's State Socialism was based upon Romanticist political thought in which the state was supreme and carried out Bismarck's agenda of supporting "the protest of collectivism against individualism" and of "nationality against cosmopolitanism" and stated that "the duty of the State is to maintain and promote the interests, the well-being of the nation as such".[21] Rather, his actions were designed to offset the growth of the Social Democratic Party of Germany.[11] In addition, the policy of nationalization of the Prussian state railways was established after the unification of Germany, bringing transportation under the control of the state.[22][23]


A red Tory is an adherent of a political philosophy derived from the Tory tradition, predominantly in Canada but also in the United Kingdom. This philosophy tends to favour social policies that are communitarian, while maintaining a degree of fiscal discipline and a respect of the political order.[24] In Canada, red Toryism is found in provincial and federal Conservative political parties. The history of red Toryism marks differences in the development of the political cultures of Canada and the United States. Canadian conservatism and American conservatism have been different from each other in fundamental ways, including their stances on social issues and the role of government in society.[25]

Red Tory governments in Canada, such as those of John A. Macdonald, Robert Borden, R. B. Bennett, and John Diefenbaker, were known for supporting an active role for the government in the economy. This included the creation of government-owned and operated Crown corporations of Canada such as the Canadian National Railway, and the development and protection of Canadian industries with programs, such as the National Policy.[citation needed]


In Europe, Catholic political movements emerged in the 19th century as a response to widespread deterioration of social conditions and rising anti-clerical and democratic tendencies amongst artisans and workers.[26] It mixed social commitment, paternalistic social welfare, and authoritarian patronage from above with deepening popular piety.[27]

In France, the influence of these doctrines can be seen in the conservative socialism of Adrien Albert Marie de Mun and François-René de La Tour du Pin Chambly, marquis de La Charce.[citation needed]


Prior to the 1980s, nationalists in the LDP, including Nobusuke Kishi, supported paternalistic welfare policy.[28]

During the post-war Japan, policies led by the right-wing conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) became a political model closer to paternalistic democracy than Westen-style liberal democracy.[29] In many ways, modern Japan is considered to be a paternalistic state including socially conservative elements, such as Confucian tradition.[30] In the case of the LDP administration under the 1955 System in Japan, their degree of economic control was stronger than that of Western conservative governments; it was also positioned closer to social democracy at that time.[31] Since the 1970s, the oil crisis has slowed economic growth and increased the resistance of urban citizens to policies that favor farmers.[32] To maintain its dominant position, the LDP sought to expand party supporters by incorporating social security policies and pollution measures advocated by opposition parties.[32] It was also historically closely positioned to corporate statism.[33][34]

Founded in 1960, the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) officially supported social democracy. Due to its Japanese nationalist, anti-communist, and socially conservative nature, it was politically different from ordinary social democrats and was more politically close to the right-wing LDP, and was regarded as a conservative political party in Japan at the time.[35] While the party was disbanded in 1994, the tradition of the DSP is carried on by the Minsha kyōkai (民社協会, Democratic Socialist Group) as a faction within the liberal Democratic Party of Japan, Democratic Party, and now centre-right Democratic Party for the People.[citation needed]


Peronism is considered a paternalistic ideology.[36] However, traditional Peronism tends to support command economy, unlike common paternalistic conservatives. Some scholars evaluate Peronism as a mixture of 'militant laborism' and 'traditional conservatism'.[37]

United States[edit]

In the United States, Theodore Roosevelt has been the main figure identified with progressive conservatism as a political tradition. Roosevelt stated that he had "always believed that wise progressivism and wise conservatism go hand in hand".[38] Roosevelt's ideas, such that of New Nationalism, an extension of his earlier philosophy of the Square Deal, have been described as paternalistic and contrasted with the individualistic program, The New Freedom, of Woodrow Wilson from the Democratic Party. Wilson's program in practice has been described as resembling the more paternalistic ideas of Roosevelt, excluding the notion of reining in judges.[39]

The Republican Party administration of William Howard Taft was progressive conservative and he described himself as "a believer in progressive conservatism",[40] Dwight D. Eisenhower also declared himself an advocate of progressive conservatism.[41] The term "Rockefeller Republican" has been used to describe the more paternalistic and moderate members of the Republican Party in contrast to party members of a more ideological nature, such as Barry Goldwater or the American New Right more generally.[citation needed]


Right-wing or conservative socialism is a pejorative term that is used by some free-market conservative and right-libertarian movements, politicians, and economists, such as Murray Rothbard and Jesús Huerta de Soto,[42][43] to describe paternalistic conservatism, which they see it supporting paternalism and social solidarity as opposed to commercialism, individualism, and laissez-faire economics.[44][45] They argue that paternalist conservatism supports state promoted social hierarchy and allows certain people and groups to hold higher status in such a hierarchy, which is conservative.[46] Although paternalistic conservatives are accepting of state intervention, it is within the context of a market based social democratic or social market mixed economy. They do not support an economy resembling a command or planned economy,[7] or an economy in which there is public control over the means of production one of the stated goals of socialism. Additionally they also support equality of opportunity and fair play.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Heywood 2015, pp. 34–36.
  2. ^ Gjorshoski 2016.
  3. ^ Heywood 2013, p. 34.
  4. ^ Heywood 2012, p. 80.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Vincent 2009, p. 64.
  6. ^ a b Dunleavy, Patrick; Kelly, Paul Joseph; Mora, Michael (2000). British Political Science: Fifty Years of Political Studies. Oxford, England; Malden, Massachusetts: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 107–108.
  7. ^ a b Vincent 2009, p. 79.
  8. ^ Blake, Robert (1967). Disraeli (2nd ed.). London: Eyre & Spottiswoode. p. 524.
  9. ^ Russel, Trevor (1978). The Tory Party: Its Policies, Divisions and Future. Harmondsworth: Penguinp. p. 167.
  10. ^ a b Steinberg 2011, pp. 8 & 424-444.
  11. ^ a b c Taylor, Alan John Percivale (2001) [1988]. The Course of German History: A Survey of the Development of German History. London, England; New York City, New York: Routledge. p. 149.
  12. ^ Nicholas, John Alden (1958). Germany After Bismarck: The Caprivi Era, 1890–1894, Issue 5. Harvard University Press. p. 260.
  13. ^ a b c d Heywood 2007, pp. 82–83.
  14. ^ a b c d e Dorey 1995, pp. 16–17.
  15. ^ Arnold 2004, p. 96.
  16. ^ Bloor 2012, pp. 41–42.
  17. ^ Dietze, Gottfried (1995). In Defense of Property. Lanham, Maryland; London, England: University Press of America. p. 97.
  18. ^ a b Lindemann, Albert S. (2000). Esau's Tears: Modern Anti-Semitism and the Rise of the Jews (1st paperback ed.). Cambridge, England; New York City, New York; Melbourne, Australia; Madrid, Spain: Cambridge University Press. p. 145.
  19. ^ Steinberg 2011, pp. 416–417.
  20. ^ Feuchtwanger, Edgar (2002). Bismarck. Routeledge. p. 221. ISBN 978-0415216142.
  21. ^ Harris (1989), p. 442.
  22. ^ Henderson, William (1975). The Rise of German Industrial Power, 1834–1914. University of California Press. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-5200-3073-2.
  23. ^ Croly, Herbert (1911). The Promise of American Life. Macmillan. p. 250.
  24. ^ "Red Tory". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 14 January 2020. [A] Conservative who holds liberal or mildly socialist views on certain fiscal and social issues.
  25. ^ "Conservatism". The Canadian Encyclopedia.
  26. ^ Eley (1997), p. 174.
  27. ^ Eley (1997), pp. 174–175.
  28. ^ John Creighton Campbell, ed. (2014). How Policies Change: The Japanese Government and the Aging Society. Princeton University Press. p. 363. ISBN 9781400862955. ... Prime Minister Kishi, who leaned toward statecorporatist notions that included paternalistic welfare policy, gave way to Ikeda Hayato, who was more inclined toward free-market liberalism. ...
  29. ^ Helen Hardacre, ed. (1998). The Postwar Developments of Japanese Studies in the United States. BRILL. p. 10.
  30. ^ Joseph Burrell, ed. (2008). The Republican Treason: Republican Fascism Exposed. Algora Publishing. p. 187. ... more or less corrupt Liberal Democratic Party politicians, and the representatives of big business, Japan is a paternalistic state that conforms in many respects to the Confucian tradition ...
  31. ^ Kume, Ikuo [in Japanese]; Kawade, Yoshie [in Japanese]; Kojo, Yoshiko [in Japanese]; Tanaka, Aiji [in Japanese]; Mabuchi, Masaru [in Japanese] (2011). Political Science: Scope and Theory, revised ed. New Liberal Arts Selection (in Japanese). Yuhikaku Publishing. p. 26. ISBN 978-4-641-05377-9. ただし、日本の55年体制下の自民党政権の場合は欧米の保守政権に比べるとかなり経済的統制の度合いが強く、社会民主主義により近い場所に位置した。
  32. ^ a b Iio, Jun [in Japanese] (2019). Gendai nihon no seiji. Hōsō daigaku kyōzai (in Japanese). Hōsō daigaku kyōiku shinkōkai. p. 104. ISBN 978-4-595-31946-4.
  33. ^ McNamara, Dennis (1996). "Corporatism and Cooperation among Japanese Labor". Comparative Politics. 28 (4): 379–397. doi:10.2307/422050. ISSN 0010-4159. JSTOR 422050.
  34. ^ "The Physical and Institutional Reconstruction of Japan After World War II". Index Page for Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  35. ^ John E. Endicott; William R. Heaton, eds. (1996). The Politics Of East Asia: China, Japan, Korea. Routledge. p. 137. ISBN 9781000304718. Continuing cooperation between the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the New Liberal Club (NLC), and the conservative Democratic Socialist Party (DSP), will probably assure conservative rule for some time to come.
  36. ^ James Brennan, ed. (2009). The Labor Wars in Cordoba, 1955-1976: Ideology, Work, and Labor Politics in an Argentine Industrial Society. Harvard University Press. p. 9. ISBN 9780674028753.
  37. ^ Frederick Turner; Jose Enrique Miguens, eds. (1983). Juan Peron and the Reshaping of Argentina. University of Pittsburgh Pre. p. 173. ISBN 9780822976363.
  38. ^ Lurie, Jonathan (2011). William Howard Taft: The Travails of a Progressive Conservative. New York City: Cambridge University Press. p. 196. ISBN 9781139502177.
  39. ^ Kraig, Robert Alexander (2000). "The 1912 Election and the Rhetorical Foundations of the Liberal State". Rhetoric and Public Affairs. 3 (3): 363–395. doi:10.1353/rap.2010.0042. JSTOR 41940243.
  40. ^ Lurie, Jonathan (2012). William Howard Taft: The Travails of a Progressive Conservative. New York City: Cambridge University Press. p. ix.
  41. ^ Kutler, Stanley I. "Eisenhower, the Judiciary, and Desegregation". In Ambrose, Stephen E.; Bischof, Günter, eds. (1995). Eisenhower: A Centenary Assessment. Louisiana State University Press. p. 98.
  42. ^ Rothbard, Murray (2010). Left, Right, and the Prospects for Liberty. Auburn, Alabama: Mises Institute. p. 19.
  43. ^ Huerta de Soto 2010, p. 80.
  44. ^ Viereck (2006), p. 74.
  45. ^ Huerta de Soto 2010, pp. 79–80.
  46. ^ Huerta de Soto 2010, p. 79.


Further reading[edit]

  • Eley, Geoff (1997). Society, Culture, and the State in Germany, 1870-1930 (1st paperback ed.). University of Michigan.
  • Paxton, Robert O. (1975). Europe in the Twentieth Century. Harcourt Brace College Publishers.
  • Paxton, Robert O.; Julie Hessler (2011) [2005]. Europe in the Twentieth Century. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
  • Sternhell, Ze'ev (1986). Neither Right Nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France (2nd ed.). Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
  • Viereck, Peter (2006). Conservative Thinkers: From John Adams to Winston Churchill. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.
  • Weitz, Eric D. (2007). Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

External links[edit]

Quotations related to Paternalistic conservatism at Wikiquote