I Do Believe These Oxford People Are Too Smart For Me: The Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies (Conservatism)

In the Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies: Conservatism edited by Michael Freeden and Marc Steras, keywords include:
• Human malleability – the idea that humans can be influenced/manipulated.
• Limited politics – the idea that the government should be limited in its power.
• Reactionary school – political ideas that want to return to a previously existing state.
• Radical school – the want for an extreme change to either a part or whole existing system.
• Moderate school – being ‘moderate’ within the spectrum of political ideas.
• New Right school – conservative policies from parties post-Soviet Union collapse.

In this reading, it is argued that conservatism defends limited politics, with different schools of conservatism theorising different concepts of how and what to limit the government’s power over. The reading examines if each school has a coherent argument for the defence of limited politics.

I believe that the reading is persuasive because it fulfils its aim to examine each school’s defence of limited politics. For example, the modern school offers a positive alternative to the current incoherence within conservatism schools’ defence – as the modern school defends against the belief that conservatism has to hold optimistic beliefs about political action being able to transform society and bring unity under a parliament that will be subscribed to.

The reading explores varied ideas to support its arguments, such as Muller van den Bruck’s goal for peace and order; Carlyle’s idea to get rid of parliaments in favour of leadership that bridges the nation’s goals and its citizens’ spiritual values; and Hayek’s emphasis on custom and tradition, rather than planning, as the way to ‘force’ social order among citizens.

To summarise the argument, the reading discusses what remains relevant in schools of conservatism for each’s defence. What remains relevant in organic school is the idea of one nation that is compassionate and fair with welfare; the liberal strand of the conservative idea of civil association if relevant, as it’s used with a constitutional commitment to checks on power; what is relevant in New Right is the acceptance of the need to encourage economic productivity.

The reading concludes that linking these three schools together is a critique of conservatism’s exaggeration of human malleability and ability to reshape social order, and the idea of treating the power of the state as a being that can be transformed into a changeable and effective instrument to promote well-being can be cohesive and help reshape social order.

Walking away from this text, unfortunately, I’m still not sure exactly how the argument that rationalism links together with conservatism is being explained. Initially, I had been thinking of rationalism as a framework based upon following a method to determine how to govern a society, however, I don’t how the schools’ policies critique rationalism that is mentioned in the reading. I am unable to find any accessible texts expanding upon the idea online either.

Perhaps then I have totally misunderstood? If any explanation can be provided (in a nice, ‘easy to understand even when you’re running on low fumes’ manner), I would greatly appreciate it!


Would you like to know what the hell this is? Because Id love to know too please.

I was rummaging through some of my old files the other day as you do – and then I found this. It slightly confuses me, I don’t know what genre or format of anything about what this is meant to be and I just want to know… why?

So naturally I thought I would share it so then we can then all be confused together!


She dances into my room.
Her eyes are alight with knowledge,
her spirits are abuzz with contentment.

She gracefully brings herself
down to my level.
I feel my soul being bared.
Her eyes are like a deep ocean
I could forever take refuge in.

She leans in closer, holding me tight.
She gentle kisses my forehead
as her lips form a melodic tune,

“Listen closely my child…”
Her beauty always astounds me –
it would turn a goddess would green with envy.
It is something I could never match.
Never could I match her.

I glance upon her face.
I see no flaw which tarnishes the angel.
If only I could match it.

“Listen closely my child…” she whispers,
“For I am about to give you advice.”
I lean in closer, ready to learn.
I inhale the scent of rose as
I ready myself to learn.

“Number one,” she muses,
“On the first date, check his balance statement.”
I gasp, slightly taken aback at such as superficial notion.

“Number two,” her voice is like honey
as it trickles down one’s throat,
“When choosing a husband, look at his parents.
They’ll tell you how well he’ll age.
I gulp, feeling a cool breeze chill my bones.

“Number three,” she laughs, “It doesn’t matter
how much you like him –
he’ll be out working most of the time.”

I choke on the stale air around me,
numbed by wisdom she has departed upon me.
She sashays away.
The glitter of her robe leaves a trail as she departs.
I sit there. Still.

Disbelieving her words.
Not her. Not her.
She uttered such superficial words.
Not her. Not her.

Not those hands which holds me.
Not that gentle embrace which reassures me.
Not that melodic voice that sings to me.
Not her. Not her.

I look to her again. Slightly less perfect.
Beautiful still, but human.