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Radicalism (Conservatism)

AQA, Edexcel

Last updated 24 Jun 2020

Radicalism is the belief or expression that there should be significant / extreme political and/or social change. These changes should occur through revolution.

Conservatism is directly opposed to radicalism in any form. The father of modern conservatism (Edmund Burke) famously argued that the abstract notions of equality, fraternity and equality were contrary to the traditions of French society. The result of radicalism would be chaos and social disorder.

In the modern era, conservatives in the West are deeply opposed to the spread of Islamic fundamentalism. This is most notable within the United States; a country in which the conservative movement is coloured by a much greater level of religiosity than the United Kingdom.

Conservatives have always claimed that radicalism is driven by ideologues and seeks to impose a dogmatic vision of life upon society. Throughout history, there have been numerous illustrations of radical groups capturing the apparatus of the state and imposing their ‘truth’ upon others. The result has often been characterised by destruction rather than conservation. Indeed, it is difficult to envisage anything as contrary to the conservative mindset as that of radicalism. Conservatives are, by nature and temperament; supporters of the status quo and opponents of dramatic upheaval driven by ideologues. Radicalism is simply not part of conservative language.

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