First we must understand what heirarchy means in a political sense. Hierarchies are systems of order that things are placed or operate, visually articulated most commonly through a triangle shape. Its implication has come to mean a fixed or structural inequality that exists despite individual ability. This contrasts with the liberal idea of meritocracy in which individuals are judged based on their natural abilities and willingness to work. Conservatives would favour this social system because it links to organic societies; societies which have evolved over time slowly and with the pace of human development, providing a system that is created by the people and one that has survived the test of time. The belief in natural hierarchies is a characteristic of nineteenth century conservatives including Burke. They held this belief as they thought that they helped create social order and security among people as they would know exactly where they stood in terms of social standing and therefore identity and conservatives view people as fearful of the unknown. They also believe that by having different people in natural hierarchies, society can work with the belief that workers need employers and employers need workers. This belief in social hierarchy implies that inequalities are inevitable but not necessarily negative as those at the top would be led by the knowledge of their responsibility to look after the welfare of those below.
Idea’s of the top looking after the lower echelons of society can be related to conservative principles of ‘noblesse oblige’ in which a strong father figure maintains absolute authority over the rest of the family, or in a macro view, society. Watch 'The Life I Lead' song from Mary Poppins - this describes this concept perfectly! This can be seen today in the One Nation Conservatism of David Cameron and his ‘Big Society’ and Benjamin Disraeli’s Paternalistic Conservatism. While favour of social hierarchy is usually found among traditional conservatives, modern conservatives still believe in ideas of an organic society including those who support Cameron and May’s style of conservatism.
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