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Classical and Individual Conservatives: Conservative Freedom

Classical conservatives define freedom as a privilege that must be controlled from reaching chaotic behaviors. Freedom itself is a good thing but when people are allowed to do whatever they want, they start to act in their interests and to the detriment of society. The government exists, so that it places certain restrains on the individuals in their actions. It must be a part of the orderly system that acts for the greater good of the whole society. The government is beneficial, as it sets criteria on what people can and cannot do, in a civilized manner, thus contributing to the freedom of everyone equally (Ball & Dagger, 2009).

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In the triadic model of the classical conservative conception of freedom, there are three points. One of them is the agent. This describes the individual or the society that strives towards freedom. On the individual level, everyone must act in the best interest of the society and, as everyone in the society is interconnected, the society itself will act in the best interests of the individual. There is a common goal, which leads to stability and freedom in the population. The mutual goal will reinforce the efforts of the individual and society, in the process of attaining order, with the help of the government. The obstacle here is the individual and social ideas, which are directed towards something that does not fit everyone. It becomes individualistic and the greater good of the society becomes secondary, whereas the individual goals are used to undermine the society and other individuals. Compared to individualistic conservatism, freedom is defined somewhat differently. Here, society does not have a clear-cut common goal. It is a free market where everyone must compete for their purposes. As everyone has different abilities and skills, society must be divided according to those abilities. The market sets the criteria of the society’s division where individuals compete for freedom without the great involvement of the government. Ronald Reagan was an individual conservative and supported this view. There is a predominant idea that the government should not play a great role in the governing of the society (Ball & Dagger, 2009). It must let the people gain their success and they, in turn, will support those who are less successful. The government should not spend as many resources on the society but instead, allow the free market to establish itself within the population. The criticisms have focused on the fact that social welfare will suffer greatly with funding cuts to healthcare, education, and social services. Here, the agent is an individual who will fight for personal gains in the market. There will be no limitations by the government and there will be extremely resourceful individuals, compared to others. The goal is personal wealth and once that is established, society’s well-being will follow. The obstacle of the individual model is the government. It sets too many limitations on the individuals and their actions in the free market. It should back off and let people do their own business (Ball & Dagger, 2009).

In the end, it is hard to distinguish a clear cut line in conservatism. Some want to keep things as they were and some want to change them. Their conservative nature is entailed in each one’s individual belief and so there is a division amongst the conservatives. The inclusion of democracy for conservatives is possible but it must be guided by those with power and authority.


Ball, T., & Dagger, R. (2009). Political ideologies and the democratic ideal. Arizona, United States: Pearson Education.

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