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Call for compassionate Conservatism

August 19th, 2014

A conservative analyst suggests that in times of severe social crisis, conservatives should not recoil from increasing state intervention in the economy and reducing poverty in order to strengthen national cohesion.

Although Conservatism and Socialism are antithetic to each other, in times of severe economic crisis, conservatives need to interfere in free markets, András Kóré writes in Mandiner. The conservative political scientist contends that the different currents of Conservative ideologies all reject the idea that the state should interfere in the lives of individuals and traditional civic communities through social engineering. But while social justice cannot be regarded as a legitimate aim of conservatives, they may occasionally support state intervention to help individuals and communities overcome the otherwise insurmountable challenges they face. Kóré recalls that in the 19th century in the US, Europe and Hungary alike, conservatives strengthened social welfare when this was the only way to alleviate the suffering of the very poor. The British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, and US presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Taft and Eisenhower all helped workers through limiting the “exploitative” rights of employers. Likewise, Hungarian conservatives at the turn of the 19th and the 20th centuries as well as István Bethlen in the inter-war period intervened boldly in the economy in order to avoid social catastrophe and increase the self-reliance of individuals and communities, Kóré notes. Improving social cohesion through state intervention in times of economic crisis also helps conservatives to achieve their cherished aim of strengthening national identity, Kóré concludes.

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