Conservative Paradox

Discipline: Political Science

Theory of government described by English political scientist Rodney Barker (1942- ).

Conservatives, and others, assume that those whom they govern but who are in revolt or rebellion or are otherwise disaffected, share the same values and beliefs as their rulers. Therefore, like naughty children who accept the values of their parents, they will be not only subdued but chastened by the coercive use of state power.

In fact, since the disaffected citizens hold values different from those of their rulers, they will regard state coercion against them as further proof of government's unfitness. Thus in seeking to sustain power, government undermines it.

Rodney Barker, Political Legitimacy and the State (Oxford, 1990)


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