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Iago the Meritocrat: Conflicting Interpretations of Individualism in the Early Modern Period
Unformatted Document Text:  opposed to the middle class, labor, commercialism, industrialism, democracy, liberalism, and individualism. . . . Second, the autonomous definition of conservatism holds that conservatism is not necessarily connected with the interests of any particular group, nor, indeed, is its appearance dependent upon any specific historical configuration of social forces. Conservatism is an autonomous system of ideas which are generally valid. It is defined in terms of universal values such as justice, order, balance, moderation. Whether or not a particular individual holds these values high depends not on his social affiliations but upon his personal capacity to see their inherent truth and desirability. 28 This approach describes conservative beliefs and values, if not a consistent ideology, that were present within late Tudor and early Stuart England. More recent scholarship have noted that presence within the constitutional transformation of England at that time, especially in terms of the development of the common law under such eminent Elizabethan and Jacobean jurists as Sir Edward Coke, whose influence upon theorists such as Edmund Burke would be profound. 29 Therefore, while conservatism per se, was not a comprehensive presence during Shakespeare’s time, the beliefs, principles, attitudes, and values that would evolve into that ideology certainly were influential. 30 Likewise, liberalism was not a coherent ideological presence during this early phase of the modern period but its values were, clearly, emerging. Some of that development occurred within the legal system, especially in terms of individual property interests and other examples of early rights discourse. 31 Principles that would be associated with a laissez-faire economics also would become more commonly expressed and embraced during the late Tudor period—values that would be relevant to the 12

Authors: McHugh, James.
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opposed to the middle class, labor, commercialism, industrialism,
democracy, liberalism, and individualism. . . .
Second, the autonomous definition of conservatism holds that
conservatism is not necessarily connected with the interests of any
particular group, nor, indeed, is its appearance dependent upon any
specific historical configuration of social forces. Conservatism is an
autonomous system of ideas which are generally valid. It is defined in
terms of universal values such as justice, order, balance, moderation.
Whether or not a particular individual holds these values high depends not
on his social affiliations but upon his personal capacity to see their
inherent truth and desirability.
This approach describes conservative beliefs and values, if not a consistent
ideology, that were present within late Tudor and early Stuart England. More recent
scholarship have noted that presence within the constitutional transformation of England
at that time, especially in terms of the development of the common law under such
eminent Elizabethan and Jacobean jurists as Sir Edward Coke, whose influence upon
theorists such as Edmund Burke would be profound.
Therefore, while conservatism per
se, was not a comprehensive presence during Shakespeare’s time, the beliefs, principles,
attitudes, and values that would evolve into that ideology certainly were influential.
Likewise, liberalism was not a coherent ideological presence during this early
phase of the modern period but its values were, clearly, emerging. Some of that
development occurred within the legal system, especially in terms of individual property
interests and other examples of early rights discourse.
Principles that would be
associated with a laissez-faire economics also would become more commonly expressed
and embraced during the late Tudor period—values that would be relevant to the
12


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