Politics in Minutes (2016)

Entitlement and property

Alongside the idea of a privileged class with a hereditary right – some would say duty – to rule, conservatism supports the idea of inheritance of wealth and property, and the ownership of private property in general. Entitlement is at the heart of this belief, harking back to the entitlement to property granted to noble families by the monarch in feudal systems. But starting with the rise of wealthy industrialists during the Industrial Revolution, the notion of entitlement evolved from divine rights and aristocracy to the protection of private property in a capitalist society.

Conservatism is now associated not so much with the old aristocracy as the new privileged class of industrialists and financiers, and their entitlement not only to wealth but also to a degree of power. Conservative governments, therefore, tend to shape their policies accordingly, placing more emphasis on protection of property than rights and freedoms, arguing that the creation of wealth benefits society as a whole.