Organic Society

The term ‘organic society’ is a metaphor that sees society as a human body. This theory is particularly linked to one-nation conservatives. Every part of the body has a specific and essential part to play, and the body cannot function without it. The whole is more than the sum of its parts and more important than any individual within it. If a part is changed, the body will be damaged. When they are all playing their part and are healthy, the body is in harmony and will flourish.

The rich man in his castle,

The poor man at his gate,

God made them, high or lowly,

And ordered their estate.

Verse from the hymn 'All things bright and beautiful'

Expresses the view that there is a natural order to social class.

Attempts to transform society will end in disaster . It is also closely linked to the conservative view of the importance of hierarchy — within society there will be various classes and groups but they can live in peace as part of a larger whole. Organic society gives fragile humans a sense of security as it provides a clear role and purpose for each one of us, depending on what part of the ‘body’ we are. It connects us to social groups and institutions such as the family, workplace and religious community, and also to the wider whole, the nation. This view of society can be linked to nationalism and patriotism. This also implies that those with money and power have a duty to look after those less fortunate, and implies a rejection of atomism. This is called noblesse oblige.

There is some disagreement within conservatism over organic society. It is supported by traditional conservatives, who reject individualism. However, New Right supporters see individual rights and freedoms as more important. As Margaret Thatcher once famously stated, ‘there is no such thing as society, only individuals and their families’, an idea firmly rejected by David Cameron.