Though I have noted some of the classical conservative tendencies that persist today, much of contemporary conservative discourse and policy making bears little resemblance to the outlook just described. In the decades following the Second World War, conservative political thinking changed drastically. The Reagan-Thatcher revolution in the 1980s saw a particularly pronounced shift away from classical conservatism. Classical conservatism could be called socially conservative in that it prioritized protecting society from threats to long-standing institutions and practices. It was not, however, economically conservative in the way that phrase is used today. Classical conservatives were generally not opposed to state intervention in the economy whenever such intervention could strengthen social bonds or promote the common good. Writers in Canada’s high Tory conservative tradition particularly emphasized this point.
Modern conservatism retains some hints of classical conservatism but combines them with elements of classical liberalism, most notably the emphasis on limiting state interference in economic matters. Modern conservatism is also notably more ideological and rationalist than its classical counterpart. There are many different perspectives and outlooks in the New Right, but two important versions of modern conservatism will be considered here: libertarianism and neoconservatism.