I never really bought the "conservatives are fearful" argument; after all, the left is the one arguing for more economic protection.
I think a more useful distinction is that people want free-market competition in areas where they are strong, and protection and regulation in areas where they are weak. Conservatives want free competition in the economic sphere but moral protections in social interactions; liberals want protection from market forces but are happy to take their licks in status-seeking competitions.
In a state of nature, the highest-status people get away with much more bad behavior than low status folks. Therefore, strict social rules are essentially a progressive tax on status!