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conservatism,in politics, the desire to maintain, or conserve, the existing order. Conservatives value the wisdom of the past and are generally opposed to widespread reform. Modern political conservatism emerged in the 19th cent. in reaction to the political and social changes associated with the eras of the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. By 1850 the term conservatism, probably first used by Chateaubriand, generally meant the politics of the rightright,
in politics, the more conservative groups in the political spectrum, in contrast to the radical left and the liberal center. The designation stems from the seating of the nobility on the right side of the presiding officer in the French National Assembly of 1789.
..... Click the link for more information. . The original tenets of European conservatism had already been formulated by Edmund BurkeBurke, Edmund,
1729–97, British political writer and statesman, b. Dublin, Ireland. Early Writings
After graduating (1748) from Trinity College, Dublin, he began the study of law in London but abandoned it to devote himself to writing.
..... Click the link for more information. , Joseph de MaistreMaistre, Joseph de
, 1753–1821, French writer and diplomat. Born in Savoy, he was Sardinian ambassador at St. Petersburg from 1803 to 1817. A passionate Roman Catholic and royalist, he was master of a rigidly logical doctrine and the possessor of a great store of knowledge.
..... Click the link for more information. , and others. They emphasized preserving the power of king and aristocracy, maintaining the influence of landholders against the rising industrial bourgeoisie, limiting suffrage, and continuing ties between church and statechurch and state,
the relationship between the religion or religions of a nation and the civil government of that nation, especially the relationship between the Christian church and various civil governments.
..... Click the link for more information. . The conservative view that social welfare was the responsibility of the privileged inspired passage of much humanitarian legislation, in which English conservatives usually led the way. In the late 19th cent. great conservative statesmen, notably Benjamin DisraeliDisraeli, Benjamin, 1st earl of Beaconsfield
, 1804–81, British statesman and author. He is regarded as the founder of the modern Conservative party.
..... Click the link for more information. , exemplified the conservative tendency to resort to moderate reform in order to preserve the foundations of the established order. By the 20th cent. conservatism was being redirected by erstwhile liberal manufacturing and professional groups who had achieved many of their political aims and had become more concerned with preserving them from attack by groups not so favored. Conservatism lost its predominantly agrarian and semifeudal bias, and accepted democratic suffrage, advocated economic laissez-fairelaissez-faire
[Fr.,=leave alone], in economics and politics, doctrine that an economic system functions best when there is no interference by government. It is based on the belief that the natural economic order tends, when undisturbed by artificial stimulus or regulation, to
..... Click the link for more information. , and opposed extension of the welfare state. This form of conservatism, which is best seen in highly industrialized nations, was exemplified by President ReaganReagan, Ronald Wilson
, 1911–2004, 40th president of the United States (1981–89), b. Tampico, Ill. In 1932, after graduation from Eureka College, he became a radio announcer and sportscaster.
..... Click the link for more information. in the United States and Prime Minister ThatcherThatcher, Margaret Hilda Roberts Thatcher, Baroness,
1925–2013, British political leader. Great Britain's first woman prime minister, nicknamed the "Iron Lady" for her uncompromising political stance, Thatcher served longer than any other British prime minister in the 20th
..... Click the link for more information. in Great Britain. It has been flexible and receptive to moderate change, favors the maintenance of order on social issues, and actively supports deregulation and privatization in the economic sphere. Conservatism should be distinguished both from a reactionary desire for the past and the radical right-wing ideology of fascismfascism
, totalitarian philosophy of government that glorifies the state and nation and assigns to the state control over every aspect of national life. The name was first used by the party started by Benito Mussolini, who ruled Italy from 1922 until the Italian defeat in World
..... Click the link for more information. and National Socialism.
See R. Kirk, The Conservative Mind (rev. ed. 1960); J. Habermas, The New Conservatism (1989); T. Honderich, Conservatism (1991); C. Robin, The Reactionary Mind (2011).
- any social and political doctrine which seeks to defend the institutions and social values of the existing order.
- any relatively stable set of POLITICAL ATTITUDES in support of the status quo, i.e. policies which seek to sustain or renovate rather than reconstruct the social fabric. As such, conservatism is the opposite of radicalism.
- support for the British Conservative Party. Conservative political ideology, in its modern forms, first manifested itself as a reaction to the French Revolution. Edmund Burke, in his Reflections on the French Revolution (1790), produced a classic statement in defence of the old order. His central argument was that the established social and political institutions should be defended because they existed; they had grown ‘organically’. Hence, they were a better guide to action than any theoretical construction, no matter how rational the latter may seem. Burke's ideas have provided a core theme. Conservatism has rarely been based on any overtly stated political philosophy, since the danger is that it could be regarded as ‘abstract’ and ‘ideological’.
adherence to all that is old, outmoded, and stagnant and hostility and opposition to progress and to everything that is new and progressive in society, science, technology, and art.