Political conservatism

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Woozle notes: I have found it difficult to locate good sources on the Conservative philosophy, in part because it has become heavily politicized and in part because the usage of the term seems to be changing. I'll add bits as I find them, but others should feel free to contribute.

At its base, conservatism is the of preventing change in society; it often includes a certain reactionary element that wishes to revert society to an earlier (supposedly happer) time, but this is not the main thrust of conservatism.

Conservatism encompasses a wide variety of possible viewpoints, with different aspects being emphasized in different countries.

Conservatism in America

see also: Wikipedia:Conservatism in North America

The Heritage Foundation, an American conservative think-tank, states a belief "in individual liberty, free enterprise, limited government, a strong national defense, and traditional American values. We want an America that is safe and secure; where choices (in education, health care and retirement) abound; where taxes are fair, flat, and comprehensible; where everybody has the opportunity to go as far as their talents will take them; where government concentrates on its core functions, recognizes its limits and shows favor to none. ... we believe the values and ideas that motivated our Founding Fathers are worth conserving." This would seem to be a reasonable definition of the best attributes of American conservatism.

A cornerstone of American Conservative philosophy is personal responsibility – the idea that each individual is solely responsible for his/her own well-being; government exists solely to ensure that the rules are enforced, which includes protection from hostile external forces.

Conervatives seem to be against "big government" in certain circumstances -- see http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110007328


Conservatives in the United States are generally aligned with the Republican Party and sometimes with the Libertarian Party.

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Conservative and Fundamentalist Groups

Well-Known Conservative Proponents


  • 2005-09-27 J.E.R. Staddon writes: "...there are acres written on conservatism, but one of the best definitions I've seen is that it is a disbelief in utopia, i.e., a disbelief in the "progressive" idea that human beings, and human society, are infinitely perfectible. The problem with belief in utopia is that if you believe it is possible, then you are obliged to take active steps tio bring it about, which usually leads to the death and misery of large numbers of human beings (see Stalin, Mao, the Islamists, etc.)."