Conservatism is a political philosophy whose central theme is the prevention of change in society. It often includes a certain reactionary element that wishes to revert society to an earlier (supposedly happier) time, or a set of societal norms that existed during that time, but this is not the main thrust of conservatism in general.
The conservative ideal encompasses what is best about conservatism, and ways in which the idea of conservatism is misrepresented or misused.
Conservatism encompasses a wide variety of possible viewpoints, with different aspects being emphasized in different countries:
Social conservatives believe that there is "wisdom embedded in [existing] social structures/norms", and that we tamper with those structures at our peril. In other words, the current social norms are the way they are because they have been proven to work over a long period of time, and there is considerable danger if they cease to work properly.
The implication of this is that we don't know how those norms got the way they are, nor why they work. This is at odds with the idea that we as a civilization have been documenting our own history in considerable detail for many centuries now, and are indeed quite capable of noting which experiments have succeeded, which failed, and which were made popular or unpopular without correlation to (and for reasons other than) their success or failure at their intended purpose. The social conservative attitude essentially favors custom over understanding, shuns experimentation, and fears the possible consequences.
Social conservatives are at odds with social liberals on certain issues:
- marriage (liberals want to broaden it, conservatives don't)
- death penalty (conservatives for, liberals against)
- gun control (conservatives against, liberals for)
Fiscal conservatives are more concerned about unnecessary government expenditure, and tend to prefer solutions where private industry or "faith-based" groups provide the bulk of the funding. For this reason, they tend to seek solutions based in free market incentives. They also tend to be against government regulation, however, which they unfortunately often seem to forget is a requirement for a free marketplace.
Conservative and Fundamentalist Groups/Projects (non-US)
- Conservative Christian
- Christian Voice (UK)