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Portal:Conservatism

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Conservatism is a political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions in the context of culture and civilization. The central tenets of conservatism include tradition, human imperfection, organic society, hierarchy, authority, and property rights. Conservatives seek to preserve a range of institutions such as religion, parliamentary government, and property rights, with the aim of emphasizing social stability and continuity. The more traditional elements—reactionaries—oppose modernism and seek a return to "the way things were".

The first established use of the term in a political context originated in 1818 with François-René de Chateaubriand during the period of Bourbon Restoration that sought to roll back the policies of the French Revolution. Historically associated with right-wing politics, the term has since been used to describe a wide range of views. There is no single set of policies regarded as conservative because the meaning of conservatism depends on what is considered traditional in a given place and time. Thus conservatives from different parts of the world—each upholding their respective traditions—may disagree on a wide range of issues. Edmund Burke, an 18th-century politician who opposed the French Revolution but supported the American Revolution, is credited as one of the main theorists of conservatism in Great Britain in the 1790s.

According to Quintin Hogg, the chairman of the British Conservative Party in 1959: "Conservatism is not so much a philosophy as an attitude, a constant force, performing a timeless function in the development of a free society, and corresponding to a deep and permanent requirement of human nature itself". In contrast to the tradition-based definition of conservatism, some political theorists such as Corey Robin define conservatism primarily in terms of a general defense of social and economic inequality. From this perspective, conservatism is less an attempt to uphold traditional institutions and more, "a meditation on—and theoretical rendition of—the felt experience of having power, seeing it threatened, and trying to win it back".

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In politics, Right, right-wing and rightist generally refer to support for a hierarchical society justified on the basis of an appeal to natural law or tradition. To varying degrees, the Right rejects attempts to mandate egalitarian policies through legislation by left-wing politics. Conservatives prefer to endorse the belief in equality of birth rather than equality of outcome. This belief is based on the viewpoint that equality of outcome, or forcing equality through statute and quota, is inherently detrimental to the human spirit; that people are best left to rise to their own natural success based on talent and hard work. Equality of birth refers to the conservative doctrine, adopted since the civil rights movement, that all persons are born equal, wherein equality of outcome is opposed by conservatives because of is inherent punishment of hard work and talent. This concept is closely related to the dichotomy of negative vs. positive liberty with conservative preferring negative liberty. The terms Right and Left were coined during the French Revolution, referring to seating arrangements in parliament; those who sat on the right supported preserving the institutions of the Ancien Régime (the monarchy, the aristocracy and the established church). Use of the term "Right" became more prominent after the second restoration of the French monarchy in 1815 with the Ultra-royalists. Right-wing politics is a more loosely defined term than left-wing politics, because it largely developed as a response to its leftist counterpart. Historically, the right-wing was mostly made up of traditionalist conservatives and reactionaries, but it now includes liberal conservatives, classical liberals and Christian democrats as well as some nationalists.

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The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries but between authoritarians and libertarians.

— George Orwell, in a letter to Malcolm Muggeridge (4 December 1948)

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Benjamin Disraeli (1804 – 1881) was a British Prime Minister, parliamentarian, Conservative statesman and literary figure. Starting from comparatively humble origins, he served in government for three decades, twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Although his father had him baptised to Anglicanism at age 12, he was nonetheless Britain's first and thus far only Prime Minister who was born into a Jewish family—originally from Italy. He played an instrumental role in the creation of the modern Conservative Party after the Corn Laws schism of 1846.

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