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Conservatism (Latin: conservare, "to preserve")[1] is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism and seek a return to the way things were.[2][3] The first established use of the term in a political context was by François-René de Chateaubriand in 1819, following the French Revolution.[4] The term has since been used to describe a wide range of views.

Seymour Martin Lipset wrote that liberals and conservatives "typically do not take alternative positions on issues of equality and freedom. Instead, each side appeals to one or the other core values, as liberals stress egalitarianism‘s primacy and the social injustice that flows from unfettered individualism, while conservatives enshrine individual freedom and the social need for mobility and achievement as values "endangered" by the collectivism inherent in liberal nostrums."[5]

Political science often credits the Irish politician Edmund Burke (who served in the British House of Commons and opposed the French Revolution) with many of the ideas now called conservative.[6] According to Hailsham, a former chairman of the British Conservative Party, "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."[7]

Robert Eccleshall states, "It is the persistent image of society as a command structure in which the responsibilities of leadership can be exercised within the framework of a strong state manifested in divine-right royalism ... that distinguishes English conservatism from rival ideologies."[8]

Conservative political parties include the Republican Party in the United States, the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan, the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom, the Liberal Party of Australia, the Kuomintang of the Republic of China (Taiwan), the Conservative Party of Canada, the Pakistan Muslim League in Pakistan, and the Bharatiya Janata Party in India.


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