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conservatism


Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405189224.2011.x


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A disposition towards preserving established institutions, values, and traditions on the grounds of their likely superiority to any alternatives that might be newly devised and imposed in the name of “progress.” There has been much debate, not least among conservatives themselves, as to how far this attitude amounts to a systematic sociopolitical doctrine or “ideology.” However, greater consensus has developed about conservatism's persistent support for well-tested sources of temporal or spiritual authority, the preservation of class hierarchy and due social deference, the centrality of the family, and the right to private property, as well as for the strict maintenance of law and order in protection of these and similar principles. Thus it has been regularly associated, for example, with monarchism , aristocracy , and traditional military values, as well as with catholicism ; and, in the context of rural society , the natural conservatism of major landowners has frequently extended also to a peasantry suspicious of such modernizing forces as urbanization and industrialization . The radicalism of the french revolution of 1789 made it more imperative than before to formulate explicit defense of conservative attitudes. Whereas their soundness might have been taken largely for granted under the ancien regime , such consensus no longer prevailed once the plea for Liberty ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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