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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, 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". Conversely, some conservatives may argue that they are seeking less to protect their own power than they are seeking to protect "inalienable rights" and promote norms and rules that they believe should stand timeless and eternal, applying to each citizen.

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Conservapedia is an English-language wiki project written from a self-described American conservative Christian point of view. The website considers itself to be a supporter of conservative, family-friendly content. It was started in 2006 by homeschool teacher and attorney Andy Schlafly, son of conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, to counter what he called the "liberal bias" of Wikipedia. It uses editorials and a wiki-based system to generate content. Examples of the ideology of Conservapedia in its articles include: accusations against US President Barack Obama, criticism of Wikipedia's supposed liberal bias, criticism of relativity as promoting relativism, claiming a proven link between abortion and breast cancer and asserting that the goals of a so-called Homosexual Agenda includes indoctrination. Conservapedia also operates the Conservative Bible Project, a conservative interpretation of the Bible. Conservapedia has received negative reactions from the mainstream media, as well as from various figures from both ends of the political spectrum, including commentators and journalists, and has been criticized for bias and inaccuracies.

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Conservative: One who admires radicals a century after they're dead.

-- Leo Rosten, in R.L. Woods's The Modern Handbook of Humor (1967)

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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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Selected anniversaries in January

  • 1729Edmund Burke is born, considered to be the philosophical founder of modern conservatism.
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