Conservative

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(From conserve: L. conservator, to keep, or preserve an object, state or situation). Political doctrine that favors maintaining and continuing the existing regime, fetishistic tradition and the past, rejecting any change in economic and social relations. Defense of existing structures, including reactionary and archaic forms. As a rule, this position corresponds to the controlling elite, which does not want to lose its power, wealth, or the privileges it has conquered. Conservatives frequently act under the banner of defending law and order. Historically, conservatives and liberals have contended for power over long periods, although liberals have also frequently resorted to conservative positions when other forces threatened their control. During the times of the bourgeois revolutions, c. came into being as an aristocratic and at times clerical movement to preserve their feudal privileges, expressing the interests of the great landowners and their clients. For these reasons, since its beginnings it has opposed liberalism, defending the traditions, privileges, and properties of the church, especially the Catholic Church, but later the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and other churches as well. C. was an unrelenting enemy of movements for independence in North America, Latin America, and Greece. Following the French Revolution, c. opposed the revolutions in Spain, Portugal, and Naples, as well as the movement to liberate and unify Italy (the Risorgimento). The political history of Europe and America in the nineteenth century was plagued by struggles between conservatives and liberals. In the twentieth century, especially the second half, this antagonism has weakened as the opponents have gradually assimilated each others’ values and ideas and the classical conservative movement has disappeared from the political scene of most American and European states.