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The Conservatism Portal

Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional values, accepting that technology and society can shift, but principles should not. 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, the first established use of the term in a political context was by François-René de Chateaubriand in 1819, following the French Revolution. Political science often credits the Irish politician Edmund Burke with many of the ideas now called conservative. Conservatives have variously sought to preserve institutions including religion, monarchy, parliamentary government, property rights and the social hierarchy, emphasizing stability and continuity, while the more extreme elements called reactionaries oppose modernism and seek a return to "the way things were".

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John A. Macdonald

Antonin Gregory Scalia (1936-2016) was an American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. As the longest-serving justice on the Court, Scalia was the Senior Associate Justice. Appointed to the Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, Scalia had been described as the intellectual anchor of the Court's conservative wing.

In his quarter-century on the Court, Scalia had staked out a conservative ideology in his opinions, advocating textualism in statutory interpretation and originalism in constitutional interpretation. He was a strong defender of the powers of the executive branch, believing presidential power should be paramount in many areas, he opposed affirmative action and other policies that treat minorities as groups. He filed separate opinions in large numbers of cases, and, in his minority opinions, often castigated the Court's majority in scathing language.

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Now let us look at the ballot. We are told that this is an innovation, an unjust and an un-English measure. Much, I confess, is to be said on both sides, and I have not formed my opinion without deliberation, and I can see in the great constitution of my country a glorious and admirable structure, to which I would fain add two wings. Under the old system of representation I should not have thought ballot necessary, because that system was anomalous, and ballot could be of little use in a borough that had no electors, but if you will change, if you will give a constituency to every town returning members to Parliament, and if you will give to that constituency the legitimate right which the constitution contemplates, and which is a freeman's claim, you must add to the elective franchise vote by ballot. My gallant opponent, the breath of whose overpowering and convincing eloquence still hovers about the atmosphere of Wycombe, paused long before he indulged in the tirade which lately obtained so much notoriety through the medium of the 'Times' newspaper, I say to the son of the Prime Minister, that if the Whig ministry had not altered the representative system of the country, we should not have called for ballot ; but I now say, that in proportion as the electors increase in number, so does the necessity for the ballot. I am a Conservative to preserve all that is good in our constitution, a Radical to remove all that is bad. I seek to preserve property and to respect order, and I equally decry the appeal to the passions of the many or the prejudices of the few. I alike detest the despotism of an oligarchy and the pre-eminence of a mob. I shall ever seek to confer the greatest happiness upon the greatest numbers, and I conscientiously believe that in advocating triennial Parliaments and vote by ballot, I am labouring to promote this desirable end, as a statesman I should say that it is impossible to refuse popular demands well matured and energetically supported. If so, let the people be fitted to discharge the functions reposed in them ; and, as the means to this great end, I would unflinchingly advocate the repeal of the taxes on knowledge, because, though we admire and enjoy the liberty of the press, yet we feel its tyranny. Now, taxed as it is, it requires a large capital to carry on a newspaper, and its interests once established by a large circle of readers, and by an immense supply of advertisements, it bids defiance to the small capitalists who would embark in an untaxed competition, but are now overwhelmed by the oppressive impost laid on by Government.

— Benjamin Disraeli, speech at High Wycombe, England (27 November 1832)

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At first the Moderate Party of Sweden was clearly nationalist and staunchly conservative, the importance of a strong defense was underlined and other societal institutions embraced by the party were the monarchy and the state of law. The party held initially a protectionist view towards the economy, tariffs were widely supported as well as interventionist economical measures such as agricultural subsidies; in the defence policy crisis in 1914, which overturned the parliamentary Liberal government, the party sided with king Gustav V of Sweden, but stopped short of accepting a rightist government by royal appointment, instead opting for an independent-conservative "war cabinet" under Hjalmar Hammarskjöld, eventually overturned in favor of a Liberal-Social democratic majority coalition government and breakthrough of parliamentary rule, albeit reluctantly embraced by the right.

Credit: Raphael Saulus

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Selected anniversaries in October

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  • 1982Helmut Kohl, described as "the greatest European leader of the second half of the 20th century" by George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, is elected Chancellor of Germany.

Conservatism resources

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