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Portal:Conservatism

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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, human imperfection, organic society, hierarchy and authority, and property rights. Conservatives seek to preserve a range of institutions such as monarchy, religion, parliamentary government, and property rights, with the aim of emphasizing social stability and continuity. The more extreme 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 as a valuing of competition itself, "a meditation on — and theoretical rendition of — the felt experience of having power, seeing it threatened, and trying to win it back".

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John Calvin Coolidge, Jr., (1872 – 1933) was the 30th President of the United States (1923–1929). A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state. His actions during the Boston Police Strike of 1919 thrust him into the national spotlight. Soon after, he was elected as the 29th Vice President in 1920 and succeeded to the Presidency upon the sudden death of Warren G. Harding in 1923. Elected in his own right in 1924, he gained a reputation as a small-government conservative, and also as a man who said very little.

Coolidge restored public confidence in the White House after the scandals of his predecessor's administration, and left office with considerable popularity. As a Coolidge biographer put it, "He embodied the spirit and hopes of the middle class, could interpret their longings and express their opinions. That he did represent the genius of the average is the most convincing proof of his strength."

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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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After a period of disengagement and drift in the 1970s, the personal friendship between President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, often described as 'ideological soul-mates', reinvigorated what she affirmed as the ‘extraordinary alliance’. They shared a commitment to the philosophy of the free market, low taxes, limited government, and a strong defence; they rejected détente and were determined to win the battle of ideas with the Soviet Union.

Thatcher summed up her understanding of the Special Relationship at her first meeting with Reagan as president in 1981: ‘Your problems will be our problems and when you look for friends we shall be there.’ Celebrating the 200th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 1985, she enthused: ‘There is a union of mind and purpose between our peoples which is remarkable and which makes our relationship a truly remarkable one. It is special. It just is, and that’s that.’

Credit: Haeel

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Selected anniversaries in August

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