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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".

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Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, (1874 – 1965) was an English statesman known for his leadership of Britain during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the great wartime leaders. He served as Prime Minister twice (1940–45 and 195155). A noted statesman and orator, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a historian, and a writer. In his days as a Liberal Party leader (about 1910), he helped create the British welfare state.

During the 1930s, Churchill took the lead in warning about the danger from Hitler and in campaigning for rearmament. On the outbreak of World War II, he was again appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. On 10 May 1940, Churchill became Prime Minister in an all-party government. His steadfast refusal to consider defeat, surrender or a compromise peace helped inspire British resistance, especially during the difficult early days of the War when Britain stood alone in its active opposition to Hitler. Churchill was particularly noted for his speeches and radio broadcasts, which helped inspire the British people.

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To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss.

— Michael Oakeshott, On Being Conservative (1962)

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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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