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Definition of Conservatism (in 19th century and today) and Explanation of the Conservatives (Canadian party)

Updated on March 8, 2013

[EDITOR'S NOTE: I had to write an essay on conservatism as a school assignment and had to hand it in at the 18.01.2012, just before the "Sportferien" ;). My final received grade was a 5.25 (B+ in America I guess). The first two were graded a 5 (B). The last one about the example was graded a 6 (A). Never forget to give appropriate credit for sources. Othwerwise it is a crime.
There are also definitions of
Nationalism, Socialism and Liberalism]

Definition of Conservatism in the 19th century

The French revolution had a great impact on society and the way people thought in France. After Napoleon’s downfall, many countries conquered by him restored their former rulership. Europe was literally transferred back in its state before 1789. This is due to the revolutionary changes that evolved afterwards and put the kings in fear of a repetition happening again.

This was the hour of birth of the conservatism.

The establishment and preservation of law and order was the logical counter-force to happen, initiated by the rulers of their respective countries. Already said by Edmund Burke, those revolutionary forces in France were too abstract and too philosophical to become true. In order to repress possible influences, a censorship against the press was decreed. It was the most important thing to the government to maintain the existing or traditional order. This philosophical politics or attitude emphasized cultural values, such as tradition, religion, politics and society. Radical changes and philosophical ideas were poison to this conservative attitude. So as to preserve the control and balance in a state, the population of a country had to work smoothly with each other. As already said by Edmund Burke, society is like an organ with individuals performing different roles and are not loose subjects all independent from each other. So it was the duty of the government to educate the people in such a way. Humans weren’t complete, because they were driven by their desire and passion what led them to irrational behavior, violence, anarchy and selfishness. In order to reach this goal, the governmental institution should more act like a servant than a master and provide the people with numerous ways, for example through school, church and family, or push them into the direction of a disciplined human being than to force them actively, if it is possible to do so otherwise.

Moreover, the society was a complex construct and the government can’t really know absolutely, what its decision have an impact on the population and because of this, it is advisable that the government doesn’t intervene in, for example, financial affairs like prizes, wages rents etc.

Conservatism in the 19th century was mainly coined by the distrust in human nature and the aim to preserve historical continuity in traditional frameworks and the rejection of abstract theorizing and arguments by philosophers and revolutionary movements.

Definition of Conservatism nowadays

Today’s conservatism couldn’t resist the influences and the inevitable changes of our fast growing, meta-physical world to remain purely in form and basic idea of its 19th century predecessor.

In Europe, conservatism has been displaced by other political movements and probably due to the first and second world war; it has lost a lot of power. Christian Democracy is the mainstream representation of conservatism in the old continent, though core ideas are meddled up in other, not necessarily (pure) conservative, parties. Focusing on the United States, the preservation of conservatism was more successful. From a philosophical point of view, they had a slightly different opinion in regard to the distrust in human nature. They were more positive with criteria and didn’t regard it as negative as Europe did. From an empirical aspect, the U.S. wasn’t directly inflicted into the World Wars and evaluating this, the politics in the U.S. wasn’t as heavily affected as it was in the EU.

In conclusion, the American conservatism didn’t change a lot, since the attitude doesn’t differ much as it used to be in the 19th century. Whereas in Europe, conservative features influence many parties of their respective countries indirectly and to different extends. In addition, other variations of conservatism evolved, for example, the fiscal, cultural, social and religious conservatism, having all the same roots, though its main focus is shifted or enhanced in certain aspects.

Example of a conservative movement in Canada

The first conservative party was funded in 1876 by Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John MacDonald. It was named the “Liberal-Conservative Party”, whereas the liberal was dropped later. It underwent many changes in its name, because in 1917, during the First World War, its name was “Unionist Party”, but after the war was over, the name was changed to “Conservatives” (1921-1942). Again in 1942, their official name was “Progressive Conservative Party of Canada”. In 2003, Progressive Conservative Party was united with the Canadian Alliance (2000-2003), which was a conservative party too, only having other goals in mind. This leads us to our final party: Conservative.

Since the formation of the Conservative, they have been very popular amongst the people and are now the leading party in the government as well as in the senate (represented with approximately 50% of all seats each).

As the strongest party in Canada, it has a great influence of how politically Canada is shaped. The party is seeking for a sovereign and strong Canada. It has already achieved several noteworthy, typical aims for a conservative movement, namely: The improvement of health and care conditions for the population, the strengthening of the country and the tackling against crime, an effective economic leadership for a prosperous future but also not to forget a sovereign country in the world. Their so called “Here for Canada” plan outlined their main intentions for 2011, which are: Creating jobs, supporting families, eliminating the deficit, making their streets safe and standing on guard for Canada.

During the Egyptian revolution, the Prime Minister initiated a project, so that Coptic Christians in Egypt, which were endangered by the Egypt’s intolerance of different cultures, could still practice their religion in special accommodation facilities. With this action, they remarked their place on earth and strengthened their sovereignty at the same time.

Due to the economic instability, their main focuses are on job creation and economic growth in which they have already shown successful improvements. Already with former projects they have helped to create hundreds of thousands of new working places, but the improvement is still going on. In terms of social amendments, on September the 20th, new laws where introduced, that increased the penalties and sharpened the punishments as well as the accountability of criminals, so as to remove those malefactors and make the Canadian streets safer for raising a family.

In conclusion, the Conservative Party shares many views with the old conservatism like ensuring the security of the population and making the society stable by providing working places and other benefits for the Canadian people.

Reasons for the happening of Conservatism

Single features of conservatism are favored by parties in Europe in order to make more promises, which are different from party to party; depending on their actual needs they want to achieve and are using them as a useful tool, and so broach a wider public which could possibly vote for them. But it is not only carried out in means of fake-attracting promises, in some countries, like Canada, the benefits and prosperity is viewable in means of law and order and a structured society with a stable economy and so provides its citizen with a sense of stability. Therefore, it can work out quite well if a party really stands for their conservative promises and doesn’t only adapt certain aspects of it in order to make their prior aims come true.


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