Conservative may refers to nothing more than a general attitude in opposition to change or risk-taking. Political ideological conservatives typically profess to oppose public policy change that they deem imprudent or "risk." In reality, they oppose public policy changes which are intended to permit greater equality of opportunity for persons or groups disadvantaged by arbitrary discimination.
In Europe the term "conservative" was long associated with those who favored protecting the traditional social order in which the monarchy, the established state church, the military, and the landed aristocracy ruled the peasant majority. The term "liberal" referred to members of the urban bourgeois and petit-bourgeois which favored greater liberty and social mobility. Few major political parties in Europe, Japan, Australasia, Latin America could be deemed conservative in the 18th century sense of the term. Instead most of the center-right parties in these regions describe themselves as either "Liberal" and "Nationalist" or "Christian-Democratic." Examples would include the Christian-Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CSU/CSU) in Germany, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in Japan and the Liberal Party in Australia.
In the United States, the northern half of which was 'born bourgeois', the term "conservative" has been associated with opposition to efforts to eliminate forms of unjust state power such as African chattel slavery and Jim Crow Segregation, as well as opposition to progressive legislation to protect labor, the poor, consumers, minorities (including minority religions), and the environment. Although "free enterprise" is often the conservative rallying cry, conservatives abandon principle and embrace indirect state intervention in the marketplace whenever it serves their immediate economic interests.
- Liberals Vs Conservatives Liberal forum for debate.