From The Imaginative Conservative
By Bradley J. Birzer
An ideology is any reasonably coherent body of moral, economic, social and cultural ideas that has a solid and well known reference to politics and political power; more specifically a power base to make possible a victory for a body of ideas. An ideology, in contrast to a mere passing configuration of opinion, remains alive for a considerable period of time, has major advocates, and spokesmen and a respectable degree of institutionalization. It is likely to have charismatic figures in its history—Burkes, Disraelis, Churchills, etc.—among conservatives and their counterparts in liberalism and socialism.
Conservatism did not become a part of political speech until about 1830 in England. But its philosophical substance was brought into being in 1790 by Edmund Burke in his Reflections on the Revolution in France. Rarely in the history of thought has a body of ideas been as closely dependent upon a single man and a single event as modern conservatism is upon Edmund Burke and his fiery reaction to the French Revolution. In remarkable degree, the central themes of conservatism over the last two centuries are but widenings of themes enunciated by Burke with specific reference to revolutionary France.
All these were pronounced ‘conservative.’ Of all the “mis“ascriptions of the word ‘conservative’ during the last four years, the most amusing, in an historical light, is surely the application of ‘conservative’ to the last-named [‘budget-expanding enthusiasts for great increases in military expenditures’]. For in America throughout the twentieth century, and including four substantial wars abroad, conservatives had been steadfastly the voices of non-inflationary military budgets, and of an emphasis on trade in the world instead of American nationalism. IN two World Wars, in Korea, and in Viet Nam, the leaders of American entry into war were such renowned liberal-progressives as Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy. IN all four episodes conservatives, both in the national government and in the rank and file, were largely hostile to intervention; were isolationists indeed.