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".
In his quarter-century on the Court, Scalia had staked out a conservative ideology in his opinions, advocating textualism in statutory interpretation and originalism in constitutional interpretation. He was a strong defender of the powers of the executive branch, believing presidential power should be paramount in many areas. He opposed affirmative action and other policies that treat minorities as groups. He filed separate opinions in large numbers of cases, and, in his minority opinions, often castigated the Court's majority in scathing language.
These reasons and this atmosphere are the explanations, we know it or not - and most of us in these degenerate days are largely ignorant in the matter - why we feel such a strong bias in favour of laissez-faire, and why state action to regulate the value of money, or the course of investment, or the population, provokes such passionate suspicions in many upright breasts. We have not read these authors; we should consider their arguments preposterous if they were to fall into our hands. Nevertheless we should not, I fancy, think as we do, if Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Rousseau, Paley, Adam Smith, Bentham, and Miss Martineau had not thought and written as they did. A study of the history of opinion is a necessary preliminary to the emancipation of the mind. I do not know which makes a man more conservative - to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past.
Edmund Burke served in the British House of Commons, representing the Whig party, in close alliance with liberal politician Lord Rockingham. In Burke's political career, he vigorously defended constitutional limitation of the Crown's authority, denounced the religious persecution of Catholics in his native Ireland, voiced the grievances of Britain's American colonies, supported the American Revolution, and vigorously pursued impeachment of Warren Hastings, the governor-general of Bengal, for corruption and abuse of power.
In 1789, soon after the fall of the Bastille, the French aristocrat Charles-Jean-François Depont asked his impressions of the Revolution; Burke replied with two letters. The longer, second letter became Reflections on the Revolution in France, published in 1790.