Over the past couple of years, I’ve posted a few blog articles (some from me, some from others) on historic conservatism (the kind associated with Burke, Kirk, Nisbet, etc.). I think if one were to read these in a single sitting, the essence of that philosophy would be clear and demonstrably distinct from alternatives (Neo-Conservatism, modern/movement conservatism, classical liberalism, modern liberalism, communitarian progressivism/monism).
As a starting point, I might just make the following general observations about the fundamental difference between a conservative view of the world and the liberal one (both historic and contemporary):
1) Conservatives generally want to “protect” society, while liberals generally want to “perfect” society.
2) Conservatives have a pessimistic view of human nature (corrupt). Liberals have either an optimistic view of it (inherently good) or deny the existence of human nature altogether (human nature is not fixed in any way, but malleable).
3) Conservatives tend to emphasize the irreplaceable importance of social institutions (church, family, marriage, community and voluntary associations). Liberals tend to reduce society to the individual and the State, with the State seen as a good, maybe better substitute for most social institutions (the great leveler).
Just keep these in mind as you read along: