Value conservatism

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The social conservatism is a political slogan for socio-political conservatism , which in a society actually or supposedly prevailing values wants to preserve or restore. It differs from value relativism , but is primarily an antithesis to so-called structural conservatism .

The concept of value conservatism was introduced in 1975 by the SPD politician Erhard Eppler in his book Ende oder Wende . Eppler called value conservative a policy that advocates the preservation of nature, a humane and solidary human community, as well as the value and dignity of the individual. Eppler was referring to the environmental and peace movement that grew stronger in the 1970s . This wants to change structures of rule in order to maintain certain values.

In contrast, Eppler saw a structural conservatism anchored in the traditional " conservative camp", which is about maintaining the existing power structures. The concept of structural conservatism was given negative connotations; the organization or person to be criticized is portrayed as the keeper of traditional structures who are hostile to modernization . According to Eppler, structural conservatism is about “the preservation of privileges , positions of power and domination ”.

Social democratic politicians, including Helmut Schmidt , took up this contradiction as early as the 1970s , but by advocating ecological issues , the Greens were also able to claim conservative arguments. The term was later taken up by forces traditionally attributed to conservatism. Conservatives usually reject the charge of structural conservatism.


  1. ^ A b Walter Euchner and Helga Grebing : History of social ideas in Germany: Socialism - Catholic social teaching - Protestant social ethics. A manual. VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2005, p. 503 f.
  2. a b Kurt Lenk : German Conservatism . Campus, Frankfurt am Main 1989, p. 26.
  3. Erhard Eppler: End or turn. From the feasibility of the necessary . Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich 1975, ISBN 3-423-01221-8 .
  4. Bernd Heidenreich : Political Theories of the 19th Century: Conservatism, Liberalism, Socialism. Akademie Verlag, Berlin 2002, pp. 23, 211.
  5. ^ Sven-Uwe Schmitz: Conservatism . VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2009, p. 143.
  6. See Gerhard Strauss, Ulrike Haß , Gisela Harras: explosive words from agitation to zeitgeist. de Gruyter, Berlin 1989, p. 213. ISBN 978-3110120783 .