A discussion at J’s blog lead me to a little research on the web. After 5 minutes of googling, I found a rather dated definition of Conservatism:
Conservatism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. It thus repudiates the doctrine of Pacifism — born of a renunciation of the struggle and an act of cowardice in the face of sacrifice. War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have courage to meet it. All other trials are substitutes, which never really put men into the position where they have to make the great decision — the alternative of life or death….
…The Conservative accepts life and loves it, knowing nothing of and despising suicide: he rather conceives of life as duty and struggle and conquest, but above all for others — those who are at hand and those who are far distant, contemporaries, and those who will come after…
Conservatism, now and always, believes in holiness and in heroism;
Conservatism combats the whole complex system of democratic ideology, and repudiates it, whether in its theoretical premises or in its practical application. Conservatism denies that the majority, by the simple fact that it is a majority, can direct human society; it denies that numbers alone can govern by means of a periodical consultation, and it affirms the immutable, beneficial, and fruitful inequality of mankind, which can never be permanently leveled through the mere operation of a mechanical process such as universal suffrage….
…Conservatism denies, in democracy, the absurd conventional untruth of political equality dressed out in the garb of collective irresponsibility, and the myth of “happiness” and indefinite progress….
The foundation of Conservatism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty, and its aim. Conservatism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State. The conception of the Liberal State is not that of a directing force, guiding the play and development, both material and spiritual, of a collective body, but merely a force limited to the function of recording results: on the other hand, the Conservative State is itself conscious and has itself a will and a personality — thus it may be called the “ethic” State….
…The Conservative State organizes the nation, but leaves a sufficient margin of liberty to the individual; the latter is deprived of all useless and possibly harmful freedom, but retains what is essential; the deciding power in this question cannot be the individual, but the State alone….
…For Conservatism, the growth of empire, that is to say the expansion of the nation, is an essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite a sign of decadence.
If every age has its own characteristic doctrine, there are a thousand signs which point to Conservatism as the characteristic doctrine of our time. For if a doctrine must be a living thing, this is proved by the fact that Conservatism has created a living faith; and that this faith is very powerful in the minds of men is demonstrated by those who have suffered and died for it.
Now just replace the word Conservatism with the word Fascism and you have what Mussolini wrote for the Italian Encyclopedia on the definition of fascism. Scary stuff.