Klaus von Beyme
German political scientist
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- The concept of conservatism cannot easily be described by traditionalistic definitions and refuse to pose as just another 'ism'. The Pope on his return to Rome in 1814 outlawed all street lighting because it was in his view a 'revolutionary innovation'. In stating this opinion he gave a remarkable definition of what conservatism wants to avoid. Conservatism is, however, not necessarily opposed to change. Modern Right-wing extremism, though frequently called 'reactionary', may have a quite progressive social programme. The Fascist regimes in Germany and Italy became the most violent rationalistic modernisers of their respective countries in spite of ideological commitments to an organic society. Modern definitions of right-wing extremism are still based on the traditional criterion for differentiating between conservatives and reactionaries: conservatives try to maintain the status quo, right-wing extremists want to restore the status quo ante. A second criterion has been added, however: the envisaged restoration may, if necessary, be achieved by the use of force. This latter criterion may be better applied to fascism and neo-fascism than to traditionalist reactionary movements.