19 08 10 - 04:49Looking for that core principle:
Conservatism consists of:
- a deep suspicion of the power of the state;
- a preference for liberty over equality;
- a belief in established institutions and hierarchies;
- skepticism about the idea of progress;
...with American conservatism emphasizing the first three. - Secular Right
Sounds like Social Darwinism: we're less concerned with trying to level the playing field than that nothing exists to obstruct the best from rising.
I'll submit an even simpler answer: conservatism is about adapting to reality. Liberalism is about making nice on a social level.