From the ontology of political science, there are four terms that revolve around the status quo.
- Progressives want to change it for the better, whatever that may be.
- Radicals want immediate drastic change.
- Reactionaries want change back to ways before the status quo was established.
- Conservatives want to preserve the status quo.
From WP's article on Conservatism:
Conservatism is a cultural, social, and political philosophy, which seeks to promote and to preserve traditional social institutions and practices.1 The central tenets of conservatism may vary in relation to the status quo of the culture and civilization in which it appears. In Western culture, conservatives seek to preserve a range of institutions such as organized religion, parliamentary government, and property rights.3 Conservatives tend to favor institutions and practices that guarantee stability and evolved gradually.2 Adherents of conservatism often oppose progressivism and seek a return to traditional values.2
In fact, not only is conservatism the appropriate term in peace studies by way of political science for those who want to preserve the status quo, but there is a growing body of evidence that conservatism itself is a function of human biology. Read WP's article "Biology and Political Orientation".
Students who reported more conservative political views were found to have larger amygdalae,4 a structure in the temporal lobes whose primary function is in the formation, consolidation and processing of memory, as well as positive and negative conditioning (emotional learning).5 The amygdala is responsible for important roles in social interaction, such as the recognition of emotional cues in facial expressions and the monitoring of personal space,7 with larger amygdalae correlating with larger and more complex social networks.9 It is also postulated to play a role in threat detection, including modulation of fear and aggression to perceived threats.119 Conservative students were also found to have greater volume of gray matter in the left insula and the right entorhinal cortex.4 There is evidence that conservatives are more prone to disgust10 and one role of the insula is in the modulation of social emotions, such as the feeling of disgust to specific sights, smells and norm violations.
Conservative political doctrine is often also a source of propaganda with the intent of framing political conflicts to paint progressives and radicals as a threat to a way of life. For instance, self-declared "conservative" Donald Trump often used political rhetoric regarding Central American migrant caravans to stir up emotions to turn out the conservative base. These sorts of rhetorical techniques often cause spikes in violence targeting immigrants. Ultimately, this sort of rhetoric pushes conservatives from a negative peace which may condone structural violence to open acts of violence, such as the 2021 attack on the US Capitol building where a number of police officers were affected by assault, murder, or eventual suicide where the small, ineffective insurrection may have played a roll.
Often, radicals use these sorts of events to justify their own violence. A classic example where negative peace resulted in direct action by abolitionists is John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. Conservatives of the time fought very hard to resist abolitionist movements to emancipate and humanize African slaves. Having watched the cruelties of slavery, John Brown engaged in violence to end slavery:
John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry[nb 1] was an effort by abolitionist John Brown, from October 16 to 18, 1859, to initiate a slave revolt in Southern states by taking over the United States arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (since 1863, West Virginia).
One final example where conservatives have used structural violence to preserve the status quo is in South America, where dictators like Pinochet and other conservatives enacted policies such as the conservative economics of Friedman to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the average citizen. A series of struggles that turned violent between reactionaries and conservatives versus progressives and radicals actually morphed into a schism in the Catholic church when a number of priests embraced liberation theology.
One of the sticky wickets of achieving positive peace is that those who use violence inevitably point fingers at their opposition. Those who study peace and conflict have developed a terminology to help bring to light the factors and the responsible parties for violence since political extremists and ideologues often engage in propaganda and doublespeak. The US government decried Nazi persecution of Jews, but had its own internment camps. China is infamous for it's "re-education" policies. Conservative Turks denied the Armenian genocide. The US had Indian "boarding schools". The West led by the US largely refuses to acknowledge the international recognition of the nation of Palestine. Peace activists try their best to cut through the politically loaded language and expose a situation for what is really happening. You'd be surprised by the number of times I've encountered the claim that the People's Republic of China is a republic. (It's not.) Or that a republic isn't a form of democracy. (It is.)
The issues of balancing needs and managing political and economic power goes back in political philosophy to the Ancient Greeks themselves, who eventually revolutionized said philosophy with the introduction of democracy by Cleisthenes, the Father of Athenian Democracy. Political polarization is a cliche of history where many parties weaponize philosophy or undermine critical thinking to achieve their political ends. Slavery, apartheid, and economic oppression (my family's history is entangled with the Pullman Company) often go hand in hand with conservatives engaging in deliberate news bias and the perpetuation of demonstrably false histories in attempts to preserve the status quo.