tend to believe that traditional values and institutions are the bulwark of society, that too fast of change can result in unintended consequences or even anarchy. Rational conservatives believe in change and reform, of course, but believe the change must be gradual and moderated. Conservatives tend to look to the past for inspiration, cultural stratifications being a consequence of natural order."Liberals"
tend to believe that traditional values and institutions can impede progress, that too slow of change can result in cultural stagnation or even disintegration. Rational liberals believe in the preservation of traditional values and institutions, of course, but believe they must be pushed to adapt to modern times. Liberals tend to look to the future for inspiration, the progress of history being seen as a march towards a more egalitarian society. Right-wing “reactionaries"
, such as fascists, believe in absolute inequality, and want to overthrow corrupt modern
institutions and return to a mythological and heroic past
, such as communists, believe in absolute equality, and want to overthrow corrupt ancient
institutions and bring forth a mythological and glorious future
The history of Western Civilization since the Renaissance, and more recently the entire world, has tended towards greater social equality and enhanced individual liberty.
- The religious power of the Church to define matters of conscience was shattered by the Protestant Reformation, transferring power from Rome to the people generally, and to the individual specifically.
- The political power of the aristocracy was overthrown by war, such as by the American and French Revolutions, through reforms placing constitutional limitations on the royalty, with the rise of parliaments and legislatures, and through modern civil rights movements.
- The economic power of corporations and trusts were limited by the rise of labor unions, and through collective political action, such as America's New Deal.
- Since the scourges of the World Wars, the rise of an international order has put tentative limitations on unfettered national power and inequality.
has deep etymological roots in Latin:
Definition of "Conservatism": disposition in politics to preserve what is established b : a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, and preferring gradual development to abrupt change."Liberalism"
Etymology of "conserve": c.1380, from O.Fr. conserver, from L. conservare “to keep, preserve,” from com- intens. prefix + servare “keep watch, maintain”.
also has deep etymological roots in Latin:
Definition of "Liberalism":a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties.
Etymology of "liberal": c.1375, from O.Fr. liberal "befitting free men, noble, generous ," from L. liberalis "noble, generous," lit. "pertaining to a free man," from liber "free".
Labels: Philosophy, Politics