Saturday, July 23, 2005

Liberal v. Conservative

We shall never surrender."Conservatives" 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.

I have a dream."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. A date which will live in infamy

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.

The Unknown Rebel

Left-wing “radicals"
, 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.

  •  Liberté, Égalité, FraternitéThe 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.

We the Peoples of the United Nations

"Conservatism" 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.

Etymology of "conserve": c.1380, from O.Fr. conserver, from L. conservare “to keep, preserve,” from com- intens. prefix + servare “keep watch, maintain”.

"Liberalism" 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".

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At 6/21/2007 2:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great!!!....Great little analysis of Conservatism and Liberalism. Very concise and well presented.


At 6/06/2010 9:30 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You seem to have made an effort to compare and contrast Liberalism and Conservatism using dictionary definitions and your interpretation of the terms. May I suggest an additional resource from which you might gain more insight into the practical application of those philosophies in the modern world?

Liberalism vs. Conservatism

At 6/07/2010 5:53 AM , Blogger Zachriel said...

Anonymous: May I suggest an additional resource from which you might gain more insight into the practical application of those philosophies in the modern world?

From the first review on your link:

"For those new to the Tea Party, Levin offers a handy roundup of conservative talking points, but anyone paying attention to talk radio over the past few years won't learn anything new."

It doesn't appear you actually read our blog entry. Your suggestion doesn't provide a "practical application of those philosophies," nor does it illustrate the distinction between liberal and conservative being drawn.

At 9/11/2010 6:15 AM , Anonymous Jeff said...

Interesting post, Zachriel. Most people fall roughly into one of these I supppose. In the conservative camp I suspect you more Liberal-Conservatives than conservatives would admit. Or we might say progressive-Conservatives. I might also add the Traditional or Burkean Conservatives which I find very true to form. And philosophically more interesting too.

At 9/11/2010 8:54 AM , Blogger Zachriel said...

Jeff: Most people fall roughly into one of these I supppose.

The categories are meant to form a dichotomy, but individual people may adopt aspects of both positions: reform, but moderate; preserve, but flexible.

Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as... as... as a fiddler on the roof!

At 9/13/2010 5:31 AM , Anonymous Jeff said...

Yes, agreed. "Fall roughly" as I said. I have met more than a few Liberal-Conservatives and Conservative-Liberals in my time on Capitol Hill.

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