Liberals and Conservatives, Left and Right

There are two understandings of this; The Zachriels’, and everybody else’s. Such terms are used to convey ideas among people who come together from different backgrounds and with different values and biases, so before anybody can communicate about such things, there’s going to have to be an effort brought to a successful completion getting the entire world to use these terms the way The Zachriel do.

Thought I’d help them out.

My understanding of it is, there is this cartilaginous binding between conservative/liberal, and left/right; the two disagreements correlate somewhat, but are not synonymous. Their words:

“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.

“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.

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.

Among the reasons this doesn’t work:

Newt Gingrich’s “revolution” of 1994, according to this, would be “left wing radical,” and so would the American Revolution.

The definitions seem to have been internationalized, which really doesn’t work well in America. I would even venture to say this “cartilaginous” binding between those two disagreements is entirely unnecessary, and it’s safe to go ahead and fuse the bones together: Conservatives are right and liberals are left. I realize this creates problems when we look at other cultures in other countries. That is alright.

I have raised the point about the feminist movement, and the women who support it only insofar as the push for equal pay. Like my Mother, they jump off the bandwagon when it veers into man-bashing “men are the problem” territory. These definitions would make such women moderate lefties. I’ve never met one who self-identifies that way; they consider themselves to be, and seem to be, staunchly right-wing. So here, as well, the definitions don’t work.

The left-wing in America, for a very long time now, has actually championed disparate levels of privilege for different classes. The preservation of President Obama’s entrenched perks retains deep symbolic value for passionate and pie-eyed lefties. The definitions above would define that preservation to be “conservative.”

Adolf Hitler, according to the definitions above, would be a “left-wing” (on the “glorious future” part) “conservative.”

Liberals, in this day & age in America, hate. That is what they do. There’s always some bad guy, either a bad individual or a bad class, that has to be pruned down to size. The desire to make everyone equal, is incompatible with this mandatory hate.

Concerns about solvency, which would be necessary for a “glorious future,” are entirely ignored by the “left.” They only pretend to pay attention to it when a tax cut comes along that they don’t happen to like, and then they pretend it’s going to “cost” the treasury something. That’s the only time they show any concern. If any one of them shows some concern about something that really does cost something, that person ceases on the spot to be a proper leftist. Unless he’s talking about a military budget item.

In order for an egalitarian society to thrive, rights and responsibilities would have to be fastened together. Lefties in America are opposed to this; they want one set of people to have rights, and a different set of people to have responsibilities. In order to do that, you have to create classes that are different from one another. In this sense, and in others, I get the impression that I disagree with The Zachriel because they’re evaluating “the left” according to the left’s promises, and I’m evaluating that same thing according to deliveries made. I like my way better.

What might work better:
• In liberalism, nature has made something unfair and it is the job of people to make it fair
• In liberalism, there is always an oppressor and there is always a victim
• In liberalism, there is a “Dear Leader” who never makes mistakes because if he does, it stops being a mistake
• In liberalism, the people furthest away from the work make rules followed by people closest to the work
• In conservatism, a new rule has to be tried out in a “sandbox” and possibly revised
• In conservatism, it is desirable to provide for the possibility that a rule might turn out to be stupid
• Conservatives fear the eventuality that a dumb rule might lead to dumb decisions; liberals seem to count on this
• In conservatism, the elected should truly be servants, who serve for a limited time
• Liberalism is strongly associated, throughout history, with over-privileged dictators-for-life
• Conservatives tend to be motivated by profits, which they envision as the result of fulfilling someone’s demand
• Liberals tend to be motivated by the next revolution; therefore, by some kind of resentment or offense
• Conservatives favor a “legacy economy” in which people acquire by providing products or services to other people
• Liberals favor an “Occupy economy” in which people acquire by frustrating, annoying, or impeding the work of, others
• Liberalism favors change when it is not yet in power; once it is in power, it favors stasis
• Conservatism tries to preserve a linkage between rights and responsibilities
• Liberalism tries to push a new order in which some have rights, and others have responsibilities
• Conservatism advocates rewards, usually natural, for delayed gratification
• Liberalism advocates rewards, usually artifiical, for immediate gratification
• Liberalism pushes for more freedom in things that have something to do with sex, less freedom in everything else
• Conservatism pushes for more freedom in everything else
• Liberals are fatalists about net worth, standard of living, debt, and many other things within human control
• Conservatives are fatalists where fatalism makes the most sense, like salvation vs. damnation, and global climate
• Conservatism favors a strong national defense and limited government
• Liberalism favors internationalism, anemic defense, and a sprawling, out-of-control government
• Conservatism sees terrorism as an act of war
• Liberalism sees terrorism as a legal issue and, in John Kerry’s words, a “nuisance”
• Conservatism thinks charity should be a voluntary act
• Liberalism thinks charity should be a requirement, therefore stop being charity
• Conservatism favors thinking as an individual; an idea doesn’t make sense if it wouldn’t make sense to an individual
• Liberalism favors group-think; if a group can’t see a flaw that an individual could see, the flaw isn’t really there
• To a conservative, individual effort counts; the group merely coordinates, which can be useful for funding
• To a liberal, the group effort is everything and the individual effort is nothing (unless it’s Dear Leader’s effort)
• Conservatism sees a “right” as something that belongs to the individual
• Liberalism confers “rights” on classes of people
• Conservatism recognizes a “right” as something people have by virtue of their existence
• Conservatives, therefore, see the list of rights as something that changes very slowly or not at all
• Liberalism sees a “right” as something granted by the government
• Liberals, therefore, see the list of rights as something that changes all the time, shrinking and growing
• Conservatives believe in the right to private property
• Liberals believe everybody’s rights end wherever their feelings begin, and they feel someone has too much
• Conservatives learn from history
• Liberals are often caught trying out failed policies, behaving as if history only began this morning
• Conservatives understand people get tired of seeing the same things, and absence makes the heart grow fonder
• Liberals think people learn to like things they see often, and to loathe things that are restricted in supply
• Conservatives see commerce as a succession of transactions that tend to benefit both sides, so everyone wins
• Liberals see commerce as nothing more than a flurry of activity
• Conservatives predict the effect of new policies around realistic expectations of human incentive
• Liberals are consistently surprised when human incentive doesn’t go the way they wanted it to go
• Conservatives are concerned with outcome
• Liberals are concerned with process
• Conservatives value opportunity over security
• Liberals value security over opportunity
• Conservatives have more respect for occupations that create assets, and defend the realm
• Liberals somehow reserve their respect for occupations that do not do this
• To a conservative, a true contradiction is impossible; so an apparent contradiction is an opportunity for learning
• To a liberal, an apparent contradiction is just a problem, solved by discarding the least-desirable evidence that’s part of it
• If a conservative hears something on the radio he doesn’t like, he changes the station
• If a liberal hears something on the radio he doesn’t like, he wants it banned
• If a conservative’s most cherished theory is challenged by reality, he discards or reforms the theory
• If a liberal’s most cherished theory is challenged by reality, reality must yield and the theory must prevail
• Conservatives tend to be Architects, concerned primarily about matters of cause-and-effect
• Liberals tend to be Medicators, concerned primarily about their own momentary emotional state

If any authoritative reference material contradicts my bullet points above, I hold that such reference material is creating more confusion than it is curing; since, when people use the words, whether they be aware of it or not, the bullets above capture what they’re really trying to say. If The Zachriel want to reform or reverse that in some way, I wish them well.

What probably kicks the whole thing off:
• Conservatives seek to create and preserve things that create or preserve, and destroy things that destroy
• Liberals seek to create or preserve things that destroy, and destroy things that create or preserve

Another thing that might kick the whole thing off, as I believe I mentioned before, is the Conflict of Visions defined by Prof. Thomas Sowell in his book.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes.

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6 thoughts on “Liberals and Conservatives, Left and Right

  1. tim

    Nicely put.

    Haven’t had the patience to head back to your place to see what else the Jackwagon has to say. Just got rid of the headache from the last visit.

    1. Severian

      Yup. So far we’ve learned that China gets a pass on its labor camp system because it’s “developing” (the same way it’s free to pollute at will, though the rest of us have to live in yurts because of “global warming”). We’ve also learned that “universal education and free health care,” which don’t appear in the Gini numbers, should count in Cuba’s favor, but their own extensive political prison system, which also doesn’t appear in Gini, shouldn’t.

      Maybe this list should be expanded to something like “conservatives have basic human decency; liberals don’t.”

      1. nightfly

        It would probably be more precise to say that conservatives love individuals and liberals love groups. This is a problem, because only one of those loves works in both directions: a conservative can love a group made up of individuals, but a liberal can’t love an individual in the same fashion. To be individual is to be distinct in some way, and inasmuch as you are distinct, you differ from the beloved group. That’s why all such movements keep growing more and more monomaniacal, purging members to keep themselves ever pure.

        It also explains the phenomenon noted before at Morgan’s place, that movements of the left inevitably flow only one way, more leftward into extremism. You start by losing diversity of opinion about the topic at hand, continue by losing diversity of topic, and by the time you start to shed diversity of personality, hobbies, and outside interests, the brakes have snapped and you’re barreling down the mountainside in a runaway rail cart.

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