Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Liberal vs Conservative -- My View

This is not going to be an attempt to say which side is right and which side is wrong, though I do believe that the Right is right. This is an attempt to define the terms.

Some argue that conservatives are selfish while liberals are generous.

Others argue that conservatives are realistic while liberals are idealistic.

Actually any of those four labels can be applied to people of both views. I know some extremely selfish liberals and some very realistic ones. I know some very generous conservatives and very idealistic ones as well.

Is it belief in freedom? No because each side has areas where they believe in freedom but the other side does not (sexual freedom on the left, economic freedom on the right). Religion? There are believers, agnostics, and atheists on both sides.

In my understanding, the difference between a liberal and conservative actually goes to the core of the understanding of human nature, which is part of the reason I can never vote for a liberal of either party.

A conservative believes that the individual can and MUST take responsibility for himself. They believe that a person can choose what they are going to do regardless of their background and history. A conservative believes that most people can support themselves and will find a way if they have to. A conservative believes in the power of the individual both in their own lives and in society at large. A conservative believes that when their neighbor is in need it is their personal responsibility to help them if they can. A conservative believes that a person who is old enough to know better should not always be shielded from the consequences of foolish choices. We will help those who cannot help themselves and will help a fallen neighbor to his or her feet but we will not carry them if they are able to walk. We believe that people can do more when they are expected to do more; if we expect nothing of them that is what they'll get.

As I understand it, a liberal believes that a person is product of their environment and can only be held responsible to a very limited degree. A persons choices are dictated by a number of things which are often beyond their control (I consider BF Skinner, not Marx, to be the father of modern leftism) therefore society must be molded so that these individuals will make the best possible choices. A liberal will look for root causes rather than hold an individual responsible. A liberal believes that when someone is in need, society as a whole is responsible and society as a whole must respond. Because people are products of their environment, it may not be possible to hold them responsible for their conduct when society itself is responsible.

It comes down to a simple conflict: Personal responsibility vs Collective responsibility.

A conservative believes that molding the best individuals possible will create a good society. A liberal believes that molding the best society possible will create good individuals. It may appear to be a chicken and egg and discussion but I don't think it is.

Like I said, this is not an effort to prove one side right or wrong but an effort to show what I believe what the difference is. Proving one side right or wrong is an arguement for another day.

12 Comments:

Blogger Tim said...

I feel that both sides have valid things to bring to the table, but dislike extremists from either ideaology.

If you take conservatism too far, you take away things like the public school system, which is a cornerstone of our society.

If you take liberalism too far, you take away things like the second amendment, which is the basis for our right to self defense.

I think we swung too far left for a while, but feel that we are now going too far in the other direction.

This is why I remain commited to being a centrist independant, because I reject the notion that only one party or philosophy has all of the answers. I will listen to all good ideas regardless of which side came up with them.

That being said, I am disapointed with the current crop of Republicans in Washington. You can't keep blaming the liberals when you hold all of the levers of power and have held them since 1994, more or less.

7:45 PM  
Blogger Gayle said...

Personally, I don't feel we've swung too far in the other direction. I think we need to get a lot tougher than we are, and many liberals in this country need to quit squawking and stand behind a president who is doing his level best to protect them.

Personally, I also think this is a very good post, and it gives much food for thought. It is possible that I have been bombarded by so many liberal extremists on my posts that I'm beginning to feel they are all that way. In my own defense, that's probably perfectly natural.

Your conclusion however, is right on. The basic difference is indeed "A conservative believes that molding the best individuals possible will create a good society. A liberal believes that molding the best society possible will create good individuals." I couldn't have said it better, and that's why I quoted you. I'm glad I'm a conservative. :)

9:08 PM  
Blogger ABFreedom said...

Excellent post Shoprat. I can't add more to what you or Gayle said. Liberalism, if you want to call it that, has been a scourge on the country I live in, and seems to ultimately only benefit the elite of society after corruption sets in. The corruption is usually the result of the dependency they create.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Lone Pony said...

Wonderful post! I love the way you defined things. I like to think that conservatives have a better grasp of reality and a better understanding of human nature.

10:28 PM  
Blogger Simon said...

How can someone brought up in poverty, who has to fight to survive, who is taught cruelty from birth, be expected to have an equal chance in life as someone who is brought up in relative comfort and wealth, and given stablity and love from their family?

It is foolish to think we all have an equal chance in a capitalist world.

8:03 AM  
Blogger Little Miss Chatterbox said...

You make some good points here. Also Conservatives are very generous and do help the poor. They just don't want to be forced by the government to give money to failed government programs that are ineffective.

In doing school with my kids we recently read about Carnegie and Rockefeller. The steal and oil guys. They became very rich as a result of their genius but they gave millions to charities and to help others. Thats how its supposed to work. They weren't forced by the government.

11:38 AM  
Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Very good. To me conservativism = individualism and liberalism = collectivism. The idea that "it is foolish to think we all have an equal chance in a capitalist world" is nonsense. I was born into a poor and uneducated family but am now comfy thanks in part to my work and faith but mostly by God's grace.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Gayle said...

I too was born poor, like Patrick. Never took a handout from anyone. God does indeed those who help themselves. But that doesn't mean "help themselves by taking from others."

10:48 PM  
Blogger Gayle said...

Sorry... meant "God does indeed help those who help themselves." Sheesh!

10:53 PM  
Blogger Rebekah said...

Great post, Shoprat. Couldn't say it better myself.

Tim:
public school system, which is a cornerstone of our society.

I agree with most of your comment, but I'm kind of wondering what you mean by this. IMO, not unless our society is a failing mess...

12:10 AM  
Blogger CBone said...

Simon is an idiot. Capitalism is the base of all freedom and why our founding fathers chose to set up government up this way. I was born extremely poor, sharing one room with mom, dad, and two brothers. I went to the Marine Corp. at 18 and am now working to start my own business. If that aint freedom ill kiss your ass. Those who choose not to work hard in life will go no where and that is not our governments fault. That is the individuals fault! We are all given the chance at the same education (public school) so why does it matter how poor you are? Good page shoprat, I agree 100%.

11:17 AM  
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