Some shorthand versions of liberalism vs. conservatism

Another in the series of conclusions I reached recently about how to define/talk about liberalism. Here are some short-hand comparisons.

Conservative is:

“I empathize with you, but I can’t/won’t help. It’s the moral responsibility of people to stand on their own two feet.”

Liberal is:

“I empathize with you, and I will help. It’s the moral responsibility of people to help one another.”

Conservative is:

“I’m going to take care of myself and my own. And you should, too. And if you don’t – or can’t – well, that’s just the way it is. Life isn’t fair. Or quite possibly, you deserve it, as God has ordained. Either way, it’s a cold, hard world, and that’s just tough. Maybe you’ll be lucky, and someone will give you charity.”

Liberal is:

“We have to look out for others, while also looking out for ourselves. We have a moral obligation to do so. Some people – for whatever reason – don’t come into this world with the same breaks, the same opportunities, as others. But they shouldn’t suffer for that. We should all work to give people the same opportunities in life and look out for one another. It’s then up to the people to take advantage of those opportunities, if they are able. It’s a cold, hard world, and that’s why we have to work to make it better. Otherwise we’re little better than animals.”

Liberalism is ennobling. It speaks to the better angels of our nature.
Conservatism is degrading. It drags us down to our animal nature.

Conservatives are low taxes, small government, strong defense, and traditional values.
Liberals are necessary taxes, limited government, fair markets, mutual responsibility, physical and economic security, and Enlightenment values.

Liberal philosophy takes personal responsibility for creating freedom, opportunity, and security for all.
Conservative philosophy abdicates responsibility for freedom, opportunity, and security for all.

Progressive – people are fundamentally good
Conservative – people are fundamentally bad

Conservatism is about fear.
Progressivism is about hope.

Progressives understand the world is complex and approach with it with caution and humility.
Conservatives think the world is simple and approach it with reckless abandon.

Conservatism demands unquestioning acceptance of revealed, subjective, traditional truths.
Liberalism believes in questioning truth and seeking out evidence.

Conservatism is about autocracy.
Liberalism is about democracy.

Liberalism is mainstream.
Conservatism is extremist.

2 thoughts on “Some shorthand versions of liberalism vs. conservatism

  1. Your finest post yet. I think you’ve succeeded in terms of what you want to define and how you want to define it.


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