Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What Does It Mean To Be A Liberal or A Conservative?

I have often pondered these two juxtaposed terms; like with racism, I have come to the conclusion that the terms are very often used without a clear grasp of their definitions.

It has almost become an insult to be termed a liberal, yet the term liberal is defined as being synonymous with progress, freedom, open-mindedness and generosity.

Who can deny that these are wonderful virtues?

By strict definition I am a liberal, but in reality I am not. I am much more than that. The world is a complex place, and we are all expected to have opinions on a broad array of subjects. Like with astrology, we don't all fit into neatly defined boxes. I doubt whether there are very many pure liberals or pure conservatives. So what do these terms mean?

The origins of these political philosophies is the Enlightenment period which so influenced the American revolutionaries. The very idea of individual rights and freedoms never existed before and changed the political landscape. At this time of history liberalism emphasized individual rights, human dignity and the role of the individual in choosing their leaders.

Early liberals opposed strong, centralized government and generally favored change. Because of these ideals liberals tended to be the poor, minorities (racial, ethnic, religious, gender, etc.) and intellectuals. In general liberals were people who did not have power or a say in the major factors that influenced their lives. Why wouldn't they want change? Things couldn't get much worse.

Conservatives believed the opposite of liberals.

Conservatism emphasized the status quo; strong centralized government, rights for higher classes only, divine right of kings, etc. Conservatives were mainly the wealthy and nobility, the church and the military. The people who were traditionally in positions of power. Why would they want change? Things probably would get much worse.

Although the basic groups that made up liberals and conservatives still mostly apply today, the beliefs do not, at least not in the United States. Both liberals and conservatives proclaim the importance of individual rights, although in different areas. Liberals want more individual freedoms in social areas such as free speech, while conservatives emphasize individual freedoms in areas such as business. Both liberals and conservatives believe in the power of centralized government, but again, in different ways. Liberals wanting the government to regulate business and protect the minorities of society, conservatives wanting government to enforce societal norms and protect business. The emphasis on change and the status quo still generally applies but it depends on the issue.

The problem with the liberal and conservative labels is they no longer work. The world has changed too much, with too many new ideas to fit into the old monikers. A four sided graph is now used to describe political philosophies. In addition to the old liberal and conservative ends, there are now authoritarian and libertarian extremes forming a four segmented graph.

The addition of the two new categories emphasizes one of the most important aspects of a political spectrum. It is completely relevant to time and place. A conservative in California today is not the same thing as a conservative in South Carolina. A liberal in Texas is not the same as a liberal in Massachusetts. A liberal in the United States is not the same as a liberal in France and an American conservative is not the same as a conservative in Saudi Arabia. The Republicans like to call themselves the party of Lincoln, but in his time Lincoln's Republican Party was considered the liberal party.

Time, place and a growing and changing world all impact how the terms liberal and conservative are defined. It is difficult, and perhaps, inaccurate to label individuals in this way. The reality may be there are more similarities between us than the labels would suggest.

4 Opinion(s):

Larry said...

When my eldest daughter was six years of age, she taught me a very important lesson. One Saturday, the doorbell rang and when I answered, there stood one of those grinning professional beggars from a "charitable organization". He proceeded to give the annual speech about "those poor starving Ethiopians". Thinking I could quickly rid myself of the pest, I reached for my pocket and, like lightning, my tiny daughter grabbed my arm and said "NO, LET ME TALK TO HIM FIRST!". Amazed, I told her to go right ahead. She looked at the professional beggar and stated, "you were here last year". He replied, "Why, yes, yes I was". My daughter squinted at him and demanded, "WHAT DID THOSE ETHIOPIANS DO WITH THE MONEY WE GAVE THEM LAST YEAR?!". He squatted low so as to be at her level and began showing her photos of very emaciated looking fly covered black children as he condescendingly explained to her how they had used our money for food and shelter and how they would need more money to survive the present year because conditions in Ethiopia had become even worse. She gave him a cold stare and announced, "WE'RE NOT GIVING THEM ANYTHING ELSE, THEY'RE STUPID! IF THINGS IN ETHIOPIA ARE SO BAD, THEY SHOULD HAVE SPENT THE MONEY WE DONATED LAST YEAR ON MOVING EXPENSES!". With that, I smiled at the beggar as I slowly closed the door.....Even all-out warfare cannot surpass the destruction wrought by blacks on their own people and lands. They can destroy a steel anvil with a rubber mallet! Ohhh, but it's always falsely claimed to be "THE WHITE MAN'S FAULT" and "HE SHOULD PAY". The ENTIRE WORLD has become extremely tired of hearing whiny, parasitic blacks who sit on their lazy butts, do absolutely nothing productive, yet incessantly complain about their self-created "poor conditions"! (In America, we regret not having shot the slaves, instead of each other.) I am using my extensive and very powerful network of U.S. Government connections to help prevent the 2010 World Cup becoming a financial success. I am from the U.S.A. and I am just heartsick over what the liberal Marxist scum has intentionally done to destroy your country. Marxism will die! GOD BLESS THE AFRIKANERS!

Anonymous said...

@ medical - thanks for the support. A lot of our people have had to flee SA against our will, but for the sake of our children. I do get angry every now and then,but SA will never return to what it was. We have to move on and start building our new lives 8in our new countries. Regarding the WC2010 - the blacks will steal most of the monies made and the tax payer (mostly white) will once again foot the bill. But, you can't blame them - you have to blame Fifa for knowingly supporting a communist, blood thirsty regime. They will ruin their own people and pretty soon you'll get a knock on your door by someone collecting for the starving SA blacks...mark my words.

Anonymous said...

Africa has no pride!

Lime Lite said...

@Anon 3:55 - Africa doesn't know what pride is!