Conservative and liberal philosophy

I don’t know if it is possible to have reasonable discourse on the different philosophies held by conservatives and liberals, but I’ll ask anyway.

Pick any liberal or conservative concept and explain why you think it is good - or bad and the underlying assumptions that get you there. Discussing the consequences of the policies, both proposed or already in force is part of that. I realize that taking a position inevitably leads to “partisan” involvement with whatever group that identifies with any particular policy, but the emphasis isn’t partisan politics, it is in helping others understand the philosophy you embrace that allows you to support or deny any particular issue.

I’ll stop here to allow others to begin the discussion if anyone is interested. I have my own questions as well as my own collection of good and bad ideas, but that can wait…

I think the commonly stated belief of many conservatives that, “everything that happens is a direct result of a choice and a matter of personal responsibility”, blatantly ignores the reality that things often happen to people who have no control over them, circumstances often dictate the possible choices that one can make, and that those circumstances are often out of the control of the alleged agent.

I would like to see this concept addressed. I think it’s plainly obvious that choice can only take a person so far, and that it’s clear that often there isn’t a good choice available, and that often this could be seen as a result of a concerted effort on the part of one group to oppress another.

I have a feeling that no one here will defend this. They may go so far as to deny it, or say that I’m misattributing it to conservatives. Let’s see if anyone has the courage to defend this commonly known view that’s widely help among conservatives.

The opposing side would remove most responsibility of choice. The liberal side wants everyone to be identical and dependent upon the government for proper decisions. Public schools over all now require uniforms. The reasoning behind this liberal decision , eliminate social cliques of wealthy and poor, make them all look a like. Does this work? Oh hell no. Not only that but, poor parents are forced to buy more clothes. And with taxpayer dollars they have to do this or out of pocket. The taxpayers are you and I. This is just an example of left wanting to make all equal, no poor, no rich, no choice in clothing or housing, it all must be the same. Nope, you can’t get out of that neighborhood by improving your income through hard work, that would not be fair to the others in fact all your extra money needs to be split up with the others…
The right and left have problems. One wants to remove more social control the other wants to add more.
Do I want material equality or do I want material individuality? Do I want to wear the uniform or do I want to choose my clothes. Individuality or conformity? Individuality is hard, challenging and often painful but, I get to be me.
Conformity is easy, no decisions, no fear, no worries, I don’t have to think.
Left or right? It depends upon the personality. Question : Do we have to be either, do we have the right to force someone to be what they don’t want?

I like George Lakoff’s theory that conservative and liberal views are based on values emitted a person’s often preconscious implicit model of the ideal family system. The conservative has a strict father family model and the liberal a nurturant parenting view. Of course, the pure theory is complicated by the admission that in real life, most people’s views are some combination of the two models. But, it gives one a way to analyze and understand divergent political perspectives beyond the usual impasse.

That’s an apt way of looking at the “divide”, but tell me, how does one reconcile the almost libertarian philosophy of minimal government, rules, and regulations and at the same time espouse every conceivable way of regulating people’s lives? (Immigration reform, uterine vaginal probes, voter suppression, elimination of minimum wage and/or food stamps, etc.) There seems to be some kind of disconnect between “don’t tread on me” and the policies proposed or enacted. (conservative) It’s the same disconnect between extolling the virtues of individualism and over-regulation of everything going on in the name of “protecting” the people. (liberal) Liberal or conservative… They both seem to have a problem with what they say and what they do. ???

I could probably do that, although I am hardly a “conservative”.


Well put, this summarizes what it means to be liberal/conservative in English nations nicely, as well as their essential positives/negatives (freedom/individuality versus security/conformity).

If we follow your thinking, the so called “far right” (Fascism) would be forcing people to be different, politically, economically and socially. Fascism has little in common with conservatism in the United States. Let me ask you a hypothetical, what would you choose if you were held at gun point, forced egalitarianism, where everyone is forced to be equal, or forced elitism where everyone is divided into groups based on class, race, sex, etcetera, so the poor were artificially kept poor, the rich were artificially kept rich, and blacks and women were forced to play different roles than whites and men.

For a while I was a libertarian, but now I think an economic safety net is necessary for the poor, a synthesis between left and right. I agree with libertarians on the majority of issues.

Perhaps government could be set up so you could align yourself with either party, or another party, so if you’re a capitalist, you’d be free from taxation, and if you’re a rich socialist, you’d be taxed, some of your wealth would be redistributed to poor socialists, but not to poor capitalists. Party affiliation would be voluntary/for life, so people couldn’t take advantage of the system.

You were doing good until that rule. That one rule would destroy the entire thing. It’s a trap.

The trouble is, a lot of people would become members of the socialist party while they’re poor, then switch to the capitalist party if they become rich, so they wouldn’t have to pay any taxes, which would defeat the purpose of being a member of the socialist party, as wealth would rarely be redistributed.

If not for life, for a longer period of time, say 25 years minimum.

The very most serious problem that you would have is the same as you have today.

Women, children, infants, and even embryos are targeted so as to induce favorable tendencies. Now just image the war between those trying to cause all children to become socialists or capitalists. That is basically what you have today (physical, physiological, and psychological dependency), but you propose to make it even worse by forcing it to be a life long commitment. A 25 year commitment wouldn’t change that issue much. If you can’t change it over night, they are screwed.

I still think that I have to favor Rational Anarchy, else everyone will remain screwed until there are no more people at all. Hierarchical government schemes don’t need people, and suffer most due to them.

I hate to do this, but I have to question the premise of the thread, or perhaps just how it’s been interpreted. “Liberal” and “Conservative” here are being used as synonymous with “Democrat” and “Republican”, and I don’t think they are actually synonyms. Liberal and Conservatives, to my mind, are names for certain philosophies that are generally ascribed to those parties, but the parties themselves are coalitions, and their policy positions are not necessarily based on any coherent philosophy, and neither is fully liberal nor conservative.

Since the US elections are first-past-the-post, the political math is not to find a coherent whole, but to find several issues that by themselves will get a certain population’s vote, and other positions that will get a certain population’s money. Take immigration and union labor as two policy positions. Many people will vote one way or the other based solely on one of these policy positions. Some part of the population is pro-immigration and anti-union, but votes solely based on immigration. Another part is pro-union and anti-immigration, but votes solely on union. A party can get the votes of both these populations by being pro-union and pro-immigration, even though under many individual voters’ (assumedly) coherent worldviews, the policies are incommensurable.

I’d argue that the set of policies advocated by a party are often arbitrary, and more of an artifact of history than the product of any coherent philosophy. My impression of politics is that the philosophy of political players who develop these coalitions is Machiavellian: some greater good can be won by making sacrifices on less important issues (or more cynically, what really matters is that their team win, and the actual policy that gets them there is unimportant).

Truly coherent political positions exist, but they are rarely aligned with any party, or any popular conception of liberal/conservative. Libertarianism is such a position, as is something like Catholic Socialism.

I do like Lakoff’s idea, and I think it is an accurate description of why people actually end up taking the political positions they do, but I don’t know that it is how anyone would describe their own reasons. No one has ever justified their support for socialized medicine with the fact that their parents were nurturing, and to fully accept Lakoff’s position would be to make policy discussions quite short and fatalistic.

Kris and Smears, both your descriptions are just caricatures of the opposing side, which seems to make them strawmen.


I went out of my way to make it clear that this thread was to be about the underlying philosophies being held by individuals. Further I understood that partisanship would be introduced but was not the emphasis of the thread. THAT was the premise. What would you like me to do? I’m not able to strike posts that don’t “fit” and perhaps it’s telling that we are living in such a toxic political environment that this discussion isn’t even possible.

If that’s the case, then quarantine the whole thread and we can all pretend that there is no way to understand why someone is either a liberal or a conservative.

Carleas, politics/political stances are pretty much strawmen. At least now in many governments.
Since Smears and I are both US citizens why would we not put the views we are most familiar with going out of the gate? Liberal politics/philosophy and conservative politics/philosophy oppose. We presented what is familiar opposition.
Eyes, to answer your question about the gun, I am a military brat and was taught its better to lose your hand then your life so… my finger would go in the barrel, my foot would kick hard into the groin, male or female, and yell fuck you. At the point the person is in shock the gun would be removed from their hand by use of a pressure point and turned at their head. Niether, would be my answer.
At some point the real world has to smack us hard. By this I mean taking into account that no way can we save us all. There is way too many humans with way too many mental and physical issues or problems. You can split the wealth evenly, what will that accomplish for how long? You can separate the classes and let only the wealthy rule,we know this does not work. The poor always outnumber the wealthy and get jealous for some dumb reason. We are talking billions of humans all different and the same. With such a size happy rule is out.
Eyes your idea has merit but, it still is in infancy. You left out the human factor. It generally is left out much to the detriment of governments. Psychology and anthropology are best suited to study mass human action and reaction to governing masses. Not everyone wants or needs a pizza. Yea, needs. We think a happy medium will work but, it might not. Once you hit that middle, you get extremes pushing and pulling. Political tug of war. Look at the past, look at issues and look at the amount of bodies that all, everyone has issues and have far more education than ever before… Its easy to govern the ignorant.
Eyes, there is no cut and dry yet. It has to be studied.

I really like Russell Kirk’s #6 on his list of 10 Conservative Principles, the principle of imperfectibility. I’ll quote it here:

The basic idea here is that no system is going to be perfect as long as human beings are involved, and there comes a point where fixing things amounts to trading one problem for another. That’s the primary reason why caution during social/political/economic change is so advised- there is no march of progress through which every problem is gradually solved until only perfection remains. There’s only a give and take, and if you’re only seeing what you’re going to get out of some change, you aren’t seeing the whole picture.

Then write no law in stone.
We so wish our way to be right forever. It cant happen


Well, that way there’s no fighting, capitalists get the system they want, socialists get the system they want… and communists get the system they want. Hell, why not give fascists a system? Why not give Jews, Christians, Muslims, and even Scientologists their own systems, so long as their system is by/for themselves, not imposed on affiliates of other systems?

Governments within Government.

If you don’t select a subgovernment, one will be appointed for you. Libertarianism will be the default government. At the age of say 20, you’re given the option of selecting a subgovernment, or accepting default Libertarianism. Once you’ve selected one, you remain an affiliate for 25 years. The subgovernment itself can’t disband overnight without paying severe penalties.

Subgovernments would be monitored by Government, so they don’t do anything out of line with their subconstitutions. Subgovernments must fund themselves, their own law enforcement, etcetera, except the Libertarian Government, which is funded by everyone regardless of whatever other parties they’re affiliated with. The libertarian government would handle violent crime, failure to fulfill contractual obligation and failure to pay basic taxes… that’s it. The various subgovernments - it would be up to them to enforce their own laws on members of their own party. Everyone gets what they want - everyone’s happy.

When an affiliate of one subgovernment does business or has an interaction with an affiliate of another subgovernment, the subgovernments can only penalize their own members for any transgressions, they can’t penalize members of other subgovernments. So if you want a minarchy you can have it, but if you want the benefits of larger government, be it Communism, Fascism, or anything in between or outside, you can have it too, but you can’t enforce it on others, and you can’t just leave once you’ve signed the contract - you’re bound.

Children are a members of whatever their parents are. Once they become 20, they’re free to remain affiliated with their parents party, or they can select a new one. You can only be a member of one party. So it’s basically libertarianism, with additional voluntary subgovernments. I don’t think it’s at all unfair/unfree. If adults want to sell themselves into slavery, they should have the freedom to do that, just as they should have the freedom to commit suicide. It’s just an extension of the contract, that’s all, except this isn’t a business contract, it’s an ideological/political/religious contract. Contracts have benefits and detriments, each adult decides for himself if the benefits are worth the potential detriments, or, if he’s passionate about his ideology, he may be willing to give his life or his property for it, that’s his or her freedom of choice.

I favor variety, experimentation, why not have yours and mine, yours in one region, mine in another region.

eyesinthedark- What you’re describing is pretty close to how the whole ‘50 States’ thing was supposed to work,I don’t have any problem with it at all.

Just who is doing this “giving”?
What is to stop them from interfering with each other and trying everything possible to claim the future of all life as their own? In case you haven’t noticed, people don’t merely leave other people alone to live as they might wish.

No matter which one got the upper hand, all others would soon die out.

Rational Anarchy causes an instant balancing out of needs regardless of who gets on top. How it does that is a long explanation, but it is quite automatic. No one needs to be in charge with the grand stick of doom with which to threaten everyone.

And frankly is very similar to the “50 states” thing, merely a lot more states.

The difference is you could have x person being governed by Mormon law and y person being governed by Muslim law living next door to one another, interacting with one another on a daily basis, as opposed to an essentially Mormon state here and an essentially Islamic state there. However, violent crime would be handled by the larger government body. Dealings with the larger government body would of course be mandatory. Dress code, drug laws, marriage, etcetera, would be voluntarily adhered to, based on party affiliation. If you’re affiliated with a Mormon or Islamic party, polygamy would be permissible, but not if you’re a member of the Christian part.

People could select the government they want, without it having a direct bearing on anyone else’s life, liberty or property, so the government would essentially be libertarian. Of course you don’t have to be a member of any party, but you still have to refrain from violent crime, fulfill any contractual/voluntary obligations and pay taxes for very basic government services regardless of whatever additional, voluntary government services you’d like.

Something like this was already tried and succeeded for a while in the kingdom of Khazaria, where there were pagan, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and possibly Buddhist (if I remember correctly) subgovernments within the larger government body. People were governed according to their religious affiliation. That’s where I got the idea from. The difference is this government could have secular subgovernments, and there’s virtually no limit to the number and sorts of parties that could be formed, it’d only be limited by the creativity and experimentalism of the people, in addition to funding/resources. You could form a party based on the tenets of Platonism, for example, and, if you have the funds to pay the larger government body, you could govern voluntary adherents according to Platonism, but that would have no effect on greens, or fascists, etcetera.

You are describing the CRH. But you are presuming that there is a powerful entity that can override every devious plot to take over the other “states”. Who is running that government? Where are they getting their finances? Why are they above corruption?

I think you would do well to study the CRH a little more carefully.