What is Conservatism? What is Liberalism? An Experiment

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  1. My Esoteric profile image89
    My Esotericposted 7 months ago

    Having taken 10 years to publish my first book, "A Short History of Significant American Recessions, Depressions, and Panics" (Authorhouse, 2019), I am starting on a second whose working title is "Conservatism in America: History and Impact".  This will be a Hub as well.

    One thing that must be accomplished in the book is to define "conservatism" and "liberalism".  I can get the theoretical definitions through researching such books as "The Conservative Mind" by Russell Kirk.  But I thought it would be useful to include what modern Americans - you - think those terms mean.  So, I want to use, if you will help me, a version of a process called Word Mapping.

    How can you help?  Simply by using the responses and starting out with:

    "As A Conservative, When I think of conservatism I think of" - and then list a series of words or phrases that you think describe conservationism.  For example:

    "As A Conservative, When I think of conservatism I think of: tradition, rule of law, etc."

    SO

    The two questions I hope you will honestly respond to are (choose the appropriate pair based on your personal political philosophy):

    "As A Conservative, When I think of conservatism I think of"

    "As A Conservative, When I think of liberalism I think of"

    OR

    "As A Liberal, When I think of conservatism I think of"

    "As A Liberal, When I think of liberalism I think of"

    OR

    "As A Moderate, When I think of conservatism I think of"

    "As A Moderate, When I think of liberalism I think of"

    Thank you very much.  Along with including the results in my book, I will include them in a Hub as well.

  2. Live to Learn profile image79
    Live to Learnposted 7 months ago

    I think I'd sum up my opinion on each as I consider the following to be the bottom line premise each begins with, in formulating opinions on policy:

    Conservative believes people are equally capable of determining what is best for them, equally capable of pursuing their individual goals for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and have a distrust of the ability of the government to effectively assist in the goal toward the second.

    Liberals believe individuals are not equal, nor individually capable and a government run by elites should determine what they think is best for an increasing percentage of the population and believe government, not people, know what is best for each individual.

    Moderates understand a well watched balance between both philosophies can ensure that those less capable do not fall through the cracks.

    1. My Esoteric profile image89
      My Esotericposted 7 months agoin reply to this

      Thank you LTL for beginning my list.

    2. My Esoteric profile image89
      My Esotericposted 7 months agoin reply to this

      Thank you LTL for beginning my list. I took from that the following:
      C-C: equal capability; distrust of gov't

      C-L: individuals not equal; individuals not capable; gov't knows best

      Am I close?

      1. Live to Learn profile image79
        Live to Learnposted 7 months agoin reply to this

        It's incredibly simplistic. But, from face to face conversations with people I know who identify as liberal, that's about it. Reasoning given on almost every occasion boils down to a statement that 'most people' aren't like us. They can't be trusted to be able to deal with whatever the problem we are discussing.

        It's presented as an attempt at compassion but it really boils down to condescension.

        1. My Esoteric profile image89
          My Esotericposted 7 months agoin reply to this

          A word map needs to be simplistic.  It is the aggregation of responses that ends up meaning something.  So thanks for your input.

          1. Live to Learn profile image79
            Live to Learnposted 7 months agoin reply to this

            Not a problem. I will say I was somewhat leery of commenting. My impression from reading your comments elsewhere is that you don't understand the conservative mind and I don't see a lot of respect for it.

  3. wilderness profile image95
    wildernessposted 7 months ago

    I like LtL's reponse; it pretty much mirrors my own. 

    At most I might add that liberals are building a philosophy that Americans are responsible for providing support for peoples from all over the world. I'm not comfortable making that a simple statement of fact, but it IS something I see growing all the time, perhaps with increasing liberal pressure to allow unlimited immigration.  Again, not something in what I see as their "formal" policy, but growing.

    1. My Esoteric profile image89
      My Esotericposted 7 months agoin reply to this

      So Wilderness, I get from that - C-L: unlimited immigration.  Is that a good summary?  (C-L meaning Conservatives see Liberals)

      1. wilderness profile image95
        wildernessposted 7 months agoin reply to this

        Maybe I didn't make myself clear.  Unlimited immigration is not a liberal philosophy.  Not yet, but it IS leaning in that direction.

        We have a few liberals openly proposing that, but only from the far, radical left.  What we DO see is an increasing demand for more and more immigration.  More and more ways to bring people (legally) across our southern border.  More and more acceptance of more and more refugees.  Less and less willingness to actually try to shut down illegal border crossings.  More and more cries that we must care for those people and bring them into our country.  Sanctuary cities are a good indication, I think, of the slowly changing philosophy here.  Liberal leaders openly cautioning illegal aliens to hide because ICE is in the neighborhood.  No open advocacy for unlimited immigration, then, but moving in that direction.

        If the growth in that concept does not stop it will become unlimited immigration and in the not too distant future.  It will become the liberal position even though it has not reached it yet.  IMO.

        1. My Esoteric profile image89
          My Esotericposted 7 months agoin reply to this

          Thanks for the clarification Wilderness, I will take that off of my list.

          Do you have any others in addition to what LTL provided?

  4. Wesman Todd Shaw profile image95
    Wesman Todd Shawposted 7 months ago

    I recall the first reply OP ever made to me in these forums. Following that first reply, it would not be possible for me to take him seriously as any sort of intellectual, or any sort of patriot, ever again. So I guess you could say I've made an evaluation.

  5. Kathryn L Hill profile image80
    Kathryn L Hillposted 7 months ago

    As a person who knows not what I am, (or refuses to label myself, although most would say I am conservative,) I can tell you that most people, deep down, probably don't know what they are either. Sometimes they agree with liberals and sometimes they agree with conservatives. It's a fluid thing, our thinking, our minds and our beliefs. When we find out our beliefs are based on false notions, we throw them out.

    Someday, when the truth is revealed, and when science reigns supreme, we will not need party distinctions at all. We will need people / voters who agree with what is true. We will not need those who rebel against what is true.


    Until then, Liberals tend to advocate helping groups of people from without
    and Conservatives tend to advocate helping individuals help themselves ... from within.

    ... and actually both are beneficial!

    1. My Esoteric profile image89
      My Esotericposted 7 months agoin reply to this

      Thank you Kathryn, can I put that down as C-L: helping others and C-C: helping others help themselves (or is that too restrictive?)

      A version of that thought, btw, is already in my book.  I was of the opinion, based on observation, that those of the conservative bent are not very empathetic.  So I researched it and found out I was wrong.  What researchers have found (genetically based, btw) is something like what you just said. 

      - Those who lean liberal are empathetic to most everybody
      - Those who lean conservative are just as empathetic, but keep it towards family and friends.

      That, of course, is not a criticism of liberals or conservatives, just a genetic fact of life.

      1. Kathryn L Hill profile image80
        Kathryn L Hillposted 7 months agoin reply to this

        Dear Esoteric,
        Very fair observation and response. Yes on the first question. But no to the second. Conservatives know that empathy will extend from local and non-local groups toward others by way of charities and other organizations created by motivated individuals. It IS is a little restrictive to say Conservatives restrict empathy to family and friends. Tough-love is called tough LOVE, not tough LUCK. And this subject, (tough-love) is a very controversial subject between Conservatives and Liberals.

        PS Maybe you can elucidate on the idea of the influence of genetics. ! neutral?

        1. My Esoteric profile image89
          My Esotericposted 7 months agoin reply to this

          How would your phrase the second in a few pithy words I could use?

          I had been thinking about the total disconnect in world-view between those who think of themselves leaning conservative and those leaning liberal.  It occurred to me they/we don't speak the same language when talking about - well just about anything.

          We look at science differently. We look at facts differently. We look at public assistance differently.  We obviously look at politics differently.  So the question that occurred to me is why.

          Obviously I am a genetics-based kind of guy.  I am interested in it and I read up on it.  I know that genes have been found that lay the foundation of ones sexuality.  I know that a specific few genes make us different than other primates.  I know that some genes do not interact with the environment and their phenotype won't vary, e.g. eye color.  I also know some genes do interact with the outside world and only turn on when certain environmental factors are present, e.g. abusive parents, etc.

          So, why not genes that at least lay the groundwork of whether we end up being on the left or right end of the political spectrum.  And recent work is suggesting 'yes". 

          This article suggests strongly the above claim: https://qz.com/1226026/the-ability-to-f … our-genes/

          Then this article discuses it in terms of how empathy is expressed in left and right leaning people. https://www.scientificamerican.com/arti … and-right/ (I just saved this article as possible source material for my book)

          Enjoy.

      2. Live to Learn profile image79
        Live to Learnposted 7 months agoin reply to this

        I think you might be bandying the word empathetic about too cavalierly. For someone to think they can understand and share a stranger's feelings, especially a total stranger, is a problem that will degrade into flawed thought processes.

        They can certainly imagine how they might feel in the shoes of another but each journey is different.  Sympathy confused  with empathy is a dangerous start for a political philosophy.

        1. Kathryn L Hill profile image80
          Kathryn L Hillposted 7 months agoin reply to this

          "Sympathy confused with empathy is a dangerous start for a political philosophy."
          why? How so?

          1. Live to Learn profile image79
            Live to Learnposted 7 months agoin reply to this

            Because sympathy is what, I think, drives things such as virtue signaling and policies that do little to help, they just throw money at a problem. Sympathy is what creates an elitist mentality. I see it in the mostly white faces of Antifa and the ignorant statements that eventually cause the mob to turn on people like Alyssa Milano. It's from a vantage point blinded by privilege. It's like feeling sorry for a litter of kittens you stumble upon (moving them when you have no intention of ensuring their survival and the mother is probably nearby hunting) or moving a worm off the sidewalk onto the grass (endangering the worm in the process because it crawled onto the sidewalk to briefly escape the saturated soil) It isn't mentally walking in the shoes of another. It's expressing ignorance and oft times misplaced pity for the shoes they wear.

            I've been there. You think there is a cookie cutter that can be used to equalize the playing field because you think people are nothing more than versions of you. They think like you, they'd act just like you if given the opportunity, and you think the things you have and hold to be important are the most correct. And the world would be perfect, if you were in charge.

            Note, all of the 'yous' in that paragraph aren't directed at you.

            The problem is, you are unique. What motivates you is unique. What works for you is unique. I don't think I can too strongly stress that. If you put too much emphasis on the righteousness of your personal view, you have no ability to see the value of another vantage point. Sympathy breeds contempt, from both angles. It's what children feel because they have no ability to see beyond their own life experience.

            Empathy, on the other hand, is more personal. You can't empathize with an entire community or an entire subset of a population. The individual circumstances are important to the act of empathizing. I think that is where the divide comes between left and right on many issues. It's why,on the border issue, it's easier for a conservative to advocate entry of the women and children they see in a caravan but raise an eyebrow at able bodied men. It's easier to imagine ourselves in the shoes of a mother attempting to protect her children from violence but wonder why men claim they flee it, instead of working to stop it. We attempt to mentally walk in their shoes, wonder how we would feel, what we would do. While also empathizing with those here who would ultimately hold the responsibility of paying the taxes involved in helping. Going through the mental motions of how it will, or could, affect everyone involved.

            Empathy is a broader approach to social issues. It encompasses a desire for the well being of a wider circle of humanity. It attempts to understand how actions affect all involved, trying to maintain balance so as not to create more problems than the ones we seek to solve.

            Sympathy is easy and shallow. It lets you feel good about yourself without thought beyond a single issue. It doesn't take into account the whole. It's false altruism.

            1. My Esoteric profile image89
              My Esotericposted 7 months agoin reply to this

              LTL - you say "Empathy, on the other hand, is more personal. You can't empathize with an entire community or an entire subset of a population. " - my question is why not?  I know I can and do empathize with the plight of groups of people.  For example, I empathize with the situation the innocent women and children caught up in the Syrian war.

              When I sympathize with someone, I feel sorry for them and their situation, but see no need for action.  When I empathize, that is when I think I need to try to do something.

              Examples: I am sympathetic to someone who caught their hand in the door. While I recognize it, I don't feel their pain.

              I am empathetic to my employee who is currently getting ripped off by an uncaring federal agency and am trying to help her out.  In this case, I do feel her frustration and the unfairness of it all.  I don't just feel sorry for them (which to me is sympathy), I see myself in their place and feel a need to do something, even though I don't know what it is that I can do.

              I didn't mean to continue a philosophical discussion in this particular forum since all I am looking for are descriptive words and phrases, but hey, I can't help myself.

              1. Live to Learn profile image79
                Live to Learnposted 7 months agoin reply to this

                You notice you focus on individuals in your explanation. That's the point. You can empathize with that employee. You know the situation. You can affect positive change or, at the least, you are in a position to effectively care.

                You can't empathize with an entire subset of people who claim the same. You don't know the situation of each. To affect what each claims is a fair outcome would,most likely, involve some fraud because each case is different and some might be actively attempting to bilk the system.

                The women in Syria. Of course, I said it's easy to empathize with such a subset. But, even there problems exist. The women who leave safe spaces to join Isis, who actively call for jihad within the safe spaces they left, and then want to return? Can you truly understand and feel what she feels? Can you truly understand how others feel about that prospect? Your explanation of empathy appears to take into account only one side of an issue. A broader empathetic approach turns a 360 to imagine the feelings of all affected and determine the course which takes into account the needs of all parties.

                Edit. I should add that such an approach requires all to have empathy. Selfish people don't appreciate an empathetic approach unless all of the empathy is directed at them and allows them to get everything they want without taking the needs of others into account. Those with a victim mentality cannot empathize.

                1. My Esoteric profile image89
                  My Esotericposted 7 months agoin reply to this

                  Sorry, wrong "women".  I was speaking of all of the mothers and their children displaced by the war and driven to refugee camps, been captured, tortured, etc.

                  1. Live to Learn profile image79
                    Live to Learnposted 7 months agoin reply to this

                    I would point out that you can't empathize. You aren't a woman. You can champion the cause but empathy doesn't drive you.

                    That to the side. I empathize with women and mothers who are displaced by war. However, that puts us in a precarious position. We empathize from the mindset of people in a free and democratic society.  Can we truly understand what people who live in and support the idea of theocratic systems think and want, when one sect of a religion displaces another? Or when one fairly despotic regime attacks another? I doubt our idea of a happy ending relates to theirs.

                    What's the end game? Where is the solution? A solution we might find acceptable might be hell for these women and create conflict in the children that won't show until they reach adulthood.

                    There are no simple solutions to most of the problems individual societies have or global problems. Every decision made is good and bad. If we put blinders on and insist nothing matters except one subset, other subsets are effected. Refusal to empathize with all is only valid if your actions affect only you and the people you are focused on. Otherwise, you lack empathy for all outside of the subset you choose to champion. Which means, in the final analysis, your inability to empathize outweighs any ability you claim to have and, without full understanding of the subset you claim to empathize with your sympathy might cause more harm than good.

              2. Live to Learn profile image79
                Live to Learnposted 7 months agoin reply to this

                I would like to add that if you really want to write a thought provoking piece, you have to immerse yourself in philosophical debates. If you don't understand what motivates political ideology then what you end up writing is your opinion of the one dimensional view of others. Which is just a pointless exercise in ego.

  6. Kathryn L Hill profile image80
    Kathryn L Hillposted 7 months ago

    Does genetics play a part in whether one leans toward Conservatism or Liberalism?
    Take the subject of innate left brain and right brain tendencies: Most people are born with right or left brain dominance, but there are those who are born balanced with both right and left brain abilities/tendencies. My surmise/hypothesis is that when a right brain person mates with a left brain person, they will produce offspring that are strong in both right brain and left brain abilities.

    Maybe an internal balance of empathy for all and empathy for individuals is what creates a Moderate?

    If so, Conservatives should marry Liberals. But I think this type of pairing is rare in today's world/political climate. lol In fact, I think many divorces have occurred based on (natural?) political leanings.

    1. My Esoteric profile image89
      My Esotericposted 7 months agoin reply to this

      Lol, very possibly

  7. Kathryn L Hill profile image80
    Kathryn L Hillposted 7 months ago

    And then the question what good is a Moderate?

    1. Kathryn L Hill profile image80
      Kathryn L Hillposted 7 months agoin reply to this

      ... would some one please stand up and answer:


      As a Moderate, when I think of Moderateness, (?) I think of:

      _______________________________________________

  8. Kathryn L Hill profile image80
    Kathryn L Hillposted 7 months ago

    "In recent years, the term "political moderates" has gained traction as a buzzword. The existence of the ideal moderate is disputed because of a lack of a moderate political ideology. Voters who describe themselves as centrist often mean that they are moderate in their political views, advocating neither extreme left-wing politics nor extreme right-wing politics. Many of the voters are libertarian.

    Gallup polling has shown American voters identifying themselves as moderate between 35–38% of the time over the last 20 years. Voters may identify with moderation for a number of reasons: pragmatic, ideological or otherwise. It has even been suggested that individuals vote for centrist parties for purely statistical reasons." Wikipedia

    1. My Esoteric profile image89
      My Esotericposted 7 months agoin reply to this

      Moderate is where I fall.  How do I know? Because I get both the left and the right yelling at me depending on the topic.

      The problem with moderates is they are quiet and think a lot and see the nuances in things.  The problem with the extremes, of course, is they are just the opposite.  In my survey of history, this is what I found:

      Extremists on the left or the right are catalyst for change (yes, even the right).  It is up to pragmatic moderates to make the best parts of that change happen.

      Prior to 1994, Congress was composed of enough moderates on the left and the right where gov't was effective.  After 1994, the moderates were kicked out of the Republican party and extremists took over.  At the same time, conservatives in the Democratic party either joined the Republicans or were voted out of office. 

      That left the D's with only moderates and progressives (they are both liberals).  As time went on, the Ds have been creeping closer to being as radicalized on the left as the GOP is already on the right.  Personally, I think the Ds have a long way to go, but I am getting worried (especially if they choose somebody other than a Joe Biden, Kamala Harris (she is not as progressive as you think) or Klobuchar for their nominee.

      Consequently, government keeps getting more and more dysfunctional.  And, it will keep getting more so until America can get its collective head on straight.

      1. Kathryn L Hill profile image80
        Kathryn L Hillposted 7 months agoin reply to this

        when will that happen?


        have any kind of an answer?
        I do, but I am about three hundred years ahead of my time, apparently.

  9. Kathryn L Hill profile image80
    Kathryn L Hillposted 7 months ago

    And Yet, one born with a balance of right brain and left brain abilities is very fortunate, from what I have observed. smile

    1. My Esoteric profile image89
      My Esotericposted 7 months agoin reply to this

      I have no idea what my balance is like, but I am a dead-center Libra, so I like to think I am.  Even put a Libra tattoo on my arm. (left one, of course)

      1. Kathryn L Hill profile image80
        Kathryn L Hillposted 7 months agoin reply to this

        Balance is essential to you. smile

 
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