Some Recent Thoughts on Liberals and Conservatives

Two books I’ve recently encountered (The Captive Mind and To the Finland Station) have got me thinking about the roots of liberalism. I don’t really have thoughts on the roots of conservatism (I wish I did), but I want to write some conclusions I’m arriving at with regard to American conservatism. In this thread, I want to jot these thoughts down, and use this space as a way of working out these ideas.

One thought on “Some Recent Thoughts on Liberals and Conservatives

  1. Rough notes:

    The Enlightenment results in reason and science triumphing over and supplanting religion. Generally speaking, the liberals are those that embrace this triumph–that is, they reject Christianity and with high confidence in reason, mathematics and science, they take on the challenge of constructing social, political and economic systems that will build a good society. In the 19th century, creating a system that would rectify inhumane treatment of industrial workers seemed like the major challenge that prevented a good society. For many (all?) liberals , socialism was the answer.

    I also get the sense that for liberals, humane treatment of human beings, as well as respecting civil liberties of individuals, drove many or most liberals–and that this was a key feature of a good society–versus conservatives who may focus on stability, order, and security.

    Again, socialism seemed to be a key way of achieving this….Actually, socialism is not a distinguishing feature of liberalism so much as the underlying premise–namely, that systems, institutions, or processes (created by humans–versus directed and inspired by God and the Church) could and would be the means of solving critical social problems. To this day, I think this is key belief for most liberals and progressives.

    On the other hand, conservatives differ from liberals because they don’t have the same level of faith in those systems, etc.–at least in theory. Indeed, to this last point, I tend to think this belief is merely a rationalization conservatives use to disguise the real motives–namely, to protect the money of the affluent. That is, even if one could prove that these systems could effectively improve society, conservatives would still oppose them because they don’t want to pay for them.

    In 2021 America, I also think conservatives will attack institutions like the government (or even socialism) because they associate it with liberals/progressive/Democrats. And opposition and antipathy towards these groups–wanting to see them lose–seems to be a driving force for conservatives.

    More later.

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