Visit the Sentinel Tribune website
August 15, 2012
Between the Lines
Conservative, Liberal, Libertarian
WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) -- It seems more and more in politics you hear the terms conservative, liberal, and to a lesser degree libertarian. But do you really know what each of those philosophies actually mean? I wondered about that myself so I looked each of them up on Wikipedia. I was somewhat surprised by what I found.
In some cases I found what liberals, conservatives, and libertarian politicians are espousing is quite different than the basic philosophies of each of the afore mentioned.
According to Wikipedia, Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes retaining traditional institutions and supports, at most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism and seek a return to "the way things were.” According to Hailsham, a former chairman of the British Conservative Party, "Conservatism is not so much a philosophy as an attitude, a constant force, performing a timeless function in the development of a free society, and corresponding to a deep and permanent requirement of human nature itself."
According to Wikipedia Liberalism (from the Latin liberalis) is a broad political ideology or worldview founded on the ideas of liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally liberals support ideas such as capitalism (either regulated or not), constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights and the free exercise of religion. The revolutionaries in the American Revolution and the French Revolution used liberal philosophy to justify the armed overthrow of what they saw as tyrannical rule. The nineteenth century saw liberal governments established in nations across Europe, Latin America, and North America. Liberal ideas spread even further in the twentieth century, when liberal democracies were on the winning side in both world wars and liberalism survived major ideological challenges from fascism and communism. A twenty-first century development is an emerging new liberalism that is centered on the concept of timeless freedom (ensuring the freedom of future generations through proactive action taken today).
From Wikipedia Libertarianism refers to the group of political philosophies that emphasize freedom, liberty, and voluntary association. Libertarians generally advocate a society with a government of small scope relative to most present day societies or no government whatsoever.
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines libertarianism as the moral view that agents initially fully own themselves and have certain moral powers to acquire property rights in external things. Libertarian historian George Woodcock defines libertarianism as the philosophy that fundamentally doubts authority and advocates transforming society by reform or revolution. According to the U.S. Libertarian Party, libertarianism is the advocacy of a government that is funded voluntarily and limited to protecting individuals from coercion and violence.
I find there are many distortions proposed from opposition party’s super packs in their attack ads that don’t seem to pass muster to the definitions provided above. Next time you see one of those ads, look at these descriptions to see how they align or not. Of course it is very common these days to make radical charges of another candidate whether or not they are actually true. Case in point: Michele Bachmann, no more needs to be said about this one.
When I look at the three points of view, I find it hard to follow people that want to turn back the hands of time, unless they want to take it back to the fifties or nineties. On the other hand I take pause at the ideas of some liberals who want to have absolute control of guns. Though I do think more needs to be done to keep guns out of the hands of lone wolf terrorist types. As far as libertarians go I find their views completely off the face of the earth. Perhaps we could send them to the former planet named Pluto so they can do whatever they want without government interference. One thing I noticed in the definition of liberalism is that a lot of the things are in the ideology of conservatism. My question is this — when did we begin to lose our way as Americans?
Well I guess this relatively young country seems to be doing OK despite the times we are in, although we may have lost our way a bit. I do have confidence in the spirit of our great nation to overcome our differences and make a better world for all to live in.
Have a great week and do good!
© 2013 Sentinel Tribune
Westbrook, Minnesota. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from STPNS