define liberal, conservative, libertarian


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Ukraine Train
June 14, 2004, 03:21 PM
I know liberals' and conservatives' approach to guns but am unfamiliar with their traditional views on the rest of government. Can someone enlighten me? I'd also like to hear about libertarianism as a lot of people are advocating it. I vowed not to get involved with politics when I was a kid but I find that harder to do nowadays heh.

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BigG
June 14, 2004, 03:33 PM
Those are high context words, meaning, you have to be applying them to a particular case in order to make sense of them.

In the American form of representative govt TODAY, if you take a continuum between high state control and high individual freedom as its poles, liberal is towards state control while conservative is towards individual freedom. Libertarian as applies to the American form of govt only occurs in the vacuum of space.

fix
June 14, 2004, 03:40 PM
The real answer is that they mean nothing. Absolutely nothing. We have left and right. The scale IMO, is something like this, with the founders falling into place as noted with the 'F'.

Democrats----------------------Libertarians----F--Republicans-----Constitution Party

The Demorats represent good old fashioned communism. The Libertarians are "responsible liberals" and are very close to the mark, but are a bit too liberal on some issues. The Republicans are pretty close to the mark, but a bit to the right on a few social issues. The Constitution Party is as far to the right as is morally acceptable, any further and you're looking at a theocracy.

KCMO
June 14, 2004, 03:45 PM
LP stance on guns (http://lp.org/issues/gun-rights.html)

BigG
June 14, 2004, 03:48 PM
Well, at least we agree there's a continuum. ;)

fjolnirsson
June 14, 2004, 03:50 PM
That's actually pretty good. I'd never thought about it that way.

Awesome! Good description.

FWIW, on those political compass tests, I usually come up as a very right leaning Libertarian. Whatever that means.

I support Libertarian views of most things, with the glaring exception of open borders and non agression. If we eliminated the welfare goodies to be had, I think illegal immigration would be less of a problem, sure. But I don't think it would stop. I think we should be kicking folks out at this point. And shooting border jumpers. To do otherwise is to invitre crime and disease into this country. JMHO.

Non agression? That only works if the rest of the world agrees. I do think we have our noses in too many other people's business. I say we pull out of all these countries who say they hate us, let them sink on their own. I'm tired of subsidizing the world with my taxes.

Rant over.

Justin
June 14, 2004, 03:52 PM
Unfortunately, with the exception of the libertarians, its hard to see who is what without a score sheet.

If you go waaaaay back, to the late 1700's or so, a liberal of the day would have more in common with a modern libertarian. Nowadays that's quite obviously not the case.

In the more modern era, say the 1920's to the late '70's, early 80's conservatives were typically marked by being resistant to changing things, as well as adherence to the concept of 'that which governs least, governs best.' In other words, fewer taxes, less government intrusion. Liberals of the era were marked by policies advocating bigger government and higher taxes.

Currently, conservatism is deader than disco and has been replaced with neo-conservatism, which espouses many of the ideals traditionally held by conservatives, but generally involves massive government spending to realize those ideals.

In other words, neo-cons don't see massive governmental growth as a bad thing, which would be a concept considered anathema to traditional, or old-school conservatives.

Examples of each:

Old School liberals- Locke, the Founding Fathers
Modern liberals- Hillary Clinton, Charles Schumer, John McCain
Traditional Conservatives- Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, Florence King
Neo-Conservatives- Joseph McCarthy,* Jonah Goldberg, John McCain, George W. Bush
libertarians- see old school liberals**, Rep. Ron Paul, P.J. O'Rourke, Ludwig Von Mises, Murray Rothbard

In the end, labels such as 'conservative' or 'liberal' tend to be very fluid.



*McCarthy could possibly be seen as an embryonic neo-con.

**Obviously the founding fathers might not agree with every conclusion drawn by modern libertarians, but they certainly have more in common with them than any other currently flouted ideology.

TallPine
June 14, 2004, 03:55 PM
Well, at least we agree there's a continuum.
Not me! :p

The only difference between Democrats and Republicans and other parties is who and what and how they want to CONTROL via the govt.

Libertarians OTOH think that you shouldn't be controlling anyone.
Edit: Except Yourself!

fix
June 14, 2004, 04:02 PM
I usually come up as a very right leaning Libertarian. Whatever that means.

Probably means you are a productive member of society, have sound moral principles, believe strongly in personal responsibility and freedom, but you are not necessarily governed by strict religious principles. In other words, pretty darn close to the model American.

How'd I do?

FWIW, I'm straddling the 's' in Constitution...

Justin
June 14, 2004, 04:05 PM
fix-

Libertarians do not fit the traditional one-dimensional political continuum as you've drawn it. If Democrats represent communisim, then the libertarians would be completely at the other end due to their belief in a nearly, or completely unfettered free market.

The Left------------------------Right political spectrum is nowhere near reflective of current political viewpoints.

Whereas the traditional continuum is drawn on a single dimension- a straight horizontal line, ie the X-axis, one more reflective of todays politics would have both an X and a Y-axis and look like a flat plane instead of a simple line.

The best example of this can be seen in what is termed 'The World's Smallest Political Quiz'

http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz/s050_050.gif

Image taken from:
http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz.html

fjolnirsson
June 14, 2004, 04:16 PM
but you are not necessarily governed by strict religious principles.

Kinda funny. I'm one of the most religious people I've ever met. I attend worship regularly, follow strict religious/moral guidelines, ask for guidance on a daily basis, contribute time and money to church activities and I'm actually working on my ordainment.

I just don't proselytize. I figure if others want to know, they'll ask.
And I don't expect others to live by my rules. that's just silly.



That's actually pretty good. I'd never thought about it that way
I guess I should add that I meant it as far as the standard, one dimensional view goes. Sometimes the compass outlook is a little crowded and confusing.

fix
June 14, 2004, 04:27 PM
Well darn. I guess I was off a bit.

fix
June 14, 2004, 04:31 PM
Regarding the quiz.

I've always suspected that thing was nothing more than a neat little gimmick intended to make people think that they are libertarians. Manipulating answers to try to achieve an intended result seems to bear this out for me. I've read the FAQ, and their answer for this, so no need to try to convert me.

fjolnirsson
June 14, 2004, 04:34 PM
Well darn. I guess I was off a bit.

Most people are, when it comes to me.
I'm a contradiction in terms.
I also happen to be a Libertarian on his way to becoming a Peace Officer.
That seems to confuse people. And it causes POST instructors no end of hair pulling.

fjolnirsson
June 14, 2004, 04:39 PM
I've always suspected that thing was nothing more than a neat little gimmick intended to make people think that they are libertarians

Of course! Like any group, they want as many "followers" as possible. Winning converts is a time honored tradition in religion as well as politics. The more parishioners(read-voters) you have, the more money and power you recieve. It's been going on for hundreds of years.
The only person I trust less than a politician is a journalist.
Some of them are trustworthy, but as a whole, it's best to take everything they say with a salt lick.

cordex
June 14, 2004, 04:50 PM
fjolnirsson,
How do you handle being required to enforce laws as a Peace Officer that conflict with your personal beliefs? After all, there is no greater tacit approval for a law than taking part in the apparatus that punishes violators.

FWIW, the original definitions of "liberal" and "conservative" were more literal. As in, liberals were more liberal when it came to changes within the system whereas conservatives were more conservative about change. These meanings have shifted quite a bit and now come with all kinds of positions on specific issues attached to the label.

I have to laugh at Republicans who tell me their party supports the concept of smaller government. Anyone that claims that obviously hasn't been paying attention to the political scene for the past decade or so.

Gordon Fink
June 14, 2004, 04:58 PM
In the modern American political parlance …

“liberal” = protecting certain freedoms while limiting others
“conservative” = limiting certain freedoms while protecting others
“libertarian” = protecting as many freedoms as possible

The terms “liberal” and “conservative” have lost all objective meaning. I believe “libertarian” is of more recent coinage precisely because of this.

~G. Fink

La Pistoletta
June 14, 2004, 05:00 PM
The American definition of "liberal" is a misnomer.

Liberal means follower of liberalism, either social or classical, or some other variant. Deviant from advocacy of state control.

Ukraine Train
June 14, 2004, 05:23 PM
Wow, didn't think I'd get so many convoluted answers lol. I guess my next question is what's the difference between "left" and "right?" Thanks for the replies so far.

fix
June 14, 2004, 05:41 PM
I have to laugh at Republicans who tell me their party supports the concept of smaller government.

Well they do support the concept of smaller government, smaller than the democrats, but not small...or even smallest.

cordex
June 14, 2004, 05:59 PM
Well they do support the concept of smaller government, smaller than the democrats, but not small...or even smallest.
I was using "smaller" as in reference to current size, but I'm not sure that they want something all that smaller than the Dems. Just larger in different areas.
In the time that Repubs have had control of the Legislative and Executive branches, the gov't has grown by leaps and bounds. We have seen nothing of this mythical "smaller government" that Repubs supposedly are trying to wrest from the hands of the Dems.

I may disagree with 'em, but at least the Dems are honest that they want to steal more of my money to support programs I don't want.
I guess my next question is what's the difference between "left" and "right?"
Well, now, that depends on where you stand, doesn't it?
Generally speaking, "right" tends towards nationalism and a strong, centralized government to achieve that.
"Left", on the other hand (so to speak), tends towards socialism and a strong, centralized government to achieve that.

fix
June 14, 2004, 06:19 PM
Just larger in different areas.

For the most part, those "areas" tend to be the one's the founders discussed in the Constitution. And how exactly does a strong central government promote nationalism?

Barbara
June 14, 2004, 06:30 PM
I'm a radical right wing liberal. :)

cordex
June 14, 2004, 06:36 PM
For the most part, those "areas" tend to be the one's the founders discussed in the Constitution.
*grin* Like a large standing army, eh? Or the War on Drugs?
And how exactly does a strong central government promote nationalism?
Fix, I don't have time to go into all the ways a strong, centralized government can be used to promote Nationalism, so I'll just give the short answer. Germany, 1938.

fix
June 14, 2004, 06:41 PM
I invoke Godwin's Law!

Justin
June 14, 2004, 06:41 PM
I've always suspected that thing was nothing more than a neat little gimmick intended to make people think that they are libertarians. Fix- You'll note that I didn't address the questions within the quiz. I was simply pointing out that a 2d political diagram is more accurate than a straight line. So, whether you think the quiz is rigged or not is quite irrelevant to this discussion.

fix
June 14, 2004, 06:42 PM
Justin,

10-4.

E36M3
June 14, 2004, 07:43 PM
Liberals - likes to help people
Conservatives - likes to help people help themselves
Libertarians - the best of both, I think, with emphasis on common sense (from what little I know)

Barbara
June 14, 2004, 07:54 PM
Leftists tell you what to do with your money.
Right-wingers tell you what to do with your personal life.

I figure I'm an adult and I'll make my own decisions about both and vote accordingly. I vote for the best person..sometimes its a Republican, very rarely its a Dem, when possible its a Lib and sometimes it's a blank ballot.

RealGun
June 14, 2004, 10:56 PM
Although they seem to mean many things, when I encounter the terms liberal and conservative, I can usually make sense of it by thinking of liberals as tending to ignore the Constitution, wanting to do whatever feels good at the moment. Conservatives on the other hand are more principled and more inclined to be strict about the Constitution.

While this relates directly to how the US Supreme Court Justices are viewed, I find it generally applicable to anyone in government and politics as well as voter alignment. The degree of adherence to principle does make it a continuum across an entire population.

I am of the pragmatic sort but well aware of many principles involved. My desire to have the Second Amendment respected taught me to be a "conservative", as I sense common usage of the term.

don
June 15, 2004, 01:09 AM
For the real definitions may I suggest consulting a dictionary rather than the stipulative ones given.

Herself
June 15, 2004, 02:01 AM
Aww, Don, you're taking all the fun out of it!

In the States, the Right (often a bit slow) thinks you're evil, and need a government to tell you what to do. The Left (often a bit evil) thinks you're slow, and need a government to tell you what to do. Libertarians (often a bit argumentative) think you're the government, and can figure out what to do about the slow and evil. ...And hardcore authoritatians, slow and evil, figure thay ought to be tellin' evil, slow folk like us what we should be doing.

The advantage of the Right is, we all know there's evil in the world, and often hope for a big strong broom to sweep it away. The advantage of the Left is, we all know there are slow people in the world, and often wish there was a way to be sure they got the help they need. The disadvantage of Libertarians is, they figure you'll come up with a way to cope with such things on your own, and that scares a lot of folks; and the disadvantage of Authoritarians is, unless you're one of them or do just as you're told, your life is liable to be nasty and short.
It was H. L. Mencken, I think, who suggested that democracy is the notion that the People know best what sort of government they want, and deserve to get it, good and hard. I'm afraid he was right. Gee, I miss the Whigs.

--Herself

Gordon Fink
June 15, 2004, 02:58 AM
I can usually make sense of it by thinking of liberals as tending to ignore the Constitution, wanting to do whatever feels good at the moment. Conservatives on the other hand are more principled and more inclined to be strict about the Constitution.

That depends on which part of the Constitution you’re talking about.

~G. Fink

Pendragon
June 15, 2004, 03:31 AM
Well, if we are quibbling over the definitions, we should read them:


http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=liberal

[I find these most interesting:]

Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.

Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
Of, relating to, or characteristic of liberalism.



http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=conservative

[This one is less interesting - most definitions amount to "one who espouses conservatism"]
Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change.

It seems to me that conservatives are for the traditional America. Traditional America was not always Constitutional America, but conservatives are not overly troubled by that. Liberal America scares the hell out of conservatives.

Liberals seem "open to new ideas" and I see them as not caring about what the constitution really means, but wanting to find new ways to define rights or interpret the constitution, or, when all else fails, discredit it. They seem to be most interested in some version of fairness or justice (especially "social justice") and I percieve them as focusing more on outcomes.

They seem to not be too worried about how much opportunity people have and they don't seem to excited one way or the other about people who rise above their circumstance - if anything, they seem to find these people annoying because it hurts their ability to point out "injustice".

I actually am pretty cynical and think that most of the power brokers who are liberals are actually communists or dictator wannabe's. I think they find ways to co-opt "causes" that people care about. I think most of the power brokers in liberalism actually hold their followers in contempt.

Conservatives trouble me more recently. Many of them are conservatives because they are good, decent, religious people (interestingly, there is a good sized chunk of liberals who are liberal because they see it as most christian).

Many conservative (but not all) seem to support conservatism because it is aligned with their religious view points. Many believe homosexuality is a sin so they are against gay marriage. Same with abortion and many other hot issues. The problem I have is that many of the views are arbitrary and they often seem interested in only protecting the freedoms they cherish.

As a person with strong libertarian leanings, and as a religious person, I have had to come to terms with the fact that I think people ought to be free to live how they want. I am not big on "drugs", but I believe God created marijuana and opiates and other narcotics. Frankly, if someone in my family had a bad disease (cancer) and needed pot, I would get it.

Ayan Rand was actually an athiest. However, I think I can make a good case for christians being libertarians. God made us free to choose. One thing about christianity is that it calls your actions good or evil not based on what the actual action is, but based on what your intent is.

So many conservatives seem bent on legislating morality - presumably with the intention of coercing people into doing good things and avoiding bad things. Yet, for Christians, the sin is not in the action, but in the heart. And the virtue is not in going through the motions, but in doing right out of a love for what is right.

Does anyone see virtue in donating money to charity at gunpoint? If pornography is illegal, will people cease to lust in their hearts?

My theory is that in a truly free society, Gods great experiment is finally and most gloriously put to test. Without fear of punishment, will man do what is right? To what degree? Suddenly, it is up to us. How many men do not go to prostitutes simply because it is illegal? How many churches have closed their soup kitchens because people are fed by the government?

Finally, I do not think that a completely libertarian society is possible. For many of the same reasons that a completely communist society is not possible. I think it is important to keep pulling in that direction, but even if we woke up to it one day, it would be unsustainable. As soon as a large chunk of people have to live with the unbuffered consequences of their actions, they will form and unionize and rebel and mob and take, etc. Too few people would "benefit" and too many would be out in the cold and those people are the ones who will be looking for a new political philosophy. I can hear it now: "what has liberty done for you lately? has it fed your kids?...etc" And so the liberty is no longer watered, but drowned in blood...

One guy at work says he thinks the whole point of welfare is to placate the poor and hopeless to keep them from "rising up" a la the French Revolution, etc.

Anyway, just some late night musings, eat the meat, leave the bones, as my grand pappy says...

cordex
June 15, 2004, 03:49 AM
I invoke Godwin's Law!
Fix,
It would be silly of you to ask how centralized government could possibly be used to support Nationalism and then cry foul when the Nazi party is brought up.

The_Antibubba
June 15, 2004, 06:57 AM
Ukraine,

You're trying to get a simple answer to a very complicated question. Look at Justin's chart for example. It certainly is a lot more illuminating than a simple Left vs Right thought pattern, right? If you look at that, you can see where Kerry is Liberal, Bush is Conservative, but both are Authoritarian-that is, with different emphases, they want to expand Government's intrusion into your life and privacy.

No, you'll find no easy answer. Do a web search. Read the propaganda, er, information that everyone presents about themselves and others. Apply Sturgeon's Rule*. And come to your own conclusions, like we did.

Good luck.



*Sturgeon's Rule: 90% of Everything is Crap.

RealGun
June 15, 2004, 11:29 AM
For the real definitions may I suggest consulting a dictionary rather than the stipulative ones given. - don

With distortions in common usage, that may not result in effective communication. What the dictionary says is often not was was intended by use of the terms. I very much enjoy this thread because I have wondered what others take from these terms or what they mean when they use them. Dictionaries tend be archaic, and it has been shown how the meanings have evolved over time, so I am not sure the dictionary should rule. It certainly would help if we all meant the same thing, so I don't dispute the suggestion that there should be an authority for "correct" usage.

iapetus
June 15, 2004, 12:25 PM
Barbara
Senior Member

Leftists tell you what to do with your money.
Right-wingers tell you what to do with your personal life.


Or, as someone on TV recently said (without realising what he was saying):

"Liberals favour a controlled economy, while conservatives favour a liberal economy."

Tinker
June 15, 2004, 01:16 PM
Ukraine,

For one of the best essays I've read on this subject go to:

http://jonjayray.tripod.com/leftism2.html

The piece is called "Political Motivations of Leftists" by a libertarian psychology prof. named John Ray from Australia. It's long, but well worth the read. Particularly where he shows how "liberal and consevative" is used by Rightists and Leftists. Just depends where and when.

"Marxists, leftists, communists, socialists, liberals, modern DNC".........I like to use Jefferson's description of them: "Collectivists".

Zundfolge
June 15, 2004, 01:54 PM
I've heard it expressed like so:

Liberals (Democrats) want government to be your mother.
Conservatives (Republicans) want government to be your father.
Libertarians will treat you like an adult.

:p

La Pistoletta
June 15, 2004, 03:02 PM
Libertarians have an unfounded ideology.

The only real things are Objectivists or classical liberals/neo-liberals.

Drjones
June 15, 2004, 03:07 PM
Modern leftists are communists. Read the line in my sig for a little bit more information, and if you really want to know more (and learn about truly conservative views at the same time) read "Death of the West" by Pat Buchanan.

Buchanan is a true conservative, not some.....whatever....that Bush is. Bush is semi-conservative, but definitely not a true conservative.

Treylis
June 15, 2004, 03:36 PM
conservative is towards individual freedom.

*eye-roll*

Libertarians have an unfounded ideology.

The only real things are Objectivists or classical liberals/neo-liberals.

That's not necessarily true--there are many Libertarians who came that way through the Objectivist path or some other way. The Party itself does not espouse a particular philosophy from which the Non-Aggression Principle can be derived, however.

don
June 15, 2004, 06:29 PM
Herself ...I stand properly chastised. Pendragon what has religion to do with the topic at discussion? The United States is not nor has it ever been a christian nation or linked to any religion. Conservatives,liberals and libertarians all have people of various belief systems.

jacketch
June 15, 2004, 06:38 PM
Liberals (Democrats) want government to be your mother.
Conservatives (Republicans) want government to be your father.
Libertarians will treat you like an adult even when you act like a child

iapetus
June 15, 2004, 06:45 PM
Drjones

Modern leftists are communists.


I was looking at some (self declared) Communist party's web site recently, and they accused the US Democrats of being part of "the Bourgeois Capitalist Elite". :)

Drjones
June 15, 2004, 06:48 PM
I was looking at some (self declared) Communist party's web site recently, and they accused the US Democrats of being part of "the Bourgeois Capitalist Elite".

The democrats' philosophies are based on marxism and cultural marxism.

Dems are actually more dangerous than open communists because people fail to recognize the danger; they are true wolves in sheeps' clothing.

Foreign Devil
June 15, 2004, 08:15 PM
I've heard it expressed like so:

Liberals (Democrats) want government to be your mother.
Conservatives (Republicans) want government to be your father.
Libertarians will treat you like an adult.

Well I've heard it expressed this way: Libertarians want to kill mommy and daddy so they can stay up late, eat junk food and watch too much TV.

Seriously, I think that while many of its individual positions are liberal, overall libertarianism is basically a conservative ideology in the sense that it resists change.

Michigander
June 15, 2004, 08:21 PM
I vowed not to get involved with politics when I was a kid but I find that harder to do nowadays heh.

"One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors."

- Plato

cordex
June 15, 2004, 09:52 PM
Well I've heard it expressed this way: Libertarians want to kill mommy and daddy so they can stay up late, eat junk food and watch too much TV
Heh. Spoken as someone who truly "knows what's best".

Herself
June 16, 2004, 02:22 AM
Don: ;)

For just about all of us, the political center is somewhere close to where we are. Or so we like to think. And we all tend to shade things to make it appear to work out that way. That's human nature. Darned few of us care to be a "voice shouting in the wilderness." Here's to the few that do go out to the edges, even the ones in tinfoil hats -- it's hard and lonely work!

I will never ever argue with an Objectivist. Or a seriously commited conservative religious person. They've made their minds up. Most of 'em are decent people and honest to a fault, and unless you're fixing to marry one, that's all that matters. Something to be said for knowing where a person stands, and that they'll still stand there tomorrow!
However, the traditional Objectivist and conservative religious criticism of the Libertarian Party -- that it lacks philosophical underpinning -- is quite true and entirely irrelevant. It's a political party! Parties are creatures of compromise and consensus. The various schools of thought to be found among LP members and candidates have a great deal more in common than otherwise, and far more in common with each other than with either of the post-1861 Big Two parties in U.S. politics.

...And the simple three-line Lib/Demo/Repub comparision with Mom and Dad and the kid livin' in the basement is a bit off. Libertarians figure you already have (or have had) a set of parents or the functional equivalent, and don't need the Government to fill in for them now that you're all growed up. One does have to grow up eventually.

--Herself

Treylis
June 16, 2004, 11:40 AM
However, the traditional Objectivist and conservative religious criticism of the Libertarian Party -- that it lacks philosophical underpinning -- is quite true and entirely irrelevant.

You might be interested in reading what Branden had to say in contradiction of Rand on how the Libertarian Party had evolved since she formed her opinion.

Persnickety
June 16, 2004, 06:14 PM
Fill in the blank to determine if you are Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian:

The world would be a much better place if only everyone else would just:

(a) let me spend their money;
(b) believe the same things I believe;
(c) zark off.


Scoring:

(a) = democrat
(b) = republican
(c) = libertarian

:evil:

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