Principles of the Commentariat

What’s the motivating principle behind liberalism? Or conservatism? Libertarians can boil it down to ‘liberty’, and explain adherence to that principle in academic, empirical, philosophical, and practical terms.

But as much as I talk about the problems with libs and cons, in some ways I’m really talking about my problems with my view of their philosophies. I’d like to hear self-stylized liberals and conservatives explain in their own words what it’s all about. If it’s easier for you, what was your epiphany moment that drove you one way or the other?

Also, to avoid a giant clusterfuck any comment over 150 words gets deleted. No exceptions. Hayek himself could rise from the dead and write a 151 comment that made tears come to my eyes and song lift up my heart, and I’d still spam it.

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3 Responses to Principles of the Commentariat

  1. Libertarianism, despite its seeming emphasis on a valued good (liberty), is essentially an exercise in logic. Conservatism is a collection of preferences, one of which is usually liberty, which relies principally on tradition and the value of experience, but (reluctantly) leans on libertarian reasoning when it must. In truth, neither is sufficient in isolation; each requires a statement of values and premises that cannot be reasoned to, only asserted as self-evident.

  2. Rhom says:

    Here’s my take: liberals see man as inherently good but society has gone wrong, while conservatives see man as inherently evil. Therefore, liberals believe the role of government is to create policies to perfect society while conservatives favor using government to protect people from each other and themselves. Libertarians subscribe to the liberal’s view of man’s moral state but substitute spontaneous order for government to achieve a better society.

    Unlike a pure libertarian I believe man has a need for a “good” outside of himself (i.e., God), but unlike a conservative I believe government only compounds man’s problems as it is coercive by definition, whereas spontaneous order and self interest allow for the greatest, most efficient, most just outcomes.

  3. Aaron says:

    Both interesting takes, but I’m hoping actual liberals or conservatives chime in. I’m really interested in their own concept of what they do and believe.

    And Rhom, I would argue that Liberals see man as inherently bad, based on the way they argue policy and not their rhetoric.

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