Difference between liberals and conservatives


by Sunny
30th May, 2009 at 2:43 pm    

This article in the NY Times is somewhat fascinating:

Studies suggest that conservatives are more often distressed by actions that seem disrespectful of authority, such as slapping Dad. Liberals don’t worry as long as Dad has given permission. Likewise, conservatives are more likely than liberals to sense contamination or perceive disgust. People who would be disgusted to find that they had accidentally sipped from an acquaintance’s drink are more likely to identify as conservatives.

One of the main divides between left and right is the dependence on different moral values. For liberals, morality derives mostly from fairness and prevention of harm. For conservatives, morality also involves upholding authority and loyalty — and revulsion at disgust.

That’s just about the difference in attitudes – which is revealing in itself. But how do you bridge the divide (if you want to)? Kristoff says that merely exposing someone to the opposite view isn’t enough, because it might simply re-inforce their view. In other words, the fact that many of us in the blogosphere think it’s great that people are exposed to a range of opinion doesn’t necessarily mean people are more likely to become open minded. They just argue a lot more.

Here’s the crunch:

Thus persuasion may be most effective when built on human interactions. Gay rights were probably advanced largely by the public’s growing awareness of friends and family members who were gay. A corollary is that the most potent way to win over opponents is to accept that they have legitimate concerns, for that triggers an instinct to reciprocate.

How does this apply to the UK? Well, one of the reasons I think race relations are unlikely to get like the 70s or 80s is precisely because people have many more friends/partners of different races. That barrier has been broken in the mainstream.

The empathy point is important though – when discussions about Israel/Palestine or Muslims/Jews or terrorism/racism come up – it seems to me that the main reason why they don’t get anywhere is because the loudest voice on each side is unwilling to acknowledge the other side has legitimate concerns, or empathise with them.


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  1. billericaydicky — on 30th May, 2009 at 4:04 pm  

    One of the mistakes that you have made here Sunny, did I really say that? Only one?. One of the mistaes that you made here is to take a report and to assume that it is true because the people producing it are academics. To paraphrase Herman Goering ” When I hear the word academic I reach for my pistol”.

    This is just yet another example of psychobabble that the friends across the pond are particularly good at. I remember when the late and unlamented CRE was in existence it produced hundreds of reports where it had investigated racism. Strangely enough it found it in every case, but then if you are professional white haters you would.

    Another examply of psychobable is the “New East End” published by the Young Foundation. This is a think tank closele linked to New Labour, it is run by GeaffMulgan some time policy advisor to Blair as well as the multi millionaire Gavron Clann also New Lab.

    The book is absolute rubbish and parts of it, especially on the 1970s, have been fabricated. Everyone from the East End who has read says it its shit but what it seems the authors, Kate Gavron, Geff Dench and Michael Young, even though he was dead and they stuck his name in to make it look good, are saying is that we do not understand what happened through a period of time we lived and were politically active but they do because they are skilled academics who have degrees from mickey mouse universities in subjects that no one is interested in.

    Bit of a long sentence there but you know what us brickies are like when we get going? Your article is a classic example of pickling something up on the internet and, as long as it comes from someone with letters after their name, you start discussing it. Looks like Everton are going to lose but at least the Love Music Hate Racism jolly up in Stoke was a disaster. I was sent some photos on my phone and it is embarrassing how few are there. It seems Stoke Council want fifty grand back from UAF. Told you so!

  2. Cabalamat — on 30th May, 2009 at 4:14 pm  

    Well, one of the reasons I think race relations are unlikely to get like the 70s or 80s is precisely because people have many more friends/partners of different races. That barrier has been broken in the mainstream.

    That’s why the BNP have no chance of getting power, or more than c. 10% of the vote.

  3. MaidMarian — on 30th May, 2009 at 4:45 pm  

    Billericaydickey (1) – That would be a fair comment were Sunny, like you, a single issue obsessive with a chip on the shoulder.

    Without wanting to sound too academic, given that you clarly take umbrage, Oscar Wilde pointed at the difference between conservatives and liberals. A conservative can tell the price of everything and the value of nothing. We have lost sight of that – the true political dividing line.

    Identity politics is not the be all and end all. The quote in the article clearly goes well beyond your single-issue willy-waving.

    And no, I don’t know what brickies are like.

  4. Sunny — on 30th May, 2009 at 5:04 pm  

    Lol at MM! Genius.

  5. Sofi — on 30th May, 2009 at 5:04 pm  

    its all about willing to understand more than one (your own) viewpoint.

  6. D-Notice — on 30th May, 2009 at 6:43 pm  

    Well, one of the reasons I think race relations are unlikely to get like the 70s or 80s is precisely because people have many more friends/partners of different races. That barrier has been broken in the mainstream.

    I agree.

    When I was growing up, my parents – and their friends – weren’t the most favourable to people of a, er… “less white” skin tone.

    However, simply due to them dealing with other ethnic groups my parents now don’t seem to have any problems: dad teaches in a college which has a very high Asian student population; mum has black and Asian customers; their friends work with black/Asian people. I guess me having girlfriends who weren’t white also helped…

  7. KB Player — on 30th May, 2009 at 8:10 pm  

    I’m not one to defend Conservatives but here’s one arch-reactionary who knew the difference between the price and the value.

    Homage to a Government

    Next year we are to bring all the soldiers home
    For lack of money, and it is all right.
    Places they guarded, or kept orderly,
    We want the money for ourselves at home
    Instead of working. And this is all right.

    It’s hard to say who wanted it to happen,
    But now it’s been decided nobody minds.
    The places are a long way off, not here,
    Which is all right, and from what we hear
    The soldiers there only made trouble happen.
    Next year we shall be easier in our minds.

    Next year we shall be living in a country
    That brought its soldiers home for lack of money.
    The statues will be standing in the same
    Tree-muffled squares, and look nearly the same.
    Our children will not know it’s a different country.
    All we can hope to leave them now is money.

    Philip Larkin, 1969

    Conservatives are often highly patriotic and monarchist, for instance. By “conservative” MM may mean “mixed market managerial consultant” e.g. the type of politician who saves the historic town centre as a tourist attraction rather than for its own sake or the one who pushes education for gaining job-getting skills rather than for personal development and enrichment.

  8. Adnan — on 30th May, 2009 at 8:37 pm  

    MM’s quote about price and value is hilarious. Unfortunately, it applies to certain lefties (?) e.g. Charles Clarke as eduction secretary: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=176578&sectioncode=26

  9. Adnan — on 30th May, 2009 at 8:45 pm  

    One minor point about PP and HP is that most commentators have opinions broadly in line with the blog articles (yeah, even though HP has a less restrictive comments policy than PP). This may be because PP’s editorial policy causes some outspoken opponents to go elsewhere or moderate the language.

    However, with Guardian CIF especially, and, I think to some extent, the Telegraph, the blogs attract comments that pan the main article. Also, in the Indy, folks like to bash Yasmin Alibahi-Brown’s articles, but Mel Phillips seems to have more generally favourable comments on her Spectator entries.

  10. billericaydicky — on 30th May, 2009 at 9:05 pm  

    Maid Marion,

    It’s news to me that I am a one issue person with a chip on my shoulder, please elaborate.

  11. MaidMarian — on 30th May, 2009 at 9:23 pm  

    billericaydickey (10) – I don’t know you, for all I know, you may be a total knobhead, or the sort of person I would by a pint and a Havana for.

    It’s just that having followed your comments on here, and I follow your words closely, I have formed a view that you are –
    a) A person who views politics and government through the lens of a single issue (and indeed by and large through the lens of a narrow geographical area) fervently. And

    b) That you have a chip on your shoulder c.f. your comments on academia.

    It may be news to you because you may well not come across in this way outside the narrow confines of internet talkboards. I don’t have anything more to go on than the persona you project on these threads. But that persona is beyond doubt.

    Hope this elaborates.

  12. billericaydicky — on 30th May, 2009 at 9:28 pm  

    Maid Marion,

    No it doesn’t but I’ve been out in the east end of London, I suppose that is the narrow geographical area you are refering to, organising stuff for the elections next Thursday against the BNP, you may have heard of them, and I am tired.

    Have a look at http://www.socialistunity.com. There is some good stuff from my old mate Terry Fitz on the first post from the top about the BNP.

  13. MaidMarian — on 30th May, 2009 at 9:30 pm  

    Sunny/KB Player/Adnan (4/7/8) – Thank you for your follow-up.

    The Wilde quote is the best articulation of that divide I can think of and it applies to almost any issue.

    Take identity politics – we value diversity not because of some fatuous business case about conducting business in a diverse world (its price). We value diversity because the integration of identity into civil society makes for a stronger civil society with more a more active and involved public. There is no conflict between integration and diversity once the spurious notion of a market price is taken out of the equation and replaced by consideration of the value of a strong civil society.

    A conservative can only gauge value in pounds and pence – a progressive liberal can see that there is more to life than the bottom line.

  14. qidniz — on 30th May, 2009 at 9:53 pm  

    Oscar Wilde pointed at the difference between conservatives and liberals. A conservative can tell the price of everything and the value of nothing.

    This is a reworking of some sort. (I seem to recall it being used about Charles Moore or someone like that).

    The original is in Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan (3rd Act):

    LORD DARLINGTON. What cynics you fellows are!

    CECIL GRAHAM. What is a cynic? [Sitting on the back of the sofa.]

    LORD DARLINGTON. A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

    CECIL GRAHAM. And a sentimentalist, my dear Darlington, is a man who sees an absurd value in everything, and doesn’t know the market price of any single thing.

    But don’t let me spoil your fun.

  15. Shatterface — on 30th May, 2009 at 10:11 pm  

    Damn – quidniz beat me to the Wilde correction.

  16. Chris Baldwin — on 30th May, 2009 at 10:11 pm  

    Oh stop this Americanisation of our politics! There are more people out there than just liberals and conservatives you know. We socialists are the future.

  17. Shatterface — on 30th May, 2009 at 10:23 pm  

    MaidMarion: Far be it for me to defend conservatives but I doubt their love of the monarchy comes from an appreciation of their value for money. Conservatism is called conservatism for a reason and it’s a much more complex ideology than just greed.

  18. Shatterface — on 30th May, 2009 at 10:36 pm  

    I’m very wary of importing psychobabble into politics. Conservatives are more likely to feel disgust if they accidentally sip from somebody elses drink? Give me a break. Do you share your toothbrush?

    If you want to see a fear of contamination you could look at those on the left obsessively picking over each and every book, film, TV show or comic book in search of any possible cause of offense; if you want to see a look of lip-curling disgust defend the sex industry to an anti-porn feminist or crack a racist joke at the student union.

    We’ve all got our taboos and our responses are visceral.

  19. marvin — on 30th May, 2009 at 11:13 pm  

    There was an article not so long ago about this sort of thing on the beeb site Political views ‘all in the mind’

    …Their research, published in the journal Science, indicates that people who are sensitive to fear or threat are likely to support a right wing agenda.

    Those who perceived less danger in a series of images and sounds were more inclined to support liberal policies.

    On a side point it’s rather oddly worded. You have a “right wing agenda” – which sounds rather sinister and is exactly the turn of phrase you’d hear from hardened socialists and left wingers trying to have a pop at the other side, or “liberal policies” which sounds terribly enlightened. I know it’s the BBC but you’d think journos and sub-editors would try a little harder with their wording to give a more convincing veneer of impartiality sometimes!

    Anyway back to the point, you could say that right wingers may perceive danger when there is none, and conversely left wingers may fail to perceive real danger. So when these mistakes are made, you can sort of see the righteous anger one can feel for the person sitting on the other side of the fence. You get me like?

    Food for thought for both though tribes.

    …each side is unwilling to acknowledge the other side has legitimate concerns, or empathise with them.

    Indeed. But Sunny I’ll be reminding you of this quote next time you blow yer gasket at the other side :P

  20. Adnan — on 30th May, 2009 at 11:26 pm  

    Right wingers are obviously sensitive the danger from the Beeb journalists. Sweating profusely and blinking like mad watching Fiona Bruce… :)

  21. marvin — on 30th May, 2009 at 11:48 pm  

    A Guardian blogger today writes on how he hates Radio 4 and says

    I am perfect material for Radio 4. I am middle-aged, middle class, literate, news-orientated and liberal.

    We can all sensibly admit that generally the beeb is oriented liberal-left, right? It’s not going to make an iota of difference if you admit it!

    I’m sure some right wingers do as you suggest Adnan, and certainly the beeb can get the blood pumping on regular occasions for many.

    I think many lefties also experienced this, once, at the beginning of the year over the Gaza DEC appeal decision. Such steadfast friends, they immediately called for the BBC to be scrapped/privatised!

    I personally try not to react to people’s naivety, you know the liberal outlook where the only real baddies are the Tories! Everything ‘bad’ thing in society is just down to Thatcher etc… :)

  22. Adnan — on 31st May, 2009 at 12:20 am  

    Well, a naff article on Radio 4 – since when is Pete Doherty’s opinion worth anything (okay, maybe on the quality of a joint). The author just assumes that Radio 4 is not much more than the Archers. Hmmh, perhaps The Archers theme tune could be added to Metallica and Barney the Dinosaur as part of military interrogation practice.

    The Mon-Fri 6:30 pm comedy stuff is excellent: News Quiz, Just A Minute, The Now Show. Also, the 9-10am weekday morning stuff like: In Our Time, Taking A Stand, The Long View etc.

    A reasonable argument can be made to say that the Beeb is pretty right wing e.g. Clarkson, Andrew Neill.

  23. qidniz — on 31st May, 2009 at 12:26 am  

    Damn – quidniz beat me to the Wilde correction.

    Correction?

    This is a blog for “liberals” and “progressives”, who by self-definition are never ever wrong. Their politics simply does not allow it.

    You are supposed to view this as an improvement on Wilde, as only the best of the Left could deliver.

    HTH.

  24. Adnan — on 31st May, 2009 at 12:29 am  

    Alternatively, could say like the Right say that the old version can’t be improved upon.

  25. Shatterface — on 31st May, 2009 at 1:37 am  

    Right-wing and liberal aren’t opposites: right-wing and left-wing are, as are liberal and authoritarian.

    Fear is associated with authoritarianism, hence paranoid ‘left-wing’ states like North Korea, Communist China or the Soviet Union are just as likely to stamp down on unconventional behaviour as fascist states or theocracies – and none of these are conservative (small ‘c’): indeed they see themselves as revolutionary.

    Thatcherism was intolerant and moralistic but it transformed Britain entirely: no ‘conservatism’ there, but plenty of disgust.

  26. douglas clark — on 31st May, 2009 at 5:35 am  

    Shatterface,

    Good to see you commenting on here. I always thought your comments on Liberal Conspiracy were ascerbic and to the point…

  27. billericaydicky — on 31st May, 2009 at 10:21 am  

    MM @13,

    Absolute psychobabble. I’ll bet you used to be a lecturer in a former polytechnic. Posy Simmonds has got you summed up in the cartoons.

    Qidnitz@14,
    You got there before me too. As the journos say “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story”.

    Everybody,

    Forget about right and left, the labels don’t mean anything any more. What is more important is being a decent person. Anyway, a bit more anti BNP papering and then into Wetherspoons.

  28. MaidMarian — on 31st May, 2009 at 10:41 am  

    shatterface – ‘MaidMarion: Far be it for me to defend conservatives but I doubt their love of the monarchy comes from an appreciation of their value for money. Conservatism is called conservatism for a reason and it’s a much more complex ideology than just greed.’

    Oh, I agree – I just think that the Wilde quote is a great shorthand, especially when it comes to the Thatcherite brand of conservatism (which, I appreciate should probably have a capital C in context).

    I think that it was used about the right-wing media in general not Moore in particular.

    Conservatism is indeed a complex set of values, but I still like the shorthand.

  29. Melchizedek — on 31st May, 2009 at 10:56 am  

    billericaydicky:

    To paraphrase Herman Goering ” When I hear the word academic I reach for my pistol”.

    To paraphrase Adolf Hitler: “Right and left don’t mean anything anymore, it’s a conspiracy designed to keep the true hope for the country out of power. Anyway, let’s shoot all the bastards, before onto a spot of jew gassing.”

  30. Shamit — on 31st May, 2009 at 11:01 am  

    Why do these labels matter except for the Westminster Village and self proclaimed defenders’ of both sides. Of course, the MSM in both countries ie US and UK along with their tribal supporters love this sort of labelling.

    Anyone who makes up their mind on any issue based on ideology without understanding the pros and cons is stupid said Chris Rock once and its very true.

    For example, in the US a lot of “labelled” liberals are saying that they are not against waterboarding if that saves lives. Similarly, evangelical preachers in the core conservative southern base, are joining hands for global warming.

    Even when it comes to the abortion debate — most people believe we should have less of them but again most people believe it is upto the woman to decide what to do with her body.

    Obama is a liberal but he believes (I accept to play to the gallery) that gay marriage is not an option while his most conservative critic Chenney believes there is no problem with gay marriage.

    Also, people forget in the history of the United States, it has been the Republican Party (the so called conservatives) who freed the slaves, worked with Johnson on delivering civil rights while major Democratic Senators were trying to filibuster the Civil Rights Bill, and gave women the right to vote.

    It has been a Republican President that actually cut off aid from Israel until it stopped building settlements in 1991 — and that was George Bush Senior. While all Democratic presidents (except for inept Carter) including one of my most favourite US presidents Clinton have been squarely on the side of the Israelis.

    Interestingly, those with centrist tendencies in the Democratic Party tend to end up in the highest Offices of the land — even in States such as New York, Democratic giants such as Cuomo have been humbled by voters.

    Why is upholding the rule of law against liberal tendencies? I disagree especially if one is a progressive they must accept the rule of law and not only when it suits them.

    So, before we debate the labels could we please have some definitions please on these particular labels? More on this later.

  31. Don — on 31st May, 2009 at 11:10 am  

    Since we are correcting one another’s quotations, the line When I hear the word culture…, I release the safety on my Browning! was by Hanns Johst. In the play Schlageter, 1933. The modified line was commonly used by nazis and became a cliche.

  32. fug — on 31st May, 2009 at 12:21 pm  

    such a load of bollocks. though funny, with all the pickled cattiness and righteous indignation expressed here, that puts you all in the conservative category.

  33. Hantsboy — on 31st May, 2009 at 2:28 pm  

    Over here at BNP Central words such as Liberal or Conservative don’t apply. Only the sacred cause of Nationalism and condemnation for the iniquities of Globalisation and One World Capitalism I’m afraid.
    Far from being racist we wish other Nationalists well. Many are based on the sub-continent and in the Moslem World protecting their own interests and guarding those they hold dear.

    Peace to you all and defeat to corrupt politicians everywhere.

    HB

  34. billericaydicky — on 31st May, 2009 at 5:53 pm  

    Don

    You are correct. I knew that, but the originator was a minor politician of the era. Well done!!

  35. Cjcjc — on 31st May, 2009 at 6:17 pm  

    Interesting article.

    Your own final para is very well put and very true.

  36. Ros — on 31st May, 2009 at 6:34 pm  

    What on earth does liberal mean?
    Is it simply about belief in liberty? The starting assumption is that humans are free and equal, and so any limitation of this freedom and equality must be justified.

    Liberals disagree, however, about the concept of liberty, and as a result the liberal ideal of protecting individual liberty can lead to very different conceptions of the task of government.
    Isaiah Berlin has advocated a negative conception of liberty:
    I am normally said to be free to the degree to which no man or body of men interferes with my activity. Political liberty in this sense is simply the area within which a man can act unobstructed by others. If I am prevented by others from doing what I could otherwise do, I am to that degree unfree. You lack political liberty or freedom only if you are prevented from attaining a goal by other human beings”

  37. Narinder Purba — on 31st May, 2009 at 8:58 pm  

    It’s an interesting article, especially the idea that when exposed to views that we disagree with we tend to argue – often instinctively – against such nonsense. This would imply that we’re not thinking rationally at all, and are instead directed by our moral compulsions. Fascinating.

    Conflict arises from mistrust, fear, and lack of understanding of others. Thus, when rival parties go into discussions to resolve issues, these prejudices, deeply entrenched in the psyche, effectively ruin any chance of legitimate discourse. Pride perhaps figures here too, for if one accepts the oppositions view, which appears preferable to their own, there is an identity crisis, a breakdown in what one imagines themselves to be. It’s almost as if you are you’re own enemy.

    That’s why politics is often bitchy, because like the candidates in the apprentice, they’ll do anything to attack the opposition than accept that their party is wrong, and that praise should be afforded to the opposition for their forward thinking. Again, it comes down to the idea that what directs politicians is their image, and their respectability, and to accept another’s argument as the truth, it to accept defeat. In sum, the other party got us on this one, but hey, we’re still the party to vote for remember that.

    I hope this makes sense as I write this on the back of a long working sunday!

  38. Shatterface — on 31st May, 2009 at 9:22 pm  

    I’ve found that people whose views are similar are actually more bitchy than those whose views are poles apart: the narcissism of small detail.

    Religions have traditionally been more tolerant of each other than of herecy among their own ranks; political organizations are no different.

    The Left is as guilty of this as anyone: that Life of Brian routine about the Popular Front of Judea is funny because it’s true.

  39. Shamit — on 31st May, 2009 at 10:49 pm  

    hantsboy – I would suggest you go back to the hole you crept out from unless you want to get your ass whopped big time. Verbally ie.

    BNP shitheads are not very welcome here — and your views and ours vary greatly and people who comment here actually have some intelligence.

    That makes them way out of your class so I suggest you beat a retreat and save “your superior race crap” for some other audience.

    This is me being kind — if you come back for more it would be a pleasure to rip your idiotic ideas apart but I suggest you resist all temptations to come back here. Please.

    We would love a debate but you can only debate politics with people with at least some knowledge of public policy and economy and governance in the 21st century.

  40. nobodys fool — on 1st June, 2009 at 6:16 am  

    big news today, will sunny support the abortion lobby for white women because it is their right to choose . when indian women choose abortion they have no right it is female murder.

  41. Shatterface — on 1st June, 2009 at 7:38 am  

    Who’s saying abortion is right for white women but not for Indians – and what do you mean by ‘female murder’ – murder BY women or murder OF women?

  42. Hantsboy — on 1st June, 2009 at 7:59 am  

    Fraudie Broon is now accusing us at BNP Central of being willing to ‘sell the country out’

    That’s rich coming from someone who has had his head up Uncle Sam’s posterior for years, sent troops to the brutal suppression of Iraq and Afghanistan and totally ‘sold out’ to international capitalism.
    I know many from the sub continent will join me in the condemnation of this ‘politician’ who is well passed his sell by date.

  43. Hantsboy — on 1st June, 2009 at 8:04 am  

    Shamit

    Thank you for your kind comments

  44. Jai — on 1st June, 2009 at 9:54 am  

    Shamit,

    Also, people forget in the history of the United States, it has been the Republican Party (the so called conservatives) who freed the slaves,

    I’ve plugged this book here before, but you should read Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin if you haven’t already. I think you’d find it really interesting.

    Anyone who makes up their mind on any issue based on ideology without understanding the pros and cons is stupid said Chris Rock once and its very true.

    Anything Chris Rock says on any given subject is usually very true ;)

  45. Shuggy — on 1st June, 2009 at 10:08 am  

    Hmmm, did anyone do the tests? I find the argument unconvincing and the tests reinforced this impression. On the Morals Foundation, I came out as significantly more disloyal and impure than the average liberal but this had absolutely nothing to do with my level of disgust, which was quite acute. I dare say this is the ecological fallacy I’m making here but still the whole thing does seem, as someone pointed out above, rather counterintuative. (Share a toothbrush? You must be in favour of gay marriage. Puhlease!)

  46. Shamit — on 1st June, 2009 at 10:16 am  

    Jai

    I did read it and it is a fasicnating read. Anyone interested in history and politics should give it a go.

    “Anything Chris Rock says on any given subject is usually very true”

    Agreed.

    You know there have been over 40 odd comments on this thread and I am still looking forward to someone provide a credible definition for liberal or a conservative.

  47. Narinder Purba — on 1st June, 2009 at 1:13 pm  

    Shamit, I don’t think there is a credible definition for either liberal or conservative, as every application of its definition varies massively with the party or person that is using it.

    Like you rightly exemplify, people/parties seem act contrary to what is expected of them. If you look at David Cameron’s speech the other day, he was talking about devolving power to the people. Now some would say that this was liberalist ideology contrary to conservative dictum which is greater central control. Same too for the current government, whose power is very centralized with no fixed-term parliament – it’s more conservative than socialist, and a kind of wimpish authoritarian regime.

    Everything in politics just seems centre orientated to me these days, and to some extent, party differentiation is extremely difficult to establish because all of them appear to say the same thing as each other. It’s the idea that the historical origins of these parties have dissipated naturally with the progression of politics. It’s now effectively who is the best team to run the country.

    More extreme parties like the BNP maintain their ideological credibility because they exist in a sort of vacuum, a delusion that their regressive way of thinking is logical. That’s not to say that they can’t push their weight, because in times of crisis, when leaders exhibit weakness and incompetence, strong rhetoric – however absurd – can ignite the masses.

    So politically, I think conservative and liberal ideology in so-called democractic countries like UK and US is amalgamating.

    At a personal level, liberals are people who like to drink champagne for breakfast with popcorn. Conservatives prefer champagne in the evening with canapes.

  48. Jai — on 1st June, 2009 at 1:25 pm  

    Anyone interested in history and politics should give it a go.

    It’s superb for anyone wanting to gain a comprehensive understanding of the dynamics and events involved in the American Civil War in particular, written in a very readable (and occasionally even poetic) style.

    If anyone out there is searching for a great overview of those seismic historical events combined with a biography of Abraham Lincoln, this is the book you’re looking for.

    You know there have been over 40 odd comments on this thread and I am still looking forward to someone provide a credible definition for liberal or a conservative.

    Apart from Narinder’s amusing definition at the bottom of #47, the only definition I can come up with off the top of my head is the following:

    A conservative person is guided in their ideas and actions to a greater degree by rules and tradition, and looks more towards the past and “established” codes of conduct; whereas a liberal person is generally more flexible (or even laissez-faire) about matters, is more forward-looking and is comparatively less resistant to change and/or progress.

    Big generalisations, obviously, and in many individual cases there will be a considerable overlap between the two mindsets depending on the specific situation, but that’s my amateurish armchair psychology suggestion anyway.

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