Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The difference between liberals and conservatives

I've been kicking this an idea for some time: is it possible to give a nice, neat explanation of where liberals and conservatives (the ideologies, the "left" and the "right" for all you Europeans who use "liberal" in a different way) fundamentally differ?

Clearly the answer is "no", but I think we can describe some general differences regardless.

Watching CBC journalist Joe Schlesinger the other day, a notable liberal, reminded me of one such difference. His piece on Somali pirates asserted that the true causes of piracy lay not in the Somalis themselves, but in foreign nations who have pushed them to such desperate acts to defend their shores from hazardous waste dumping and illegal fishing. The video is linked below and is well worth a watch and can be found here.

My demarcation criteria is thus as follows: "the difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals tend to assume blame and be self-critical while conservatives tend to blame others and be assured of their moral superiority."

... and discuss.

1 comment:

  1. The linguist George Lakoff described the difference in an interesting way: thinking of society as a big family and the government as the parental unit, conservatives are proponents of tough, paternal parenting and liberals of a gentler, maternal parenting. I like this metaphor (George Lakoff is big on metaphors, by the way) because it seems to describe conservative and liberal personalities, as well as their policy preferences.