In the UK they are centre/right wing parties respectively. On political scales I am considered very liberal. I however describe myself as a socialist. On a global scale I don't think either term is conclusive about the people they apparently represent. I do know that conservatism in any form gives me the heebie jeebies and in my lifetime conservatism is becoming more and more extreme. In my opinion conservatism = selfishness a characteristic I have absolutely no time for.
You point to the exact reason that I created this discussion. I lean towards strong governmental control over many things (business, contracts, building codes, etc.), but I also feel that people should be free to act and do what they want (as long as they do not hurt anyone else). This is a very summarized version of how I feel, but I'm trying to point out that the differentiation of conservatism and liberalism is vague. Without being properly defined, it becomes a war about terminology.
James, Coming from a liberal and progressive point of view, I have a hard time understanding what motivates conservatives to stay conservative. I think what has been missing in the debate it that the conservatives from the past were motivated from a political perspective. Neo-cons are motivated by religion. This honestly makes my skin crawl. The conservatives have an agenda to move religion into our government. This was very open under the last eight years of the Bush administration. It most certainly in not a war about terminology, in my opinion. It is a direct assult on the separation between church and state. A local sharia law that guides our government to act, not on reason and science, but holy directive (what ever that is).
First, being conservative does not mean being Republican. In fact, Republicans are, at present, about as far from true conservatism in the American sense as are the Socialists. Neo-con's are NOT conservatives.
1) American conservatism means, to me: placing a value on tested approaches to government, a preference for limited government, strict application of the intent of the Constitution, a belief in the rule of law, a belief in private property, a belief in individual responsibility, a belief in self-sufficiency, a belief in the separation of church and state, a preference for a strong defense and, care for the "commons" (eg the environment).
Liberalism means, to me, a belief that the government can play an important role in the welfare of citizens, a belief in a dynamic constitution, a belief in individual rights, a belief that each of us has some responsibility for the welfare of others, a belief in equal rights for all citizens including equal opportunity, a belief in freedom of thought and speech, a belief in limitations on the power of governments, a belief in the separation of church and state, the rule of law, an individual's right to private property, concern for our common environment, and belief in an open and honest government.
To me, both leanings have some common ground such as a preference for the rule of law, separation of church and state, limitations on government, private property and concern for our common environment. Moreover, both true conservatives and true liberals are strongly opposed to the accumulation of political and economic power in relatively few hands. As such, both camps are opposed to strong churches, strong governments, strong corporations and any other concentration of power that can overrule the majority.
If I had to distinguish between conservative and liberal attitudes it would be as follows. Conservatives feel that we should govern according to principles that have stood the test of time (don't throw out the baby with the bathwater) while liberals feel that government should quickly respond to changing conditions when necessary.
2) I don't consider myself to be either conservative or liberal; I find doctrinaire individuals in either camp somewhat tedious. Rather, I like to think that I react to any particular issue with reason, after having learned what I need to know. But my reactions tend to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative.
3) Sorry, I don't feel any need to justify my position.
A liberal is somebody who likes to see themaselves as moderate, normal and mainstream. they'll move their position to the left or right so that they can stay in the centre.
A Conservative OUGHT to be somebody who doesn't want things to move too fast. Somebody who's a conservationist. In fact they're almost an extinct species. People who assume that label are just straight Capitalists out to exploit and react to the market.
2. In what ways are you one or the other or somewhere in between?
I'm an Anarchist which is neither. I don't like rulers and I don't like gangs. At the Anarchist table everybody of good will is welcome. i'm not interested by how you voted on another isuue. We'll deal with the one on the table and we'll come to a consensual agreement because we have to.
3. Justify your position.
Anarchists don't coerce. Anarchists are evolutionaries not revolutionaries.. We don't kill people to get out own way. We might defend ourselves our property and our structures from Fascism, but we won't force anybody against their will. Anarchism is true bottom up Democracy. If Anarchists wanted chaos we wouldn't havea damn thing to complain about.