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右派原则vs.左派崇权 Conservatism vs. Liberalism
右派原则vs.左派崇权 Conservatism vs. Liberalismin 陈凯论坛 Kai Chen Forum 不自由，毋宁死! Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death! Thu Oct 13, 2011 5:45 pm
by fountainheadkc • 1.385 Posts
Conservatism vs. Liberalism, Principle vs. Power
I am proof against that word failure. I've seen behind it. The only failure a man ought to fear is failure in cleaving to the purpose he sees to be best. --- George Elliot
我就是我自己不会失败的原因。 我知道为什么我不会失败： 一个人所惧怕的失败是从他与自己信仰的原则分离开始的。 --- George Elliot
"Right" in English also means "Correct". "Left" in English also means "Stay away from something". Most people on the right in America are conservatives. Most people on the left are liberals. Right may not mean all conservatives and left may not mean all liberals. But for the sake of debate and discussion, here I do devide these two political and philosophical persuasions down in the middle.
I also don't like the Chinese translation of the word "Conservatism" (保守主义），for in Chinese it implies "close-mindedness". Conservatism really means to conserve what is timeless and precious and to preserve what may have been abandoned and may have been in the process of being abandoned. Liberalism in Chinese (自由主义） is also a misleading translation, for it misconstrues the concept of liberty and freedom. Even American left and liberals today want to stay away from this word. They feel so uncomfortable with such a word that they now prefer a new term for themselves -- Progressives. So playing word game has become a prominent feature in modern liberal behavior.
I have studied most of the political persuasions in America since I came to the US. I have decided that the modern conservatism is one that is closest to what I have always believed -- A principled life by a free man.
Then what is the modern conservatism, nowadays many call it neo-conservatism? To understand this particular political conviction, one has to understand the opposite of it -- the modern liberalism. Here I try to elaborate on some of the philosophical differences between the two:
1. While conservatism views people as individuals, liberalism views people as different groups.
"Judging people by the content of their individual character, not by the color of their skin" is a famous saying by Martin Luther King. If we say that classic liberalism, in this sense, has something we all admire, the modern liberalism completely abandons this principle. In the liberal persuasion, nowadays, everything counts (race, religion, family, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientaion...) in terms of judge a person's worth, BUT one's individual character. What a reversal of principles!
Conservatism has never wavered from its own philosophical view that people are indeed individuals, and therefore what unites individual human beings on earth so they can live peacefully and productively on earth is not any political entity based on groups, but eternal, timeless values humans all yearn, represented only by God.
2. While conservatism believes in limited government, liberalism believes in unlimited expansion of governmental power based on
some doubious value to equalize human living conditions.
Conservative belief permeate American Constitution, for it views the government as the biggest potential threat to human liberty. Therefore, limiting governmental power becomes the main concern in the American Constitution. Every statue in it is revolved around limiting federal government's power to curb individual liberty.
Liberalism, on the other hand, believes that government is some kind of "do it all" savior for mankind. Governmental actions and decisions, therefore, its mistakes, somehow are more valuable and precious than individual actions, decisions and mistakes. Somehow government knows better than individual human beings about themselves, hence government should make decisions for individuals in order to prevent them from making their own mistakes to harm themselves and others.
3. While conservatism constantly fights to reduce tax burden for the people, liberalism tenaciously advocates increasing tax burden on the people to expand governmental power to equalize wealth in society.
Conservatism always believes in that individual liberty and initiatives are the fountainhead of human creativity and their wealth. Government will only impedes human ingenuity.
Liberalism reverses this order by believing somehow government is smarter in spending people money than people themselves.
4. Gun rights: Conservatism believes that individuals not only have rights to arm themselves and defend themselves, but have responsibility and obligation to do so. Therefore, an armed citizenry is fundamental to the preservation of civil liberty against (particularly) intrusive and abusive government.
Liberalism on the other hand, believes that in society only government can have arms with army and police. Individuals with guns are somehow a threat to other individuals and hence only government can have rights to arm itself, in order to protect the weak. But in doing so, government itself becomes the principal source of abuse and the potential, uncontrollable criminal, much like the Nazis, with their "safe streets" at the expense of the Jews and other minorities. And the principal minority of them all is indeed individuals.
5. Strong national defense against all enemies of liberty in the world: Conservatism always believes America is the stronghold and the hope for mankind in guarding human liberty in the world, therefore a strong national defense must be maintained. Missile defense is only one recent iniative to protect America.
Liberalism somehow views America and its own military as potential threat to the world peace and human (group) liberty. Psycho-analyzing American enemies and finding excuses for their anti-liberty positions becomes liberal weapon of choice in achieving world peace. Appeasement is often the result and more tyrants in the world are encouraged and enboldened by American liberalism in recent years.
6. A nation of freedom and justice under God, not under governmental power: Conservatism believes there are timeless principles and human moral absolutes for individuals to follow and adhere, even they cannot always fulfill their own moral obligations. It is important for humans to understand there is an absolute direction in history by God, toward progress, liberty, individual joy and happiness, and indeed, humankind has progressed from dark ages and is still progressing along this objective direction.
Liberalism, on the other hand, believes God is relative and therefore morals are relative. Only power itself is absolute. Government with unlimited power by some wise persons can solve everything. So all modern liberals advocate using any means to achieve their end. Principles are not in their language. Once they have power, they can do anything, including sleeping with any interns in the White House any time they want.
7. Conservatism believes this attitude: "If I can do it, you can too", while liberals always dress themselves as some saints to save mankind. Conservatives don't believe saving others. That is God's job. Conservatives believe in inspiring others by one's own actions and conducts so others can improve their own lot and save themselves. "The buck stops here and I have no one to blame" pretty much sums up a conservative attitude. When the conservatives get rich, they don't feel guilty, and when they get poor, they don't blame others for their failure, for either success of failure, they, as individuals under a just political and economic system, feel they deserve it.
Liberals are full of millionairs but they simply believe their are someone too special for anybody to immulate. "I did it, but I don't think you can do it. Therefore you need me to save yourselves." This pretty much sums up what liberal attitude is. And most liberals don't feel they deserve the wealth they get, so guilt is one feeling they can't escape. On the other hand, when they fail, they cry and shout, blaming all others but themselves, blaming even the American system, for since they don't think they deserve their success, they will never be responsible for their own failures either. This is just logic -- guilt and anger are liberals' main feelings as well as their main weapons.
8. Capitalism is the only system that is congruent with human liberty. Conservatives believe there is only one system in the world that is consistent with principles of human liberty and freedom -- Capitalism. Through the last century, capitalism has liberated countless lives from slavery, poverty and ignorance, and continued to do so today. Yet, it has been misconceived and demonized, principally by the liberals and tyrants of the world as heartless and cruel, as the devil that has created the devide between rich and poor and therefore the source of oppression.
Liberalism, by attacking capitalism, advocates all forms of socialism that reward parasites and punish the diligent and the risk-takers.
9. Good vs. Evil. Individuals do indeed have tremendous responsibility for themselves. Conservatives believe there are indeed evil people in the world that have to be curbed and destroyed, while the liberals believe good or evil is only relative.
So in liberal eyes, even small pox and HIV viruses have their own values. God is evil sometimes, in liberal view. They somehow think bad and evil things exist in the world also because of God, not because the lack of God.
10. Religious freedom. Conservatives believe among all liberties, religious freedom is first and foremost. Individuals have rights to worship God and owe their obligations and responsibility to their own conscience.
Liberals on the other hand believe freedom means everything goes. They believe freedom also means one can be free from from those principles such as objectivity of truth, God, ligic and rationality, individual responsibility, etc...
There are also some other issues such as abortion rights, drug legalization, illegal immigration which are sources of controversy and division between conservatives and liberals, and even among conservatives and liberals. I will not list them all. Generally conservatives are pro-life on abortion issues, are for drug enforcement and are for restriction on illegal immigration. On public policies such as public education, gay marriage and affirmative actions, conservatives are for more individual choices in children's education, against gay marriage and affirmative action. Individual merit system is what conservatism prefers.
If you still have some confusion about what is conservatism, I think this message may help you clarify it a little.
Best. Kai Chen 陈凯