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Conservatism And Liberalism A Review Of Two Ideologies Politics Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Politics
Wordcount: 2382 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Edmund Burke is a philosopher who lived between the years 1729 and 1797. He defended Ireland society when they had been resisting of British domination, criticized British East India Company for demolishing Indian traditions and their historical privileges, also supported to American independence against Britannia. As taking into consideration, it seemed that Edmund Burke’s thoughts are close to liberalism. However, he is known as a conservative thinker because of his opposite attitude to French Revolution. The reason of that attitude is his beliefs. According to Edmund Burke, making plans with destroying the values that belong to past is a mistake and when political community is forming, the alteration should be effectuated without corrupting the harmony of the current system. Considering of all these information, it can be mentioned that Edmund Burke is a liberal conservative thinker.

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The concept of Conservatism defends esteeming traditional experiences, rising against radical social changes and believing that innovations must be gradually. It is also defined that it protects free enterprising and Capitalism and stresses the importance of moral discipline and social system based on election. That conservatism consideration was occurred against liberalism born with French revolution and one of the first proponents was Edmund Burke. Burke’s analysis about The Age of Enlightenment and French Revolution has been found instructive for many conservative thinkers. With the Reflections on the French Revolution book, published at 1790, Burke criticized the thought of The Enlightenment and French Revolution which growth with The Age of Enlightenment and emphasized that events damage basic values such as religion, morality and family structure, which keep society together and precipitated terrorism and anarchy. Additionally Burke has described The Enlightenment as a movement that separates human mind. Another one of the important conservative philosopher is Joseph de Maistre who is the most brilliant and controversialist conservative thinker. Joseph de Maistre had always stayed in the service of the Church and Monarchy. Like Burke, he criticized The Enlightenment and The Revolution and defended the principle of hierarchical authority that Revolution wanted to destroy. Conservatism is considered as religiosity by many people in the world, but David Hume, one of the famous thinkers, is a model that represents difference between conservatism and religiosity. Although he believes Deism, for David Hume religion is one of the most important parts of human life and provides social integration. Current meaning of conservatism has made to reach with the arguments that these philosophers presents.

The Main Problems with Conservatism

Although Conservatives describe their ideology as perfect, in practice and idea conservatism has many problems. The most prominent one of these comes from the definition of Conservatism. In Conservatism, with giving importance of the traditional values, avoiding change obstructs adaptation to the developing world. Nonetheless using experiences for trying to live their lives, development in the community will be minimal even though they were opposed to radical changes. Developments in society having a minimum level create a thought that undermines theoretical description of the Conservatism.

Secondly, Conservatism defends the free market system and Conservatives do not want government to intervene in the market. With the free market system in economy, some individuals or companies become extremely rich because of government not regulating system. This situation impairs economic inequality in the society and causes the working class to become much worse and the enrichment for rich emperors. That system is the major reason of financial crisis that still happens all over the world.

Thirdly, Conservatism believes that the environment should be clean and protected, but practically the industrial system that is established by conservatives with the aim of minimum cost and maximum profit does not protect the environment indirectly. In case they believed that, the world that is polluted since its existance, is God’s creation and people do not have the massive power that effects that pollution. This situation contrasts with the clean environment that is wanted.

Lastly, individuals who have sexual preferences different from heterosexuality and live in the society where conservatism is dominant cannot live freely because only heterosexual marriage is allowed. Although conservatives call these sexual preferences as diseases, they have not found a solution for this “disease”. For this reason that problem have come out from existence of human being to today.

What is Liberalism?

The concept of Liberalism is discussed by philosophers since 18.century and took an important place in political ideologies. Although its magnitudes differ from community to community, there are basic components that are putative for every community. The common definition of Liberalism is an ideology that takes on liberty as a first political value, a tradition of politics and a belief in the importance of equality. John Locke is approved of the father of Liberalism. It is admitted by philosophers that the ideology of Liberalism was born with French Revolution and American Resistance for Independence. According to John Locke, there must be a central authority for punishing the people who are defeated their weaknesses and cause damage. Because of that, the community needs government for obstruct these people. For this reason Locke defends that there must be a liberal government. In addition, one of the most known liberalist philosopher is Montesquieu who was a French social commentator and political thinker. He propounded the theory of the separation of powers and he said, “When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty; because apprehensions may arise, lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical manner.” So he emphasized that the importance of separating legislation, implementation and judgement in Liberalism. In later years John Stuart Mill, a liberalist and British political leader, had an opinion that freedom of expression is a basic requirement of social progress, because when freely declaration of ideas is not allowed, it is not possible to avoid from mistakes for humans. Nowadays it is been mostly argued that economic dimension of Liberalism.

According to Adam Smith, thought of invisible hand can provide the best balance at market. So he defended that government should be only an regulator and not be interfere in the market. Lastly, Hayek who works for many years in the field of economics and political theory is the main representative of contemporary liberalism. With respect to Hayek, government should not intervene in the market because the government does not equip with information to manage the market. Moreover, the laws should not have the quality that regards individuals and groups. Like traditional liberals, Hayek lines up with the negative liberty and disconnects liberalism and democracy. According to Hayek, Liberalism is a theory about the limits of political power and democracy is about who has the political power. Like Edmund Burke’s, at Hayek’s social philosophy there are both elements of Liberalism and Conservatism and Hayek insistently stressed the establishment of the separation of powers system. All of the ideas that these Liberalist philosophers emphasized especially generates the system of Liberalism.

The Main Problems with Liberalism

As in any ideology, Liberalism has its own problems in itself. Firstly in Liberalism the existence of individuals are superior and more real than the existence of the entire structure of society. Theoretically, individuals exist before the community, and therefore the individual’s rights come before the rights of community, but people live in the community and when they are making choice, they consider the existence of community. Hence, theoretical ideas are not in harmony with daily life.

Secondly, instead of traditional values, change has more important role, because it is necessary for living equal and independent in Liberalism.

 With the change’s placing more importance than these traditional values, they may be lost and unwanted changes in the cultural structure may occur. If these changes are especially radical, society may not be able to adapt quickly and this situation leads to divisions in society.

Lastly, in general, the majority of individuals forming a society are related to any region and they are connected to the moral structures that are determined by their religion. These people live their lives by basing those moral values, but Liberalism does not include those values because of not being a moral doctrine. Thus, with Liberalism, the moral structure is not possible to be integrated with the ideas.

Conservatives vs. Liberalists

Conservatism and Liberalism often appears as two opposite poles and there are many differences between them to support this idea. Some of these differences in the past and present are religion, economy, culture, environment, same-sex marriage, death penalty, abortion and affirmative action.

Between liberals and conservatives when the moot point is religion, two sides have completely opposite opinions. Religious conservatives defend that their religion rules should be effective in state government and that government should not impede with religious freedom, but according to liberals, religious expressions have no place in government and religion should not interfere government. In addition, religious conservatives support that religious symbols can be in public and government spaces, but liberals are extremely opposite that idea.

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With regard to the economy, conservatives want free market system, competitive capitalism, and private enterprise. Because on their thoughts free markets produce more opportunities and higher standards than economic system that government regulates, but liberals prefer a market system that government regulates restrictedly, because government can protect the community against large companies. Contrary to free market system, public interest motivates the government.

Another subject that conservatives and liberals differ from each other is culture. Conservatives are strongly connected with traditional and cultural values, so they oppose radical changes. Adversely, liberals do not attach much importance to traditional and cultural values than conservatives, so they are open to quick, intense and extensive social innovation based on rational and applicable grounds.

When environmental issues are discussed by conservatives and liberals, they are the same ideas about wishing a clean world, but their ideas are separated about what causes pollution. Conservatives claim that human being cannot affect lasting change to the earth’s nature and at the same time, they blame government for impairing the economy with environmental policies. On the other hand, liberals believe that human being damage to the environment and therefore believe that some changes should be made. In addition, liberals claim that conservatives do not protect the environment.

Another subject is same-sex marriage that liberals and conservatives come up against each other as the years have passed. Regardless of which religion they believe, conservatives defend that a marriage should be between one man and woman. It is believed that human nature does not belong each other when they have same sex and all religions require that kind of marriage by conservatives. Conservatives are related with perception of morality, so they always argue that subject with liberals.  For liberals, marriage should be legal for bisexual, transgender, gay and lesbian couples, because marriage is one of the civil rights and should not be prohibited regardless of whatever circumstances.

The other issue that liberals and conservatives are been against each other is death penalty since lately years. It is been argued that whether death penalty should be forbidden or not all over the world. As conservatives considering that death penalty is usual and essential for fitting the crime, liberals think death penalty should be abolished because of being contrary to civil rights, not dissuading crime, and there can not be any situation that death penalty is solution. Also for liberals, an innocent person can be killed with any execution.

Like death penalty, abortion is the one of the most popular issue that is been argued at these years. Conservatives believe that human life begins when a female individual becomes pregnant, so they defend that abortion does not differ from killing an individual and the pregnant person cannot choose not having that baby. Unlike conservatives, liberals consider that a fetus is not a human yet, and the decision to have an abortion is a personal choice, also they defends government should not interfere that individual’s opinion.

It is believed that in all religion God creates people on equal terms by conservatives, so affirmative action is not needed and it is unfair. For conservatives, every people should get one’s desert but when liberals look at the past it seem that everyone do not have the equal opportunities especially about racism. They believe some innovations should be come out and affirmative action can be the solution.

The Superior One

Conservatism and Liberalism are compared with each other since they were formed. Conservatives and liberalists are both think and defend that their ideology is superior to the other one and struggle for showing that theirs are more reasonable to live. With all information, there are many issues that both sides are right, but it clearly seems to be missing a point from both sides. For this reason, there is no way to show one as superior.


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