Sunday, May 17, 2015

What I mean by center-right conservatism

People can toss around words without clear meanings which I think can be problematic, as you get things that might seem weird, like I claim to be a Progressive, but also see myself as a center-right conservative.

But what does it mean to be conservative?

Well I'm going to explain what I mean, as I see it as focusing on society, where a far right conservative sees society as most important. In contrast, I will assert, a far left liberal sees the individual's rights and freedoms as most important.

So a far right conservative would say you must do what it takes for your society to survive and thrive, even if that means you lose out as a human being, like even if you die as a result. Or maybe have a miserable life with no hope or happiness if your society deems that necessary.

While a far left liberal would say that the individual is most important and that all members of a society should, well, get everything. And that individual freedoms and rights trump the needs of society, which should always bend to the needs of the individual.

I take a position away from either side, which seeks to balance the needs of the individual with the needs of society, while leaning more towards society, like seeing protection of the United States of America as more important than protecting every individual American.

Which allows me to say that our soldiers can be sent off to war to protect us, while from the most liberal position, not only should there be no war, but no persons should ever be asked to give their life for others, as those others are no better than they are, and no more important.

Different societies can have a variety of rules, where some of them are rather arbitrary, and from far right conservatism, it doesn't matter. To a far right conservative you do what you are told, and your society makes the rules and you MUST follow them to the letter without question. But from center-right conservatism, the needs and rights of the individual matter more than arbitrary rules and restrictions.

To some the arbitrary rules of conservatism are what makes it evil, as it seeks to crush out dissent, or force people into accepted roles. At its limits conservatism is about control: Forcing each member of a society to be a cog in a social machine, with a purpose dedicated to that society above all else.

While to others, liberalism leads to anarchy, as it gives individuals too much freedom without accountability, and ignores the danger human beings can be to each other. At its limits liberalism is about complete freedom. And liberals assert the rights of individuals to make their own lives without interference, finding out who they are and what their purpose is, without in any way having to defer to others who they see as no better in any way than they are.

Finding a perfect center between these two positions is I think impossible. You have to be far right, right, lean center-right, or lean center-left, or be left, or far left.

If you lean to the right, like center-right, as I do, then you see preserving the State as paramount.

If you lean left, like center-left, you see preserving individual rights and freedoms as paramount.

James Harris
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