Liberals Believe in Universal Values, Conservatives Believe in Fundamental Values
Andrei Draganescu
2710

This is interesting.

But what are fundamental values? I think to arrive at fundamentals we need to go much further back in time than just over the history of modern democracy. So why not start with what’s actually in the names anyway?

Conservatives conserve and liberals, well, liber means “free” in Latin.

Without liberals we would all still sit around in the African savanna poking each other’s noses. But without conservatives we would still be hunter-gathering aimlessly around the world and live hand-to-mouth. Theoretically. Because in reality we’d long be gone extinct. Also, nobody would know anything about it because who’d have lived to tell, right?

Conservatives want to basically keep what they have and improve upon their life by eternally optimizing the already available. There’s not much leeway in the definition here. You’re either conservative or you aren’t.

Liberals on the other hand are eternally challenging the status quo. However, there’s an infinite number of ways to do so. So the only way to define liberal at this point is: not conservative.

And here now is where the values come in. Because the fundamental distinction of conservative vs. liberal already has been made, values are by definition not fundamental.

And a look at history pretty much confirms that the allocation of values is very arbitrary indeed. Never mind whether they’re conservatives or liberals, they define their values to justify, legitimate, explain their fundamental position. They are post fact, always adapted, always negotiated.

I believe it should be obvious that neither can live without the other in the long term. But for that we need a largely common set of values. At the moment, with neither side acknowledging the value of the other for their own good we’re kind of struggling.

I’d say the Human Rights Charta should suffice at this point. Everything else — and I really mean everything — is negotiable.