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Epistemology Political philosophy

It’s important to

know that there are two main differences between Conservative and Liberal ideology: One is that Conservatives are basically British Empiricists while Liberals are at heart Continental Rationalists.

That is something I have talked about before, and you can bet that I will again. Not now, however. I’m focused on something else. But without that basic understand the whole intellectual endeavor is fraught with anger and misunderstanding.

But there is another: Conservatives seek a restoration of things that have, in the past, been known to work. Broadly, Conservatives want to keep what has been demonstrated in the past to be good. THAT is what is being conserved. Liberals, on the other hand, want to destroy everything and start anew.

It’s related, since we have empirical evidence about what has worked in the past and what hasn’t. But it’s not really the same thing as Empiricism as a foundational ethic. But the Conservative impulse is indeed to keep what has been shown to work, and avoid thinking that you know so much that you can (and should) re-create society according to your lights.

Modern Liberals almost always see themselves as iconoclasts, and seek to utterly destroy the things of the past and start again. The wrecking ball and sledge hammer are never far from their hands. Thus, their focus is famously on the “new man” and “Heaven on earth.”

In other words, modern Liberals are not interested in remodeling society. Their goal is not to “bring it up to code,” it is to tear down the whole thing and build anew (most often in their own image). 

Whereas the Conservative says, “Yeah, it needs some sprucing up but the ‘bones’ are good,” the Liberal says, “Nothing is worth preserving—let’s just tear the whole thing down and build it anew. We’ll build it better this time, because we are so dang smart and awesome that we can do that sort of thing, while the benighted racists/sexists/homophobes/morons/bigots of the past got it all wrong–WE know better now!”

This “take” is not at all controversial. I really doubt even hard Leftists would disagree. It is merely a statement of fact–there IS no value-judgment necessarily attached to it. Liberals want to tear the whole thing down and build anew, while Conservatives want to preserve the historical basic structure.

Hence, the Leftist impulse is to destroy in many areas (such as abortion, BLM, reliance on force, etc.), because such destruction is part and parcel of the whole Lefty worldview. On the other side, the Conservative impulse is to preserve (preserve life, peace, moral agency/freedom, etc.).

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