Achilles Heal of liberalism and conservatism?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Seattle, Aug 30, 2022.

  1. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    What would you say is the major weakness of liberalism and what is the same for conservatism?

    I would say that economic illiteracy seems to be fundamental in liberalism and for conservatism the major weakness is not being able to fully embrace the concept of society and the benefits inherent there.

    Liberalism, in many cases, is devoid of common sense and any economic understanding.

    Conservatism, in many cases, is so focused on the independent individual that the benefits inherent in a society are greatly reduced in the name of "freedoms".

    Liberalism examples of a lack of common sense, "defund the police" and a lack of economic understanding, handing out money while fueling inflation that consumes more in higher prices than the money that was handed out.

    Conservatism examples of not embracing society due to preserving "freedoms", not being able to have campaign finance reform due to the "freedom" of free speech. Not being able to compromise in government so nothing can be accomplished (gun control, abortion, etc).

    In the U.S. liberalism means that the debt only grows because while they do want to raise taxes to pay for everything, they only want to raise it on the "rich" so nothing actually happens and they have no clue as to what the repercussions would be of doing that.

    Conservatives believe in lower taxes but would gladly reduce government expenditures to match those lower taxes but they don't control Congressional spending for long enough to be able to control that, so nothing actually happens either.

    Therefore, we get the worst of both worlds, low taxes and runaway spending with no one actually worrying about cost. Or rather, conservatives worry about it but can't control it and liberals don't understand economics enough to fully worry about it.

    I've used liberalism and conservatism so that the discussion isn't about Democrats vs Republicans. In todays environment Republicans don't represent conservatism and are only about the cult of Trump.

    If you want to picture Clinton vs Reagan, that's fine although Clinton understood economics more than the average Democrat (of today for sure).
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  3. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

    The faults of Conservatism are many; lack of morals, ethics, compassion, honesty, integrity and courage to name a few. The fault of Liberalism is allowing Conservatism to rule.
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  5. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Those aren't inherent in conservatism.
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  7. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    In re "Warrior Cops"↱, circa 1999; you can find in there an idea of what it means to defund the police.

    The big weakness of liberalism is kind of ironic: Liberals are supposed to be inclusive to the point of self-defeat. You know, like when a conservative complains of elitism and exclusion, and a liberal compromises, and the both-sides is that when the Republican demands the Democrat compromise with failure, ensuring that the policy cannot succeed, enough of the electorate wants liberals to compromise with failure in order to be fair.

    And the reality is that such compromises are a necessary and viable consideration. Compromising with failure at least leaves time and opportunity to fix the problem. Electing failure, as voters showed themselves willing to do in 2016, is what voters do if Democrats don't pander to failure enough.

    But consider a basic difference: If liberals gave over, and dealt with conservatives according to conservative rhetoric, then society would forcibly suppress conservatism. The problem with doing so is that liberals are supposed to already know that doesn't work; history is quite clear on this point.

    Liberals are, in many cases, socially naïve in particular ways. Most of the "defund the police" argument, for instance, seems incapable of thinking back to 1999. There is a point I sometimes make about who we let define the boundaries of discourse, and the "defund" argument fell into that hole after maybe two hours.

    Conservatives, by contrast, are antisocial, and in their current phase dysfunctionally, even debilitatingly so.

    And when conservative arguments are down to a version of the bit about Christ and Christians, i.e., it's not conservatism much like the prevailing Christian expression isn't Christianity, we might remind, yet↑ again↑: Compared to the idea that William F. Buckley Jr. would somehow be distressed by what conservatism has become, the actual point that would trouble him is the lack of subtlety.

    Over twenty-five years after the announced death of intellectual conservatism, it seems worth recalling that intellectual conservatism was rationalization of organized cruelty. The intellectual rationalizations never really worked out, though, so remember: Before they voted for Trump, voters in Legislative District 4 elected Republican Matt Shea, a genocidal Christian supremacist who would eventually escalate to domestic terrorism.

    Thirty years ago, conservatives put up state ballot measures that would have legalized the murder of certain people by constraining prosecutors from refusing a panic defense. It was a Christian-conservative thing. And conservatives are still pissed about not being allowed to throw out the Constitution for the sake of their moral aesthetics. And if we are supposed to draw such a distinction between conservatives and the latest iteration of rightist extremism, then we might reiterate the point that over the last three decades, conservatives have been more inclined to accept and even enjoy the influence, prestige, and authority the supremacists bring. It's one thing to say Republicans don't represent conservatism and are only about the cult of Trump, but it also seems the main point of contention is that the Trumpists are more blatant than "conservatives" prefer, which makes it harder for those conservatives to pretend they aren't supremacist or cruel or antisocial or whatever.

    Think about the idea that for nigh on forty years, the conservative thesis on governance has been to wreck government. It comes up when discussing uneducated rhetoric like, "liberalism means that the debt only grows because while they do want to raise taxes to pay for everything, they only want to raise it on the 'rich' so nothing actually happens and they have no clue as to what the repercussions would be of doing that". To wit, it's hard to figure what world you think you're describing; it reads more like an uninformed political delusion.

    Still, though, the thing about cutting or raising taxes, and balanced budgets, is that for the last forty years, at least, conservatives like deficit spending when it involves weapons of war and the infliction of human suffering. They only fret about balanced budgets when the question involves raising quality of life for anyone other than themselves.

    Seriously, though: "Conservatives believe in lower taxes but would gladly reduce government expenditures to match those lower taxes but they don't control Congressional spending for long enough to be able to control that, so nothing actually happens either." We should probably be clear about the underlying philosophy, which is to weaken government to the point that it can be drowned—murdered—in a bathtub. In any other job interview, if the candidate says, "I think this company is wrong and should only be allowed to exist if it is so weak and precarious that I can destroy it on a whim," we would not hire them. For conservatives, however, it's requisite.

    I get it, though: You want people to think conservatives would do great things if they were just given free rein for long enough; but remember, part of their tax bill was written in crayon.

    And take Washington state as an example, again: We have a terrible tax code, but the reason it is so hard to fix is, to put it bluntly, conservatives. As much as conservatives complain about government, they put initiatives before the people, made promises they couldn't or never intended to deliver, and the people approved the bill to disrupt the legislature's ability to levy taxes. The lesson, invoked repeatedly in this state: This is what you get for falling in line with the people who want to murder government. And, hell, twenty-five years ago, as part of an anti-tax tantrum, King County voters terminated funding for Emergency Medical Services, and then begged for a special election to restore funding before the last of the available money ran out. That's what they get for playing along with delusional conservative antisociality. But at least they got a rush on election night, feeling empowered and victorious. Maybe that makes it worth it, for them.

    You provide an example of the problem about any discourse in which certain advocates are excused from any obligation to reality. The strengths and weaknesses of competing political philosophies can cerainly be a useful discussion, but not if it is based in make-believe.


    Weber, Diane Cecilia. "Warrior Cops: The Ominous Growth of Paramilitarism in American Police Departments". Briefing Paper No. 50. Cato Institute. 26 August 1999. 30 August 2022.
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  8. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    The discussion was about the weaknesses in intellectual conservatism and liberalism. You haven't contributed much regarding the weaknesses in liberalism and have made the conservatism discussion about the human weaknesses in the worst part of the Republican Party (in addition to personal insult of course).

    Of course conservatism isn't about tearing down government. Trump, sure.

    If you can't find weaknesses inherent in a philosophy that you embrace, you are being delusional. I don't see many issues strictly in terms of conservatism or liberalism. It's usually a mix of both and for good reason.

    What is your political philosophy? Post capitalism?

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    Last edited: Aug 30, 2022
  9. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

    True, it's mostly inherent in religious people.
  10. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Yes, there is a lot more truth in that statement but even there it's not really accurate. I'm not religious but I do know that there are a lot of religious people who aren't like that.

    When religious groups organize politically they do tend to be like that though.
  11. O. W. Grant Registered Senior Member

    The moral roots of liberals and conservatives - Jonathan Haidt
  12. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    ¿What You Snackin' On?


    The hell you watching, these days?

    (I can't tell you how funny that image search was.)
  13. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    I Googled "stupidest anime" and that was one of the ones that came up. I assume you did something similar for your avatar?

    Post Capitalism?
  14. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    No, I know who Matsu is.

    But, sure, it's kind of a stupid anime.
  15. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    As I sometimes say, liberals tend to think of society or the nation as a family - you feed the kids whether you can afford it or not.
    Seattle likes this.
  16. gmilam Valued Senior Member

    Achilles heel of conservatism? In a rapidly changing world of new technology, trying to keep things the same is an exercise in futility.
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  17. pjdude1219 The biscuit has risen Valued Senior Member

    you are really going to claim this when you have proven you don't actually know what the economy is?

    but to answer the question.

    liberalism flaws is it craves is that it time is over optimistic about people goodness.

    conservatives flaws. zero connection with reality. zero understanding of economics beyond the simple examples to teach concepts with zero understanding of how the different pieces fit together. trying to use simplistic understanding to make sense of a complex world.
  18. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Word salad?
  19. Seattle Valued Senior Member


    When I think of liberalism vs conservatism personally I think of it mainly in economic terms. Otherwise, currently IMO there is little positive in other forms of conservatism.

    The link above gives a description of economic conservatism and economic liberalism. I largely agree with them both. It's the extent to which we have taken these concepts to the extreme that is where the disagreement lies (for me). Bold is from the link above.

    "Conservative:Economic Views:
    Government should tax less and spend less. Cutting spending to balance the budget should be the priority. Higher income earners should have an incentive to invest (credits). Charity is the responsibility of the people.

    Liberal: Economic Views:
    Government should provide more services to the less fortunate (like health care) and increase taxes if necessary. High-income earners should pay a larger percentage of their income as taxes.

    I don't agree that charity is the responsibility of the people solely. The government should be involved there.

    I do agree that taxes should be increased if necessary. It's just a matter of when is enough taxation and enough spending.

    I think it's OK for income taxes to be graduated to a degree but like Social Security contributions there should be a limit. Currently rates top out at 37%. It's already graduated but it could go to 45% if that was for a much higher income. However there is no need to go beyond that. Curbing spending is what is needed more currently.

    I do disagree with messing with capital gains rates or prohibitive rates on income. The rich don't rely on income anyway and messing with capital gains is not productive (think...killing the goose that laid the golden egg).

    The government is only effective in a few areas. Those should be funded. Otherwise a stronger economy with more money in the citizens hands does more for everyone ultimately.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2022
  20. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

    Republicans top priority when they retake the House this November is not about the economy or any other policy. They're top priority is to impeach Joe Biden, even though he's not committed any high crimes or misdemeanors.

    They truly are sad, pathetic people, completely deluded.

    Religion poisons everything.
  21. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    I assume that we're supposed to discuss this topic as seen through the lens of the current state of politics in the United States of America.

    The opposite of "conservatism" is not actually "liberalism". The opposite is actually "progressivism". Conservatives used to have some things in mind that they wanted to "conserve". The conservative philosophy used to be "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Hence, minimal government interference to change things, government policy should tend to preserve the social status quo, etc. This is very far from what the label "conservative" currently stands for in the United States. That label has been adopted by the cult of Trump that is the current Republican Party, which really doesn't want to preserve very much at all other than whatever political power it can get its hands on.

    "Liberalism" was historically focussed on the autonomy of the individual and the various freedoms that perfect autonomy would seem to imply are desirable. Elements of liberalism can still be found in the Democratic Party in the US, as well as a shrinking number of Republicans. Liberalism in the United States (and some other places, too) has been infiltrated by a form of extreme economic libertarianism. For a while, this was given the label "neo-liberalism". We more commonly refer to its evolved form as "neo-conservatism". Neo-conservatives tend to be socially "conservative" in the traditional sense but extreme libertarians when it comes to markets, the economy, government spending, taxes and so on. This position is actually self-contradictory, in many respects, like much else that is wrong with the "conservative" side of US politics as it currently exists.

    US "liberals", when that label is used to denote the Democratic Party, for instance, tend to be progressives. They tend to value community, institutions (ironicly, something that self-labelled US 'conservatives' say they value less and less), equality of opportunity, free speech, etc.

    It's hard to have a meaningful discussion about these things when we can't even agree on the basics of what the labels mean any more. We're likely to talk at cross purposes when we use these labels, I'd say. I mean, we could hypothetically talk about the "major weakness of liberalism", but if we're actually not talking about the same thing when we use the word "liberal" or "liberalism", then the conversation is going to get very confusing very quickly.
    Here's an example. How could "economical illiteracy" be "fundamental" to "liberalism"? What are you actually talking about?

    Perhaps you're trying to stereotype registered Democrat voters, disparaging them as know-nothings when it comes to economics. Is that it? Is that likely to lead to a productive conversation, do you think? It's hard to even know where to start, when you lead with something like that.
    Convervatism has the monopoly on common sense, according to you, does it? Conservatives are smarter than Liberals?

    Are we in the school playground here? Are you trying to pick a fight by calling names? Or do you actually want a discussion of some kind?
    Again, it's hard to know where to start, to unpack all the problems with that kind of statement.

    Conservatism, once upon a time, claimed to stand for things like "family values". But now it's focused on the "independent individual"? What happened? Is this the same conservatism, or a different one? Does the label even mean anything any more, or is the "philosophy" of the modern American conservative incoherent now?
    Is "defund the police" something all "liberals" agree on, these days? When did that happen?

    All governments that collect taxes are the in business of "handing out money", unless they are corrupt. If your complaint is that you think you pay too much tax, why can't we talk about that, rather than this abstract nonsense?
    None of these things are about "conservative values". Not in any traditional sense, anyway. Some of them are actually just excuses. The current iteration of the Republican Party is largely "about" one thing: preserving what power and influence it has and working to empower a shrinking minority of Americans; let the many suffer for the sake of the privileged few.
    You seem concerned about taxation. A good first step would be for you to work out what you think an equitable tax system would look like. Do you, for example, believe in a "flat rate" tax for all - so that no matter how rich or poor you are you pay the same amount? Or is there some value in a "progressive" tax system, where the rich pay more than the poor? Do you think the rich currently pay too much tax, or too little, or is the amount about right?

    We could have this discussion, but we would need some actually context of public policy, not just vague complains about "liberals" who "only want to raise it on the 'rich'" etc.
    "Conservatives" appear to believe in zero tax for the 'rich', while simultaneously believing that it's okay to collect taxes from middle-income earners and use them to advance "conservative" causes.
    Is it you contention that there are no liberal economists? No liberal accountants? No liberal financial managers? Or could it be that the relative numbers of liberals in such positions are minuscule or insignificant?

    Does it not strike you as strange that one's political position is such a determinant of one's ability to understand finances? What is it about "liberalism", as you define it, that makes people stupid about money? I'm really interested to hear what you think about that.
    Oh, I see. How do you think that's working for you, so far? Seeing as you've been so careful and all.
    Maybe we can find some common ground. What would a real conservative stand for, in your opinion?
    Are you aware of the vast disparity in ownership and control of economic resources in America?

    What you are advocating for appears to be "trickle-down economics". Arrange the government so the rich get richer. Then, by some magic, money from the 1% will trickle down to "do more for everyone ultimately". Somehow.

    This version of economic policy has been tried in America for decades now. The evidence is in. The wealth doesn't trickle down, for the most part, from the 1% to the great unwashed. Not unless the government steps in to actively encourage some redistribution of wealth.
    pjdude1219 likes this.
  22. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Of course not. They just don't seem to be interested in considering economic implications of their policies. Signing massive spending bills in the face of increasing inflation is but one example. Regarding liberal economists. Economics isn't about conservative or liberal economics. Those so described are political economists and their comments should be taken accordingly.

    My complaint isn't that I pay too much tax. It's that spending isn't being considered as to the cost and the debt just goes up.

    No one believes in zero tax for the rich nor is that happening. I think taxes overall could go up a little and the progressive nature could go up a little. That's about it. The problem is the spending and not the current tax system. The bit about the rich is just nonsense. Who cares about the rate. The dollars are what matter. How many dollars should any one person owe? The rates are the same for everyone (at a given income). There isn't a rich rate.

    I'm mainly interested in economic conservatism but conservatism in general would mean low taxes, limited government, strong military, limited debt. To some it would include social conservatism (family values). To me that term makes me cringe but that's neither here nor there. I'm not socially conservative.

    So what? If the bottom is lifted and everyone is better off I'm not concerned with the top of an expanding pie. Is there disparity in opportunity under the law? That's all that we need to be concerned with. Give you, Tiassa and me 100k and in 10 years if I have 500k, you have 50k and Tiassa has spent what? You know how Tiassa is.

    "Trickle-down economics" like "Capitalism" and the "Big Bang Theory" all started as pejoratives.
    Trickle-down economic is just supply-side economics. It does describe the supply side of the market as does demand side economics describe that side. It's just a description. There's nothing to "work".

    An expanding pie does benefit everyone. Why do you think, per capita, that the U.S. has the world's largest economy? It isn't from a Robin Hood economy.

    When the government "steps in" it usually makes the problem worse and not better. The government guaranteed the mess that ended up as the sub-prime mortgage debacle. The problem wasn't the bail-out. That was necessary to protect the stability of the financial system.

    The initial problem was stepping in to guarantee mortgages to those who had no business getting mortgage loans in the first place.

    Biden just stepped in a forgave several hundred billion without involving Congress (it wouldn't have passed) to everyone whether they were in need or not. The idea that loans are too high or that the system needs to be fixed is because the government stepped in years ago to guarantee loans that no one would have made in the first place. See a pattern here?

    When in a hole, stop digging.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2022
  23. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member


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    Yeah, we probably shouldn't remember the time President Clinton worked with Congress to put the nation on track to pay off its debt, and then President Bush called it off.

    Been there, done that:

    • Think of the 2008 election cycle; no matter how angry we were supposed to be at a Black preacher saying, "God damn America", our society just couldn't muster the same sort of outrage about the white vice-presidential candidate's white preacher angrily warning that God will reach out his hand against America. See, the difference is that the one was a Black guy lamenting the cruelty of our society; the other was a white guy complaining that our society was not cruel enough. (#3702939/99↗)

    • To reiterate: Compared to Wilde's argument that the "proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible", the requisite poverty of capitalism and the aesthetic priorities by which it is allocated really do stand out as both craven and arbitrary. (#3703059/111↗)

    • Still, though, the thing about cutting or raising taxes, and balanced budgets, is that for the last forty years, at least, conservatives like deficit spending when it involves weapons of war and the infliction of human suffering. They only fret about balanced budgets when the question involves raising quality of life for anyone other than themselves. (#4↑)

    And remember, in the time since conservatives first started trying generic pitches like yours, circumstance has made clear that certain domestic spending, ranging from infrastructure as jobs programs to even some so-called handouts actually come with domestic economic benefits not necessarily found in warring expenditures.

    So, again looking back to the conservative condition↗:

    • Think of a complaint that goes, approximately, 「If we had spent the money we just spent on wars for domestic programs …」, and the thing is that it probably wouldn't have taken that much money. Domestic spending would provide some return that would, at least, mitigate the expense significantly, and some part of the historical record would argue can create certain economic growth. There is a big complex of feedback loops about economic returns on domestic spending.​


    When I wrote the line about the time since, an old notion occurred to mind, and no, your pitch isn't quite what is described as now-more-than-everism↗, but along the way I did find the 2011 post↗ when one of my points was the Republican intention to destroy the United States of America; I led that section with, We are in the midst of a Galtian revolution, and went on to suggest, What the Galtian revolution aims for is nothing less than a return to feudalism. But, really, when I said the advocates were aspiring slavemasters willing to destroy the United States of America in order to get what they want, I would have thought at least some part of that was some kind of hyperbole.

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