Saturday, March 13, 2010

Liberalism, Conservatism, Rightism, ...

A while ago I talked about how you could look at political views in terms of two different axis: economical and social (link in Portuguese). Back then I liked the idea. But recently my views changed a lot in terms of the validity of this discrimination. The reason is that, in categorizing people in a two dimensional grid, we end up overlooking that make up the nuances between different philosophical positions. That can be fundamental.

A good example came from a current debate in a Brazilian "right" website (Mídia Sem Máscara - portuguese). It is a debate that I also feel is relevant in the US political environment. And has to do with the differences between libertarians and conservatives. While both are united in Brazil as an opposition to the current government - opposition is always a great divider - there are core differences that are very relevant.

Economics liberals, or Libertarians, as a movement, give value to the individual freedom. The concept has been beaten over and over: any governmental intervention adds a distortion to the free market and therefore the least they meddle, the better it is. They are not anarchists and for them there are still areas (safety for example) that needs to be controlled or regulated by the government.

Conservatives on the other hand are traditionalists. Due to a strong religious tradition in these movements, they tend to believe that there is a higher truth they ought to answer to, and all the opinions derive from there. As such, the freedom is not a principle on itself, but a good cause to be protected because it is only in a free environment that good can be done. They, however, see value in the preservation of values an important element to be defended. The idea is that libertarianism leads necessarily to liberalism if the individuals do not have morals.

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