|Left versus right|
Left versus right.
Remember that the political spectrum is not linear but circular. This is the difference between the "earth is flat" and the earth is a globe. In reality, there is no east or west, these are just relative terms. If you keep going to the West, you will arrive in the east.
The same is true for Right and Left wing politics. If you go far enough in one direction, you end up on the other side. We talk about centrists, meaning the political position in the middle of the right and left. We usually think of communism as left wing, but in Russia the communists are the "hardliners," roughly analogous to the far right wing conservatives here in the U.S.
In truth, there is no hard wired connection between conservatives and liberals on the one hand and right and left wing on the other. The word conservative really means to save or keep the same. Presumably what is being saved or preserved are cherished principles. Liberal derives from the word for free, in the sense of freedom. I have a hard time understanding why these terms are incompatible. In fact they are not. In reality, they are just labels with very little meaning.
But the undeniable truth is that we have a large group that consider themselves conservatives and another that consider themselves liberals of one kind or another. What these labels mean depends on who is doing the labeling. "Conservatives" undoubtedly see themselves as the keepers of time honored principles of freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness unencumbered by the intrusion of government. Either that, or cherished memories of Ozzie and Harriet like family and church life. As for the first set of ideals I have no quarrel, but I would like to know just when in our history all our citizens enjoyed full freedom, liberty and the right to pursue happiness, especially if one's skin was any color other than white. As for the second, these are distinctly personal lifestyle choices and the source of some of the most egregious specimens of HORW (hypocrisy of right wingers, pronounced "hore"), discussed elsewhere in this site.
Another view has it that what is meant by conservatism is that a certain set of institutional inequalities has favored a particular segment of society, and what conservatives are trying to save are those inequalities. Swept up in all of this, I believe, are a huge number of people who just don't like change, human nature being fearful and resistant of change in general. In this sense, a conservative just wants to save the status quo, whatever that happens to be. In the words of Brian Tracy, most people, when they say they want to change things, really mean that they want things to be just like they are, only better.
So what about liberals.
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