Monday, March 17, 2008

Difference #4

This is the fourth installment in an ongoing series in which I attempt, as diplomatically as possible, to shed light on the actual differences between liberals and conservatives. For previous "Differences," see below:

Difference #1
Difference #2
Difference #3

Introducing Difference #4:

Conservatives value loyalty. Liberals value conscience.

For conservatives, values are informed by beliefs that comprise, but are not limited to, externalities: God, The Family, America, and The Market, to name the biggest.

How conservatives define these externalities is a subject worthy of its own post. But the idea of loyalty to each, as defined, is critical. To question, redefine, criticize or add nuance is, on some level, perceived as an act of disloyalty. One cannot partially believe in God. One cannot redefine the family (or marriage). One cannot question American Exceptionalism. One cannot doubt the virtues of capitalism.

The idea of loyalty to nothing external is a dangerous concept. It's what leads to anarchy. This is why conservatives often view liberals as annoying critics with no morals or ideas of their own.

Liberals, on the other hand, are more internally focused. No matter what family or country one is born into, what organization employs him or what religion he subscribes to, his only true loyalty is to his own conscience. One can belong to a particular church, but disagree with some (or even most) of its teachings... or choose not to believe in God at all. One can be an American and still protest his country's foreign policy. One can work for a company and still disagree with its practices.

The idea of loyalty to anything other than one's own conscience is a dangerous concept. It's what leads to fascism. This is why liberals often view conservatives as soldiers of blind faith.

The best illustration of this Difference is to look at how each group views the corporate whistleblower. Liberals instantly identify with people given this label, automatically assuming that they are good and brave souls acting out of personal conscience. Conservatives, on the other hand, instantly shun whistleblowers as people with an agenda or personal axe to grind who are being disloyal to the organization that signs their paychecks and supports their families... people trying to have it both ways.

Trust authority. Question authority. Seek change from within. Love it or leave it. That's the difference.

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