- Nov 11, 2010
I agree that the completely free and equal is impossible, since we all to some extent have to compromise in order to be part of society. You can't have 10 million people running aroing in a society all doing whatever they want. Liberal democracy sets the expectation that people will be as free as is possible subject to some agreed norms with respect to human rights.Liberal democracy has made huge gains for citizens to become more free and more equal - but "completely free and equal" ultimately becomes a contradiction. If you're free to maximise your potential, you end up better off than some, worse off than others. A society manages the worst of these imbalances through redistribution (distributive justice) - which the better off resent and more than occasionally reject (tax avoidance etc.).
Knowing that there is no "completely free and equal" utopia, it then becomes a little easier to understand the conservative position - that we are dealt a certain hand which we must make the best of and not expect others to ease our burden. The best situation for a conservative is one of checks and balances to power, corrective justice (mainly around property rights) and individual resilience.
I'm more of a liberal - conservatives tend to have a "know your place" mentality - but see the value in some elements of the latter.
The thing about conservatives is - and always has been - that they want to "conserve" the system that has worked for them, no matter which human rights it impinged on.
Within the last century we've seen liberal principles result in more power being afforded to workers and women than conservatives at the time would have liked to see.