Friday, March 03, 2006

On liberal and conservative

We have to always transcend whatever easy answers and given "philosophies" present themselves to us as panaceas for modern problems; otherwise we give ourselves to something unworthy--an only too time-conditioned accidental conglomerate of opinions which esteems itself on being "left" or "right.

Nevertheless, (devil's advocacy being useful even if it is always pretentious), the terms "liberal" and "conservative" do in fact have meanings, which even if they are fluid and changning, should nevertheless be always kept in mind. It's not enough to say that "liberal" and "conservative" are artificial categories--for if they are in fact artificial, that only means that they were made, which means that they were made for a purpose, by people, within history in order to address a problem or to simplify a set of complex data.

For example, there is nothing wrong, per se, with understanding the profound differences between worldviews that see the present time as a moment within a long decline succeeding a long past golden age (conservative), and worldviews that see the present as a step toward an "age of aquarius, " a brave new world capable of fulfilling human values in radical and exciting new ways (liberal).

But we have to understand such things in the same way we understand other things--like Myers Briggs tests and models and maps, etc. They're tools, not metaphysics; they describe one certain way the data can be organized--not the essence of people. Souls are not conservative or liberal; or rather, it should be said, souls are radically both.

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