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Article > We're all trying to solve the same problems
Description :: Conservatives and Liberals in terms of self-balancing systems, ignorance, and risk
I'd want to generalize a bit, and say that the difference is between "direct" and "indirect" manipulation. Conservatives tend to rely on self-balancing systems to solve problems: there are lots of variables, tweaking the system is complicated and not always intuitive, and there's a certain sense that maybe you shouldn't play with the variables because you'll just screw something up. Instead, they want to let problems sort themselves out, and hope for the best. Liberals (don't these labels get tiring after a while?) prefer direct action: if you see a problem, make it go away right there and then by any means available -- if you weren't intending to make sure it was solved, it wouldn't be a problem in the first place.

Conservatives will therefore tend to leave a knot to untie itself; that is, there are some problems that simply won't be solved no matter how long you give them to do so. They are correctly (in my opinion) afraid that they'll pick the wrong solution, solve a problem by creating another, or give a man a pair of crutches when they meant to make him walk again. They set out to make the man walk, and if given crutches, he might never again try to find a way to walk. Liberals refuse to let things work themselves out; their constant tweaking makes it hard to tell what is or isn't working in the long run, they put out individual fires without preventing new ones, but if they can't help a man walk again, at least he'll be mobile on his crutches. After all, they set out to make sure the man could get places, they can't leave it up to luck.

In both cases, the problem is ignorance: not knowing how best to solve a problem, some will prefer to wait and see if a better solution presents itself (self-balancing-magic included) while others will pick a solution now and go with it, to the greater good or harm of those involved. To a liberal, even an ignorant action is better than inaction; to a conservative, an ignorant action is worse than inaction -- and except for the most arrogant among us, it's obvious we're all ignorant.

As I've said elsewhere, self-balancing systems are all you've got when you don't have the answers. But there are no guarantees; just because you hope that a capitalist economy will bring us all wealth in the long run doesn't guarantee that it will. Conservatives are right though about the mess liberals create with their good intentions. We should always been looking for better solutions than those we have, and cool-headed enough to risk more to gain more. But then, I suppose that's what this is about, no? Risk: would you prefer to lose by your own hand, or by sheer luck?

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Owned by Unordained - Created on 11/02/2004 - Never edited

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