Re: definition of conservatism

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From: Tony Finch (
Date: Tue Dec 12 2000 - 00:19:03 PST

Dave Long <> wrote:
>The short form I've always heard has been
> A liberal is a conservative who's been arrested.
> A conservative is a liberal who's been mugged.
>but I prefer Gladstone's
> Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence;
> Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear.
>which, in another twist similar to that which has happened to the
>Republican party since Lincoln, caused Gladstone's Liberals to pursue
>a free trade laissez-faire generally whiggish agenda.

Hmm. I'm in serious danger of an anachronism (or maybe I should blame
you, since you brought up Lincoln and Gladstone in the context of a
conversation about the meaning of Liberal and Conservative in the
present-day US), but ISTM that the British and American meanings of
"Liberal" are somewhat different. In particular, Americans seem to
bundle "Liberal" and "Socialist" together, or maybe "Socialist" and
"Communist", wheras in Britain these are clearly different points on
the scale.

No, I don't know what conservative means either (or Conservative, for
that matter).


"Because all you of Earth are idiots!"

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