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It is more productive to avoid labels and look at guiding philosophies.

There are basically two. One favors the status quo and the rights of those who are the winners in society. The other favors a restructuring of society so that the benefits are spread more widely.

The individual causes that these groups favor varies over time and place. Some causes that were considered "liberal" in the past are now supported by conservatives. A good example is child labor which was sanctioned by the capitalist establishment (the "conservatives" of their age), but is now not acceptable.

I wrote an essay on this not too long ago, where I treat the concept of "conservatism" as a process, not as a fixed set of policy positions. In this example I use free trade as policy.

Here's a link:
Free Market Philosophy as Process

There are some other factors which cloud the issue. For example nationalism tends to cut across the traditional divide. In the US, Libertarianism is a mixture of normal liberal and conservative ideas, combined with a type of utopianism.

I won't go into the details of Libertarianism (again), but I've also covered this extensively on my web site.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sun Feb 24th, 2008 at 12:05:58 PM EST
You are right that labels can confuse, especially internationally. But in the end in a political process one has to group and ally with others who may not share all opinions, but enough that one can go to the political process. And I think your way of putting up just the ones which have more against those who have less is pretty much oversimplified, both because how exactly redistribution takes place matters and because there are not only financial aspects of politics.
As well then one would expect countries like US or UK with relatively high social inequality to have their main left parties left of e.g. the German main left party, but the politicalcompass and the wiki says, that Labour in UK is even right of A. Merkel (who is economically clearly right of the center of her party) in both dimensions they consider.
And of course your putting up of goals vs. process orientation is questionable. Economic freedom is a goal, not a process.

I wrote this diary as a response of a comment of dodo, who is aware of the specific political situation in Germany.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Feb 24th, 2008 at 12:34:23 PM EST
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