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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

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