What is most common in people’s mind in regards what characterizes a conservative person, it is widely accepted that conservative is an individual with rather “ old-fashioned” ideas, or one that sticks to tradition. Usually a conservative person refuses to follow the stream and embrace new concepts. According to the Oxford Dictionaries, conservative as an adjective means “ holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion” (oxforddictionaries. com), while in terms of what defines a conservative person, Oxford Dictionaries note that it is “ a person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes, typically in relation to politics” (http://oxforddictionaries. com).
However, when conservative starts with a capita “ c”, things change, as the term conservative refers to a political preference. The findings of a 50-year research literature about the underlying motivation and psychology of conservatism, report that a political conservative person is in fact resisting to any change whatsoever and demonstrate a tolerance for inequality (Maclay, 2003). Political conservatism is distinguished by psychological factors that appear to be common among conservatives, which include: aggression, intolerance of ambiguity, terror management, dogmatism and fear, among others (Maclay, 2003). Moreover, always under the same aforementioned psychological microscope, conservatives find it hard to deal with uncertainty and they feel comfortable when hanging on their status quo (Maclay, 2003), while the world is more of a black and white to them.
It is true that most people are reluctant to change and resist to anything new; yet, a liberal person appears to have a higher tolerance for change, compared to a conservative one (Maclay, 2003).
Tracing back the roots of liberal, one will find that it comes from liber, which is the Latin word for “ free”. Being a liberal has diverse meaning over the years. For example, Shakespeare wrote of a liberal “ villaine” in his comedic play Much Adoe About Nothing (1600), which represents the negative attributes people had for being liberals back then. However, with Enlightenment, the meaning of the word “ liberal” took a different twist until it reached the modern days, where liberal means an individual that has not the same tradition-stick boundaries like other people and is more willing to open-mindness than others. Of course, “ liberal” with a capital “ L”, refers to the political views of an individual that in many cases go hand in hand with their personal beliefs.
In regards the political stage, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica, liberals believe that freedom of the individual is a highly sought-after value and a big problem when dealing with politics (http://www. britannica. com). To them, the assigned government is held responsible for protecting the freedom of each individual under their authority, and for preventing people to harm each other; nevertheless, government itself can counter fire at liberty and become a threat itself (http://www. britannica. com). Of course, based on the findings of the 50-year research literature, as mentioned before, a liberal would normally be an individual embracing change, showcasing intolerance to inequality and would have nothing to do with fear, aggression and dogmatism, as conservatives are believed to have.
Finally, a new economic philosophy that has jumped right out the liberal scholars of Europe, is called “ neo-liberalism” and it created to become the platform of classical liberalism as we know it and collectivist central planning (Mirowski & Plehwe, 2009).
Oxford Dictionaries, Definition of conservative in English. Retrieved in August 2013, from: http://oxforddictionaries. com/definition/american_english/conservative
Kathleen Maclay, Researchers help define what makes a political conservative, 2003. Retrieved from: http://www. berkeley. edu/news/media/releases/2003/07/22_politics. shtml
Encyclopaedia Britannica, liberalism, n. d. Retrieved from: http://www. britannica. com/EBchecked/topic/339173/liberalism
Shakespeare William, Much Adoe About Nothing, 1600.
Philip Mirowski, Dieter Plehwe, The road from Mont Pèlerin: the making of the neoliberal thought collective, Harvard University Press, 2009,