Most people who call themselves Conservatives today or who are called Conservatives are in reality Classical Liberals. They share a number of things in common, neither are Socialists and they are mostly socially Conservative.
However there are things that mark them out as different.
Classical Liberals believe in liberty, that freedom is the greatest thing. That meant freedom from Priests and Kings, but while other branches of Liberalism kept seeking further and further freedoms, Classical Liberalism mainly stopped. It was content with the freedoms that it had. It saw itself as fulfilled with freedom of religion, of speech, property. It didn't understand why the other branches of Liberalism kept asking for more. It believed that they were radical but that they were sensible. And that if they were not radicals than that must mean that they are Conservatives.
But Conservatives believe in something different, Conservatives believe in Tradition, Order and Family. In other words in stability and in reconciling the past, the present and the future, not in rejecting any of those things. Of course when Conservatives say they don't believe in liberty or freedom than Liberals think we must support Dictatorship or slavery. But what we accept and Liberals do not is that freedoms are not absolute and that one freedom can interfere with another freedom. In other words not all freedoms are equal or desirable.
Those more "radical" branches of Liberalism have kept the idea of freedom, absolute freedom alive. Classical Liberalism believed in some restraint, both public and personal. But not the rest of Liberalism, they believed in continuing the logical progression within Liberalism. If freedom is absolute then there is much more to achieve. Freedom from ones social class, from ones Ethnicity, Nationality and Race, freedom from biology, freedom his history, freedom from responsibility.
Classical Liberalism and Conservatives both agree, this is fruitcake territory. Sadly that doesn't stop Classical Liberals from joining in on the Liberal logic train. They think "Ohhh sure most of this is crazy, but this one bit is completely comparable with my other beliefs". The Liberal in them is ignited and they then use this to bring along other "Conservatives". It's reasonable they argue, it's such a small concession they argue, it will show that we are not rigid or old fashioned they argue, it will show our good faith they argue, it will be popular they argue, it will be a vote winner they argue.
They believe in a radical revolutionary philosophy and they think that they can turn it on or off at their discretion. Liberalism doesn't work like that, you cannot choose how much revolution you can have. In that sense Classical Liberals live in a world filled with Unprincipled Exceptions, that they can pick and choose how much of this or that they will have. The other branches of Liberalism understand the logic of Liberalism, that Liberalism is a philosophy of more and more and that Liberalism always means more Liberalism.
But Classical Liberals do not understand that, instead they think they are Conservatives. They call Liberal principles Conservative principles. Here is a major reason why Liberalism keeps winning, it has "Conservative" allies, people who everyone should call what they are, Classical Liberals.
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