View Full Version : Conservatism vs liberalism : what is tolerance ?

01-03-07, 12:02
I usually describe myself as politically liberal (both socially and economically). This is because I believe in individual freedom, the free expression of individuality, and self-responsability for one's behaviour and choices.

Nonetheless, in my personal life I behave in a rather conservative way (which is my right within a liberal society). In other terms, I am free to live my life the way I want without anybody telling me what is good or bad for me, but I decide on my own to behave in a way that matches what conservatives usually want to impose on others : I don't smoke, I don't use drugs, I hardly drink alcohol, I dislike body piercings and tattoos, I dress in a sober and rather conservative way, I like classical arts (for almost anything from architecture to music), I speak in a more formal than informal way, I don't eat unhealthy food, I dislike messy or noisy environments, I like committed monogamous relationships rather than casual sex, I feel personally uncomfortable towards homosexuality...

In the USA, I could almost be called a "conservative upper-middle-class WASP", except than I am not Protestant or even religious (the Anglo-Saxon part is debatable, but in any case Germanic).

Yet, I am a liberal because I am tolerant of other people's lifestyles. I am not gay, and I wouldn't like to see two men kissing in the street, but I as a convinced liberal I will defend the right of gay people to get married or have the same legal rights as heterosexual people. I would never have a body piercing or tattoo, but I don't mind if my friends or family members do (that's their choice). I feel that classical music is far superior to any other genre, but I totally understand that not everybody (and even few people) feel this way. I don't smoke or drink abusively, but feel free to - it's your heath not mine !

Ego, the basis of tolerance

I realised that to be tolerant (and thus liberal), one has to be egoistic. It may seem contradictory if you do not make the same difference as me between "egoism" and "selfishness". I will define them this way.

- Egoism is being concerned about one's own persona, one's own problems, and one's own self-improvement, and ultimately one's own flourishing within the society. I consider it as a virtue as it is the basis of self-determination, self-responsibility, and self-fulfillment. It is usually a characteristic of hard-working, ambitious and successful people. It requires a big ego, which is the power that makes one want to struggle for improvement, be it by learning or being appreciated by others. Egoism requires "ego", i.e. one's sense of self-value, and the will to increase it.

- Selfishness is a completely different thing. It means behaving in the way one wants without taking care of other people's well-being, or in a way that is detrimental to others (or oneself). It is characterised by instant gratification without thinking of the consequence for oneself or for others. It is the basis of most vices and crimes : anti-social behaviour, delinquency, theft, vandalism, rape... Other examples of selfish behaviours would be people who abuse drugs to seek instant pleasure without thinking about their health, promiscuous people that have unprotected sex without thinking of STD's just because "it feels better this way", or people who listen to music too loud (at home or in their car) disturbing other people.

Being socially liberal (= tolerant) requires egoism because one needs to be sufficiently concerned about one's own person not to care about what others do. If you are easily influenced by others or take them as model, then naturally you will care more about their lifestyle than if you feel comfortable and confident with your own lifestyle. If someone is easily influenced by society because they lack enough "ego" and self-confidence, then they will want laws to protect them from undesireable or dangerous things. As a result they will vote for conservative parties that propose to ban them. Such people need the law to protect them, because they lack the "ego power" that will tell them what is good for them and what is not. They are afraid of being like sheep following the herd, and take drugs if it becomes "cool" or "on". People with a low ego thus become typical conservative voters.

People with a big ego will be much more inclined to accept and be tolerant of difference because they do not feel threathened by it.

The only intolerance which I accept is that directed at delinquency and crime. A society that becomes tolerant of crime is either sick or doomed (or both).

05-03-07, 01:33
I split the discussion about the difference of meaning of liberalism and conservatism in Europe and North America (http://www.eupedia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=24487). It fits better in the Politics & Government subforum. I want this thread to be about the psychological aspects of tolerance, and the way it relates to egoism vs selfishness.

11-10-20, 16:43
I want this thread to be about the psychological aspects of tolerance, and the way it relates to egoism vs selfishness.

I will differ personal from collective stance on this topic, and focus more on the later, tho would say that personally liberalism leads to ideological risks that arise from propaganda or corruption, like that one mindset is becoming so loosen that eventually he becomes indifferent!

so about the collective narrative and circumstances i'll say >>>

>>> in conservative environment honor is above all, which could be seen as ego prone momentum, but if in such societies Honesty is virtue then there should be no need for tolerance, coz any problem would be dealt in time, truthfulness that lead to lesser consequences than when in such conservative circumstances any arisen problem or liabilities to the mentality or the social hierarchy is pushed under the carpet eg. minority feeling of injustice opposed to majority conformism as local supremacy somehow ... but for this there should be in place dialog on every level what in conservative societies is less possible because fears of potential change thus there is quite tolerance but not real coexistence among all the citizens ...

>>> on other hand seemingly in liberal societies there is no need of tolerance and there is non stop open dialog but in reality when living in economic competing environment there is democratic hypocrisy assured by corruption, thus the tolerance is also more present than coexistence among the citizens, simply by majority vote again any minority is quited! even in the european union where there is consensual voting mechanism the proposed constitution which was prevented by local national referendums was pushed on back door through the Lisbon Treaty on elitist level, now in a way european nations have tolerated such criminal move where technocracy went ahead instead democracy!

if we see the things rightfully tolerance today is flip-flopped by interests in liberal societies, regularly making unethical compromises just because there is some higher cause that suits some majority or elites, that said this would be less endurable position than in any traditional conservative society where at least You are not fooled with loosen promises but clear stance on any problem i/e/ false promises are more rare than in liberal circumstances!