Having lived for many decades in deeply liberal enclaves and having had many long-term friendly and working relationships with progressive types, I puzzled about the mental diff myself.
What I came up with is that your basic libertarian conservative is an optimist who doesn’t doubt for a second that, left to our own devices, things slowly but surely tend to get better. Your social conservative feels much the same *provided* we are on guard against moral trespass–you can’t get on the right track if you’re living on the wrong track.
Your progressive, otoh, is a pessimist who firmly believes that, left to our own devices, we will surely go astray in mass through greed, ignorance, prejudice and other low motivations. Hence, we need parental-type authority over us. Love of material things, particularly in categories like guns and cars, stands as proof of intent to drag all of society into your own mental hell.
If you point out the march of progress over recent centuries to them, to the extent they reply at all (as opposed to just blowing you off as some idiot), it is to state that that’s all delusion, a bubble that will burst leaving us in worse shape than if we had not pursued the folly of econo-technical progress at the expense of getting our heads right. Almost anything you say to them not from the choir book is mere confirmation that you are hopelessly delusional.
Curiously, most people who come right out and say they are socialists, you can have a debate with. They just think you’re the enemy, a swine, deluded but not delusional.
October 17, 2010
Comment to Same Planet different worlds.
[I really like this. I like the way it succulently expresses the philosophical viewpoint of the various camps. Of course it’s possible to construct some gray area between the various camps. For example it’s possible to say the government should stay out of the lives of people but if people want to use public roads it might be okay for government require proof of driving skill.
But the main conclusion which can be drawn from this is that the progressive/pessimist leads themselves into a logical trap. If they are correct that people will “go astray” and need parental-type authority over them then the same argument can used against government. Hence you end up requiring an infinite chain of parental-type authorities. Just like requiring the universe to have a creator—who created the creator? It’s not turtles all the way down and the government can’t be fathers all the way up.—Joe]