On Human Potential

Hey everyone, I’m alive.

First, I want to apologize for my lack of posts – I am working full time at the moment to pay for my masters program.  I’ll probably post more come October when I’m back in an academic environment.  Now, on to ‘gasp’ an actual post!

I’m almost certain that I made a post in the past examining present day liberal and conservative views on human nature, but I didn’t find anything when I searched through my archives.  To do a quick recap of a post that may or may not exist, I’m pretty sure that I explored conservative and liberal trust in human nature.  Basically it is a liberal inclination to see human vice as a product of circumstance, while more conservative people think of vice as an inherent part of the human psyche.  From my readings and reflections, I also believe conservatives take people to be responsible for their circumstance (i.e. we create our situation through free will).  There’s another aspect of modern liberalism and conservatism that I want to explore, the spectrum of trust in human intellect.

Based on my understanding of the general features of liberals and conservatives I would argue that liberalism generally features a trust in our ability to manipulate our world and puts little faith in the goodness of the natural.  Conservatives take the opposite stance – they distrust the human potential to successfully manipulate the world and believe more strongly that the world will turn out alright if left to its own devices.

Lets look at some evidence:
Liberals… generally support taxation (goes against nature) to fund government programs to improve society and redistribute wealth (goes against nature and trust in human intellect).  They generally support environmental activities (not leaving nature to its own devices + believing that we are powerful enough to create ecological disaster).  They are generally more in favor of restorative justice (belief in our power to fix people + disbelief in natural character).

Conservatives pretty much take the opposite position on all of these points – they believe the natural state is preferable, and distrust human potential to successfully improve our circumstances.

Probably the most controversial aspect of this framing is the notion that conservatives are more attached to the natural then liberals, given the word’s association with the environmental movement.  The natural that I am speaking of though is not the environment but ‘the natural order of things being superior to any order that we would bring.’  This phrasing is important because conservatives  generally consider the world to be more dangerous then liberals (as in, I read a few articles on google that agreed on this point) but would still think that the world left alone is better then the world foolishly fooled with.

What do you think of this framing of the left and right?  Let me know what you think.


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