Uncommon Sense

October 30, 2016

Conservatives and Freedom

Filed under: Culture,History — Steve Ruis @ 8:46 am
Tags: , ,

Many a conservative has uttered the claim that they are only trying to protect their “freedom,” which is precious to them. This is hard to argue against so liberals, like me, ask them to clarify what their notion of “freedom” is. They respond with something along the lines of “what we had when….”

I have commented before that conservatives have a much too rosy picture of the past while liberals have a much too rosy picture of the future. With regard to the “freedom” most conservatives say they want: freedom to do what they want personally, freedom from governmental interference in their lives (except in the case of abortion, women’s rights, etc., etc.), freedom to do what they want in business, and so on, harkening to the past is a strange approach.

If you go to our deep past, back to when humans lived in tribes or family groups, what kind of individual freedom did we have? In such a small group, there was very little individual freedom. One did what the tribe needed. You had no choice of occupation. You didn’t get to choose who you worked with. You didn’t get to choose who you married, or whether you married. You didn’t get to choose where you lived or what you ate, and so on. You did what the chiefs/leaders told you to or you found yourself alone.

If you jump from then to much closer to now, the conditions were much the same. As an individual, you had the choice to starve and not much else. Most people did what they were told to do by a religious official or a rich person. Ordinary people did not have the resources to strike out on their own unless they were quite self-sufficient and there were very, very few of those people.

So, from where did the idea of “individual freedom” come? It came from modern society. The closer you get to modern society, the more individual freedom there is.

And what is it that most conservatives are rejecting?

You got it in one: modern society.

Conservatives have existed throughout human history. You can’t go back to a previous time for which there are written records without finding complaints from conservatives about the moral decay of society and the same for “today’s youth.” Youths are pretty much the only humans who have the energy to oppose the inertia of our society, so they are an obvious target for progress suppressionists. So, as our society has “decayed” we have become more and more free.

Conservatives apparently want the product of the modernization trend (freedom), but don’t want the modern along with it. Any who say we were “more free” in the past are probably pointing to a privileged group, such as the rich, who had a pocket of greater freedom due to their wealth, or to a group who had privileges hard wired into society, such as racial privileges. The “freedom” of those people was at the expense of large numbers of other people and was a false kind of freedom.


  1. It’s like religious liberty. Several Republicans are inconsistent when they reject non-Christian faith groups . I really believe that freedom is what US founding fathers fought for. Interesting post.


    Comment by oosorio456 — October 30, 2016 @ 9:02 am | Reply

    • I agree and unless one believes that a static society is the best society (only the “haves” would agree), the concept of “freedom” must evolve. I feel that becoming more free is a good thing in the long run … as long as one acknowledges that with more freedom comes more responsibility (to do no harm to others, for example).

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — October 30, 2016 @ 9:27 am | Reply

  2. Excellent observation and write up sir!

    I think the conservatives want their cake and get to eat it too. They want lower taxes on the rich and the freedom to exclude or deny service to anyone they deem unfit. You know like gays, people of color, or women seeking abortions.

    You are right when you mention how the religious conservatives are always harping on the ills of modern society, I have heard that shit since I was old enough to understand the words. Those people spend an inordinate amount of time playing LP’s (remember those?) backwards.


    Comment by shelldigger — October 30, 2016 @ 9:27 am | Reply

    • As I think I have mentioned we are “of an age” and remember such things (Paul is dead!). I, like, Will Durant think that there is a role for us all: liberals to push for progress and conservatives to resist, much like to be able to exert a physical force requires resistance. I would prefer a more rational interchange in the process, though.

      On Sun, Oct 30, 2016 at 9:27 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — October 30, 2016 @ 9:32 am | Reply

  3. The most conservative people in the world are the Muslim Fundamentalists, and Western Conservatives are really no different. Their ideology is the same…… “we need to go back to how we lived in the past”.


    Comment by Gushopper — October 30, 2016 @ 10:11 am | Reply

    • Typically, that means “when you were a slave and I a master” but I don’t think that was a result of a thought process. Since religions “supported” by scripture (enforced) say that the scripture is unchangeable, then the past is where everything was more perfect. Any changes in society are therefore for the worse because back then, we knew everything we needed to know and “scripture” tells us what we need to know, so stop with all of this modernity.

      Of course, if these people get sick or injured, they want every treatment modern medicine can supply. They also want modern amenities, like electricity and good plumbing, etc. Humans not only invented the term cognitive dissonance, they live by it.


      Comment by Steve Ruis — October 30, 2016 @ 10:20 am | Reply

  4. If it only it were possible to gather all such freedom lovers who want nothing to do with the federal government, and let them form a government-less society on some remote island. (I expect many will gladly volunteer seeing how thousands of such people congregate in remote compounds in places like Idaho or Montana.)
    My expectation would be that left without any government, they’d probably form their own government, and there wouldn’t be any more freedom in that society than in the US.


    Comment by List of X — October 30, 2016 @ 12:21 pm | Reply

    • Kind of a “Lord of the Maggots” scenario, eh? Isn’t there a town in Idaho that was purchased and set up along those lines? Last I read it was kind of a hell on Earth for residents.

      On Sun, Oct 30, 2016 at 12:21 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — October 30, 2016 @ 2:56 pm | Reply

  5. As a conservative I understand that wanting the freedom to do what I want to do also implies that anyone has the right to do what they want, even if I don’t agree with it. This current cycle, Trump, feels farther to the right than usual and I think the left before it, Obama, was further to the left. Thanks for the read.


    Comment by J. Carswell — March 20, 2017 @ 9:52 pm | Reply

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