The Difference Between Conservatives & Progressives

1

What are the differences between Conservatives and Progressives?

Differences between conservatives and progressives are as stark as those between libertarians and authoritarians, even though both conservatives and progressives each have liberal and illiberal leanings, respectively. Contrasts come down to the issues on which they are either more or less liberal, which almost always differ. In other words, conservatives are more liberal when it comes to economic freedom, whereas progressives tend to be more liberal when it comes to personal freedom. This inversion of commitments means both conservatives and progressives will make common cause with libertarians or authoritarians (depending on the issue) but almost never with each other. Such stark contrast creates the left/right dichotomy that seems to be more familiar in contemporary politics. Still, that dichomy obscures the liberal/illiberal distinction, which is increasingly important in the twenty-first century.

How are Conservatives and Progressives similar?

Due to conservatives’ and progressives’ inverted commitments to either economic or personal freedom, respectively, there are virtually no similarities between conservatives and progressives.

Are You Conservative Or Progressive?

Find out in less than 5 minutes by taking the Worlds Smallest Political Quiz

Take The Quiz

More About Conservatives

Conservatives score higher on economic freedom but lower on personal freedom. For example, conservatives generally support honest entrepreneurship and free enterprise but think that too much personal freedom breeds widespread immorality. Conservatives thus worry that excesses in personal freedom can lead to cultural or civilizational decline.

More About Progressives

Progressives (sometimes referred to as “liberals”) score lower on economic freedom but higher on personal freedom. That means progressives are quicker to embrace values of personal choice but place a comparatively lower value on private property rights or investment, production, and exchange. Many progressives think capitalism is a system that allows the strong to prey upon the vulnerable.

Most progressives are committed to the administrative ordering of society along economic lines. Because progressives view themselves as advocates for those they consider dispossessed or disenfranchised, progressives favor wealth redistribution. Such redistributive policies include high taxes and revenues to fund centralized social programs or welfare schemes.

In recent decades, many progressives have moved away from supporting civil liberties such as free speech, and legal doctrines such as equal treatment under the law. Instead, more progressives think that social justice requires abandoning civil rights in favor of “equity,” which means equality of outcome. More contemporary progressives are willing to curtail the freedoms of certain groups -- such as the wealthy -- whom they view as oppressors operating in an unfair system.

Take the World's Smallest Political Quiz

The Advocates for Self-Government

Login

Forgot your password?

Take the world's smallest political quiz.