So, the labels “Liberal,” “Conservative,” and “Reactionary” are regularly bandied about and employed like edged weapons. There seems to be no stronger epithet these days, one of these labels in the hands of an adversary. But, let’s spend a moment examining each of them.
A Liberal, according to Webster, is someone open to new behaviors or opinions and willing to discard traditional values.
A Conservative is a person holding to traditional values and is cautious about change or innovation.
A Reactionary is a person opposed to political or social change or reform. Dictionary.com also defines it as “…..extreme conservatism in politics.”
The all have both positive and negative aspects (for someone). All three see themselves as the keepers of the sacred flame. Liberals push for change. Change is good. Change equals progress. Well, not always. Unbridled change often leads to chaos. Whenever you enable a change to endow a right or freedom to a hitherto unprotected class you invariably step on someone else’s toes. For example: Transgender rights to a bathroom of their choice. Liberals are all for it. Conservatives and Reactionaries (with the noted exceptions of the transgender him/her self) are concerned that some 6’2” “man” will invade a woman’s room and molest young women. While it may not be a real problem it is certainly a perceived one. Solution: Make all bathrooms single occupancy/gender neutral.
The term “traditional values” in the US are almost entirely religion based. One continuing and particularly contentious issue is under the heading of “Pro- Choice/Right to Life,” Conservatives and Reactionaries are almost universally against it because the “church” defines the beginning of life at conception. It’s not about the woman’s right to choose because if life begins at conception, abortion is murder. Liberals believe that the woman’s right to control over her own body is paramount and that she should have the sole discretion over whether or not to allow this pregnancy to proceed to term.
Fact: a fetus is not viable until at least 22 weeks, and even then, fewer than 10% survive. So, if the fetus cannot be expected to survive (i.e. become a person), how can this be considered murder? At 24 weeks approximately 50% will survive and it’s not until 27 week that viability approaches 90%. Solution: Arbitrarily place viability at 24 weeks and allow the pregnant mother to terminate an unwanted pregnancy at any time up to then.
Reactionaries are defined in the dictionary by their opposition to change. But I see them as even more radical than that. They seem to prefer the values and pace of a simpler more “idyllic” time when life was more predictable, represented now, perhaps, by the 1950s. Good jobs on the production line for male high school grads, no men in the ‘ladies’ room, no marijuana (let the kiddies drink beer, it was good enough for us), blacks in their ‘place’, separate but equal, no ‘miscegenation,’ the US as the only major power left standing, Eisenhower in the White House and a white Puritan ethos fits all.
The Liberals want untrammeled “progress” and are willing to go into debt to achieve it. The Conservatives are interested in conserving what they have (i.e. “I’ve got mine, screw you”). The Reactionaries are against any change and, in fact, want to go back to a time when they had more and you (by implication) had less.
I hope this helped.
Dave Bresler is CEO of the New York City-based Network!Network!, which is a community of business development professionals, entrepreneurs and business leaders who meet monthly to find synergies and make connections that expand business.