Sir F. Chook, Inventor of Leopard Oil

Likeness captured upon a daguerrotype machine in Japan, July 1891


Wherein the Author reflects upon certain topical & personal issues of the Day.

Explaining the Chook Diagram Mk 1

Penned upon the 6th of May, 2006

In which Sir Frederick references this post.

The three poles do not necessarily represent any specific form of government nor the extent of that government’s powers. Size and strength of government is very difficult to glue to ideology. We can easily imagine a “small” liberal government bearing only minimal powers and giving maximum leeway to its citizens, but we can also imagine a “large” liberal government providing liberties through services and rule of law.

No, the three poles better represent what a government, state, system or structure DOES with the power it has. They describe ideological goals. Being that this is a democratic, parliamentary model, a certain amount of pragmatism in method can be assumed even at the extremes of the model.

Those at the CONSERVATIVE point are concerned with morality and law and order. That the citizenry follow correct patterns of behaviour is paramount. Deviation from the prescribed norm is seen as encouraging criminality, and of course criminality is seen as encouraging deviation from the prescribed norm. Authority in such a system is given to those most possessing the quintessential virtues of the society: hence “aristocracy”, “rule by the best”.

Those at the LIBERAL point are concerned with individual freedom and equality of opportunity. In such a system, the role of collective activity is to provide for the individual. This need not be democratic – early liberal thought ranged from Hobbes’s belief that individual freedom could only be maintained through an incredibly strong, despotic state, to Rousseau’s belief that the state could be an organic, free-flowing institution born directly from the will of the public. Liberal definitions of freedom have traditionally included freedom of trade, though this is not strictly free-market or capitalistic.

Those at the SOCIALIST point are concerned with quality of life, and equality of ends. The perception of a shared virtue of all members of such a system, and so the insistence that they not be disadvantaged, drives this goal. The purpose of collective organisation is thus to creative this collective prosperity. This point is traditionally the most likely to either insist on democracy or to claim democracy even when it is not present.

Outspoken proponents of all three points are often quick to insist upon their ideology’s distinctiveness and purity. Overlap is quite common, however. A common and problematic one today is Liberal Conservatism, which combines insistence upon the free market with a strong role for government in law and order, public morality and militarism. The dramatic difference in character between this and State Paternalism, a blend of Socialism and Conservatism, in which the state is used to provide for the public and look after their interests, shows how insufficient merely nominating a notion as “conservative” may be.

Hard rules about non-democratic or religious approaches to this system are basically impossible to formulate. We may associate conservatism with strong religious and anti-democratic views, or socialism with political, economic and cultural dictatorship, or liberalism with secularism, but examples of almost any possible combination have existed. Nations with a long democratic history have adopted this into their conservative credo. Enlightened, liberal dictators were all the rage in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Democratic interests being sacrificed in the name of free-market interests are a hot issue today.

Every system in the world has elements of all three points operating within it, of course. Few if any nations entirely reject some form of welfare and democratic economy, or restrict all rights of the individual, or never think of central authority as an example of “the Good way of doing things”. Despite this inevitable blending, analysis of the policies of an individual or party or state can give us an understanding of how their ideas are informed.

This helps us understand oddities such as Fascism in the mid-twentieth century, which was at once informed by conservatism (central authority enforcing moral virtues and maintaining order), liberalism (encouraging personal development and ambition) and socialism (improving quality of life for all citizens). People from all corners of the model oppose Fascism, so we can see that it is seen as repuslive not because of what it takes from the political traditions but separate aspects – racism, persecution, violence, anti-democraticism, warmaking. We can also see that modern movements, such as the Greens, can be informed at once by the rights of the individual (liberalism) and the needs of the disadvantaged (socialism), and if not conservatism then certainly conservationism (bwa-bwa-bwa-bwaaaaaa).

COMING SOON: Postmodernism and Cross-class Behavioural Patterns, Something Fluffy about Hats or Something

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