Quote of the Day

04 Apr

[Liberalism] is based on the belief that man is so weak and inadequate that he is unable to govern himself, and therefore requires the rule of strong masters.

[Conservatism] is based on the conviction that man has the moral and intellectual capacity, as well as the inalienable right, to govern himself with reason and fairness.

[Liberalism] subjects the individual to the arrest without lawful cause, punishment without trial, and forced labor as the chattel of the state.  It decrees what information he shall receive, what art he shall produce, what leaders he shall follow, and what thoughts he shall think.

[Conservatism] maintains that government is established for the benefit of the individual, and is charged with the responsibility of protecting the rights of the individual and his freedom in the exercise of those abilities….

– Harry S. Truman in his 1949 inaugural address (Truman, p. 730)

Of course, the original text compares Communism to Democracy, but I felt that the slight word play fits our present political climate.


Posted by on April 4, 2010 in History


6 responses to “Quote of the Day

  1. Bob G.

    April 5, 2010 at 7:09 am

    I wouldn’t have known that TRUMAN said that…astounding.
    (and he was a democrat…go figure)

    That was a good find!


  2. Martin

    April 5, 2010 at 7:31 am

    Really, really disagree here man.

    I’m not going to argue with the first two paragraphs, though I disagree very much with them. I think the changes you’ve made show a willingness to overlook important parts of each philosophy.

    But the third, there I’m going to have to speak up. Of the philosophical mindsets of either of the present conservative or liberal parties (assuming for a moment that they even really represent what conservative minded or liberal minded people think), which is more likely to make arrests without cause? Which to sentence to punishment without trial? Given what I can remember of the past 17 years, it is the conservative governments that have rescinded Habeus corpus and kept people without trial for years.

    Of the two, which is more likely to censor the information we receive of the art we produce? It was under Democrat LBJ that the Freedom of Information Act was first signed into law; under GWB that the scope and powers thereof were limited (Executive Order 13233). Yes, I know that liberals have done things to limit information, but certainly no more at all than conservatives—not by a long stretch.
    Further, I have never heard of a liberal politician saying “that art is too radical, too spirited, too racey for the public; we must stop its production.” If anything, it is the conservative voice that says this. (I would like to say here that I do not agree with a great deal of art that is produced, I do not support certain kinds of expression. But I’m not taling about my views, I’m talking about what I see politicians doing and what that leads to.) It is not the liberals in the nation that are cutting music programs in schools and arts programs in communities.

    As for what leaders we shall follow, the conventions of both parties do that for us. In Utah of all places that is apparent. Whom the party selects is almost guaranteed to be elected. Fall out of favor with the party and BOOM, you’re gone. Take for example former Gov. Olene Walker. Very popular in her brief term following Leavitt’s exit, she was disliked by the party and was chosen to run for re-election (which almost never happens there). It is easy to see that both conservatives and liberals alike are told which leaders to follow. The unfortunate deep divide in our nation at the moment does “force” half of the people to follow leaders that they wouldn’t choose, but that is true no matter which side is in power. The one side is always forcing itself on the other.

    What thoughts we shall think? Three words: Texas School Board. Taking Thomas Jefferson off the list of writers important to the American Revolution seems pretty “new-speak-y” to me. Those aren’t liberals down there doing that.

    You and I have both lived in formerly communist nations, and we both know that that is no way to treat a people or to run a country. It is contrary to SO MANY fundamental principles we hold dear, and it should never happen again.
    But I have lived in a formerly Fascistic nation as well, and I can say that swinging as far from the left as you can will only throw you into the arms of a different kind of dictatorship with rights equally revoked and people equally oppressed.

    By this I do not mean to call conservatives fascist. But I feel that you DO mean to call liberals communists. I cannot accept this comparison. You know I my mother and I think you know that she is a ‘liberal’ but I don’t think for a moment that you would impugn her goodness or her desires for freedom or her patriotism. These hats that you are placing on people are too broad and don’t allow for any room for difference. The face of Liberalism is not the face of it’s people, and you should be careful to remember that. Likewise, it is important to remember that not everyone within the conservative movement has high morals or desires for the freedom of all.
    Corruption runs deep within both sides and neither can be called blameless. What you have done by taking this quote out of context and changing it to fit your whim is to paint a picture of a world that doesn’t exist. I agree with what Truman said about Communism Vs Democracy, but that is not true of the way you have changed it.

  3. Reese

    April 5, 2010 at 8:17 am


    You touched on SOOOOOOO many things. But I feel that you may have brushed past an important part of this post.

    “Of the philosophical mindsets of either of the present conservative or liberal parties (assuming for a moment that they even really represent what conservative minded or liberal minded people think), which is more likely…”

    You of all people should know me better than to truly believe that I would easily separate Democrats and Republicans into Liberals and Conservatives. Candidate (D) is no more liberal than Candidate (R) simply because of the letter after his name. A perfect example is Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah’s 2nd District vs. Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah’s 3rd District. It would be fare to say that Congressman Matheson is more conservative than Congressman Chaffetz (and I doubt that I’m alone in that feeling).

    I’m happy that you pointed out the LBJ vs. GWB comparison. W was most definitely NOT a conservative.

    To me, the difference between what I call a liberal or conservative agenda is based on how a person (or a party) uses government power. I quoted George Washington a few weeks ago: “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

    Remember that classical liberalism (as understood in the late 18th and early 19th centuries) was committed to the ideal of limited government and liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free markets. In my mind, once those were established, the language changed so that conservatives wanted to maintain that form of limited government, while liberals seek to increase the size and power of government.

    Picture the political spectrum, if you will, in terms of left and right (rather than liberal or conservative). Draw a horizontal line on a piece of paper and draw a dot at the left end, right end and in the center. On the left end write the word “left,” on the right end write the word “right,” over the center dot write “center.” The more toward either end a political philosophy goes is “liberal,” while those staying in the center are “conservative.” Yes, I know this is different from the current language used in politics, but it is how I see them. True political discourse that positively affects the nation happens from the center (center-left and center-right), not from the fringe.

    I agree with you that elections are won or lost at the convention. I went to my first caucus meeting this year and I promise it won’t be my last. More people need to be involved at the entry level if they want to effect real change in their government.

    I love your mother and I’ve never thought of her as a liberal. True, I’ve never sat down and had a political discussion with her, but I’d never call her a liberal because of the (D) on her voter registration card. That is irresponsible and narrow minded.

    Hopefully my definitions will clear up the quote, and my intentions, a little more.

  4. Chanel

    April 5, 2010 at 8:50 am

    The problem here is that conservative and liberal have definitions already. And as much as thy are constantly redefined by individuals, they carry with them meanings that remain unaltered.

    The definitions below are from, but they fit with other definitions I have found in academic dictionaries.

    Liberal: favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.

    Conservative: disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.

    Liberals seek progress; conservatives stick with the traditional. The reason “the left” is usually seen as liberal is because they are always trying to change things (make government bigger, pass new environmental restrictions, legalize such things as gay marriage and marijuana use). “The right” is seen as conservative because they are trying to preserve traditional American practices (protect the bill of rights, limit the power of the federal government to control market forces, make abortion/gay marriage unlawful).

    These definitions are already established, and as much as you may want to redefine them, it won’t work. Your communication will be clearer if you use the words in ways that people already understand and accept.

    When these definitions are given, by the way, your quote makes little sense. In some cases American traditions have preserved liberties, in other cases they have denied them. In some cases progress could lead to freedom, and in other cases it would leed to slavery.

    The bottom line is that all liberals do not believe men are weak and all conservative are not out to protect freedom.

    • Reese

      April 5, 2010 at 9:32 am

      Political definitions are constantly changing (example classical liberalism vs. modern liberalism) and should be viewed from the eye of the philosopher and outside of dictionary.

      The very definition of liberal and conservative are different from the left, right and center. And let’s not forget Libertarians. Do you consider them liberal or conservative?

  5. Forrest

    April 5, 2010 at 9:26 am

    I would like to say something here quickly, I tend to not stick my nose in here also, but I always find it funny that Liberals (Or Commies Lite) (just kidding) Love to view the right or conservatism as leading us down a trail towards Fascism. This is wildly incorrect seeing that Fascism is an extreme version of Socialism, since the State has taken over the country’s economy and means of production (sounds familiar huh?) You have to remove the discussion on Democrat and Republican from the debate since these are political groups with political agendas that will lead to either Communism or Fascism. Now, Conservative philosophy calls for very limited government and a strong emphasis on freedom. While Liberalism at it’s core is the nanny state. They feel that social justice is needed and that the GOVERNMENT is the best model to make that happen. So, in all reality, Liberalism will lead you to either, communism, socialism, or Fascism. Conservatism will lead you to a free market with little government control (only the bare minimum is needed to ensure no monopolies dominate th market) and greater personal responsibility and self sufficiency. Conservatives tend to rely upon community or religious groups to help the needed and provide for those less than capable. just a view…


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