Seems like wherever people form themselves in groups, eventually they neatly divide themselves into liberal and conservative schools of thought. Pretty soon, they’re all hard at bashing each other to gain control over the direction of the entire group.

Why is this always the case?

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense, though. Liberals tend to be largely those who believe that existing societal injustices ought to be addressed by rule changes that impact the entire group. The most fervent liberals of course, will be those that are directly impacted by these injustices. Thus, they will fight hard to gain remedies in order to enjoy more full membership of the group i.e. society at large.

We see this most clearly with the waves of European, then Asian, immigrants that journeyed to American in the 1800s and 1900s. African ‘migration’ to America from the 1600s to mid-1800s resulted in millions of people seeking social justice well into the mid-1900s.

New immigrants were perceived to be the dregs of society – the takers, the vagrants, the ones that were ‘here’ to reap the rewards earned by the sweat and tears of previous generations of immigrants. Check out TV shows like BBC America’s ‘Copper’ or films like ‘The Gangs of New York’ to get some insight into how the ‘nativists’ treated the starving Irish, arriving in droves during the Potato Famine, as well as escaped or freed African slaves coming up from the American south.

However, a funny thing happens once a sub-group gains its measure of social justice, becoming an ‘equal’ member of the larger group.

Conservative views find fertile ground. The liberal focus on injustice, even while other sub-groups are still undergoing that experience, shifts instead to economic progress, as well as a consolidation of the hard earned rights of membership. With the yoke of persecution lifted, people can more freely compete as equals, investing their treasure and effort, seeking to earn just rewards.

People are liberals, until they feel they have an equal part in society. After that, they wax conservative, determined to maintain and improve their place. Perfectly human behavior.

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