What is the difference between liberalism, conservatism, and radicalism?political science.

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Conservatism is a general political theory that seeks to keep things the way they are. General beliefs support the "status quo"; cautiously consider or resist change; and rely upon traditional values. Conservative ideology has been called "the right" or "right–wing" segment of a theoretical political continuum. Historically, conservatism has been linked to the Republican party in the United States. In contrast to conservatism, liberalism generally supports reform, change and attaches great importance to safeguarding individual rights and freedom of the individual in society. The Democratic Party in the United States is usually considered more liberal that the Republican Party. Radicalism--political and social movements and ideologies that aim at fundamental change in the structure of society--has also been a persistent feature of U.S. history. Radicalism can result from either conservatism or liberalism. The distinction between a "radical" conservative or a "radical" liberal is usually based on how far a person will go to implement their ideology. Radicals are much more convinced about the correctness of their views and often work outside the usual pathways of govenment.However, sometimes today's radicalism becomes tomorrow's liberalism or conservatism--as in the case of the American Revolution, civil rights, and opposition to the Vietnam War.

enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

These designations of political philosophy are also described as "left" (Liberal) and "right" (Conservative) with the radical element making the liberal more extremely liberal and the conservative more extremely conservative.  If a liberal leans toward the right, or a conservative toward the left, there's a "middle of the road" Centrist designation as well.  However, that's looking at the political spectrum in one, linear dimension.  The case has been make that the spectrum is two dimensional, with an up and down component; "up" tending toward moral and economic freedom, "down" tending toward government control of morality and economics.  The radical element of "up" is Anarchy; that of "down" is Totalitarianism.  See more at the link:

discussion1984 | Student

Liberalism is about de jure: legal rights, liberties, division of government into powers. It ranges from the watch-dog state to the welfare state. Conservatism is about maintaining the economic, social, and political status quo. Sometimes they border on fascism. Radicalism? I don't know, that could be anything that isn't liberal or conservative. I take it most poli. sci. people would think it includes all sorts of things like Marxism, feminism, green politics.

Despite the supposed differences, I think most ideologies are the same with the socialists and anarchists being the most distinctive.

riddhi23 | Student

Liberalism: We all have the same rights and freedom.
Radicalism: We want even more rights and freedom.
Conservatism: No you don't.

super25 | Student

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