Progressivism / Conservatism / Liberalism / Capitalism / Socialism

General idea

In this post we will see how to differentiate the following economic ideas; Progressivism / Conservatism / Liberalism / Capitalism / Socialism


Progressivism is a political tendency, oriented towards the development of a welfare state, the defence of civil rights, citizen participation and a certain redistribution of wealth. It is usually framed within left-wing parties.

Its main approach has to do with the need for the state to guarantee equal social and economic conditions among citizens, so that it is their individual performance and not inherited benefits that decide their destiny and place in society.

It seeks to defend public financing of the health system, public financing of the education system, interruption of pregnancy, sexual freedom, euthanasia, environmentalism and secularism (unrelated to religious issues).

It advocates greater economic and social equality, as well as what they consider to be more advances or progress in socio-cultural matters.

Although the term comes from the French Revolution, it gained strength as a political trend in the contemporary struggles for civil and political rights that gave birth to feminism, environmentalism, secularism and gender diversity.

Conservatism is a set of social, ideological and political positions opposed to the notion of radical change and progress, in favour of the defence and perpetuation of family and religious values, with gradual and very controlled changes. They belong to the parties of .

Their fundamental values are centralism, with a political power structure with a clear core from which decisions are made, religiosity in defence of the church, order and stability, tradition and nationalism, opposed to the cosmopolitanism of left-wing ideology.

In economic matters, they opposed the free market, tending towards a protectionist economy favouring local landowners, linked to nationalism. Later, however, they merged with liberal tendencies in defence of the capitalist system, preferring the free market and little state interference in economic matters.

It arose to describe positions contrary to the progressive ideas of the French Revolution.

Types of conservatism include moderate or liberal (accepting democracy and little connected to religious values, linked more to nationalism and the free market) and extreme (linked to the values of the Ancien Régime such as religion, tradition, authority and fidelity to traditions).

Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy that defends individual and social freedom in the political sphere and private initiative in the economic and cultural sphere, limiting the intervention of the state and public authorities. In other words, individuals are free to do with their private lives as they choose without state involvement.

There are many types of liberalism, but in general, they all advocate freedom of speech and press, free markets (governed solely by supply and demand, generating competition on equal terms), secularism (freedom of worship and separation of state and church), gender equality, racial equality (to all human races), capitalism, private property, individual initiative, democracy, rule of law (the whole population governed by established rules), open society and internationalism.

Some other aspects to be highlighted are the non-politicisation of positions or sectors of the state such as education and justice, taxes reduced to a minimum, and that the state may not intervene with subsidies or provide social aid, but that this aid will be governed by private charity (at the will of each individual, not governed by the state).

One of the most influential liberal thinkers was John Locke. According to him, the state does not exist for the spiritual salvation of human beings but to serve the citizens and to guarantee their lives, liberty and property under a constitution.

Socialism advocates an economic and political system based on the socialisation of production systems and state control of economic sectors, which is opposed to the principles of capitalism. It claims to be the achievement of a just and united society, free of social classes and with an egalitarian distribution of wealth.

To this end, the means of production cannot be privately owned, as they would end up belonging to a capitalist minority that dominates the markets, taking advantage of its position to control the worker.

Although the ultimate aim of the socialists was to establish a communist society, they have increasingly focused on social reforms, with the state in charge of the means of production, mediating in the markets and protecting citizenship by guaranteeing an egalitarian society.

Capitalism is an economic system in which private individuals and business enterprises carry out the production and exchange of goods and services through complex transactions involving prices and markets. The founder of capitalism was the philosopher Adam Smith.

As basic characteristics, the means of production are privately owned, economic activity is organised by the interaction between buyers and sellers, consumers can spend their income as and when they wish to obtain the greatest satisfaction and, as a main point, the control of the private sector by the public sector must be minimal, if there is competition, economic activity will control itself.

Government activity is only necessary to manage national defence and to enforce respect for private property.


As we can see, all these ideologies can be grouped into both right-wing and left-wing ideas.
“In the end, left is a word that tries to give a voice to all those ideologies with a much more social content, with more distribution of wealth, other types of economic models that are not even based on capitalism, and so on. And the part of the right are those that believe more in the free market, have more emphasis on people’s freedom as individual rights rather than as social rights”.

And you, what do you think?


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