“What makes an outlook “conservative” is that it is rooted in an attitude about the past rather than in expectations of the future. The first principles of conservatism are propositions about human nature and the way human beings behave in a social context; about limits and what limits make possible. This practicality, this attention to experience, to workable arrangements, explains why the conservative community can be liberal and tolerant toward its members in ways that the progressive left cannot.
In contrast to the conservative outlook, liberal and radical ideologies are about the future, and about desired outcomes. The first principles of the left are the principles of politically constructing a “better world.” Throughout the modern era, the progressive future has been premised on a social contract that would make all of society’s members equal – or at least provide them with equal starting points.
Since ideologies of the left are commitments to an imagined future, to question them is to provoke a moral rather than an empirical response: Are you for or against the equality of human beings? To dissent from the progressive viewpoint is not a failure to assess relevant facts but an unwillingness to embrace a liberated future. It is, therefore, to will the imperfections and injustices of the present order. In the current cant of the left, it is to be “racist, sexist, classist,” a defender of the status quo.
That is why not only radicals, but even those who call themselves liberals, are instinctively intolerant towards the conservative position. For progressives, the future is not a maze of human uncertainties and unintended consequences. It is a moral choice. To achieve the socially just future requires only that enough people decide to will it. Consequently, it is perfectly consistent for progressives to consider themselves morally and intellectually enlightened, while dismissing their opponents as morally repulsive reactionaries, unworthy of the community of other human beings.”
- David Horowitz, The Black Book of the Left