Is Change Good?

Progressive and Conservative are the opposing directions on the Axis of Uncertainty.

The Conservative attitude is: change is for the worse. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.“, …

The Progressive attitude is: change is for the better. “It’s time to start fresh.“, “Change is good.“, …

Both attitudes come from a desire for the best possible outcome, in uncertain situations. To illustrate their core difference, two cases suffice:


Case P

In the diagram above, you are on a hill, seeking to climb as high as possible. You can’t see that there’s a higher hill to your right.

Any movement immediately brings you lower. But by persevering, and going far to your right, you can climb higher.

Convervatism says “stay put”. Progressivism says “move forward”. Progressivism is correct.


Case C

In this diagram, you are in a similar situation, except you’ve already reached the highest height (unknowingly). Any movement brings you lower.

Conservatism says “stay put”. Progressivism says “move forward”. Conservatism is correct.

Progessivism is correct when the best outcome has not been achieved. Conservatism is correct when the best outcome has been achieved. Differentiating those cases can be impossible. Consequently, people tend to adopt one attitude as dominant, based on past experience, which is how they acquire the label Progressive or Conservative.

As these two examples show, neither attitude is universally correct.