I have always found the liberal/conservative distinction difficult to draw, largely due to the several meanings of each term (e.g. the concept of "liberal" in political science and its casual use in the United States, on the one hand, and in Europe on the other.) Motivated by my recent reading of David Gress' From Plato to Nato, I tried to define each side by a set of principles, as small and as general as possible. This is my first attempt (work very much in progress):
(L1) Individuals are equal.
(L2) The individual precedes the community (ontologically).
(C1) The community takes precedence over the individual.
(C2) The "essence" of the community defines a set of values (religious, national etc.) that limits individual freedom.
Below the fold I discuss some consequences of these definitions.