I generally consider myself a conservative. I am conservative insofar as I want small government, on both a state and federal level. Still, anyone who actually thinks about the world could never possibly pigeonhole themselves into an insultingly simplistic category as liberal or conservative.
In a perfect world, everyone would be liberal. In a world with no scarcity, the government could and should provide everything. For example, if a massive increase in food production capability happened tomorrow, rendering food cheaper than water, why shouldn't the government provide everyone with three square meals per day?
Only in a world with a limited supply is conservativism possible or coherent. Too bad we live in a world with very limited resources. Still, the ideal world, the one we should be striving for, is one where liberalism is perfectly sensible. And since American definitions of these terms are bizarre, I'd have to say that progressivism is the right term.
But conservatives seem to get blinded by moral ideas, instead of raw sociomechanics, which is on what they should be predicating their ideals. It is wrong for someone to expect something from other people or the government. Well, why? Isn't the point of a government to serve the citizenry? If a government is capable, I think that it should provide what it can. It's absurd to think that an ideal world would be a government that is nothing more than a court system and money issuer. In that formulation, no matter how advanced we get, we will always have poor, starving people. A competitive landscape requires losers. No world worth striving for has losers to the magnitude that capitalism requires.
Don't think I hate capitalism. I don't. I love it. I'm a HARD CORE free market advocate, but that's because in a world of very scare resources, that is the best path towards an overall better world, not because it's morally best to allow some to succeed over others. My moral drivers exist in the pushing forward of the human race, and capitalism currently does that. To me, it's the only system currently possible that does so.
Communism doesn't work. And if the experiments in the 1960's, and up to this very day, prove anything, it's that even in small groups it doesn't go too well. In that political system, I guess you could call it the extreme formulation of "it takes a village," the reason why small communes sort of work, and the Soviet Union was a disaster, is that there is a threshold passed from "I know everyone in the group" to "I don't know everyone in the group." Once that threshold is passed, instability is inherent. It cannot work.
Capitalism allows for a natural system of success with reward. Socialism sort of allows this, but in a world of limited resources, the government is forced to lean on the successful so strongly, that the reward is reduced past a point of diminishing return. Eventually, greater success does not bring a noticeable increase in profit, and the performance ceiling that exists in communism again happens, just at a higher point of productivity.
Still, it's been said that the measure of a society is how it treats its weakest members. I think that this is true not because weak members should be protected for some nebulous idea of morality, but because a wise society recognizes that the greatest achievements can come from the weakest members. Change and advancement comes from pain. If we were fat and happy, we'd have no reason to change anything. No reason to move forward. Pain delivers drive in greater amounts than any other state.
So, I like to think that utopia will arrive someday soon. No hunger, no disease. Only a wide open world of possibility where hippy ideals of peace, love, and poetry actually make some sense.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention that true conservativism prevents the creation of great things. For example, in a purely conservative, free-market environment, projects must have a ROI, or return on investment. Massive public works cannot achieve such an ROI. If not for government spending, we would not have space travel, the highway system, pretty much every bridge in the country, etc. Massive works could not happen in a perfectly conservative world.
Sometimes, the tribe gets together to do big things that no one member could do. In a sense, that's socialism. I would also like to point out that most conservatives love spending buckets of money on military stuff, because they're paranoid weirdos. Or maybe it's because they realize that in a perfectly free market, things are pretty dangerous.