The "philolitical"† war between "progressives" and the rest of the world, raging for decades, is now heating up to a potential not seen in a very long time. Furthermore, the acceptance of "progressive values" appears to be greatly on the rise. The great absence of understanding of what progressivism is, broken down into identifiable, distinct, and readily assessable elements which, has done humanity no favors. Were people cognizant of them, many would likely run from it, screaming.
Let us begin by making it clear that progressives cannot be truthfully said to be wrong in all ways and on all points; and yet the sting of disagreement by some is of such a pitch that they lose sight of the clear picture of their opponents, usually zeroing-in on one or two single issues and ignoring all else. While perhaps understandable from a purely emotional point of view, this is ought not be acceptable for any Freeman, one characteristic of whom is his personal integrity, which implies his honesty in intellectual matters, as well as his patience. Being honest, he gives credit where due, even to those with whom he may bitterly disagree. Being patient, he takes the time necessary to get what he needs to paint himself a proper and accurate picture of his opponent. He does this not for the sake if his foes, though they may benefit in some measure from it, but for himself.
Ideals aside, there is a practical value in such practice of intellectual honesty: knowing thy enemy in sufficient truth. It is one of the great errors of human beings to mistakenly measure one's opponents, whether due to blinding hatred, lassitude, or any of the other sundry reasons people do so. And as a matter of pure strategic and tactical utility, finding points of commonality also serves well in the battle for hearts and minds. Holding a partial or otherwise inaccurate picture of one's opponent has proven the downfall of many a man in humanity's long and checkered history of mutual conflict. It is high time that we, as men with amply available examples of our long history and presumably good intelligence, choose the path of learning, holding close those lessons from which we stand to best benefit as Freemen and as strategists seeking victory over those who would subdue us, and to maintain our practical abilities to live as such without uninvited interference.
To such ends, a sufficient analysis of the statistically mean progressive becomes a valuable tool in understanding how they think, perhaps why, and how to use such knowledge to one's advantage in showing them the better way which we call "freedom". It is to such ends I write in the hope of modeling the progressive pursuant to that improved understanding, giving credit where due as well as objective criticism. It shall therefore be our goal today to give progressivism a good analytic scrubbing.
In order to begin, we must have a definition. Perhaps unsurprisingly, finding a suitable one is not quite as straightforward as one might hope. For instance, one source†† defines it as follows:
Progressivism is a philosophy based on the Idea of Progress, which asserts that advancements in science, technology, economic development, and social organization are vital to the improvement of the human condition.
Stretch as one may, this definition does no justice of truth to the political reality of the contemporary progressive, however boldly they might protest otherwise, which brings us to one of the key characteristics generally present in such people: they tend to lie about, or are of such mangled perceptions that they actually believe their protests to this effect. As we shall see, progressives tend to have deep perceptual troubles, as well as those relating to honesty and personal integrity.
The same source also carries an entry††† for "Progressivism in the United States", to wit:
Progressivism in the United States is a broadly based reform movement that reached its height early in the 20th century and is generally considered to be middle class and reformist in nature. It arose as a response to the vast changes brought by modernization, such as the growth of large corporations and railroads, and fears of corruption in American politics. In the 21st century, progressives continue to embrace concepts such as environmentalism and social justice. Social progressivism, the view that governmental practices [sic] ought to be adjusted as society evolves, forms the ideological basis for many American progressives.This hits closer to apparent truth, yet still falls short of the reality we find. However, the reference above to so-called "social justice" is a key element of contemporary progressivism.
As with "progressivism", definitions of "social justice" are vague, greatly unsatisfying to thinking men, and for the same people most likely to give rise to the need for an air-sickness bag. To wit, from wikipedia.org:
Social justice is a concept of fair and just relations between the individual and society. This is measured by the explicit and tacit terms for the distribution of wealth, opportunities for personal activity and social privileges. In Western as well as in older Asian cultures, the concept of social justice has often referred to the process of ensuring that individuals fulfill their societal roles and receive what was their due from society. In the current global grassroots movements for social justice, the emphasis has been on the breaking of barriers for social mobility, the creation of safety nets and economic justice."
They ways in which this definitions fails are numerous and in some places spectacular. Since it is not our purpose to tackle social justice, we shall leave things at that for now, perhaps to be addressed in its own rite at a later date.
Another source defines progressivism in equally vague terms:
Progressivists believe that individuality, progress, and change are fundamental to one's education.
This definition is either an outright lie or the vast majority of people who identify as "progressive" either fail to understand the basic concept of "individuality", or are being dishonest in calling themselves "progressive" when in fact they are anything but. As may be readily observed, progressives are staunchly set against actual individualism in strong favor of a hive-like mentality where dank and mercilessly banal uniformity are the cornerstones of the altar of progressive virtue at which they worship. That which they label "individualism", in those minority cases where they are not cursing the very word, is but a mangled and maimed shadow of that which constitutes true human individuality.
And so it goes down the line of definitions, all to one's great dissatisfaction. But if this is the best we can expect, then let us work with it and see where the road leads.
We shall work primarily from the definitions cited, but may bring in others ideas as necessity requires. We will not slavishly devote this discussion to the definitions, but rather to the actual practices and other behaviors of those who self-identify as "progressive".
Self-identification is one of the first places where one finds trouble in many individual human beings. Where the moniker "progressive" is concerned, those adopting it appear to be particularly stricken with an apparent absence of understanding of the term. For example, in may cases it appears that the individual describing himself as "progressive" has little to no understanding of the meaning of the term as political or philosophical jargon. Many people stridently proclaim, "I'm a PROGRESSIVE!" where continued discourse with them reveals an almost complete absence of understanding of the specific sense of the term. It seems that they get hooked by the more general notion of "progressive", relating it very naturally to the notion of progress, or advancement. The tacit bit there, of course, it the idea that we as a species should advance and evolve, the further and far more deeply tacit implication being that such evolution should yield better people - improved people.
And there you have the core of so-called "progressivism": the notion that we can make people better. This concept was explored with some depth in the film "Serenity", where a drug had been put into the air purification systems on a colonized planet. The fictional drug was called "G-23 Paxilon Hydrochlorate", or "Pax" from the Latin for "peace". The intention behind the act of foisting the compound upon the people was superficially noble enough: to reduce aggression in the population - to pacify them.
In the film, the drug worked. It worked so well, in fact, that people stopped doing anything, including eating, and simply laid down and died of inactivity. The link to progressivism is this: all acts have consequences, many of which are unintended and ultimately unwanted. Human history is befouled with endless examples of this, the example of the Pax being one from a fictional, yet not far-fetched, story.
The two central messages of Serenity were these: people want to be free, at least in the ways in which they conceive freedom, and humans cannot be improved by such external and forced means. Yet, the latter is precisely the tack that virtually all progressives take, in one form and degree, or another.
One other very important point made in the film is that, given enough time, despite the spectacular failure on the planet "Miranda" to the tune of over 30 million lives, someone, somewhere will almost certainly try again in the belief that they will succeed where all others had failed prior. This is a predictably repetitive habit of humans. The immediacy and depth of effect of first-hand knowledge is invariably lost over time. This is why women in labor, screaming and calling for the gore-laden deaths of their husbands as they experience the agony of pressing new life into the world, soon forget the immediacy of the experience. Without this, no woman would agree to doing that beyond the first time and the human race would steadily extinguish itself through the attrition of "no way, buddy".
Unfortunately, this characteristic of fading immediacy appears to occupy a front and center position in all human experience. While very useful in helping us cope with tough events, it would appear to have gone somewhat wrong with us such that we forget the lessons of our mistakes and go right back to making them over and over again, often by the same people in the same lifetimes, and always from one generation to another.
The progressive tends to display another characteristic in vast common: the inability, unwillingness, or other basis of failure to found his opinions and the desires that arise therefrom upon any definite principles of proper human relations, his idea of the latter being a grossly mangled notion of it. His opinions and demands appear to issue from a basis of unchecked emotionalism. Proper logic and reason have no apparent place in the world of the progressive. The reason for this is clear to any man with an inclination toward observable truth: the adept and proper application of logic to one's emotions often dictates that the kibosh be applied in cases where said emotions stand to lead one into trouble or other forms of error.
When a man is overwrought with emotion, his decision making process is often impacted in some undesirable manner and degree. Being overwrought, the man often either cannot see his compromised state, or has no inclination to it. This is where reason and logic can very often save the day. This is also precisely why the progressive hates, despises, and vehemently rejects correct logic and reason: they interfere with the narratives of their raw and unbridled emotions which dictate their opinions, desires, accessions, and physical actions.
One final aspect of progressivism that must be grasped well and recognized for its unparalleled power over men: appeal to the base impulses of every human being walking the earth.
Being a Freeman is very difficult, for freedom demands much of the individual; everything, in fact. Contrariwise, being a Weakman, of which the progressive is perhaps the ultimate and most common example, is relatively very easy. Where freedom demands great strength, fortitude, intellect, sensibility, and integrity, the peddlers of progressivism demand only fealty to them, the carrots including lots of "free" things like education, medical coverage, being able to copulate with anyone or anything and in any manner dictated by impulse or fashion, do whatever drugs fit the bill and so forth, all without any call for personal responsibility.
Little Johnny uncaringly impregnates little Janey, for example, and it is no problem at all because abortions are freely available, neither party to the event to be called to account for their actions, or to pay the costs, even if dear little Janey puts it off until late in her eighth month. Don't worry, be happy.
This is all an appeal to entropy - to the path of least resistance and decay in one's day to day routines of life. There is no judgment of the actions of others, just so long as they minimally adhere to the orthodoxy, such as it may be from one day to another. The other virtue of the progressive orthodoxy in terms of its appeal to young people, is that it is easy to be compliant because it demands so little of one.
Why, prithee tell, would a child choose the path difficult over the way of sliding by without effort or accountability, especially when stupidity is awarded with praise, free stuff, and freedom from consequences? In the vast majority of cases, they would not. This is where parents must come in and force things a bit - not to the point of being abusive tyrants, but only to that of getting a child over that initial hump of difficulty for seeing the virtues of the Freeman's path. There are rewards no child is able to see due in part to the fact that their minds have not developed to that capacity, and in part due to the lack of ever having been exposed to such virtues before. They need our help and they want it. But if we fail as the adults to guide them through what no reasonable man would deny are great difficulties for them, then we relegate the children to a doomed and mere existence of always just getting by, forever hatefully aversive to the joys of true accomplishment, which almost always come only with great effort. This is what some have called the "tyranny of low expectations".
- Progressives tend to be possessed of an unrealistic, and in many cases infantile idealism that drives a deep and relentless determination to "fix" the race of men in order that all individuals adhere to and comport themselves in faithful accord with what is usually an ill-defined ideal of social order.
- Progressives are notoriously weak-minded, overly sensitive, and eager to find offense in even the most innocuous expressions of others, especially non-progressives. They seek things out over which to make loud and objectionable noises.
- Progressives are, ironically, some of the most intensely parochial people in existence.
- Progressives accept and advocate for the application of forced measures to compel individual behavior in accord with the approved schedule of improvements as dictated by the vaporous ideal-du-jour.
- Progressives tend to manifest an out-of-hand and intensely vehement rejection of anything that would constrain their thought, opinion, and ambitions. Logic and reason are at the top of this list.
- Progressives are penultimate pragmatists. The only principle to which they seem to adhere is the attainment of that which they demand of others. Everything else is negotiable, but only on their terms and under their conditions, all of which appear to follow no rhyme or reason beyond their mood at any given moment.
- Progressives tend to form their opinions based upon very selectively flawed [re]definitions of terms. The gross and flagrant abuse of language is a hallmark of progressive behavior, the apparent purpose being to bolster their goals and other desires.
- Progressivism founds upon an orthodoxy of low expectations of the individual. This standard is, therefore, comparatively very easy to hold and is correspondingly very attractive because it promises free things with very little accountability, asking little or nothing in return beyond minimal compliance.
In short, the progressive is an individual of ostensibly good intentions. Those intentions are, however, based upon deeply flawed ideals of human social order, which issue from a place of what are apparently profoundly troubled emotions and where the guiding restraint of logic and reason is unwelcome. They reject positivism out of hand completely anywhere that it fails to accord in even the least measure with progressive ideals. Progressives are particularly fanatical and obsessive/compulsive about this. The progressive world-view issues from typically narrow and grievously flawed normative ideals of human relations. Far worse, progressives make zero allowance for variance with their views, which is particularly ironic in the face of the endlessly strident and unceasing emphasis on "diversity" for which they are notorious.
The typical progressive is a mass of apparently conflicting impulses, driven to force the goals he deems fitting for him upon the entire world, not content to realize them for himself or a circle of like-minded individuals in voluntary cooperation. Despite his incessant rantings about diversity, he rejects it any time anything offends his hyper-delicate sensibilities, at which point a monster of a truly epic and frightening cast arises such that it will, if possible, see the greatest and most draconian punishments meted to those who offend. An example this brand of venom and vitriol may be seen in the recent fad of wishing cancer upon those with whom they disagree. No decent human being would wish such a thing upon another, no matter how deeply and bitterly he may dislike or even hate the other. This phenomenon demonstrates just how perfectly the progressive is willing to cut himself free of any restraint where his unbridled and apparently pathological emotions are concerned.
History, particularly that of the early twentieth century, reinforces these assertions. Consider the Soviet Union and Communist China, both having been bastions of progressivism as it is known today. As many as 200 million people were butchered in the various purges, and possibly more. Those people were not killed with the neutrality of the just man who undertakes such action with deep reticence and sadness at the necessity and only to the degree absolutely necessary under a circumstance. Those people were murdered with the heat and glee of a base form of hatred that wishes to see others destroyed in the most cruel and hideous ways possible precisely because they are perceived as "other"; as not on board with the agenda at hand. In many cases, simple personal hatred underpinned the acts, masquerading as the likes of concern about "counter-revolutionary acts".
Progressivism tends to be many things at once, few of them good. On the one hand, it stands as an appeal to all that is base in the human animal, though almost exclusively in manners tacit or otherwise oblique. On the other, it founds in a very real human desire to see good triumph over evil in the world. The problem lies in the gross and dangerous distortion of the definitions of "good" and "evil".
Progressivism makes no allowance for degree. One of the central policies of the typical progressive is that of so-called "zero tolerance", which they appear to believe represents a moral high ground of some sort, taking into no account basic human nature both in terms of impulse, belief, and the simple fact that we are prone to transient error. The progressive demands ultimate punishment for even the least infraction of one of their lofty, better-than-thou ideals. The average progressive represents a penultimate poster boy for unvarnished, ravaging, rampaging, murderous tyranny over those of his fellows who fail to accept his mandates to the world.
It is a woeful thing to think that we have lost entire generations to the soft and often quiet horrors of progressivism - having tempted our young people with the pathetic standards of virtue that is represented by the high entropy of low expectations. Few things can I see as matching this degree of spectacle in human failure. Where with a little effort even the average man could fly high and achieve heaven only knows what, we instead cripple our children by asking so little of them.
What, then, is the upshot? Awareness and understanding first and foremost. These should serve as gateways and guides to recognition of this terrible affliction in others, as well as in the formation of one's own views, and as a means of motivating oneself against being so stricken. May it also help Freemen in devising the will and the means to fight the spread of this corrosive mindset that leaves little more than destruction, poverty, and misery in its presence and wake.
Understanding the essence of progressivism is the first step in driving it back from making further inroads to acceptance.
† Contraction of "philosophical-political"