Saturday, 15 September 2007

The intellectual adolescence of "Progressive" politics

I've been meaning to do a piece on the world's so-called Progressives and point out that they are, in fact, anything but. James Lewis has a piece at American Thinker - What Kind of Person Calls Himself 'Progressive'? that I can use as the basis for some of my thoughts.
We all want progress. We may disagree whether gay marriage or drug legalization constitutes progress or not. But we all want better things for the world -- better food, better health and well-being, scientific and technical advances, wiser political systems, more peace and freedom, more happy children, more humane treatment of animals, more tolerance, more prosperity for the world, you name it. That's called being a decent person.
Viktor Frankl was a Jewish psychiatrist who suffered the horrors of a Nazi death camp and whose family was gassed. After the Holocaust, he was asked, "Do you hate the Germans?" "No, I don't," he replied, "because there are only two races, the decent and the indecent."
So what kind of person has to label himself "Progressive?" Obviously somebody who believes he (or she) understands real progress better than the rest of us. Because if you are a Progressive it implies that everybody else, let's face it, is a Regressive, or maybe just a Stagnant. It's a smirky, self-flattering way of saying you're a lot better than the rest.
It's more than that. People label themselves as progressive in order to hide their real agenda.
So what kind of ego needs do you have to have to call yourself that? And what do you believe about others? In fact, Progressives must believe that other people are worse than they are; that only they can Save the Planet, or create Peace on Earth, or Solve Inequality, or whatever sin bedevils mankind.

Like the preacher who is focused on nothing but sin, Progressives must emphasize the alleged flaws of other people. They need to pinpoint those flaws, to feel important. Because Progressives make it clear that the real obstacle to Progress is Other People. In fact, if you really ask a "Progressive" what other people are like, you're likely to hear that much of humanity is either ignorant or evil.

The word Progressive first became popular in the late 19th century, but has now been adopted as a popular synonym for "socialism." Americans tend not to like socialism, associating it with the Soviet Union and other bad characters. But "Progressivism" sounds fine. So it is a euphemism for something people fear; a cover-up label.
When the Soviet Union fell its supporters in the West needed a new vehicle in which to drive their agendas. Fortunately for them and unfortunately for the rest of us those vehicles were parked on the political sidewalk ready to be taken over by new drivers.

Hardcore Marxists now infest the environmental movement, which is one of the reasons that all of the answers to supposed climate catastrophe require 'world government' answers or the 'suspension of democracy', as Clive Hamilton at the Australia Institute put it recently.

USSR supporting socialists, and naive political newbies, have simply reinvented themselves as 'Progressives'. Because the term itself is positive, and the motives of many of its members are undoubtedly pure, the general population does not understand the regressive, destructive nature of progressive politics.
The odd thing, of course, is that real progress in the world is almost never achieved by self-proclaimed "Progressives." They generally make things worse rather than better. (See all the mad utopian schemers from Bin Laden to Stalin and Ahmadi-Nejad.) As a group, they are strikingly ill-equipped to even understand the world in any depth. Rather, it's farmers, business people, engineers, teachers, laborers, scientists, soldiers, cops, doctors, writers, inventors, all of whom create real progress --- or who keep the world from sliding back into barbarism.
'Progressives' such as Mao, Stalin and Hitler progressed over a hundred million people into early graves. Naturally, post-modern progressives reject any connection to someone like Mao - the greatest mass killer of all time - but even a cursory look at Mao's policies will demonstrate their 'progressive' nature. After all, what else is The Great Leap Forward as an idea but progressive? Legal abortion to control of the number of children to one per family? Progressive. Progressives have bought into the environmental gobbledegook that there are too many people in the world so reducing the number of children is one way of fixing that 'problem'.
All the radicals in the world together have not created as much economic progress as the inventor of Diet Coke or the Post-It Note. I'm sorry, but it's plainly true. So the "Progressive" ego trip is really only an ego trip.
It's actually almost impossible for 'progressives' to create anything. Their policies tend to mirror socialism, an ideology that does nothing to promote invention or innovation. Don't believe me? Please tell me how, in a socialist or progressive system, a Playstation can be invented. Or television. Or radio.
The same thing goes for "post-modernism," and so many other labels on the Left. If you're a "post-modernist," you plainly imply that everybody else is past it: dead and gone. The Progressive part of the world has moved beyond modernism, or whatever ism is to be surpassed. Well, why would you believe something as obviously false as that? Basically, to flatter yourself and your fellow deludees.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - to the Left, truth is not valued as highly as compassion and good intent. After all, what else is political correctness but the avoidance of telling the truth in order to protect people's feelings?
The "in" thing is to be "post." Various Left movements love to call themselves "post-industrial," "post-structural," post this, post that. It all means, "you're a dead White male, and your time is past and buried."

So what kind of person needs to believe that? What kind of shriveled self-respect makes you want to feel that nobody is as Progressive and "post" as you are? What school curriculum has taught you to have such contempt for others?

Or take "anti-racism." If you define yourself as an "anti-racist," it means that a lot of others must be a racists, right? But how do you know that? Not many people go around wearing Kluxer sheets. You have to want to believe it, or to be more ready than the rest of us to point your finger at suspects. You're a racist! You're a homophobe! Ultimately, in many cases, being a white middle aged male is enough to make one suspect. Since the Archie Bunker series All in the Family, Hollywood and television have adopted a visual code for evil (white, fat, middle-aged, male) and good (non-white, slim, young, and/or female). Watch CSI and you'll see the code working. And with that little piece of "Progress," the Left has created its own racism, judging people purely by their appearance. The new racism is just as invidious as the old kind, and it is much more pervasive, being propagated by high-tech media.

It's all very childish, with very pernicious effects. It cultivates an accusatory, suspicious sense of victimhood and rage at the rest of humanity. And being based on mere appearances, it is incredibly superficial.
It really is very childish, which is why I refer to progressives and their ilk as 'intellectually adolescent" - they grow up physically but not intellectually. This is particularly true of university professors in the arts faculties. On the whole, they leave school, enter university, become lecturers themselves and end up as tenured professors never once having had to create real world value. When Professor John Quiggin describes Kyoto as 'a sensible policy response' to global warming this vapid, intellectual adolescence is on clear display. Symbolism and good intentions come first; the truth of damaged economies, which hurts those at the bottom the most, is irrelevant.
All of Political Correctness, the dominant cultural theme of the Left, depends upon such allegations and accusations. It is incredibly shallow and superficial - but it is also very effective as a power-play. If you can put the world at a disadvantage by implicitly accusing them of sin, you can also manipulate and oppress others, conscious of your own moral superiority. Evidence is not required. It is the pervasive McCarthyism of the Left.

I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt. If they don't talk like haters, I'm happy to believe they're not haters. Most people want the best for humanity, and appealing to their goodness seems kinder than accusing them of evil.
I have many friends on the left. They're good people with good hearts who truly do not understand the impact of their feel-good policies and deny, or rewrite, history that demonstrates the disastrous impact progressive policies have had. They also lack an understanding of how value is created, which is why they believe governments can solve problems more readily than the free market.

There's a lot more to write on the regressive Progressive movement. For now it's enough to highlight that it's made up of the old Soviet Union supporting soft left and a bunch of new, wide eyed, well intentioned intellectual adolescents.


Boy on a bike said...

Nice post. Every time I drive past a public school in NSW and see one of those "Public education - our children are the future" (or something similar) signs stuck up by the Teachers Federation, I get similar feelings to your description of "progressives".

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