Free Markets, Free People


The problem with “Progressivism”

Stanley Fish lays it out pretty well:

If we think about the Rush Limbaugh dust-up from the non-liberal — that is, non-formal — perspective, the similarity between what he did and what [Ed] Schultz and [Bill] Maher did disappears. Schultz and Maher are the good guys; they are on the side of truth and justice. Limbaugh is the bad guy; he is on the side of every nefarious force that threatens our democracy. Why should he get an even break?

There is no answer to that question once you step outside of the liberal calculus in which all persons, no matter what their moral status as you see it, are weighed in an equal balance. Rather than relaxing or soft-pedaling your convictions about what is right and wrong, stay with them, and treat people you see as morally different differently. Condemn Limbaugh and say that Schultz and Maher may have gone a bit too far but that they’re basically O.K. If you do that you will not be displaying a double standard; you will be affirming a single standard, and moreover it will be a moral one because you will be going with what you think is good rather than what you think is fair. “Fair” is a weak virtue; it is not even a virtue at all because it insists on a withdrawal from moral judgment.

I know the objections to what I have said here. It amounts to an apology for identity politics. It elevates tribal obligations over the universal obligations we owe to each other as citizens. It licenses differential and discriminatory treatment on the basis of contested points of view. It substitutes for the rule “don’t do it to them if you don’t want it done to you” the rule “be sure to do it to them first and more effectively.” It implies finally that might makes right. I can live with that.

Rand Simberg illustrates:

It should be shocking, by the conventional narrative, that the White House of a “liberal” president would be a hostile work environment for women, but it is not at all a surprise to anyone familiar with the history of the Democrats and the Left, going back at least to the 1960s, when a prominent Democrat politician got a pass from the media for abandoning a young woman (possibly pregnant by him) to drown in his car. The same man went on to later fame as the top slice of bread in a “waitress sandwich,” and yet was so lionized by the Left that not that long ago, at the time of his death, a woman(!) wrote that Mary Jo Kopechne might have been happy to undergo the terror as her lungs filled with the brackish water of Martha’s Vineyard had she only known what a great legislator he would turn out to be.

To see similar hypocritical Leftist misogyny, we need only go back to the last time a Democrat was in the White House. Whenever a woman came forward with allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct by Bill Clinton, the response of the Clinton defenders, both in and out of the media, was to attack her credibility, character, and virtue. Advisor James Carville famously said of Paula Jones (the young Arkansas state employee whom Clinton as governor had his state police guard procure to his hotel room for the purpose of orally pleasuring him), “Drag $100 bills through trailer parks, there’s no telling what you’ll find.” Evan Thomas of Newsweek dutifully complemented the slander by declaring her on national television “just some sleazy woman with big hair coming out of the trailer parks,” though he later was compelled to apologize in print. (One wonders how residents of trailer parks felt about that, but I guess empathy for them is for the little people.) When Kathleen Willey accused the president of groping her in the White House, and was physically threatened for her trouble, feminist icon and (former) scourge of sexual harassers Gloria Steinem said that it was no problem — he was entitled to a freebie, after which Cathy Young of Reason magazine reported on “the death of sexual harassment.”

It got worse.

And it has.  Just take a look at what Simberg said and then take a look at this so-called “war on women” the left has ginned up recently.

Jeff G. at Protein Wisdom explains:

Fish’s single standard, distilled and properly understood, is that liberals are (they’ll claim) morally superior by virtue of their very belief in their own political identities — which identity is tied to an ideology that, manifested politically, privileges governmental theft, sanctioned inequality as a function of tribal identity, and a giant foundational question beg: namely, that moral superiority comes from being on the left, so therefore being on the left means you can really do no fundamental moral wrong. Progressivism (that is, the leftist political home to philosophical anti-foundationalism), as Fish sees it, is the “non-formal” — that is, I suppose, situationally free-floating — antidote to restrictive “conservative” or classically liberal universalism*. That that restrictive conservative/classical liberal universalism is, as we know from the Declaration and Constitution, the foundation upon which this country was imagined and later framed, well, that’s irrelevant. Those documents are hoary totems, and their impulses Enlightenment fantasies. And we can “fundamentally transform” the country simply by denying it its institutionalized powers by force of will.

Or, progressivism (don’t let them continue to coopt the word “liberal”) leads to tyranny because it isn’t based in any moral principles but instead based in power.  Its goal isn’t a better or more moral world,  modern progressivism is based on doing whatever is necessary, by whatever means they can get away with,  to gather and wield power.  Progressivism uses the same tactics and means that every tyranny the world has ever seen used to gain control of the political system.

Victor David Hanson points out that the right has handcuffed itself (or allowed itself to be handcuffed) by the left:

Conservatives are put into awkward positions of critiquing liberal ideas on grounds that they are impractical, unworkable, or counterproductive. Yet rarely, at least outside the religious sphere, do they identify the progressive as often immoral. And the unfortunate result is that they have often ceded moral claims to supposedly dreamy, utopian, and well-meaning progressives, when in fact the latter increasingly have little moral ground to stand upon.

Morality isn’t just something based in religion.  Essentially “moral” means a concern with the principles of good and bad behavior as applied to everything.

What progressives have tried to do for decades is tie the word to religion even as they denigrated religion unmercifully (specifically Christianity). They’ve made “morality” a bad word, one that causes the public to shy away from those talking about it.   We’ve also been indoctrinated by them to believe that intolerance is one of the worst of secular sins (although they’d never use such language) and we have no right to be intolerant.  Well, unless we’re a progressive.

Add in moral equivalency (used whenever it is useful to the left) tied to their multicultural riff and their tendency to redefine key words to their own advantage, and the goals of progressivism start to become clear.

Back to Protein Wisdom:

To the progressive, your social and political worth — in fact, your very claim to morality — comes from your various identity politics alliances. That is, your morality is a function not so much of what you do, but rather of where you claim to stand, and with whom.

Progressivism cares not about fairness or equality in the sense those words are used under a political paradigm that adheres to classical liberalism; instead, it seeks to redefine “fairness” and “equality” (and “tolerance”) as based on the outcomes it desires, a deconstructive procedure it then justifies by tying those outcomes to its own self-serving descriptions of what comes to count as moral. It is circular reasoning made perfect. Might makes right. The ends justify the means.

The progressive movement is a tyrannical movement aimed at completely remaking America and taking it away from its foundational philosophy of individualism, equal rights and freedom.  Principles that work and made this the most prosperous and free nation on earth.

What the right and libertarians identify as “hypocrisy” on the left is simply what you see described above at work – a principle free attempt to take power by any means necessary.  There are no foundational principles at work for them in reality … anything is “OK” as long as it advances the cause.  Although they’ll claim they are driven by principles (but their “hypocritical” actions in the wake of those declarations always show them to be false principles), they’re essentially malleable talking points used to take in and gain the support of the gullible.  However, as Saul Alinsky taught them, they will use the other side’s principles against them at every opportunity (see the Rush Limbaugh kerfuffle).

What we had, what our founders created, what it stands for, is rejected by this bunch:

“Hopefully, more and more people will begin to feel their story is somehow part of this larger story of how we’re going to reshape America in a way that is less mean-spirited and more generous,” Obama said.

This is the real problem we face in America.  Jeff G. calls it “un-American”.  In the strictest sense of the word and given the fact that it rejects everything our founders believed in – I agree.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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37 Responses to The problem with “Progressivism”

  • The only thing about he Fish essay I found surprising was that the NYT published it. Too much candor. WAY not Alinsky enough. But we are in a time where the lines are being drawn more and more clearly, and the poles more sharply defined, so…———————————————————————————————-

    Another piece I found somewhat surprising was the WaPo report on how President Pond-Scum blew the negotiations with the Congressional leadership. This seems to sort of pwn a certain Erpish POV.

  • In the first place, you’re totally wrong. A difference between what Rush Limbaugh’s and Ed Schultz’s insults was that Schultz apologized is fairly immediately—Limbaugh had to wait until threatened with sponsor withdrawal. Schultz’s was limited to one telecast; Limbaugh’s spanned several days. Schultz’s comment was modified as a ‘media whore (prostitute)’, which seems to be more rhetorical than to simple refer to one as a commonplace, sexual prostitute—which seemed to be Limbaugh’s claim.

    As for the rest of your litany, what would you consider worse: Insulting a woman by sexual comments, or how an innocent child’s personal appearance—as Republicans have over the years (Amy Carter and Chelsea Clinton, for example). What’s that say about stones and glass houses.

    You seem to have a funny ideas about progressive liberalism. We believe in extending more rights to more people; the right is exactly the opposite—which can be seen in the enactment of restriction in voting by the Republicans. The conservative mindset can be seen in the religious eyes of the “Family”—which traces the politico-religious roots of the right-wing—and their belief that the people most capable of ruling are the rich and religious (Christians), or their official lace holders.

    I don’t know why ultra-conservatives claim Libertarians as part of the Right Wing, when they’re actually just the Reactionary Right. I guess because the word Libertarian—originally coined as applicable to a Left-wing French movement—just sound good, I guess.

    As for the morals and hypocrisy of the left, the immorality and hypocrisy of Fundamentalist Christianity are world-renowned in most industrialized societies—so it makes little sense to counter-pose secularism and its values with the trend of modern conservatism toward theocracy.

    • @tadcf Proof of the McQ post. You really have NO self-awareness…which is just hilarious. Collectivists are savagely misogyistic, and so incredibly inconsistent that even real feminists are sickened by their “sisters”.

    • @tadcf “We believe in extending more rights to more people; the right is exactly the opposite—which can be seen in the enactment of restriction in voting by the Republicans. ”
      You mean you believe in inventing rights you like, and taking away rights you don’t.
      And your statement it historical hogwash and bull shit, if it weren’t for the Republicans there’d have been no passage of the civil rights legislation of 1964, if it weren’t for Republicans God only knows when blacks in this country would have stopped being farm equipment. For a banner bearer of the party of the Ku Klux Klan you muster a lot of faux outrage and finger pointing.

    • Jim Crow, the irony, the vapid ignorance or denial is amazing.

    • @tadcf On more tilt for thought – Martin Luther King Jr. – yes, oh yes, tell yourself he was a Democrat NOT a backwards rights restricting Republican.
      ————————————————————————————–
      Ah, ACTUAL history, what a pain.

    • A difference between what Rush Limbaugh’s and Ed Schultz’s insults was that Schultz apologized is fairly immediately—Limbaugh had to wait until threatened with sponsor withdrawal.————————————–

      Let me explore that a bit. Put up your time-line for “fairly immediately” Schultz apology. Next, wasn’t Schultz’s slur totally gratitious, calling Ms. Ingrahm a “slut” for having the temerity to disagee with Gorebal Warming dogma? And wasn’t Limbaugh’s excess in a logical…and did I say excessive…exploration of the FLUCK outrageous lie that contraceptives “can” cost $3000 over a law school experience? Do you want to pretend that is the ONLY time Schultz has called people such names as “slut”? Finally, have you any evidence of a well-funded, organized operation waiting for a chance to take out a successful Collectivist spokesman like Rush? (OK, that was mean. It IS a trick question.)

      • @Ragspierre “Do you want to pretend that is the ONLY time Schultz has called people such names as “slut”? ” In a word, YES. History is simpler and more useful when you pick and choose.

    • @tadcf “You seem to have a funny ideas about progressive liberalism. We believe in extending more rights to more people…”

      Most “progressive liberals” do not believe in extending INDIVIDUAL rights to people, allowing them to make their own choices, particularly when those choices involve commerce, employment, doctor visits, medical tests, medication, use of private property, etc.. The typical “progressive” wants to increase the power of government to IMPOSE rules on the individuals, which concentrates decisions into the hands of those with government power, depriving the individual of the right to make his or her own decisions.

      “…the right is exactly the opposite…”

      The left/right spectrum is a one-dimensional variable based upon the French parliament two centuries ago, and pertained to a politician’s position on the monarchy. It has no substantive meaning, but is stupidly used to create a false dichotomy. On top of that, when Hitler and Stalin are potrayed as opposites, when they were virtually indistiguishable for their monstrosity, then your line denies reality, rather than offering any sort of useful metric.

      In practice, most Republicans (what you’d call “the right”) are too close to Democrats to make any stark contrasts. But a handful of the more principled ones, like Ron Paul, actually stand up for individual rights, unlike any of their peers in either party. Republicans do give lip service to individualism, the free market, etc., but they generally fail to follow through once they get into office and start voting.

      “—which can be seen in the enactment of restriction in voting by the Republicans.”

      That’s ridiculous. Voting is not a right. It’s a legal privilege. In practice, it’s a means to depriving others of rights, as the voter acts with the intent to grant a politician the authority to govern. When the politician governs, he or she does so by violating the rights of individuals.

      “I don’t know why ultra-conservatives claim Libertarians as part of the Right Wing, when they’re actually just the Reactionary Right.”

      You don’t know what you’re talking about. Most of the time, the idiots lumping individualists like libertarians in with “the right” are the “progressives” who see themselves as “leftists”. It’s usually a way to demonize and marginalize individualists by implying they are the opposite of principled proponents of the individual rights of life, liberty, and property, but are like fascists, who subverted such rights for the sake of the fatherland (as opposed to the socialists, who subverted such rights for the sake of the motherland).

    • @tadcf “…Republicans have over the years (Amy Carter and Chelsea Clinton, for example). ” Please provide references for this statement.

    • @tadcf You are unhinged.

    • @tadcf “The conservative mindset can be seen in the religious eyes of the “Family”—which traces the politico-religious roots of the right-wing—and their belief that the people most capable of ruling are the rich and religious (Christians), or their official lace holders. I don’t know why ultra-conservatives claim Libertarians as part of the Right Wing, when they’re actually just the Reactionary Right. I guess because the word Libertarian—originally coined as applicable to a Left-wing French movement—just sound good, I guess.”

      Interesting claim. I’m not religious myself.

      The people who keep changing their “name” is the left. Leftists are not liberals, they took the term “liberal” for themselves, and used it until it suffered by association, then they went back to the term “progressive”. You guys have to keep changing your name since people will continue to catch on to it. In reality, there isn’t much of an American “right” at all, American political discourse is between leftist statists and classical liberals. Since leftists took the term “liberal” the term “libertarian” has been used to describe people traditionally known as “liberals”.

      There is no cabel of fundamentalist Christians who want to control you. Sorry. Your worst fears are pure BS.

  • What utter crap. To say that morality isn’t involved in liberalism/progressivism is insane — most progressives are motivated by real concern for the poor, the disadvantaged, and are opposed to abuses of power. You may disagree with their views, but to try to discredit an entire different perspective by the ridiculous claim they just want power and aren’t guided by principles is utterly and completely dishonest and absurd — making such a claim shows lack of principle. To claim that progressives are mainly concerned with identity politics is similarly silly – that’s a small sometimes extreme portion, comparable perhaps the the tea party extremists in the GOP (but smaller and less powerful within the Democratic party).

    Most progressives I know want to empower individuals, have a strong belief in liberty (that motivates), and a large number of them go to church and have strong religious beliefs. Many (including myself) were disgusted by Clinton and even though I didn’t think impeachment was appropriate, I never liked the way the Clinton White House operated. Both sides do it, it’s funny how you seem to think it’s only on the left, and ignore all the power grabbing that comes from the right. That’s a problem with our political system — people get addicted to power. Smart people recognize this is a universal problem, but many fall to the pettiness of seeing their side as inherently moral and the other side as having no principles.

    What you have done is caricatured all progressives by focusing on your own extreme rendition, with no evidence except sensationalist stories about Clinton and Limbaugh and how SOME people reacted. Sometimes you post things that make sense, McQ, but I’m tempted to use this post as an example of propagandistic BS that is so over the top that it’s a sign of the kind of demonization and irrational discourse that has added so much toxicity to our political system. It’s disgusting, and it’s sad to see that you’ve fallen this far — at one point, even when I disagreed with you, I respected many of your principles and often did agree. But this post here is bizarre. And yes, when I see claims on the left that make a similar argument about the right, I’ll call them out for that kind of BS. You can do better than this, McQ.

    • @scotterb Barackah was so concerned with the poor, mostly black, kids of DC, he and Reid killed off a school choice program to suck up to a tiny cadre of education monopolists. He was so interested in the health of Texas low-income women, he dictated the withholding of funds to cater to Planned Abortionhood, which is breaking Federal law every day. You guys are more and more exposed as the frauds you are. You just aren’t bright enough to see it.

    • @scotterb Which part of Stanley Fish’s post did McQ write?

    • @scotterb And I can assume you have dispatched a missive in high dudgeon to one Mr. Stanley Fish of the New York times, refuting his opinion piece and chivying him back to the far left corner of power only politics for his blatant misrepresentation of Progressives, RIGHT Scott?

      • @looker More likely he is castigating Fish for slipping the Alinsky cloak, exposing the reactionary Collective to sunlight. That was a ThoughtCrime against their carefully constructed and maintained Potemkin village.

        • @Ragspierre Yes, but Scott is surely a non-entity in progressive circles, and Fish, is a, pardon, Big Fish. So Erb will restrict his opinion to THIS site, and his own and while he’s castigating McQ in his demonstration of BS propaganda (so rationally discoursive the use of the term “BS propaganda”, no?) he will say nothing of Fish’s article. In fact, he’d almost have excise that piece entirely, wouldn’t he.

    • @scotterb “…the tea party extremists in the GOP…”

      Are you saying that all self-described “tea party” people are “extremists”? If not, what percentage of “tea party” people are? (Note: I am neither a Republican nor do I have any affiliation with groups or activities labelled as “tea party”.)

      Next, define “extremist”. “Extreme” is an adjective and “extremely” an adverb, both of which require a thing or an action to describe. Calling someone an “extremist” is a useless pejorative, since it leaves out the thing or the action which is allegedly extreme. Furthermore, it suggests a stupid condemnation of all extreme things or behaviors, as though a person who is “extremely opposed to rape and murder” is as unreasonable as a person who is “extremely opposed to labor unions” or “extremely opposed to drilling for oil”.

      Ron Paul was using tea party themes in the previous election. Rick Santelli stated on CNBC, in response to the mortgage bailout, that people needed to engage in a tea party to protest the financially wreckless action. Frankly, the fiscal irresponsibility these grassroots people reacted to was extremely fiscally irresponsible and extremely unethical, rewarding those who made bad decisions by plundering from those who made good decisions.

      Your use of the “extremist” pejorative is simply an attempt to stop thought, to shut down any thoughtful discussion by demonizing and marginalizing your political enemies, much in the way that playing the race card is a way to end discussion and resort to name calling instead.

    • @scotterb “Most progressives I know want to empower individuals, have a strong belief in liberty…”

      Progressives are typically collectivists, which means they want to empower government. Their excuse is that a strong government will impose their goals for individuals, but they do not trust individual liberty as a means to allow each person to decide what is best for him or her. Instead, they believe in the powers that be (the “wise leftists”) coming to a decision about a minimum wage, rules about work hours, rules about vacation time, rules about benefits, rules about health insurance.

      In short, the progressive is exactly opposed to individuals having power to make such decisions for themselves, to be allowed to exercise the liberty to opt out of their universal mandates.

    • @scotterb “…I’m tempted to use this post as an example of propagandistic BS that is so over the top that it’s a sign of the kind of demonization and irrational discourse that has added so much toxicity to our political system. It’s disgusting…”

      Just after you wrote “tea party extremists”. You’re a self parody.

    • @scotterb Your argument seems to be that a small group of people cannot control a large group. A certain German country will be saddened to hear that the majority of their population were in facists after all.

    • @scotterb “when I see claims on the left that make a similar argument about the right, I’ll call them out for that kind of BS. You can do better than this, McQ.” Since Fish is talking about progressives, I gather you won’t be calling him out for his “might makes right” comment then, eh Scott? Scott? Scott? Hello, Scott? Is this thing working?

    • @scotterb And here’s the poster who absolutely proves the post correct.

    • @scotterb

      “… the ridiculous claim they just want power and aren’t guided by principles”——————————

      *GASP!!!*—- Principals!?!? But, that would make them idealogues!!

      • @timactual Like the NOW officer who said the Maher money should not be returned, because they need Bad Luck Barry re-elected.

      • @timactual “Principals!?!? But, that would make them idealogues!!”

        Principles are those things you hold as primary values and integrate into your life. If you tout them when it’s easy, but abandon them for “pragmatism”, they aren’t principles. They’re just fair-weather suggestions, or perhaps a means to pretend you’re something you’re not.

        In American politics, almost no Democrats or Republican are principled, because their election is more important than being steadfast and doing what is right, despite the political consequences. Most of the time when a political pundit discusses people on his “side” being principled, it’s usually just posturing–those “principles” are actually shallow.

        Part of why this is so is because people like Erb toss around terms like “extremist” to demonize anyone who actually sticks to principles. Consistency itself is indicted, rather than seeing those who blow with the wind, or who mouth platitudes disingenuously, as the ones who lack a solid moral foundation. There are good reasons he’s earned monikers like “disingenuous fraud”, “mercury”, “jello”, etc..

        I recognize that plenty of people who disagree with me on important matters are still principled–we just disagree on the validity of those principles. But Scott is not among them. he was a pacifist until his party’s president went to war on Libya, as one obvious example.

    • @scotterb

      If liberals are sincerely concerned with the plight of the poor and the disadvantaged why do they never condemn their own leaders for enacting policies which hurt the very people the claim to be helping. Just look at the war on poverty enacted during LBJ’s administration. We have apparently spent 8 times more money on this “war” than on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the poverty rate is higher now than it was when the war on poverty was declared (by the way the poverty rate had been dropping for years before the war on poverty was declared)!

      Obviously, outcomes are not important to liberals. Only intentions count since these can sway the votes of those who would be duped as they voluntarily give up their Constitutional rights — such as the right to practice your religion free from the government forcing you to pay for morning-after pills, sterilization procedures, or contraception which your religion has long found to be a mortal sin (and, don’t tell me the insurance companies will provide these services for free; only an economic moron would believe something like this).

      I can think of so many other examples I don’t know where to begin, but I am sure you would never consider them seriously either — it’s obviously all about the cause and not the outcome for liberals, in my opinion. (I say this as a life-long registered Democrat who feels his party has been hijacked and would like to see it return to a place where it at least tacitly supports decently-well-regulated free-market capitalism and not crony-socialist government planning.)

  • Methinks thou hast touched upon the very nerve

    • @looker Well, it you look at the Progressive Era with any objectivity, you have to allow that it was an American Reign Of Terror in many respects. It is, in all respects, a good analogy.

      • @Ragspierre As I have looked on it over the last several years, I’m disgusted by the ignorance, misrepresentation and propaganda and lately have decided I will no longer ‘compromise’.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bristolpalin/2012/03/mr-president-when-should-i-expect-your-call/———————————–
    Hmm… Her mom and sisters deserve their own calls, too. Thing is, really strong women are not patronized by Bad Luck Barry, so a call from him would not be particularly welcome. And 30 year old law students are not infantilized by comparing them to Barry’s minor daughters.

  • http://www.redstate.com/repair_man_jack/2012/03/19/there-will-be-a-reckoning-against-these-people/ ———————-REALLY good representatives of the “caring and tolerant” Collective.