This post was authored by Chris Snook
Despite how often they claim the liberal label, progressives are a cancer on societies that are liberal in the true sense of the word. The idea that, through coercion by the state, society can be shaped into something that is desirable and thriving; is in plain speak; stupid. Progressivism could be viewed as the left’s equivalent to the right’s reactionaries. While a reactionary would desire a return to a more traditional society, progressives are hell bent on creating a society not yet seen. Progressives are not liberal, nor have they ever been (see the horrific writings of the progressives at the turn of the 20th century), at least not in the political sense. Many modern progressives hold personal values that are liberal, for example, being very open to non-conventional lifestyles and ideas. However, they believe the values they hold should not only be the values of society at large, but that the state should guarantee they are through force.
Not only is that incompatible with liberal societies, it is incompatible with human nature. Nobody enjoys being forced to do something – even if it’s supposidly for their own good Societal engineering has never worked correctly, with most attempts falling flat on their face (look at any communist or socialist society as Exhibit A…B,C,D, etc). The most rigidly controlled societies of the past and present at least knew they had to ally with traditional values and institutions to maintain power (see Rome, China, Saudi Arabia etc.). For good reason though, people enjoy their customs and traditions, they are part of the fabric, that actually unites people who have never met each other.
Progressives are seeking to achieve some kind of national unity (or as they call it, “solidarity”) by destroying institutions and customs that millions of people enjoy. Whether it be religion, traditional values, entrepreneurship, or parental autonomy, at all places progressives are looking to change how society addresses those issues. In their wake, they seem to be creating what can only be described a church of the state, that will supplant everything we have abandoned. Only through the government can poverty be eliminated, can violence be suppressed, can liberal values flourish, can the environment be saved and so on.
Any belief system requires assumptions to be made. For a devout 13th century Christian the most important assumption is that God is all knowing, all loving and all powerful, he embodies the ultimate authority anyone could desire or conceive. With this assumption that same 13th century person could assume that the Church was the only institution capable of regulating the general populace. A progressive on the other hand makes the assumption that the state is the only institution known that can alleviate societal ills, and in its attempt to do so is usually well intentioned. In the progressive scenario, the state represents the ultimate authority in the land, deriving its power from the society. Therefore major functions of society should be regulated by if not directly manipulated by the government itself.
Society itself is just a collection of individuals. However, despite being composed of individuals, society itself doesn’t have homogeneous desires, wills, emotions, goals or anything an individual has. You cannot change a society with a governmental action because society is not a real thing. Society, is just a conception used by people to describe a group of people of similar culture and customs. What anyone defines as a society can change between people, yet its fictitious health and happiness must be managed somehow, puzzling right?
Now, do not let a progressive argue that it is people they believe in the most, because if that were true they would be anarchists (the Jeffrey Tucker kind, not the black-bloc kind). They may claim that they believe in democracy strongly, and that democracy is a right of all people, but a love of democracy is not rooted in a trusting of individuals to make decisions for themselves, it is a belief that a simple majority is all that is necessary for any action to be taken, whether right/wrong, good/bad etc. Progress isn’t made by force, it’s through the individual initiative of people interacting with one another for their mutual benefit. Being a progressive is and has always been less about desiring progress and more about instituting your ideas at the point of a gun.
In the immortal words of C.S. Lewis, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”