I have written before about why I am not a “conservative.” With all due respect to serious intellectual conservatives like my friends at the Charlemagne Institute, about 99% of American-style conservatives are the political equivalent of Joel Osteen fans even in their better moments.
I could make an extensive historical critique of progressive ideology by pointing out its origins in the Prussian prototype for the modern public administration state, fused with the scientism of the Enlightenment, and finding its full institutional expression in the managerial revolution of the 20th century. But to simplify a bit, these are the main limitations of folks who identify as “progressives” at the present time.
-The belief in the perpetual expansion of the welfare state as an end unto itself. I agree there should be a social safety net, and reasonable people can disagree on what form it should take, but the goal of progressivism is a system where everyone regards the state as their sugar daddy, of which they are permanent wards. See Hilaire Belloc’s “The Servile State.”
-The belief in an unrealistic environmentalism that functions as a modern pantheist religion. Like any reasonable person, I’m for clean air and water, and if the goal is to reduce carbon emissions, then nuclear power is the only viable alternative. The “no growth” economy favored by some Green types isn’t going to happen.
-I’ve always agreed with Thomas Szasz’s critique of the therapeutic state as the modern version of the theocratic state, but the “progressives” have really shown their hand with their “Health Uber Alles” fanaticism during the pandemic. Health and safety are important values, but they have to be balanced with other values like the material interests of the working class and keeping government power at bay.
-Progressives take reasonable concerns about the mistreatment of historically marginalized or excluded populations and turn this into another fanatical cult that is ultimately self-defeating, and contrary to the actual opinions of most members of actual historically marginalized groups.
-At the present time, too many progressives are trying to undermine traditional civil liberties (free speech, freedom of religion, academic freedom, freedom of association, due process, right to bear arms) when these become an obstacle to the progressive theocracy.
-Too many progressives are also compromising with the carceral state, even to the point of prominent progressives calling for police repression of the homeless.
-Most dreadful of all is the emergence of what I call “human rights imperialism” which was demonstrated perfectly by late Trotskyist-turned-neocon Christopher Hitchens’ call for bombing the Taliban “out of the Stone Age.”
While not every self-identified progressive holds to every one of these positions, it is usually true that most progressives hold to most of these positions, with various degrees of extremes, to the point of largely reducing “progressivism” to a worthless pile of shit. If this is “progress,” who needs it?
Categories: Left and Right