Being a conservative blogger, a part time writer and a frequent “letter to the editor guy”, I get challenged about my beliefs all the time. Most of the time, the comments from so called “progressives” tend toward an approximation of “why are you a conservative – how can you possibly believe that way?”
Well, my answer is usually captured in something that I wrote a long time ago about the differences between conservatism and “progressivism”, that being:
Modern conservatism is about “freedom of“, as in freedom of opportunity, freedom of self-determination, freedom of liberty, freedom of religion. “Progressives” define it as “freedom from“, freedom from economic, political and social risk and freedom from religion. The conservative approach requires minimal regulation and control, the “progressive” requires maximum regulation and control.
This is a necessarily simplistic view but no less an accurate one.
Looking deeper at the differences, I also realized that there is another significant difference. That difference is stark and significant and was sparked by the last sentence, “The conservative approach requires minimal regulation and control, the “progressive” requires maximum regulation and control.”
Conservatism can stand alone as a belief system, “progressivism” cannot. A belief system that allies itself with individual freedom needs no other catalyst to exist as true freedom can be defined as the absence of control. “Progressivism” is based on control over the individual; therefore it must have some mechanism, i.e. government, to exist.
Looking at the past 100 years or so of American history, we can see that “progressives” have required an ideological ally to continue to survive. In the 30’s and 40’s it was organized labor and industry. We had Rosie the Riveter and Dad was always portrayed as a union man. In the 50’s and 60’s, it was the Civil Rights movement. Propagating the “rebel without a cause” syndrome, they were all about breaking social taboos and advocating the rights of the minority – any minority (Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham Obama Soetoro, is a prime example of this phenomena). In the 70’s and 80’s it was Mother Gaia – the environmental movement (still a powerful ally today, just now morphed from population control to global warming to global “climate change”) with the Birkenstock and hemp wearing, “hug a tree”/smoke a joint mentality.
Then in the 90′s and 00′s, a strange thing happened on the way to the Forum – the “progressives” became regressive. Where in the previous 60 years, “progressives” generally seemed to want to move forward and used the tools of modernity to accomplish that, the past 20 years have been devoted to destroying the very vehicles that propelled society to the advanced state that it currently enjoys.
Walter Russell Mead has a piece today at The American Interest titled Dammed if You Do, detailing the regressive nature of modern “progressives”. He writes:
If you want a snapshot of the future of 20th century progressivism, look at the nation’s waterways. In the 19th and 20th centuries dams were a hallmark of progressive planning – using the resources and coordination of the government to build an infrastructure that would power industry, generate electricity, and create construction jobs. Now many of those dams are coming down. Says the Economist:
In this century’s first decade, 410 American dams were removed. While that is just a small portion of the more than 84,000 dams in America, the rate of removal is growing; more than twice as many dams were removed between 2000 and 2010 than in any other decade. Like the Twelve Mile River dams, many of them are relics of a bygone age: holdovers from the Industrial Revolution built to power mills long defunct for industries that have largely vanished from America.
Mead uses this as a signal that “progressivism” is about to be dismantled, that it has survived past its usefulness – it has achieved its expiration date – and will soon be dismantled.
It’s an apt metaphor for the deconstruction of the last century’s progressive agenda. Decades of progressive legislation and regulations that are no longer needed will be dismantled as new technology, a new post-industrial economy, and a new era of budget-crunching force reform and renewal.
That doesn’t mean there should be no dams, but dams have costs as well as benefits, and these need to be carefully and prudently weighed. In many cases, the more fully the costs are assessed, the weaker the case for the dam appears.
The de-damming of America has begun. China and many developing countries are still in their damming phase. This too shall pass.
While Mr. Mead is far more accomplished than I am, he is the Henry A. Kissinger senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, I must respectfully disagree. Following the failures of the unions, the equalization of civil rights and the implosion of “climate science”, the symbiont that is “progressivism” is just looking for its next host…my fear is that they will finally decide to discard the mask and just show us what they really are – a bunch of Marxists and Communists – or to use the phrase has been coined for them, the neo-coms.
Many “progressives” have praised the recent “Occupy Wall Street” movement as the Tea Party of the Left, notably Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore and actor Mark Ruffalo. Nick Kristof of the New York Times is also a big fan, one who can barely contain his glee at their mischief.
“Occupy Wall Street” was initially treated as a joke, but after a couple of weeks it’s gaining traction. The crowds are still tiny by protest standards — mostly in the hundreds, swelling during periodic marches — but similar occupations are bubbling up in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington. David Paterson, the former New York governor, dropped by, and labor unions are lending increasing support.
But let’s have a look at the people that have been described as “middle-class socialist brats” – what are their demands?
Demand one: Restoration of the living wage. This demand can only be met by ending “Freetrade” by re-imposing trade tariffs on all imported goods entering the American market to level the playing field for domestic family farming and domestic manufacturing as most nations that are dumping cheap products onto the American market have radical wage and environmental regulation advantages. Another policy that must be instituted is raise the minimum wage to twenty dollars an hr.
Demand two: Institute a universal single payer healthcare system. To do this all private insurers must be banned from the healthcare market as their only effect on the health of patients is to take money away from doctors, nurses and hospitals preventing them from doing their jobs and hand that money to wall st. investors.
Demand three: Guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment.
Demand four: Free college education.
Demand five: Begin a fast track process to bring the fossil fuel economy to an end while at the same bringing the alternative energy economy up to energy demand.
Demand six: One trillion dollars in infrastructure (Water, Sewer, Rail, Roads and Bridges and Electrical Grid) spending now.
Demand seven: One trillion dollars in ecological restoration planting forests, reestablishing wetlands and the natural flow of river systems and decommissioning of all of America’s nuclear power plants.
Demand eight: Racial and gender equal rights amendment.
Demand nine: Open borders migration. anyone can travel anywhere to work and live.
Demand ten: Bring American elections up to international standards of a paper ballot precinct counted and recounted in front of an independent and party observers system.
Demand eleven: Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all. Debt forgiveness of sovereign debt, commercial loans, home mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans and personal loans now! All debt must be stricken from the “Books.” World Bank Loans to all Nations, Bank to Bank Debt and all Bonds and Margin Call Debt in the stock market including all Derivatives or Credit Default Swaps, all 65 trillion dollars of them must also be stricken from the “Books.” And I don’t mean debt that is in default, I mean all debt on the entire planet period.
Demand twelve: Outlaw all credit reporting agencies.
Demand thirteen: Allow all workers to sign a ballot at any time during a union organizing campaign or at any time that represents their yeah or nay to having a union represent them in collective bargaining or to form a union.
These demands will create so many jobs it will be completely impossible to fill them without an open borders policy.
There you go – tear it all down. Burn it to the ground. Advancement is evil. Repent, the end is near! They have taken “Progressivism” to “Regressivism” in 20 short years. Maybe Mead is right and this is just the beginning of the end for “progressives”. I hope so…but I also fear that our resistance to collectivist ideologies has been weakened by 100 years of soft sold Marxism.
We will see.