Different Schools of Thought

Promoted back to the top because I like this one…and as we suffer the post-election effects, the more relevant it becomes.

It has become an accepted canard of the stars of “progressivism”, a sort of conventional wisdom, that everything is relative to the demands and desires of contemporary society and there are no constraints except what they decide there are. The sycophants who orbit these “progressive stars” accept this supposition uncritically because it sounds good to them – why wouldn’t we want to be able to release ourselves from the constricting effects of a prior epoch and adjust our thinking to fit modern times and modern sensibilities? After all, that is the definition of “progress”, isn’t it?

I would suggest that there are actually very few people in the United States who are what one would call “hard core progressives” and that the greater population that are counted as “progressive” or “liberal” are basically political hangers on – people devoid of enough intellectual curiosity to truly examine the roots of their beliefs. They are not concerned with the philosophical underpinnings, just what the result of “progressivism” means to them…and as “progressivism” is a form of collectivism; it has been very, very good to some.

If they did examine the roots of “progressivism”, they would understand that there is absolutely nothing American about it and it actually is in complete opposition to the very founding principles of our nation.

I say this without equivocation and fear of contradiction – bestowing legitimacy on “progressivism” as a part of American politics, the acceptance of “progressivism” and its purveyors as valid leaders of this country is the precursor to the elimination of individual freedom and self-determination and will ultimately lead to the destruction of America.

Some scholars believe that the zenith of pure “progressive” thought coincided with the election of Woodrow Wilson as the 28th President of the United States in 1912 and that it only survived in a mutated form after that point, enjoying a rebooting of sorts with the three terms of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Wilson was greatly influenced by the German School of political thought which eventually lead to the founding of the radical left-wing Frankfurt School in the early 1920’s. This aggregation of scholars and political theoreticians sought to synthesize the varying degrees of thought of Kant, Hegel, Marx, Freud, Weber and Lukács.

Early “progressives”, including Wilson, were also students of the English Historical School, consisting primarily of the works of Edmund Burke, Herbert Spencer and Walter Bagehot.

The common thread that binds all “progressives” through the strands of time is the synthesis of these two schools of thought and that is this:

There are no abstract principles in politics. The English School taught that politics were intertwined with human evolution and that because of that proposition, political thought can only be understood in historical context, and that each age or epoch derives its own definition of freedom and rights. Since they do, there are no such things as natural rights, only those rights that man gives himself through government.

Since government can only be understood as what is derived from the concrete understanding of history there can be no universal notion of liberty or rights and as Hegel wrote,

“The State, its laws, its arrangements, constitute the rights of its members… All is their possession, just as they are possessed by it; for it constitutes their existence, their being.”

Hegel and others like Johann Kaspar Bluntschli believed that the primacy of the state was necessary because the state embodies a unified national will so supreme and so compelling as to be far more fundamental to the evolution of society than any clash of individual and subjective interests, i.e. individual rights and freedom.

The modern concept of “progressivism” rests on these two premises:

  • There is no liberty or freedom except what the State is willing to give and,
  • There is only the State and supremacy of the will of the collective.

Compare and contrast these two precepts to the plain and direct language of the Founders:

First from the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

Now from the Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Understanding these conditions, one can understand why the “progressives” believe that they Constitution is a “living” document, to be “re-interpreted at will to fit the whims of contemporary society.

There can be no greater contrast between what “progressivism” represents and the original intent of the Founding Fathers than these. At every turn, the Founders noted that there are, in fact, unalienable rights bestowed by our creator – life, liberty and pursuit of happiness – and government is formed to be the servant of the people, not the other way around.

If one believes that the state is supreme then it follows that there must also be a belief that to be involved in government bestows a patina of superiority by virtue of association with a superior organization – thus is explained the “progressives” worship of bureaucracy and having the “best and brightest” in government to make decisions for the populace.

Many conservatives have termed the latest usurpation of power and violation of the Constitution by Obama as “lawless”. What must be understood is that this “progressive” President doesn’t see it that way. He sees the world through the same lens as Woodrow Wilson did, that government is supreme and has no bounds and since government is supreme to the people and obviously the head of the government is supreme over all the other branches by simple virtue of position, it is entirely appropriate for the head of that government to “go it alone” as he acts unilaterally on his beliefs.

Remember when the “progressives” had their knickers in a twist during the Bush administration over the concept of the “unitary executive”? Where is that concern now that there are real and true violation of the separation of powers?

If one also believes that there are no abstract (or unalienable) rights, then one can believe that there is no distinction between the public and the private, that all are one and that the 1% owes the 99% something. This is nothing new, in 1899 Hegel criticized American constitutionalism, saying:

Universal protection for property, and a something approaching entire immunity from public burdens, are facts which are constantly held up to condemnation. We have in these facts the fundamental character of the community – the endeavor of the individual after acquisition, commercial profit, and gain; the preponderance of private interest, devoting itself to that of the community only for its own advantage.

Hegel would have been right at home in the middle of Zuccotti Park. He would be holding the sign stating that he is the 99%.

It is simple. All things “progressive” can be explained though understanding that the modern concept of “progressivism” rests on the aforementioned two premises and the direct conflict that they present with the explicit founding traditions of the United States of America:

  • There is no liberty or freedom except what the State is willing to give and,
  • There is only the State and supremacy of the will of the collective.

The confusion and conflict in America today is the direct result of “progressives” working for over 125 years to subvert the provisions of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution and replace them with their major premises of statism and collectivism. Where they could not and cannot attack directly, they have substituted democratically enacted policy with judicial activism and bureaucratic regulation.

In a logical sense, one cannot be a “progressive” and an American at the same time. This simple understanding should be sufficient to convince us to work to eliminate “progressive” thought from the contemporary political lexicon.

Readers will note that in all of my writings, I will always put terms related to political “progressivism” in quotation marks because I consider this belief system to be the most regressive of belief systems.

Caution: Another Smitty link attached.

9 thoughts on “Different Schools of Thought

  1. OUTSTANDING!!!

    I wish to use this post in the very near future, and you know where I plan to post it ;-)

    I will just add this thought as a mere support of what I consider to be an exceptional dissertation:

    Founders’ ideology = Locke’s natural law = INDIVIDUAL rights and liberty = American Revolution

    Progressives’ ideology = Hobbs’s natural law = State or Man-made rights = French Revolution

    They are diametrically opposed ideas: political yin-yang, only without the complimentary aspects.

    • I was saddened & amazed when I recently learned that political correctness was created from the Frankfurt schools'” “critical theory” in order to poison American Culture from within.

      Sad & shocking.

      Europeans, who America SAVED from Hitler, came to America, and what did they do?
      They looked around and set about figuring out, “?How can we DESTROY all this?”
      Their answer?
      We will teach and instill lies in the populace through education.
      We will teach lies about the history of America and the rest of the world to Americas CHILDREN.

      They were equally Evil as Hitler.

      What I have not figured out yet is WHY the educational establishment allowed these people to indoctrinate America with LIES.

      Does anyone know?

      They literally marched through the universities and media and ALL the doors were thrown open WIDE for them and they were received with “hugs and kisses”.

  2. Pingback: The New Authoritarianism « The Rio Norte Line

  3. Just as good today as it was when you first posted it.

    But in re-reading it, I realized I forgot to mention someone crucial to the modern political environment: MACHIAVELLI! The father of “the ends justify the means” in politics and the puppet master in the closet, so to speak. I think his work has had a great influence on modern Progressive thinking (for those who do not know Machiavelli, think Bill Clinton on steroids).

    • I edited it a bit and sent it to Scott Kent at the PCNH – I haven’t submitted a column in about a year, so I thought this was a good one to send.

        • Even with my career stuff that you know about, I’m still thinking that at some point I will jump into the political arena. It is never far from my thoughts.

          I just want to keep a hand in locally in the event that I do…I won’t always be an evil oil magnate.

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