Progressives see their ideology as the path to the final unification of mankind that will usher in Utopia.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, I take a contrary view.
I have stated in prior writings that progressives love to go after unsolvable “problems” because those are the ones that they can fund and “work on” forever and never have to be judged on a result. To say that you want to alleviate poverty for example, is quite different from saying that you are going to end it.
But when I think about it, unsolvable problems are the natural state of mankind – at least at the macro level. To think that all poverty can be eliminated for all of society an unlikely endpoint; however, an individual can lift himself out of poverty through his own actions. Communism has proven over history that central planning and total wealth redistribution do not alleviate poverty or create equality, they only equally spread the misery, oppression and poverty to all. No one (except the leaders) are capable of escaping poverty or increasing their liberty in these collectivist systems.
The progressives don’t really hate freedom, they just define it very, very differently. Modern conservatism is about “freedom of“, as in freedom of opportunity, self-determination, liberty. Progressives define it as “freedom from“ as in freedom from economic risk, political risk and social risk. The former requires minimal regulation and control, the latter requires maximum regulation and control. This is a sharp dividing line separating the right and left in America – where classical liberals (modern conservatives) wish everyone to experience life to its fullest and on their own terms, modern progressives want to use government control to “protect” everybody from life.
A salient example is found in the words of the progressive icon, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
In his Annual Message to Congress (State of the Union Address) on January 6, 1941, Franklin Roosevelt presented his reasons for American involvement in WWII. This speech eventually came to be known as the “Four Freedoms Speech”. In it he outlined for “freedoms” that were the basis for protecting Britain (and the western world) from the encroaching tyranny – these were the freedom of speech, the freedom of worship, the freedom from want, and the freedom from fear.
FDR masterfully combined two constitutionally enumerated rights, freedom of speech and worship, with two “rights” that were not constitutionally expressed and are impossible to define or obtain – the freedom from want and from fear.
These also illustrate the progressives desire to create “positive” liberties instead of the negative ones defined in the Constitution. With freedom of worship (religion) and speech – the Constitution states that government is constrained from doing anything, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”
Freedom from fear and want are positive “liberties”, requiring government to act and are “liberties” not enumerated in the Constitution.
The reason that the Founders chose to list only negative liberties is that it is impossible to write down every individual liberty in a country that is founded on individualism. That is why America was created as a monument to individual freedom – freedom means being able to do what we want as long as that doesn’t compromise the liberty of another individual – but progressives hate that because in their minds, it creates disharmony, discord and disorder.
Since freedom from fear and want are undefinable conditions at a macro level, government uses those and other similar undefinable conditions to exert their power for the “good of the collective”. The way they do this is to attempt to “equalize” liberty by restricting it for one group while allowing special liberty to others and by doing so create the very lack of harmony, happiness and unity they claim to seek.
It is this action of picking winners and losers as they pit individual against individual and group against group that in my estimation guarantees both economic and societal conflict in a so-called “progressive” world. There can only be peace when the individual experiences the freedom to define and resolve his own challenges and is not restricted or disadvantaged by an arbitrary entity.
When solving a collective problem means that individuals must be subjected to coercive actions they do not agree to, conflict is assured. Since this is the very basis of progressivism, it seems clear that this ideology is not a stabilizing force, it is quite the contrary.