We all want progress. We may disagree whether gay marriage or drug legalization constitutes progress or not. But we all want better things for the world -- better food, better health and well-being, scientific and technical advances, wiser political systems, more peace and freedom, more happy children, more humane treatment of animals, more tolerance, more prosperity for the world, you name it. That's called being a decent person.
So what kind of person has to label himself "Progressive?" Obviously somebody who believes he (or she) understands real progress better than the rest of us. Because if you are a Progressive it implies that everybody else, let's face it, is a Regressive, or maybe just a Stagnant. It's a smirky, self-flattering way of saying you're a lot better than the rest.
So what kind of ego needs do you have to have to call yourself that? And what do you believe about others? In fact, Progressives must believe that other people are worse than they are; that only they can Save the Planet, or create Peace on Earth, or Solve Inequality, or whatever sin bedevils mankind.
Like the preacher who is focused on nothing but sin, Progressives must emphasize the alleged flaws of other people. They need to pinpoint those flaws, to feel important. Because Progressives make it clear that the real obstacle to Progress is Other People. In fact, if you really ask a "Progressive" what other people are like, you're likely to hear that much of humanity is either ignorant or evil.
The word Progressive first became popular in the late 19th century, but has now been adopted as a popular synonym for "socialism." Americans tend not to like socialism, associating it with the Soviet Union and other bad characters. But "Progressivism" sounds fine. So it is a euphemism for something people fear; a cover-up label.
The odd thing, of course, is that real progress in the world is almost never achieved by self-proclaimed "Progressives." They generally make things worse rather than better. (See all the mad utopian schemers from Bin Laden to Stalin and Ahmadi-Nejad.) As a group, they are strikingly ill-equipped to even understand the world in any depth. Rather, it's farmers, business people, engineers, teachers, laborers, scientists, soldiers, cops, doctors, writers, inventors, all of whom create real progress --- or who keep the world from sliding back into barbarism.
All the radicals in the world together have not created as much economic progress as the inventor of Diet Coke or the Post-It Note. I'm sorry, but it's plainly true. So the "Progressive" ego trip is really only an ego trip.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Better Is In The Name