I recently realized that I don't actually know
"Being a Parrot Head can devolve into genocidal fascism under the wrong conditions."
My first reaction was to take offense at this defamation of margarita-loving Parrot Heads everywhere. But upon further refection, this is an accurate statement. Parrot Heads are unwitting worshipers of Dionysus, who is both the god of festivals and of insanity. From Wikipedia:
"In the Iliad, when King Lycurgus of Thrace heard that Dionysus was in his kingdom, he imprisoned Dionysus' followers, the Maenads. Dionysus fled and took refuge with Thetis, and sent a drought which stirred the people to revolt. The god then drove King Lycurgus insane and had him slice his own son into pieces with an axe in the belief that he was a patch of ivy, a plant holy to Dionysus."
Additionally, Jimmy Buffett, the chief Parrot Head himself, is known to fly into a rage at Miami Heat games, leading in at least one instance to his ejection from the stadium. https://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=94188&page=1. I mean, that's hardly genocidal fascism. But, as in the case of Dionysus, one can see an undercurrent of rage and violence underneath the festive facade.
The world would be a much better place if everyone acknowledged the "more to like than dislike" standard for both themselves and their opponents.
We’ll done Jeff. You nail the problems nicely. Zealotry is the big one. Was and is. Good intentions is the saving grace. Progressivism, to me, is another strange mutation of Christian beliefs wrapped up in the zeal of politics and the genuine desire to work toward perfection. My beef with Progressivism (old version and new Woke version) is that like the Christianity that it emanates from, it is baked in dogma that can be alien and exclusive to non-believers. I think similar things will be said about today’s Woke version as the Progressivism of the past: major improvements for society (gay rights, historical racial reckoning) and some obvious missteps/overreach (there is no gender/flirtation with Marxism/defund the police).
Like Prohibition, bail reform will be seen as one of the silliest examples of how the movement lost general public support. In NYC we now have criminals who’ve been arrested 30+ times, each time released back out to keep doing the same crimes (mainly theft) because they can no longer be held. So we have a massive increase in crime that everyone feels probably being conducted by a very small minority of career criminals who simply have too few consequences for their actions. At some point, the hobbits will correctly identify the cause of this and vote the progressives out of office (even in NYC).
I recommend Illiberal Reformers by Thomas Leonard for a more negative (and IMO accurate) characterization of the Progressive movement. It’s also not a right-wing screed, that probably wouldn’t get published by PUP! Two additional negatives of historical Progressivism not mentioned in this essay are eugenics and enthusiasm for WWI.
Im inclined to think that Progressivism is antithetical to Liberalism, possibly as a matter of conceptual analysis. But even if they are compatible on a more generous reading, it sure seems to give way to illiberal tendencies historically and today! I think it’s fundamentally about whether you think ends justify means. Progressivism is about utopian ends--“social justice” (ie “cosmic justice”)--and liberalism is about mechanisms like free speech (the open society) due process (distrust of state power) that keep us free to pursue our own lives. So a progressive liberal has a tension in whether to privilege their substantive goals or their commitment to the meta values of the system wherein those goals are (sometimes) achievable. (Jeff seems like a progressive liberal who largely privileges liberalism.) The liberal non-progressive is always worried about the next French Revolution. In an American context, the “conservative liberal” actually seems more coherent then the progressive liberal! Of course, the conservative liberal may be unnecessarily resistant to positive social change (sort of the topic of Hayeks essay “why I am not a conservative”). It’s why it’s good for neither side to dominate--though a world run by progressives worries me much more, especially as the dragons of social injustice that St. George continues to seek out in retirement are getting smaller and more lizard-like....
The best thing you can say about the progressive left is that they mean well.
The downside is that they are utopians, and historically these types kill a lot of people to create their Great Virtuous Fair Heavenly Society. They are the "ideas so good they must be enforced at gunpoint" types.
So they are not simply over-zealous Mother Theresas who just want you to eat your broccoli. They are dangerous to life and liberty, which liberals used to be in favor of.
The other thing to keep in mind is that many of them live in ivory towers like academia, media and government so the mindset of a profit-minded business is alien to them. They tend to be good abstract thinkers but don't understand people all that well. Which is why their "expert regulation" often degenerates into a cesspool of unintended consequences.
One of the best pieces I've read since I started following IMBW. And I've been at it for a while. Props.
“Nobody can be progressive without being doctrinal; I might almost say that nobody can be progressive without being infallible—at any rate, without believing in some infallibility. For progress by its very name indicates a direction; and the moment we are in the least doubtful about the direction, we become in the same degree doubtful about the progress.”
G. K. Chesterton, “Heretics”
You speak not of progressivism’s disdain for individual liberty. Or their belief that the only way progress is achieved is through government intervention. It’s clear that some progressive ideas might be good, but in execution, they often jump the rails (can you say SS /Medicare having great difficulty staying solvent?). Progressives tend to way over promise, and when they deliver it’s often their zeal that pushes execution, rather than pragmatism. How can anyone support a movement whose goal is spending more money than is available, and then completely ignoring the consequences?
I'm afraid you will have to revise your estimation of progressivism a little. Child labor laws are a development of the 19th Century industrialized mass conscript army and concerns that too many boys were stunted by early factory or mine work.
“At the turn of the century”… made me do a double take. That would be early 2000s. You should have specified turn of which century if it’s not the obvious, last one.
So if I read this right, eugenics and segregation are just acceptable side effects of creating the FDA? I mean, you gotta break some eggs right?
The belief that man or society are perfectible is a fools errand with a fantastically terrible history, and the tactics used by progressives continually degrade liberal institutions. I guess I would rather have people just deal with the problems that exist than have the state try and fix everything by ignoring the rules. Call me old fashioned, because at this point I basically am...
Bold move using a picture of Hitler. (wink! I'm not dumb) Also thank you for reviewing the first 40% of the book because I too have learned something! The "progressives who do/don't hold liberal principles" is a really useful distinction.
We have some leftovers from the Progressive era. One that I wish every state had is voter initiative. The Kansa vote to maintain the protections of Roe are an example of a citizen initiative. A group or a single citizen gets an idea that he thinks would make his state a more democratic one. He goes out to find other citizens to join in by signing his petition. When he gets enough signatures, the vote is put on the ballot and the legislatures are supposed to be bound by that vote.
I had also noticed that progressives don't have an 'end point', or as you put it, a limiting principle.
For instance, take Bernie Sanders. His core message of the rich hoarding wealth and skyrocketing wealth inequality ring true. but I noticed he said the exact same message in the 80s, when the wealth gap wasn't nearly as large. So then, what is the "acceptable" wealth gap? If you refuse to accept inequalities in economic status, you can't be the one setting economic policy.
Woke progressives are the ones that take the economics of progressives, strip it down and make it put on a clown wig of racism. They also talk a huge game, and bark loudly, with no end goals or principles.
Progressive liberalism seems more practical, but its hard to be taken seriously when you've got an insane brother foaming at the mouth, standing 3 feet away.