The Progressive Movement, from the early 20th century to today, operated from a flawed premise: Man is basically good, and the power of the state can shape him toward better tendencies, aims, and behaviors. A record of the wars and rumors of wars, the failures of power in the hands of any good man – made corrupt over time and influence – indicate a healthy reserve towards power to people, or unbridled trust to his limited, yet static nature. However, the fallen nature of man does not inspire pride in prideful man. Thus, academics from the early 1800s to the present day have challenged the learning and the humility of their ancestors. However, humanity’s fraught, broken aspects cannot be ignored, despite the desperate pleadings of elites, bureaucrats, and illiberal interest groups insistent on changing the world to their own dictates.
These Progressives preached progress as human perfectibility through the power of the state. The records of history, apart from sanitized, state-sponsored propaganda, demonstrate that liberty, conservative principles of limited government, foster true progress.
German pundits, paid by the autocratic Prussian state, then Karl Marx and his communistic followers, pursued a better world by rigorous planning, or brute force at the barrel of a gun. These terrifying goals seduce those who have not lived under well-intentioned tyranny. Ironically, this Progressive impulse for equality of results, for static outcomes for all, central planning in the hands of well-trained elites, does not imply progress. These antiquated views populated the minds of Ancient Greek and Roman thinkers, and the rogue administrators who usurped power from the individuals whom they claimed to serve, and benefited themselves.
To this day, I find it remarkable that so many tech-savvy politicos trust our rising, complex administrative state to a few “experts”, many of whom hold wrong views on . . .just about everything. This “benevolent” despotism went out of favor with the “Enlightenment” philosophers seeking court favors. The unconscious consensus of individuals, with better information about their particular needs, informs our markets and culture more accurately than the blind planning of the few. Can’t Progressives do better than regurgitate stale ideas which never worked in the first place?
Their sophomoric disdains free markets and enterprise, capitalism and private property as old-fashioned and deficient. Yet the systems of open trade have leveled the playing field for all markets, for individuals to become successful entrepreneurs. If someone is not successful, they cannot blame the skewed background of government intervention and bureaucratic micromanaging. Great civilizations, then and now, did not spring forth from government planning, but individual invention, unfettered trade, and the growth of mutual, voluntary trust.
|American Progress (John Gast)|
About abortion, anyone who argues that terminating a life as a matter of convenience is noble or modern, should review their history. Ancient cultures sacrificed children to esoteric deities. Barbaric cultures dedicated their rapacious war efforts to slaughtering not only every able-bodied male, but ripping out the unborn children from the wombs of pregnant mothers, wives resting safely at home. For those who advocate for abortion on demand today, their myopic views merely mirror the backward barbarity of ages long gone.
Progressives degrade the family as an antiquated structure, unworthy of replication or respect. However, families, through the marriage of one man and one woman, are not as old-fashioned as one would assume. In Old Testament biblical accounts, men took multiple wives. With those strife-ridden arrangements emerged fights over proper rearing and the legacy of inheritance engendered more problems than solutions. Same-sex couplings were common. Reread the records of Sodom and Gomorrah and references to “Sons of Belial” throughout the Israelite histories. Homosexuality was common among the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Chinese, too. And so were its deleterious consequences. Prostitution was not only legal, but welcomed in Mediterranean societies, along with incest and pedophilia. These disordered behaviors resulted in the measured decline of once great societies, no longer producing strong couples, healthy children, or thriving societies. Today, more Americans – and promoters of Western culture – are restoring the vision and value of marriage and family: nourished children who become strong citizens and create better communities, better than anything constructed by force or legislative fiat.
For generations, if not millennia, individuals were not permitted to own firearms, to protect themselves from rogue tribes or thuggish nobles. During the fall of the Roman Empire, townspeople seeking any safety would seek refuge from large estate owners, many of whom would demand the freedom and property of those individuals in return. The strength of knights and their widespread war machines belonged to the well-connected landowners, even up to the 18th century. Self-preservation through ownership of firearms, the American colonists fired the “shot heard round the world” and sparked the American Revolution, in which individual liberty, enshrined in the English Bill of Rights, would remain enforced for generations to come. Despite Progressive posturing for gun control, The Second Amendment remains sacrosanct, a testimony to the eternal necessity of man to preserve himself from danger.
Conservatives must retake the debate over what constitutes “progress”. Progress is about liberty, not tyranny; freedom, not control; opportunity, not conformity. Conservatives, not “Progressives”, promote progress for all.