What Kind of Person Calls Himself 'Progressive'?

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.

The same thing goes for "post-modernism," and so many other labels on the Left. If you're a "post-modernist," you plainly imply that everybody else is past it: dead and gone. The Progressive part of the world has moved beyond modernism, or whatever ism is to be surpassed. Well, why would you believe something as obviously false as that? Basically, to flatter yourself and your fellow deludees.

The "in" thing is to be "post." Various Left movements love to call themselves "post-industrial," "post-structural," post this, post that. It all means, "you're a dead White male, and your time is past and buried."

So what kind of person needs to believe that? What kind of shriveled self-respect makes you want to feel that nobody is as Progressive and "post" as you are? What school curriculum has taught you to have such contempt for others?

Or take "anti-racism." If you define yourself as an "anti-racist," it means that a lot of others must be a racists, right? But how do you know that? Not many people go around wearing Kluxer sheets. You have to want to believe it, or to be more ready than the rest of us to point your finger at suspects. You're a racist! You're a homophobe! Ultimately, in many cases, being a white middle aged male is enough to make one suspect. Since the Archie Bunker series All in the Family, Hollywood and television have adopted a visual code for evil (white, fat, middle-aged, male) and good (non-white, slim, young, and/or  female). Watch CSI and you'll see the code working.  And with that little piece of "Progress," the Left has created its own racism, judging people purely by their appearance. The new racism is just as invidious as the old kind, and it is much more pervasive, being propagated by high-tech media.

It's all very childish, with very pernicious effects. It cultivates an accusatory, suspicious sense of victimhood and rage at the rest of humanity. And being based on mere appearances, it is incredibly superficial.

All of Political Correctness, the dominant cultural theme of the Left, depends upon such allegations and accusations. It is incredibly shallow and superficial - but it is also very effective as a power-play. If you can put the world at a disadvantage by implicitly accusing them of sin, you can also manipulate and oppress others, conscious of your own moral superiority. Evidence is not required. It is the pervasive McCarthyism of the Left.

I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt. If they don't talk like haters, I'm happy to believe they're not haters. Most people want the best for humanity, and appealing to their goodness seems kinder than accusing them of evil.

James Lewis blogs at dangeroustimes.wordpress.com/