March 11, 2010
The 'Progressives' Are Really 'Oppressives'
Carl Von Clausewitz, who wrote the seminal work On War, noted that "[w]ar is a mere continuation of politics by other means." If politics and warfare are a continuum, then military strategy should apply in politics and in the contest of political ideas.
As a military officer, I study tactics as a part of my professional development. One key military tactic is to never let the enemy dictate the terms of the engagement. Sun Tzu, the famous Chinese military strategist and philosopher who wrote The Art of War, said, "The clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy's will to be imposed on him." In other words, never give the enemy any advantage; therefore, never fight where, when, or how the enemy wants you to fight. If you let the enemy set the terms of the engagement, then you have already lost half the battle.
For example, during the Texas Revolutionary War with Mexico, Col. Travis, Davy Crockett, James Bowie, and around 180 other volunteers decided to defend the Alamo, mostly because of the many cannons that were stored there. But General Sam Houston did not want the Alamo defended because it was poorly situated and because that type of warfare played to the strengths of General Santa Anna's vastly larger army of around 2,400 soldiers. But Col. Travis and the others decided to defend the Alamo regardless of General Houston's orders...and we all know what happened. Although the defenders of the Alamo fought valiantly and inflicted casualties on a three-to-one ratio, the outcome was a forgone conclusion before the first shot was even fired. The defenders of the Alamo were overrun, and everyone inside was killed on March 6, 1836 because they made the tactical error of letting the enemy fight the kind of battle they were most suited to fight.
Conversely General Houston was committed to "never let the enemy impose his will on him." So he never engaged Santa Anna, even to the point of being called a coward and worse, until he could find a situation which would give him an advantage. General Houston knew that he could not afford to lose even one more battle, so he was forced to run from Santa Anna until that fateful day on April 21, 1836, when he and his army were (literally) able to catch Santa Anna and his troops napping (they were taking a siesta because they had been traveling hard, they were tired, and they thought that Sam Houston was a coward and would not fight). With the tactical advantage of complete surprise and the Mexican Army asleep in their tents, Houston's Army was able to kill or capture all of Santa Anna's army, numbering more than 1,360, with only nine of his own soldiers killed in what is now known as the Battle of San Jacinto. General Houston also captured General Santa Anna, which effectively ended the war. Sam Houston was victorious because he did not let the enemy determine the terms of the battle.
In the battle of ideas, progressives, with the aid of their academic and media allies, have defined many of the terms and words that will be used. They are able to "impose their will" by defining the terms of the debate. That forces conservatives into an untenable position from which they usually cannot win, because they have given the verbal "high ground" to the progressives by using their terminology. A progressive will always think that his position is superior by definition (literally), and he will be right.
With that tactic in mind, you should not let an opponent define the very words used in the political contest, because the words used in the battle of ideas are analogous to the strategic high ground. He who has the high ground has the advantage. Take the word "progressive," for example. The very word is positive. Who can possibly be against progress, and how can stagnation or regression be better than progress? While many of us know that Progressivism has led to some of the most brutal, violent, oppressive regimes in the modern world, those who apply the term to themselves obviously do not see it in a negative way. Conservatives who still use that term in what they think is a derisive, negative, or insulting manner will watch their statist/progressive opponents laugh at them as they fall into the progressives' trap.
The correct term should be "oppressive," not "progressive," because statist/progressive/totalitarian governments have to oppress individual freedom in order to force people to conform to the will of the state, which invariably just ends up in one form or another of enslavement, from confiscation and "redistribution" of earnings all the way up to gulags and show trials.
So tactically speaking, never give your enemy the choice of the field of battle by letting them impose their "verbal will."
Never adopt your opponent's use of the word "choice." Instead, use the word "abortion" -- or better yet, "no choice." Certainly the unborn gets no choice. Never let them use "fairness," as in "fairness doctrine"; instead, use the word "unfairness." Never let them use the term "social justice"; instead, use the term "social control." Never let them use "working poor" because that assumes that only poor people work. Never let them use "climate change"; instead, say "climate hoax." Never let them use the term "health care reform," and instead say "health care takeover." Think about every word used, and if any term is tactically advantageous to the progressive cause, then refuse to use it. Always correct them, every single time -- otherwise, you cannot win this war of ideas. And never, ever let them call themselves "progressives" when in reality they are "oppressives."