Major Fallacies of Progressives: #3

The fallacy I’ll attack is that Progressives are progressive.

I’m following up on a suggestion by Jim Davies that we libertarians reclaim the word progressive and not let Progressives have it for their own. I’ll capitalize Progressive to refer to them (Progressives) and their political philosophy. When I do not capitalize progressive, it refers to the word in its usual meaning.

This distinction is in keeping with one web dictionary source. It uses a capital letter to refer to any of the Progressive political parties in politics. On the other hand, its first meaning for progressive is “favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are, especially in political matters.”

Libertarianism is progressive. I can give several examples from my own past blogs. I wrote “Building another State on the ashes of an old one is the usual outcome [of violent revolution], and not one that is at all progressive.” This is because it maintains the State as the status quo. Here’s a second example: “How many books of theory does Professor Hoppe have to generate before winning the argument that markets for protection services and security will be far more progressive than territorial monopolists on violence?” Again, the idea was that the libertarian suggestions are the progressive ones.

Progressives are not at all progressive. Progressives are actually like Conservatives and Liberals in wanting to maintain and extend the political status quo: Statism. What is statism? It is “a political system in which the state has substantial centralized control over social and economic affairs.”

The three political groups (Conservatives, Liberals and Progressives) dominate Congress. Judging from the laws they are producing and multiplying, what they stand for is ever-increasing control over the activities of Americans. This is not improvement, not betterment, and not progressive.

The “change” that these three groups advocate is always more of the same: the application of State power to previously private activities. The changes look different and they cause rearrangements in how things are done, as in Obamacare. But it typically makes matters worse, not better: retrogression not progress. This is sometimes superficial change. Heated debates do not affect the substance of the statism. Sometimes the existing system is taken into a more intensive form or rearranged with some surface differences in how the authorities are attempting to control people and social situations. In other instances, authority is taken into altogether virgin areas, such as searching people at travel nodes, collecting vast amounts of previously private communications, and invading persons and property with militarized police operations.

The reasons why Conservatives, Liberals and Progressives advocate a powerful State vary, causing superficial debates. Each side spins its policies as betterment and improvement, i.e., progress. Are they really? In fact, their policies are almost always completely perverse in terms of producing general betterment in America because their ideas and theories are fallacious, because their policies are aimed at serving privileged interest groups, and because government’s structure ensures failure of its policies to produce general betterment. Their policies are either unnecessary to achieve the end of societal improvement these advocates claim to seek, or else at great cost they cause the opposite results, or else they achieve the ends sought but at costs that greatly exceed the supposed benefits, or else they simply feather the nests of those who get the laws passed that privilege their interests.

Progressives are not progressive, but neither are Conservatives and Liberals. If it’s broad and widespread progress, improvement and betterment that’s desired, libertarianism is the progressive political philosophy with the greatest promise of encouraging these processes because it aims to reduce government’s role drastically. The literature on the existence of widespread government failure and its causes is vast. A recent example from a liberal source is here.


10:43 am on May 22, 2014