Friday, November 21, 2008

Progressivism as the Radical Left

I have long noted that "the progressive netroots," as our political antagonists on the other side like to call themselves, are today's radicals, the ideological descendents of the New Left revolutionaries of the 1960s (people like Bill Ayers and the Weather Underground terrorists).

Today's progressives have very little in common with the true early-20th progressive reformers, such as Governor Hiram Johnson of California, who brought direct democracy to the state's voters in 1911.

I often get smeared as "wingnut" by some reality-challenged bloggers (for example,
here and here) for making this argument, because the left today can't stand being identified for what they truly are. So it's with pleasure that I share Michael Lind's new piece, calling on progressives to end their charade: "Is it OK to Be Liberal Again, Instead of Progressive?":

If you were a progressive in the '60s and '70s, you were likely to think that Truman and Johnson were warmongering "corporate liberals" under the control of the "military-industrial complex" and that the Democrats and Republicans were indistinguishable. For the moderate and conservative Democrats of the DLC to call themselves the new progressives was the equivalent of moderate, secular Republicans calling themselves the new fundamentalists.

At least the far-left progressives were honest. They genuinely despised the mid-century American liberals, whom they viewed simply as another species of bourgeois imperialists. This is another one of the reasons I dislike the term "progressive" ... Why share a label with anyone who romanticized Ho Chi Minh or Fidel Castro?
Actually, because so few Americans identify "progressives" with this strain of left-wing extremism, it's unlikely that today's left will abandon the term.

I imagine there's still some kind of positive glow associated with the idea of a political movement that supports "progress." That's the last thing today's leftists want, however. They want a new (old) New Deal/Great Society combo, complete with WPA-style government spending programs, taxes on the rich (those making $250,000, which was
about $35,000 in 1960, for comparison, but folks at that income level back then didn't think they were "rich"), and the endorsement of blame-America-first ideology at the highest levels of the foreign policy establishment (in that respect, thank goodness we might see Hillary Clinton taking over Foggy Bottom).

Daniel Halper at Pajamas Media argues that Barack Obama's already thrown the Democratic Party's hard-left contingents under the bus. Yet, given the tantrum-prone propensity of the progressive hordes, the president-elect may find their endless harangues a bit overwhelming at some point.


Anonymous said...

As an interesting note if you go to the Communist Party USA website CPUSA they now refer to themselves as 'Progressives' instead of communist or socialist or marxist.

It is simply a redefined code word.

AmPowerBlog said...

"It is simply a redefined code word."

Thanks for the terminology, Quotecritter. That's perfect.

Doctor Biobrain said...

First off, I identify you as a "wingnut" because you're a rightwing nutcase, and it has nothing to do with you imagining that we're all ideological descendants of hippie terrorists that nobody cares about. And secondly, I identify myself as a "liberal" and never as a "progressive." Progressives are different from liberals, even though most folks use the terms interchangeably. For example, many progressives still DO think that Dems and Republicans are indistinguishable and are part of the military-industrial complex. Just ask Ralph Nader, who blasted Obama for being an Uncle Tom. Liberals don't say stuff like that and support the Democratic Party.

And the idea that most progressives and liberals are communists, socialists, or marxists is entirely absurd. Words have meanings. Yet you guys are just looking for inflammatory insults, regardless of what the words mean. For example, "socialism" refers to the government controlling the means of production. Yet you guys use it to refer to anyone who wants to repeal Bush's taxcuts. What a joke!

BTW, the top marginal tax rate in 1960 was 69%. Yet you guys claim foul because Obama wants the top rate to be 39%, as it was during the boom years of the 90's. Oh no! Evil socialism rears its ugly head!!! You guys are wetting your pants over nothing and will only marginalize yourselves further if you continue with this nonsense. And that's fine by me. Perhaps we can get our Senate majority up to 62 next time around.

If you're interested, here's a link on tax rates:

Anonymous said...

This blogger's a nutcase. You wingnuts would sound more sensible if you just yelled and didn't attempt more complex analysis.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations. You misconstrued Lind's piece completely.

You think it means that today's left and left-center calls itself "progressive" but is really radical.

What is says, in fact, is that today's left-center and left calls itself "progressive" because (liars and demagogues like) Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have smeared the term "liberal," although that's what such left-center and left types really are. And that they should re-claim the word "liberal" and drop the ad hoc mask of "progressive" for many reasons, which Lind lists.

Other than getting it all wrong, though, the post is perfect.

Anonymous said...

I think this writer knows he misread Lind's article. However, it is a power mis-reading, in a Peter Elbow sort of way, as the mis-reading allows the writer to employ the original text as an argument from authority. Although any critical reader will be able to compare the original and the writer's interpretation and understand the error, we must assume the writer knows his audience.

As per the writer's bio, he hates left-wing discourse, but he sure understands how to use it.