Friday, August 27, 2010

Progressives Against Progress

During my daily news and article round-up, I came across an excellent piece titled "Progressives Against Progress" in City Journal by Fred Siegel. It builds upon some interesting observation foundations of the transmutation of modern liberalism, as well as flaws in how the modern vernacular no longer adequately captures the true meaning behind certain labels when one deep-dives into how they evolved in the modern world. More importantly, it explores the inherent tension that should exist between a theoretically "humanist" liberal movement and the histrionically "anti-human" nature of the environmentalism. Here is a passage to whet your appetite...

"In his 1973 book The Death of Progress, Bernard James laid out an argument already popularized in such bestsellers as Charles Reich’s The Greening of America and William Irwin Thompson’s At the Edge of History. “Progress seems to have become a lethal idée fixe, irreversibly destroying the very planet it depends upon to survive,” wrote James. Like Reich, James criticized both the “George Babbitt” and “John Dewey” versions of “progress culture”—that is, visions of progress based on rising material attainment or on educational opportunities and upward mobility. “Progress ideology,” he insisted, “whether preached by New Deal Liberals, conservative Western industrialists or Soviet Zealots,” always led in the same direction: environmental apocalypse. Liberalism, which had once viewed men and women as capable of shaping their own destinies, now saw humanity in the grip of vast ecological forces that could be tamed only by extreme measures to reverse the damages that industrial capitalism had inflicted on Mother Earth. It had become progressive to reject progress."

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