Progressivism and the Truth of the Left/Right Divide

Racism has become a huge part of the American political landscape, as has sexism, transgenderism, and every other ism under the sun.  There is a popular refrain today that Western Culture developed to help white people, but while it is true that Western Culture did happen to develop where the people happened to be white, individualism had nothing to do with ethnicity.  The notion that individualism only works for white people is itself incredibly racist, as it assumes there to be something specific to white people that makes individualism possible.

The progressives of the 1920s and 1930s were openly racist, saying that white America had to take care of non-white America because of the racial inferiority of non-whites.  Progressivism was in fact built on the belief that white people are superior to other races.  Today’s progressives do a better job of hiding their racism, claiming that while white supremacy still exists, white people are the cause of it.  Today’s progressives claim that a racist element inherent in ‘whiteness’ causes white people to oppress other ethnicities, and that white people do this even if they are not aware they are doing it.  As a result, progressives claim that the only way non-whites can compete is if they are given special advantages, such that they can overcome the inherent oppression of the white state.

Progressives today say that they are not the racists, but are combating the racism inherent within the American landscape, but while anecdotal examples of racism do exist (and always will in a country of over 300 million people), the evidence that racism today holds people back just is not there.  Well.. let me walk that last sentence back.  There is a ton of evidence of systemic racism, or at least of the existence of policies that cause poverty, and that do so disproportionately by ethnicity, but they are not the policies African Americans are told to look at by our media.  They are rather the very same progressive policies that progressives continue to peddle as a solution for systemic racism.

Perhaps the progressive claim that steams me the most is that I am not entitled to an opinion, as I am not personally affected by racism in America, but that’s only true depending on the side of the coin you look at.  I live, for example, in Rochester Hills, Michigan, which is one of the more affluent cities in Michigan.  My son is almost old enough to get a job, and I know that he will not find a job that pays less than $12 an hour.  I know this because I can see ‘help wanted’ signs advertising a starting wage of $12 an hour in such places as McDonalds, Kroger, and the car wash where my family takes our cars to get washed.  My children have every advantage possible available to them while they pursue their college dreams.

I contrast the situation my children are in with that of those born into single-parent households in Detroit.  Jobs in Detroit are harder to find, and they don’t pay as well.  The children in Detroit Public Schools are also getting an education that is grossly inferior to what my children get in the suburbs.  Children growing up in Detroit are often at a marked disadvantage, compared to children in the suburbs, and this is true across America.

My children directly benefit from what I call American Apartheid, so I am affected by systemic racism – just in a positive, rather than a negative way.  Since I am a beneficiary, I could very easily sit back and say nothing, except that as a Christian, I am called upon to care, and to demand changes when changes are necessary.  I see the racism inherent in the progressive agenda, I see the harm it has been doing, for several generations, to African American families, I see the impact on African Americans today.  More than that, I see that African Americans are being fed the same laundry list of lies that allowed this sad state of affairs to occur in the first place.  The truth is that based on any economic measure anyone cares to look at, African Americans are worse off today, compared to white people, than they were before the War on Poverty began.

Progressivism is even changing the definition of words.  The definition of ‘racism’ is, according to the American Heritage dictionary, “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”  To today’s left, the definition is ‘prejudice + power,’ which is a very different definition.  Based on the definition progressives use, it is impossible to be racist in America without being white, and since progressives believe that white people privilege each other even if they do not know they are doing it, progressives believe that all white people are racist.  How convenient it must be for progressives to be able to cause systemic racism, while at the same time convincing African Americans that progressives are on the side of African Americans…  Once upon a time, Americans almost universally agreed that racism was evil, but by changing the definition of the word, progressivism has turned some racism into a virtue, and in doing so, ensured that racism will continue to last.

The only thing progressives want from African Americans is their vote, and progressives know, as do conservatives, that if African Americans become better off, they will also become far more apt to vote Republican.  It should be a no-brainer that when one political party benefits from making people better off, and another benefits from keeping people poor, the group that benefits from making people better off will also be the one that has their best interests at heart.

In a rational society, we gauge those around us based on what they do, rather than on what they look like.  A person of honor and integrity commands respect, whereas someone without those traits does not.  A person who creates value for others deserves to see some benefit from that value.  Someone who creates no value, and who demands that others provide support, deserves nothing, even though society may decide to support that person anyway.  If a particular behavior is wrong, it is wrong for everyone.

Progressivism has thrown morality on its head by making it relative to perceived positions of power, defined by things like ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation.  Behaviors are considered either moral or immoral, not by the morality of the behaviors themselves, but based on the perceived power of the person committing those behaviors.  Things that are considered abhorrent for some are considered the height of virtue for others.  If one person says something, they are racist.  Someone else saying the exact same thing (perhaps reversing the ethnicities or genders involved) is ‘woke’.

Even if we assume that we do not have a society today where everyone is treated equally under the law (i.e.: ‘equality of opportunity’), how do we build such a society when the norms of behavior are not the same for everyone?  How does a people who only see the world through the lenses of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and power, ever put the perception of oppression based on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and power, behind them?  How do we learn love and acceptance, when all we teach is hate?  More to the point, does hating others solve anything?  Does hate provide hope?

The answer is ‘no.’  Progressivism has gone too far.

Jordan Peterson says that we know what happens when the right goes too far and creates a race-based totalitarianism (such as in Nazi Germany), and we know what happens when the left goes too far and creates a socialist dystopia (such as in the Soviet Union, or in Mao’s China).  Dr. Peterson goes on to say that we can see when the right goes too far, and that we can see it well enough that the rest of the right immediately disowns the part that has gone too far.  What Dr. Peterson says we have not defined is what it looks like when the left has gone too far.

I disagree with Dr. Peterson on the notion that race-based totalitarianism comes from the right, but his point is close enough to accurate to be worth considering.

We have two political parties, and because of that we measure things based on ‘right’ and ‘left,’ but really the political spectrum is far more complex, and as such there are a myriad of ways to define the ‘right’ and ‘left’.  Dr. Peterson measures this spectrum based on his teachings, where the world is divided between order and chaos, and as such, order is on the political right, and chaos is on the political left.  Culture, tradition, historic values, and the like are all a part of order, and a large part of the conservative movement really is tied to these values.  Progressivism is the movement away from culture, tradition, and historic values, toward something else.  Dr. Peterson reasons that progressivism is, as a result, the political left.  So far, Dr. Peterson seems to make a lot of sense…

Dr. Peterson’s favorite example of the right wing going too far is Nazi Germany.

Hitler grew to power by appealing to Germany’s historic culture, traditions, and values, many of which involved a supreme leader who would lead the people to a greater prosperity.  Some German words don’t translate very well from German to English, so it is hard for us to fully understand the relevance of them, but the German word ‘volk’ means more than just ‘people,’ even though ‘people’ is the closest single word in English.  ‘Volk’ does not refer to any group of people but the German people, and it does not refer to the people as a group, but as a singular force.  One might call the ‘volk’ the ‘collective cultural consciousness of the German people.’  The word ‘volk’ is also ethnic, applying to Germanic people, whether they live in Germany or not, and excluding non-Germanic people, even if they live in Germany.  As such, we can replace the word ‘people’ with ‘German race,’ whenever we see the word ‘volk’.  The title of ‘Fuhrer,’ similarly, is generally translated to mean, ‘leader,’ but that again is only the best word-to-word translation.  ‘Fuhrer’ means far more in German than ‘leader.’  ‘Fuhrer’ refers to a person who is the living embodiment of the volk.  As such, the ‘Fuhrer’ would be ‘the living embodiment of the collective cultural consciousness of the German race,’ and when people today wonder how the Germans ever followed Hitler, the answer is that the German people created Hitler as much as they followed him.  German culture, folklore, tradition, value systems – Hitler grew out of these things, and grew to power by appealing to the desire, within the German people, to return to such things.  As such, to someone like Jordan Peterson, who creates the left/right spectrum based on the difference between order and chaos, Hitler is as right-wing as right-wing gets.

The United States has a very different culture than did historic Germany (I say ‘historic’ because the Germans have worked very hard to change their culture).  We don’t have the same traditions and values historic Germany had, and as such, our version of an extreme right wing would look very different than did that of the Germany in which Hitler grew to power.  The United States was built as a center between what was, at the time of the American Revolution, the Colonial ‘right’ and ‘left’.

Each country has it’s own ‘right’ and ‘left,’ just as each country has it’s own historic culture, traditions, and values.  What is ‘extreme’ in one country might be the middle in another, and one country’s ‘right’ may be another country’s ‘left’.  Liberal democracy was forced on Germany after WWI, and it was something both sides of the German political spectrum abhorred.  Germany under the Wiemar Republic was very different from America today.

American culture is based on classical liberalism, and on Judeo-Christian values, albeit separated from the underlying religions.  Our culture is a highly individualistic one.  Our traditions and values stem from our forefather’s painstaking work to try and find the best compromise between totalitarianism and anarchy, and what they came up with was the middle of their political spectrum.  As a consequence, today’s American right is classical liberalism, and as we move left, we move toward socialist collectivism.  The middle of THIS spectrum looks like economic fascism,  involving private ownership, but collective control, of the economy.

American progressives are not moving toward chaos, as Dr. Peterson would have us believe.  We know what socialist totalitarianism looks like.  We have plenty of experience with socialist totalitarianism from the 20th century.  We are, rather, moving from one form of order that generally works, to another form of order that does not.  The result will be misery and death, at levels that far exceed anything that happened in the 20th century.  Imagine Stalin and Mao with today’s technology…

There is a chaos out there, and it is packed with potential, just as Dr. Peterson says it should be.  That chaos is based on doing something that has never been tried before, which is to expand classical liberalism to everyone.  When our country was founded, we only extended classical liberalism to white men, and particularly land owning white men.  One might go so far as to say our founding ideals were classical liberalism, plus racism and sexism, where women and ethnic minorities were not included.

We eventually extended classical liberalism to women (largely based on the invention of dependable birth control), but we have never truly included ethnic minorities.  We almost included minorities in 1868, with the passage of the 14th Amendment, but the Supreme Court quickly ‘interpreted’ the 14th Amendment away.  We almost included ethnic minorities in 1964, with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, but Lyndon B. Johnson replaced one form of oppression with another by creating the ‘War on Poverty’ (more aptly called the ‘War on Black People,’ by Milton Friedman).  We have never actually tried to extend classical liberalism to everyone, but promise lies in the pursuit of that ideal.  Promise lies not in order, nor in chaos, but in the place where order and chaos meet.

Order is in the enlightenment, with the ideals of classical liberalism, but only extended so far.  Chaos is in our ethnic diversity, and our ongoing struggles with racism.  Today, racism is at the center of the political landscape, as is sexism, and every other ism.  To balance order and chaos, we need to remove those isms from the equation, and treat every person as an individual, regardless of who they are, or what they look like, and we can get started by voting for those candidates that best exemplify classical liberalism, and who want to extend classical liberalism to everyone.

This is an election year, so let’s get started.

 

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