Tag: Progressivism

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Mr. James W. Caesar is one of the very successful political scientists who owe their education to Leo Strauss & who have educated generations of political scientists who need not be ashamed of their education, which is a rather rare thing. Well, Mr. Caesar is another, older kind of conservative–a learned man who contributes to his […]

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Trump: Progressive or Anti-Progressive?


Trump-Profile“Is ‘right-wing progressivism’ too much of an oxymoron?” one member recently asked. “Because that’s kind of how I see the Trump movement.” In response, another member said “In this case it is. There are quite a fair number of Trump supporters who are in that situation reluctantly, who are in no way progressives. Give credit to these people, they honestly see Hillary as worse, and putting them down for taking that view won’t persuade them otherwise.” Reluctant supporters strike me as quite different, though, from enthusiastic supporters. It’s not hard to argue that Trump is a “right wing” progressive. But Trump also strikes so many people as anti-progressive. Why is this?

“Progress” as such, beyond the bare minimum necessary to sustain a Christian worldview (the Christian story inevitably gives history some direction), is not something I really believe in. Sure, I call technological improvements “advancements” or “progress,” because that’s what everybody calls them. But the vision of history progressing toward some secular goal is not one I believe in. The idea that it’s the proper function of the State to promote this “progress” is one I believe in even less.

I don’t think Trump is an ideologue, but I think his very deep intuition is that the State, if run successfully, should be an instrument of “progress.” Not social-justice-warrior “progress,” but “real progress,” “successful progress,” “patriotic progress,” “American progress.” I don’t think Trump is capable of questioning this intuition, just as many of us have other intuitions we cannot, or do not, question.

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It’s surpassingly easy to get depressed about the state of our institutions of higher education. But we should also celebrate those moments that reveal genuine thinking and good sense! Here is a very thoughtful and well-written article recently published in the Skidmore News. The author is one of our best senior majors in the government department. […]

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A Jewish Atheist for a More Christian America


shutterstock_222016312A few years ago I got sucked into a LinkedIn college alumni chat group where political discussions were going on. For the most part, the participants were smart, articulate adults, not college students, all of whom, moreover, had endured the famously rigorous classical core curriculum of our alma mater. Nonetheless, in due course, every Media Matters talking point and lunatic piece of campus-Marxist SJW nonsense was trotted out one by one and presented as revealed truth requiring no further proof. These debates — which were heated but civil by Internet standards — went on for close to two years before they finally succumbed to a combination of acrimony and the meddling and censorship of the university’s busybody apparatchiks who ran the thing. Apparently, people don’t like to have their core beliefs about the world subjected to critical scrutiny and found wanting. No minds were changed. It was, on the whole, a depressing experience.

Anyone who has ever engaged in political debate must at some point have come to the conclusion that such arguments are pointless. In the long history of political debate, from the Athenian assembly to the lamentable farce that is the so-called World’s Greatest Deliberative Body, no fully-formed adult human has ever walked away from the experience a convert to the opposing position. When conversions do happen, as with Irving Kristol or David Mamet, they are the result not of rational inquiry, but of protracted mugging by reality. You can’t reason a man out of something he wasn’t reasoned into, and politics, like religion, falls into the category of things whose core precepts are not susceptible to rational interrogation.

Which brings me to my subject – the relationship between politics and religion in America. My claim is that the demise of traditional American political values – democracy, individual liberty and limited government – has a lot to do with the decline of traditional Christianity in the United States. I make this claim as a strong partisan of traditional American political values, but as a disinterested nonpartisan when it comes to traditional Christianity. The title of this post is a bit of an overstatement – I am not really a committed atheist. I am, however, as close to an atheist as it is possible to be while still remaining agnostic. I don’t have a God in this fight, in other words.

Why Conservatism Lost


It’s no secret that I’m gleeful about the crack-up in Conservatism. I’ve made that clear in audio-meetups and in the live chats. If I may be so bold, I would like to propose a simpler reason for the demise of Conservatism than many of the reasons currently floated by political analysts. It doesn’t involve climate change or demographics, and it is only somewhat related to economic growth. It is not beyond the control of Conservatives themselves. Conservatives caused their own demise for one reason, and that reason comes down to Conservatism’s lack of quantitative explanations for middle class problems.

Before I go deeper into this explanation, let me just add that Progressivism does not have this problem. Indeed, Progressive control of academia has allowed Progressives to analyze many discoveries made in economics, political science, mathematics, statistics, etc. and craft explanations for many of these phenomena through the development of models. Some of these models offer great insight, while others do not. Still, Conservatives have ceded academia to Progressives, and Progressives have been the ones to make the discoveries and apply an understanding of these discoveries to government policy. This is done directly, through government research institutions (such as the Federal Reserve), or indirectly through advice given by think-tanks and academics to Liberal politicians, who then seek to turn this advice into policy.

Should a Policy’s Racist History Matter?


shutterstock_54864934It’s funny. Left-wing opponents of school choice frequently carp about the fact that some segregationists thought school vouchers would be a swell way to avoid sending their kids to school with blacks, as though that’s a reason to oppose them today, even though research shows that school vouchers foster racial integration and their primary beneficiaries tend to be black and brown kids.

If so, why isn’t the extremely racist history of the minimum wage also relevant?

Progressives originally designed the minimum wage to keep racial minorities out of work. As Princeton Professor Thomas C. Leonard, author of Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics and American Economics in the Progressive Era, detailed in the LA Times, progressives in the early 20th century proposed the minimum wage as a solution to the supposed problem of “race suicide,” the idea that immigrants and racial minorities were working for cheap wages, thereby undercutting the wages of American-born whites, who in turn had fewer children rather than lower their standard of living. (You hear echoes of this in the modern alt-right’s complaints about “white genocide.”) In the long run, these eugenics-enamored progressives feared that “inferior races” would “outbreed and displace their white Anglo-Saxon betters.”

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Note that this is merely a current list of evil ideas.  It changes by the week, if not the day. 1. Capitalism is inherently and demonstrably superior to socialism (including “democratic socialism”). 2. Ronald Reagan was an excellent president—the best of my lifetime. Preview Open

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  Dear Academy Awards – It’s become clear that burdens of acting and filmmaking have an inordinate impact on minorities and women.  Given your unique position in Hollywood, I call on you to institute neither quotas nor set-asides but simply this: when it’s close, the Oscar should go to the minority. In the case of two […]

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Are We Really “Conservatives?”


Is this really us?

Ricochet is home to a lot of debates; typically among those of us on who identify with the Political Right. As a matter of convenience, we call ourselves “conservatives” and our opponents “liberals.” Much has been written about the derivation of these terms and how they came to be in common usage today. I don’t want to re-hash that history lesson. I’m more interested in figuring out if we here are actually conservatives or if we are … something else.

San Bernardino and the Progressive Temptation


TerrorAs evidence about the horrific mass murders in San Bernardino unfolded, and explanations about the killers’ motive devolved to the familiar statement, “we can’t rule out terrorism,” the rest of us shocked by this slaughter wondered why the authorities were so hesitant.

In fact, only 48 hours after the event, we learned quite a bit. For instance, in spite of CNN, MSNBC, and other progressive tripe-peddlers suggesting everything from right-wing terrorism to the triggering effects of a nearby Planned Parenthood, it was clear that this was a premeditated assault carried out by “very religious” Muslims. The wife, Tashfeen Malik, even professed allegiance to ISIS on her Facebook page. As far as motive goes, how about the title of Brigitte Gabriel’s book on the subject: Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America. Isn’t that enough?

Apparently not, according to a witch’s cauldron of MSM pundits frothing at the mouth to blame the whole thing on guns, therefore on the NRA, and therefore and especially on the NRA’s principal supporters in Congress, the Republican Party. And everyone by this point has seen the Daily News headline, which shouts, “GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS,” followed by the subhead, “As latest batch of innocent Americans are left lying in pools of blood, cowards who could truly end gun scourge continue to hide behind meaningless platitudes.” The Daily News followed it today with another blazing headline that grouped Wayne LaPierre with four psychotic mass murderers. The subhead read, “Syed Farook joins long list of murderous psychos enabled by the NRA’s sick gun jihad against America in the name of profit.” Perhaps the most ominous headline was a headline about US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who vowed to “Prosecute Those Who Use ‘Anti-Muslim’ Speech That ‘Edges Toward Violence.’”

Progressives Against Progress: Maybe the Saddest Thing You’ll Read All Day


shutterstock_320442644_productivity_better_futureIt is discouraging, sad almost, that Robert Atkinson felt he had to write “The Progressive Case for Productivity Growth: How a pro-productivity agenda can raise wages, lower inequality and sustain the middle class.”

If the left and the right cannot even agree that economic and productivity growth are good things, well, I dunno. Depressing. Atkinson:

Unfortunately, a growing number of progressives in the last few years have become decidedly ambivalent, if not downright hostile, toward the idea of increasing productivity, seeing it as a threat to progressive goals of full employment, fairness, and stability. Many of today’s progressives believe that average American workers no longer benefit from gains in productivity, and that productivity growth through technology-based automation will ultimately kill jobs. Gains in productivity, the logic goes, mean that fewer workers are needed to do the same work. Robots and artificial intelligence are the poster children for these fears.

What Motivates Progressive Self-loathing?


shutterstock_236392684So much of the liberal progressive mentality seems ultimately to be grounded in self-loathing. There’s the environmental condemnation of Western civilization (or even humanity itself) because it’s destroying the planet; there’s the multicultural impulse that admires all other cultures but despises our own; there’s the Hollywood instinct to make Americans (especially those in the corporate or military worlds) the villain in every story. Self-loathing is a common thread.

What I don’t understand is where this comes from, psychologically speaking. A normal, healthy psyche does not seek out reasons to hate oneself or one’s own culture. Is it guilt over our affluence and success? Is it an adolescent attitude of rebellion? Elitism?

Is it, as I’ve heard suggested, the product of decades of subversive Soviet influence designed to undermine American culture? (Apparently there is some evidence that this was not just Red Scare paranoia but a deliberate strategy.)

America Looking Backward — 2050: Part II


Readers of my last post will perhaps recall that I left my depiction of America Looking Backward from the mid-21st century at the point where the Planned Parenthood Department (PPD — sorry, the last time I left out the “Department” designation) was in charge of all births in the Union of Consolidated Sectors (UCS — the successor to the United States), and that is when the killing began. Obviously, this matter requires some clarification. As a reminder, in Edward Bellamy’s original Looking Backward, which appeared in 1888 and is to a certain extent inspiring this speculation, an understanding and omniscient Dr. Leete guided the main character, Julian West, through the principal characteristics of America in the year 2000, often to the astonishment and delight of his obsequious companion.

West had every reason to be dumbfounded by what he encountered. In Dr. Leete’s world, demagoguery and corruption are historical curiosities; there are no bankers, merchants, money or wages; buying and selling are considered immoral, and castes, classes and menial tasks are nonexistent; there are no armies or navies or military organizations of any sort; traditional government departments such as Treasury or State no longer exist, and since there is no private property, there are no taxes or tax collectors. Indeed, absent private property with all its complications and supposed injustices, crime is practically nonexistent, and insanity “with its alternative, suicide” are rare. In short, the main institutions and practices of the 19th century are considered ancient social pathologies in the year 2000.

Now, of course, we’re living a decade and a half beyond Bellamy’s target date, and many of the practices and institutions described by Dr. Leete as “pathological” exist today in great profusion.  Still, however, if Herbert Croly, one of progressivism’s most important founding fathers, was right when he said “democracy must stand or fall on a platform of possible human perfectibility,” then perhaps this theme can guide us further, as we pick up where we left off, with our anonymous chronicler’s parting words, “that’s when the killing began…”

Misremembering History: The Scopes Monkey Trial


Rather than the often repeated adage that the victors write the history of an event, the story of anything is actually determined by the unswerving adoption of one version of it, and the telling of that version by a determined cadre of writers. In time, the version with the most persistent adherents becomes the “truth.” – David & Jeanne Heidler in Henry Clay: The Essential American (2010)

I still recall my entire family getting in the car for the drive to Hartford, Connecticut. It was the late 1950s, and my father was taking us to pick up a monkey. My father had a small role as an Italian organ-grinder in a play put on by a local community theater group. The director wanted to use a prop monkey, but dad insisted on the real thing. We housed that monkey for the next week; I remember it as nasty and mean-tempered, but the audience loved it and my father in his bit part (he always had a knack for showmanship). The play was Inherit The Wind. Last week was the 90th anniversary of the start of the trial (July 10, 1925) on which the play was based, an event that became popularly known as the Scopes Monkey Trial.

‘Comply’ is the New ‘Coexist’


Comply Logo

Several days have passed since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, but the kulturkampf marches on. Nearly every media outlet unveiled rainbow flag versions of their logos, rainbow-filtered avatars filled social media, and the President lit up the White House itself in the colors of the pride banner.

Since then, news outlets have published calls to abolish the tax exemption for churches, legalize polygamy, and shame those too slow in celebrating the new order. In The Atlantic, Matt Schiavenza complained that sports teams aren’t bowing to the new idol fast enough:

The Great Progressive Rewind: The Left Is in a Word War


Note: I should clarify this title, lest I invite confusion: the Left is not so much fighting an intellectual war through words, but one against words. And in this context, words mean spoken words, thoughts, or symbols.

From inane trivialities to proper comedic etiquette to authoritarian speech codes, the Left is deserting an expansive view of free speech that it once nourished during the Progressive Era. Where its forbearers defended with a vigorous voice a more fundamental right to free speech — particularly for those whose opinions were outside the mainstream of American political thought — the modern Left seeks out problematic views and quashes them. Whether inventions of First Amendment exclusions, punishment of climate heresy, or shaming of non-PC humor, the Left finds a new scourge on an almost weekly basis, oftentimes buried in American culture’s most innocuous places.

Jerry Seinfeld and the Progressive Comedy Pause


flukeRTell a joke to a liberal. Between your punchline and his laughter, there is a Progressive Comedy Pause. In this second or two, the liberal will process the joke to make sure he is allowed to laugh.

Is that joke racist? He mentioned Obama, but didn’t make light of him, so to speak. He also mentioned Michelle, but I didn’t notice sexism. Is it dismissive of the LGBTQIA community? Latinos? Muslims? Vegans? Will this joke hurt progressive causes? Will my laughter trivialize oppressed communities? Will I appear intolerant? I think it’s okay if I laugh. Yes, I’ll laugh now to signal my appreciation and to indicate that I’m not a joyless liberal scold.

“Ha ha.”

Hillary’s the Inevitable Democratic Nominee? Not so Fast


shutterstock_155865410You’ve all heard the conventional wisdom: Hillary Clinton is a sure thing for the Democratic nomination. No one in the party is going to be able to muscle her aside. Don’t be so sure. As things stand right now, Hillary could lose the nomination without Fox News and the rest of the conservative media having to so much as lift a finger.

Don’t forget what happened back in 2008, when Hillary was also supposed to be inevitable. The Clinton machine was unstoppable—right until the moment it was overthrown by the progressive Left. They look at the Clintons and see political opportunists rather than true believers, Wall Street cronies instead of populist champions. They are not happy about this coronation. But, because the Clintons are powerful, wealthy, and ruthless, no one will take them on directly – the strategy has to be making Hillary’s candidacy untenable.

That’s what we saw with the disastrous tour to promote Hillary’s book – the criticisms all came swiftly, and from the left. The stories about the emails? Researched and promoted by the progressive ProPublica. The fact that Peter Schweizer’s book Clinton Cash is being amplified by liberal media outlets like the New York Times (undermining Hillary’s claim that this was just a right-wing smear job)? It wouldn’t be happening if they wanted her to be the nominee.

Feminists Chase Avengers Director off Twitter


joss_whedon_heroJoss Whedon is the screenwriter and director responsible for both Avengers blockbusters, as well as television favorites Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Unsurprisingly, Whedon is also an outspoken leftist who uses his Twitter feed to mock and ridicule conservatives. He thinks politicians who deny climate change should be denied penicillin, believes men should be denied the vote on “reproductive health,” and despises Justice Clarence Thomas and organized religion.

He certainly hates all the right people — so why are progressives mad at him? It seems one of his strong female characters isn’t quite strong enough for radical, third-wave feminists.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” writer-director Joss Whedon has not been fired from the franchise, despite the rumors people may have seen on Twitter Monday. The rumors ignited after the Oscar-nominated director deactivated his Twitter account.