Progressivism Isn’t Progress, IX

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Forget Personal Development If Progressives Get Their Way

by Michael D. Hume, M.S.

A lot of people are confused about progressivism – what it is, and what it means if the powerful American progressive movement succeeds in achieving what the president (as a candidate in 2008) referred to as the “radical transformation” of the United States. The term makes you think of “progress” – and progressivism does seek to force the society through a progression – but most people would think of progress in terms of movement toward a positive outcome. In that sense, progressivism is definitely NOT progress.

Progressivism seeks to move the country away from the Constitution upon which the republic was founded, and toward an envisioned collectivist “Utopia” in which all are absolutely equal, without regard to ability or exertion. Progressives seek to accomplish this transformation gradually, through a sort of societal “evolution,” as opposed to the sort of bloody “revolution” by which the same ends were achieved in places like the Soviet Union of 1917. Whether you refer to the end-state as “socialist” (as they did in the Soviet Union), “fascist” (as Nazi Germany was labeled), “collectivist,” “communist,” or “statist,” the similarities in these labels far outweigh the shades of difference between them. Bottom line: progressivism seeks movement toward a big, all-powerful government. Socialism is the end-state; progressivism is the method of attaining it.

America’s Founders saw progress in completely opposed terms. They believed in small, limited government, and in the notion “That government is best which governs least.” The Constitution they created was intended to provide for the minimum necessary government, because they believed the bigger the government could grow, the more the people would diminish – in power, and in freedom. Their belief has been confirmed; in more than two centuries of the American experiment, a small government has meant a big, entrepreneurial citizenry which has created more prosperity and strength than has any society in the world’s history.

Socialists would rather centralize power in the government – meaning, in their own hands. Using progressivism, socialists would like you to willingly hand over your power, and forego the hard-won popular sovereignty provided you by the Constitution. To do that, they point out the inherent “unfairness” in free-market liberty, and they stoke the fires of jealousy in the form of class and race warfare. They want you to see the world as plagued by a huge gulf between “The Haves and The Have-Nots,” and to see them (your elite government masters) as the essential referees needed to “restore fairness.” In contrast, the Founders saw America the way Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels recently described in his fine response to the president’s state-of-the-Union speech: as a nation of “Haves, and Soon-to-Haves,” and they saw the government as the greatest potential impediment to the natural human desire to move from “Have Not” to “Have” status by their own hard work and ingenuity.

I recently heard a pundit describe it thus: “Socialism is not about being the best you can be… it’s about being the same as the next guy.” That’s spot-on. And here’s the implication for you, and for my coaching clients who’re striving to be more inspirational leaders and working hard on self-development and learning:

Forget it.

If the progressives get their way, your efforts to do your best will not only be unappreciated, they’ll be opposed. The mass victim mentality that will dominate the society will replace “Be all you can be” with “Who do you think you are?”… “Work hard to get ahead” with “Why do you think you can have something I don’t have?”… and “It’s important to make a good impression” with “Why are you trying to make the rest of us look bad?” When “fairness” reigns, excellence will become a bad thing.

There’s still hope, but you have to deny your inner Victim and nourish your inner Entrepreneur. Start a business; if you’re sure you are not cut out for that, express an entrepreneurial spirit in whatever job or role you have. Get clear on your own personal values, and lead your family in doing the same; you need values clarity to keep from buying the progressives’ arguments that anyone who opposes them is an elitist, a racist, or a greedy wealth-mongerer. Resist progressivism – not just politically (be aware that big-government progressives have pretty-much taken over both major U.S. political parties) but in your daily words and deeds. And prepare for an economy experts say is going to get much worse before it gets better.

Progressivism is insidious. Progressivism is ill intention empowered by disguised activism. Progressivism is mother’s milk for your inner Victim, and poison for your better nature. And don’t be confused: progressivism isn’t progress.

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