THE CLAY FEET OF THE PROGRESSIVE AGENDA
The agenda of the current progressive politics rests on two pillars: race and climate. Progressives claim that race and climate are the two biggest problems that America and the rest of the world are facing. The solution of these problems, progressives contend, requires a fundamental and complete restructuring of American society. America needs to implement changes that would eradicate racial inequity and white supremacy. Americans will have to change the way they live. American culture will have to undergo profound cleansing to rid it of its racist past.
Most Americans agree that the problems are real and they need to be addressed. Many Americans, however, disagree with progressive politics and agenda, particularly with their demand for fundamental changes. They feel that the fundamental transformation that the progressives propose is too excessive and will do more harm than good.
There are two ways in which humans solve problems. They either try to address the problem at its source. Alternatively, if they cannot identify the source of the problem, they resort to palliatives; in other words, they try to address the symptoms and mitigate their effects.
Race and environment are two issues that have been on the progressive agenda for quite some time. However, in the past progressive liberals have rarely if at all talked about complete restructuring. They have generally tried to use palliatives designed to mitigate the most egregious effects of both racism and environmental problems. Their way of dealing with these problems suggests that they implicitly acknowledged in the past the fact that they do not know what the source of these problems was.
Today things are different. Today progressives lead us to believe that they know what the source is. They boldly declare the causes of these problems are structural and have much to do with the very structure of our society; hence the advocacy for a complete restructuring.
An overwhelming majority of Americans, including progressive liberals, have always cherished individualism and individual rights as the main principle and foundation of American society. The progressive demand for a complete restructuring of America today can only mean that progressives no longer see individualism as the central tenet of American society and culture, and that is exactly the argument they advance today, albeit not always clearly.
The lack of clarity on this issue creates confusion in the progressive agenda and, consequently, politics. For example, on the issue of abortion, the progressives advocate a pro-choice approach that emphasizes women’s right to have control over their bodies. However, their position on race and climate has a decidedly collectivist and communal overtones. This position emphasizes the rights of the community over those of individuals. In other words, in their politics they advocate two organizing principles: one is about the individual and individual rights, while the other has clear communal and even socialist implications.
The problem is that they do not explain how these two equally important organizing principles can work together. Traditionally, Americans have viewed these principles as diametrically opposed to each other. Americans, including progressives, have always deemed them incompatible. The Cold War drew a very sharp line between American liberal and capitalist society and Soviet socialism. Both Republicans and Democrats have had ardently criticized the Soviet regime precisely because it put no value on the individual or individual rights.
Progressive Democrats are playing a very different tune these days. They often refer to socialism much more favorably than they did in the past. They have not renounced individualism, albeit they rarely use it in their rhetoric. They much more often use the language of communitarianism and even socialism. What they fail to do is to explain to Americans how they intend to bring these two principles together. The failure to do so and the confusion it creates puts their agenda on a very shaky foundation. Social experiments based on such foundation can only lead to senseless destruction and suffering. If the progressive liberals really mean business and not just engage in sloganeering for political gain, they must explain to Americans what it is that they try to achieve. Otherwise, their agenda will stand on legs of clay that will give in as soon as the progressive liberals will try to implement this agenda in practice.
Gennady Shkliarevsky is a Professor Emeritus of History at Bard College in New York.
No one was really asking for a fundamental transformation outside of the faculty lounge, CPUSA blue state cities, Marxist U. college town, gov pension/bene worker drones that can’t be fired anyway.
There is no mandate and executive order no 4465 isn’t going to enact the New Man utopia with a stroke of an autopen.
Rivers of gore are always in store when the utopia built by government bug gets going and it is way worse than the Plandemic.
You are right. Only the elites see the need for a fundamental transformation.
The solutions to the huge problems in America will never be solved or adequately defined by historians.
The left is about seizure and control of our culture and economy, not race or climate. Race and climate are merely tools to perform the seizure, but the author misses that. The “arguments” they make on those two subjects are invalid. The author can wait forever for their explanation, and will never receive one. The author’s strategy is a certain loser. Go ahead and wait for their explanation, play their game, and lose.
I suppose history is now a poll. What the author claims “most” Americans agree are problems have not been defined by the author, placing his argument into a fictional realm. I doubt the author can define them, and if he could, he would determine the arguments are invalid.
I think that you have misunderstood my point. I am not saying that we have to wait for their explanation. I am saying that if they have not explained, and they have not explained, what they propose to do is not a solution. However, whether they are manufactured by the left or have some other sources, these problems are real since we fight over them in the streets of our cities and in the halls of our institutions of government. These problems are in the center of the current turmoil. We cannot say that they are not real. There is nothing special to define about these problems. The problem of race is about the division that exists in this country. The problem of climate is that climate changes. It has always been changing and not necessarily only due to human impact.
The people are the top of the Democrat food chain are all White; Elitist Racist Whites. Just listen to Traitor Joe 40 or 50 years ago. The Liberal Democrat end game is a race war to get the common white people to eradicate the Nation of minorities so they don’t have to get their hands dirty. Since the 1830s, Democrats have been the Party of racist White People. It’s just amazing how Liberal Democrats have conned Minorities into believing they were Christian people on the side of the common man in the street.