Op-Ed: The Operation of Progressivism -Alexander Cullen

            In today’s politics, those on the left can generally be sorted into two categories: Liberals and Progressives. The former describes Bill Clinton era Democrats who support tax increases and increased investment in public goods, while the latter describes new era Democrats such as Bernie Sanders supporters who seek the radical rearrangement of resources and government structure for the supposed benefit of middle and lower classes. A book could be dedicated to the divide between these two groups, it will be a challenge enough to describe in full the volume of today’s topic: How Progressives think, or “operate”.

Progressivism is a philosophy, it is a world view, which like any other rests upon a few core assumptions. The primary being the core assumption that the entirety of human affairs, political and socioeconomic issues, can adequately be reduced to the conflict between existing social classes. For the Progressive, every category by which individuals can be organized becomes a spectrum upon which there exists the advantaged and the disadvantaged. Men and Women, Caucasians and People of Color, the Wealthy and the Poor, every dimension of humanity is, in their reality, a source of conflict. This is quite literally the belief that the diversity among us is responsible for the divides between us. That is no exaggeration, progressive thinkers are infamous for their claim that it isn’t the actions of the “oppressing class” which are the source of social strife, but merely the existence of their identity.

The overlapping areas of the class/identity struggle is the second core assumption of Progressivism, “Intersectionality.” Or, “Intersectionality—the complex, cumulative manner in which the effects of different forms of discrimination combine, overlap, or intersect,” as defined by Merriam-Webster. It pushes the image of societal oppression beyond the few select forms of well-known oppression to an image where the individual is subject to a variety of oppressions associated with the intersecting components of their identity. For example, one may worry about sexism as a Female, but they would then encumber an addition and intersecting form of oppression in racism if they are also a Person of Color. This isn’t absurd, given one believes society really functions as a product of class, then it would be the logical end to assume that one’s experiences would be tied to their class identity, including associated oppression.

The third assumption which characterizes Progressives is an ethical code known as altruism. Altruism can best be understood as a code of self-sacrifice without one anticipating any good in return. This is often confused with charity or goodwill, where one considers their gift to be a decision of value which the recipient has earned by the merits of their character. In believing that society’s inherit class structure system is responsible for the hardship experienced by many, those at the perceived “bottom” of the power structure have an ethical claim the resources of those above them. Equity, complete equality in possession, let alone equality of opportunity are misdeeds in the mind of the person who believes that society inherently oppress others, and thus resources must be assigned in proportion to degree which one has experienced oppression.

The last assumption, which I believe fully entails one to be a Progressive, is their pursuit of justice. Progressives differ from both Liberals and Conservatives in the aims of achieving a “cosmic justice,” as described by political-economistic Thomas Sowell. This differs from our conventional justice system in that Progressive justice lies on the consideration of the accused’s actions in the context of identity. Rather than justice in the aim of our Liberal system of justice, where people are held to be accountable by the content of their character, Progressive justice operates by the consideration of the formulaic composition of the person’s identity and what they can and can’t be held accountable for. The consequence is oppressed groups cannot commit the “systematically oppressive” actions that their counterparts can; the poor cannot steal from the rich, people of color cannot participate in racism, and women cannot be sexist.

At its heart, the progressive dogma seeks to divide and separate society on the basis of the identity of its members. Those on the far left have been become increasingly aggressive against the classes from which they perceive to be source of hardship in our society whilst ever louder crying, contrarily, for diversity and inclusion. But it’s my opinion we can expect no salvation, no renunciation, or harmony from a movement which in its very principles exemplifies division.

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