A Progressive Platform
We cannot truly understand the nature of progressivism in all its flavors, and especially self-proclaimed American progressives, unless we examine some critical elements that have been missing from the discussion. We will consider a real and to-the-point party platform that is free of spin, free of sound bites, and whose ideas are consistent with self-proclaimed American progressives, and then we’ll read a concise tract from a philosopher.
Now these folks didn’t literally identify themselves as “progressives,” but these are my favorite examples of progressivism because their ideas should be acceptable as examples of progressivism to both self-proclaimed American progressives and their critics alike, and also because these folks were honest about their intentions.
Let’s first look at my favorite example of a real party platform that I have genericized by making a few word substitutions so as not to distract the reader with parochial or temporal idiosyncrasies. (I was careful to keep the ideas themselves intact, and I provided a link to the original.) It includes one or two planks that progressives will deny in mixed company, but consider that it was written by progressives who were bold, angry, and frustrated about their oppression and exploitation (think Occupy Wall Street or Michael Moore.)
The Program of the Progressives Workers’ Party is a program for our time. The leadership rejects the establishment of new aims after those set out in the Program have been achieved, for the sole purpose of making it possible for the Party to continue to exist as the result of the artificially stimulated dissatisfaction of the masses.
1. We demand the uniting of all progressives in all nations into one Greater Progressive Nation because it is our right.
2. We demand equal rights for the progressive people of all nations and annulment of any existing treaties or agreements that contradict this demand.
3. We demand resources from those who have more than they need in order to feed our people and provide for our excess population.
4. Only those currently among the most progressive 95% shall be Citizens of the State. People of any religion may be citizens.
5. Any person who is not a citizen will be able to live in our country only as a guest and must be subject to legislation for aliens.
6. Only a citizen is entitled to decide the leadership and laws of the state. We therefore demand that only citizens may hold public office, regardless of whether it is a national, state, or local office.
7. We demand that the state make it its duty to provide opportunities of employment first of all for its own citizens. If it is not possible to maintain the entire population of the state, then non-citizens are to be expelled.
8. Any further immigration of non-progressives is to be prevented. We demand that all non-progressives who entered after this declaration be forced to leave without delay.
9. All citizens must have equal rights and duties.
10. It must be the first duty of every citizen to carry out intellectual or physical work. Individual activity must not be harmful to the public interest and must be pursued within the framework of the community and for the general good.
We therefore demand:
11. The abolition of all income obtained without labor or effort.
Breaking the Servitude of Interest
12. In view of the tremendous sacrifices in property and blood demanded of the Nation by every war, personal gain from the war must be termed a crime against the Nation. We therefore demand the total confiscation of all war profits.
13. We demand the nationalization of all enterprises (already) converted into corporations (trusts).
14. We demand profit-sharing in large enterprises.
15. We demand the large-scale development of old-age pension plans.
16. We demand the creation and maintenance of a sound middle class; the immediate communalization of the large department stores, which are to be leased at low rates to small tradesmen. We demand the most careful consideration for the owners of small businesses in orders placed by national, state, or community authorities.
17. We demand land reform in accordance with our national needs and a law for expropriation without compensation of land for public purposes. Abolition of ground rent and prevention of all speculation in land.
18. We demand ruthless battle against those who harm the common good by their activities. Persons committing base crimes against the People, usurers, profiteers, etc., are to be punished by death without regard of religion or race.
19. We demand the replacement of traditional law, which serves a materialistic World Order, by Progressive Law.
20. In order to make higher education—and thereby entry into leading positions—available to every able and industrious Progressive, the State must provide a thorough restructuring of our entire public educational system. The courses of study at all educational institutions are to be adjusted to meet the requirements of practical life. Understanding of the concept of the State must be achieved through the schools (teaching of civics) at the earliest age at which it can be grasped. We demand the education at the public expense of specially gifted children of poor parents, without regard to the latter’s position or occupation.
21. The State must raise the level of national health by means of mother-and-child care, the banning of juvenile labor, achievement of physical fitness through legislation for compulsory gymnastics and sports, and maximum support for all organizations providing physical training for young people.
22. We support a national army.
23. We demand laws to fight against deliberate political lies and their dissemination by the press. In order to make it possible to create a Progressive press, we demand:
a) all editors and editorial employees of newspapers must be Progressives;
b) non-Progressive newspapers require express permission from the State for their publication.
c) any financial participation in a newspaper or influence on such a paper is to be forbidden by law to non-Progressives and the penalty for any breech of this law will be the closing of the newspaper in question, as well as the immediate expulsion of the non-Progressives involved. Newspapers which violate the public interest are to be banned. We demand laws against trends in art and literature which have a destructive effect on our collective life, and the suppression of performances that offend against the above requirements.
24. We demand freedom for all religious denominations, provided that they do not endanger the existence of the State or offend the Progressive concepts of decency and ethics. The Party as such stands for positive spirituality, without associating itself with any particular denomination. It fights against the materialistic spirit within and around us, and is convinced that a permanent revival of our collective people can be achieved only from within, on the basis of:
Public Interest before Private Interest.
25. To carry out all the above we demand: the creation of a strong central authority in the land. Unquestioned authority by the federal government over the entire land and over its organizations in general. The establishment of trade and professional organizations to enforce the federal laws in the individual states.
The Party leadership promises to take an uncompromising stand, at the cost of their own lives if need be, on the enforcement of the above points.
Well! That was refreshingly to-the-point!
Clearly, two or three statements in this platform are a little too extreme for the more sophisticated progressives to openly endorse – you know, those Americans who praise Germany and hate bankers. It is not that the authors of this platform were unconcerned about their image, it is just that they were a little bold, a lot self-righteous, and really frustrated – kind of like progressives such as Occupy Wall Street, Michael Moore, MSNBC, Huffington Post, George Soros, MoveOn.org, etc., but we all know that pretty much all progressives would like the sound of this platform in its entirety – if they were being honest.
I trust that anyone who is thinking for themselves and who has talked with enough progressives will agree, but for everyone else, consider that I was able to articulate the thinking of progressives months before it was affirmed by Chris Matthews. This and thousands of other affirmations make me pretty confident about what progressives think.
Now let’s look at my favorite statement of Progressive philosophy by a philosopher.
Economic initiatives cannot be left to the arbitrary decisions of private, individual interests. Open competition, if not wisely directed and restricted, actually destroys wealth instead of creating it.… The proper function of the State in the Progressive system is that of supervising, regulating and arbitrating the relationships of capital and labor, employers and employees, individuals and associations, private interests and national interests.… Private wealth belongs not only to the individual, but, in a symbolic sense, to the State as well.
Surely no progressive would argue with any of this statement of progressive philosophy.
Now, you should be thinking that if neither progressives nor their critics have serious disagreements with the representative accuracy of this party platform or this statement of progressive philosophy, then we haven’t really learned anything.
You are about to learn more than you bargained for.
You are about to experience the End of Innocence.
You are about to experience the Promise of Reality.
First, did you know that libertarians like myself disagree with every last bit of the party platform as well as the statement of philosophy?
Now consider that the actual quote is this:
Economic initiatives cannot be left to the arbitrary decisions of private, individual interests. Open competition, if not wisely directed and restricted, actually destroys wealth instead of creating it.… The proper function of the State in the Fascist system is that of supervising, regulating and arbitrating the relationships of capital and labor, employers and employees, individuals and associations, private interests and national interests.… Private wealth belongs not only to the individual, but, in a symbolic sense, to the State as well. — The Philosophy of Fascism (Mario Palmieri, 1936):
Oh My! That sounded sooo progressive, but in fact it was fascism! How can that be? It is almost as if progressivism and fascism were practically the same thing, which would imply that they might lead to the same awful destination.
If you think that was enlightening, consider that the title of the genericized Progressive Party Platform, which is from Munich (1920), is actually:
This was the platform that attracted the young Adolf Hitler to the Nazi Party, and it was in place when he became its leader soon thereafter.
How could replacing references to “Germans” with references to “Progressives”, and replacing references to Jews and other non-Germans with references to “non-Progressives”, make this 1920 Nazi platform so compatible with modern American progressives?
Clearly, the Nazi’s really were socialists just as their name says, and of course, given the issues of their day, they were also Nationalists – just like their names says, and just like any pragmatic progressive would have been under the circumstances. Germans at that time were experiencing chronic unemployment and massive debt forced upon them by other nations after WWI, and they also resented being exploited by rich Jewish bankers – just like the Occupy Wall Street progressives complain about on YouTube today.
The reality is that progressives agree with the party platform and philosophy of German and Italian Fascists – yeah, those Fascists – a.k.a. Nazis.
The reality is that progressivism and fascism are pretty much the same thing.
The reality is that Progressivism = Liberalism + Fascism.
Progressivism is Liberal Fascism. More specifically liberalism is the pretense, fascism is the motivation, and interventionism is the policy. Every idea from American progressives can be described as interventionist. Therefore, the reality is that
American Progressivism = Liberal Pretense + Fascist Motivation + Interventionist Policy
American Libertarianism = No Pretense + Liberal Motivation + Non-interventionist policy.
Now that you know the reality of American progressivism, your innocence is at an end, but now you are free to embrace the soul of your humanity and instantly become the person you’ve always wanted to be.
Freedom is the Promise of Reality.