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What does the word 'progressive' mean? Line up to tell me, take a ticket!

 
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Mon 14 Dec, 2015 06:58 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

ossobuco wrote:
What does the word 'progressive' mean?

The statement "I am progressive" means: "I am for things getting better and against things getting worse." Of course, the question is what constitutes "better". Since it appears that nobody can agree on a definition, I have concluded that the word "progressive" means nothing in particular at all; it just sounds good.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Dec, 2015 10:51 pm
@Thomas,
The alternative to "I am for things getting better" is "I am for things to stay the same". Progressive is equivalent to liberal (promoting social change). The opposite of progressive is people who want to stick to "traditional values".

The word certainly does have a meaning... I would call Elizabeth Warren a progressive. I wouldn't call Ted Cruz a progressive.
Thomas
 
  3  
Reply Mon 14 Dec, 2015 11:50 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
Progressive is equivalent to liberal (promoting social change).

I disagree, and to back it up I already offered several examples of illiberal policies historically pursued by Progressives. How do you account for these?

maxdancona wrote:
I would call Elizabeth Warren a progressive. I wouldn't call Ted Cruz a progressive.

Do you agree with Elizabeth Warren that getting tough on banks is a social change that would make things better? Do you disagree with Ted Cruz's view that getting tough on Mexicans is a social change that would make things better? If your answer is "yes and yes", as I suspect it is, how is your usage of "progressive" any more descriptive than "promoting social change that Max Dancona happens to approve of?"
Builder
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 12:40 am
@Thomas,
Quote:
....getting tough on banks is a social change that would make things better?


Why would you consider constraints on financial institutions to be of a social nature, Thomas?
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 01:36 am
@Thomas,
But isn't getting tough on Mexicans an old school point of view in this example? Even if it is a proposed change it is a proposed change in a different direction (toward greater tribalism, toward the past).
Builder
 
  3  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 01:43 am
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
...isn't getting tough on Mexicans an old school point of view in this example?


These people are among the original Americans. There's nothing "progressive" about persecuting indigenous people.
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 05:42 am
@ossobuco,
I usually say that I favor a progressive agenda; I seldom say that I am a progressive...but then again, I consider political labeling to be suspect at best.

Most of the people I know who call themselves progressives are actually liberals...but who think that "professional liberals" have so stained the word "liberal" that they refuse to use it as a self-descriptor. Same thing goes with the people I know who, as I do, favor a "progressive agenda" rather than a "liberal agenda."

Most of my friends think I am way, way too "liberal"...but I would not call myself a "liberal" on a bet...and contrary to what Joe thinks, it has absolutely nothing to do with being afraid of conservatives.
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  3  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 05:44 am
@Builder,
He's testing the definition.
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  3  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 06:16 am
@ossobuco,
" Liberal" means "in favor of greater freedom", I guess. In France the term is understood economically: "liberal" means "a laissez-faire approach to the economy", avoiding excessive regulations, etc. So it's often politically identified with the right. I'm a "liberal de gauche" (leftist liberal) but that's an exception where I come from.

My understanding is that in the US, a laissez-faire approach to the economy goes almost without saying - everybody agrees about that - so the pro-freedom meaning implied in the word applies to something else, e.g. to sexual orientation or other social issues.

Why a word based on "liberty" became an insult in the land of the free, I couldn't say.
Walter Hinteler
 
  2  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 07:02 am
@Olivier5,
Olivier5 wrote:
" Liberal" means "in favor of greater freedom", I guess. In France the term is understood economically: "liberal" means "a laissez-faire approach to the economy", avoiding excessive regulations, etc. So it's often politically identified with the right. I'm a "liberal de gauche" (leftist liberal) but that's an exception where I come from.
I think that we have the same defination of 'liberal' here in Germany. But we did havve quite a few left-leaning liberals - the Social–liberal coalition of the Social-Democrats with the F.D.P. (the German liberal party) in federal level from 1969 to 1982 is an example as well as a couple in some states.

"Progressive" was used politically especially in the 19th century - mainly left-leaning but anti-Social-Democrats liberals formed in Prussia the "Fortschrittspartei". (To unite the left-wing liberal forces, the party merged with the Liberal Union, a split-off of the National Liberals, into the German Free-minded Party. After WWII the former party members either joined the F.D.P. or the conservative CDU. [My maternal grandfather was a national-liberal and one of the first members of the F.D.P. .]
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 07:25 am
@Thomas,
Quote:

Do you agree with Elizabeth Warren that getting tough on banks is a social change that would make things better? Do you disagree with Ted Cruz's view that getting tough on Mexicans is a social change that would make things better? If your answer is "yes and yes", as I suspect it is, how is your usage of "progressive" any more descriptive than "promoting social change that Max Dancona happens to approve of?"


No Thomas, the word progressive has a meaning in modern American politics that is commonly understood both by people who call themselves progressives and people who don't.

Elizabeth Warren calls herself a progressive and talks about progressive values. Ted Cruz doesn't call himself a progressive. He talks about traditional values.




I think that both Elizabeth Warren and Ted Cruz would agree with my use of the word progressive. Elizabeth
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 07:27 am
@maxdancona,
Typical view of progressive policy from Redstate.com (a conservative web site)

Quote:
We are all familiar with the old saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. We’ve been laying our magnificent well-intentioned road mile by mile for the past 100 years and we are nearing our destination. Take a look around you and ask yourself if we are closer to the Utopia promised by the visionary Progressive social engineers or closer to the infamous realm of misery, debauchery, and decay.


http://www.redstate.com/diary/jblaikie/2015/05/19/road-hell-paved-progressive-policies/
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 09:02 am
Thank you all so far. I think of myself as a u.s. liberal on the left generally - though not particularly authoritarian - who hasn't quite known what progressive is meant to indicate, in part because I did recall that there is history to the word though I didn't remember the details. Plus, while it's an old word, I'd just seen it bouncing around in print a lot more relatively recently.

This all reminds me of those questionnaires we used to see on a2k that put one's answers into one of the test's quadrants so you could see where you landed viz a viz other questionnaire takers.
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 10:08 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Quote:
I think that we have the same defination of 'liberal' here in Germany. But we did havve quite a few left-leaning liberals - the Social–liberal coalition of the Social-Democrats with the F.D.P. (the German liberal party) in federal level from 1969 to 1982 is an example as well as a couple in some states.

I'm convinced the Germans understand this better than the French. By "this" i mean the possibility of a pro-poor & pro-market approach to economic policy. One of my preferred politicians voicing such thoughts in France is Dany Cohn-Bendit, who also does politics in Germany (he's got dual nationality). He calls himself a "liberal libertaire" - meaning pro-freedom in the economy AND in social issues.

On "progressive", i don't like the word much because of the positivist ideology associated to it: As if "progress" was a clearly and objectively identified direction. It's not, IMO. Others have made the same point here. There's no master plan stating that "progress" is in this or that general direction. Democracy is an experiment. We try new stuff, and we keep them if they work and drop them if they don't. At least that's how it should work.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 02:42 pm
@Builder,
Builder wrote:
Why would you consider constraints on financial institutions to be of a social nature, Thomas?

Because the lending practices of banks have profound social implications. Ask any person who lost their house because of a clause in their mortgage they didn't understand. Ask any elderly Black person who was denied credit because of red-lining. Ask anyone trapped in a vicious cycle of ever-increasing interest, ever-increasing debt, and ever-deteriorating credit. Banks have engaged in all kinds of shady practices in the run-up to the Great Depression. And the resulting misery has fallen disproportionally on middle-class and poor people. That's why I consider banking regulation a necessary part of social policy.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 03:03 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
But isn't getting tough on Mexicans an old school point of view in this example?

I don't think so. My understanding is that US policy has traditionally been quite friendly towards immigration from Mexico, and that the Republican party traditionally supported that. Their current demands to clamp down on it is a relatively recent development.

It is also my understanding that demands to reduce immigration have historically tended to come from trade unions, environmentalist initiatives like the Sierra Club, and other interest groups who would label themselves "Progressive". So no, I don't think of resistance to Mexican immigrants as particularly old-school.

But I admit I haven't studied the relevant history in detail, and will happily defer to anyone who has.
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 03:12 pm
@Thomas,
On the macro sense I think that nationalism in general is in decline with globalization and greater economic contagion. I think enmity with immigrants is something that has always ebbed and flowed but that nationalism in general and isolationism is generally a desire to move backwards or hold in place versus the advancement of globalization and multiculturalism.

To me the term (while like all political labels being imperfect) has pretty clear and useful meaning: people who in general prefer change as a way to improve society vs people who generally prefer to prevent many changes or to go back to the way they were to improve society. On the small scale almost anything can be portrayed as a change but on the larger scale the politics tends (though there will always be exceptions) to align with these general tendencies in a general conflict between previous values and future values.

If seen that way progressive politics correlates well with American liberal politics in my opinion and from a linguistic perspective is not seen as very different, it's just a better antonym for conservative than "liberal" ever was and is gradually replacing that term for that reason (makes more inherent sense as a political label than does "liberal").
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 03:12 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

Typical view of progressive policy from Redstate.com (a conservative web site)

Quote:
We are all familiar with the old saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. We’ve been laying our magnificent well-intentioned road mile by mile for the past 100 years and we are nearing our destination. Take a look around you and ask yourself if we are closer to the Utopia promised by the visionary Progressive social engineers or closer to the infamous realm of misery, debauchery, and decay.

Did you notice that this view you are quoting contains a lot of judgment, but no definition of the term "progressive"? I find myself reaffirmed in my opinion that "progressive" means whatever the speaker wants it to mean. In this case, the speaker insinuates, without saying it outright, that "progressive" means "naive utopian who paves the road to hell with good intentions". And that's not at all what you appear to mean by it.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 03:13 pm
@Thomas,
All political labels suffer from the variance of definitions and the imperfection of capturing complex (and often fluid) beliefs into a singular label.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Dec, 2015 03:16 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
If seen that way progressive politics correlates well with American liberal politics

Then I'll ask you the same question I asked Max (which he didn't answer yet): What do you make of the various illiberal policies historically pushed by the Progressive movement?
 

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