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

 
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2015 12:15 pm
@revelette2,
Quote:
In today's US political understanding, I would think a progressive is just one who wants to promote all of our fellow man equally by giving them the opportunity to do well. Least that is my understanding of it.


I think a useful definition needs to make a distinction between "progressive" and "conservative". A good definition should be acceptable (i.e. not offensive) to either side of the political divide in the US.

A progressive stance wants to change society to provide more rights to a greater number of people. A conservative stance wants to preserve traditional values and limit the rate at which society changes.

georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2015 01:25 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

A progressive stance wants to change society to provide more rights to a greater number of people. A conservative stance wants to preserve traditional values and limit the rate at which society changes.


The devil is in the details. "More rights to a greater number of people" in practice means more programs, the details of which are prosribed by the self appointed progressive elite, and which in agregate limit the free choices of everyone in what was formerly free marketplace of ideas choices and alternatives. This is Orwellian speech; big brother talking and telling the dumb masses how to live their lives.
Foofie
 
  -2  
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2015 02:48 pm
@georgeob1,
georgeob1 wrote:

maxdancona wrote:

A progressive stance wants to change society to provide more rights to a greater number of people. A conservative stance wants to preserve traditional values and limit the rate at which society changes.


The devil is in the details. "More rights to a greater number of people" in practice means more programs, the details of which are prosribed by the self appointed progressive elite, and which in agregate limit the free choices of everyone in what was formerly free marketplace of ideas choices and alternatives. This is Orwellian speech; big brother talking and telling the dumb masses how to live their lives.


I tend to think that in the progressive play book, "rights" is a euphemism for "entitlements" sometimes. And, perhaps the right not to feel unequal to those that are more capable in some venue.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2015 03:00 pm
I do not use liberal or progressive to describe myself...but I often use the expression, "I champion (or support) a progressive agenda."

I certainly mean that to indicate that I want safety net programs now in place protected and expanded. I would hope that some day we will get to the point where these kinds of programs will be sufficient to insure that EVERYONE can go to bed at night free of worry about where the next meal will come from; how shelter and clothing needs will be met; how medical care will be obtained; how an education for children will be afforded...and the like.

Anyone who thinks something is wrong with that kind of thinking...or who objects to me using the term "champion a progressive agenda" is free to do so...and I will enjoy ignoring them for doing it.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2015 04:44 pm
@georgeob1,
I am making the assumption that you agree that I hold progressive views and that you don't (given the current 21st century American use of the word). Do you agree with this? This is not a judgment of which of us is right and true, it is just an acknowledgement that you and I are on opposite sides of the current American political divide.

My goal was to find a definition of "progressive" (vs. conservative) that both you and I would agree and that neither of us would find insulting. The key distinction that I was trying to make was whether we should "change society" to provide more rights or not. When I hear conservatives talk in favor of "traditional values", my understanding is that society has developed over time and works pretty well and that we shouldn't be changing it just for some new ideas about rights no one ever had before.

Can you help me make this distinction better?


maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2015 04:52 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
Anyone who thinks something is wrong with that kind of thinking... is free to do so...and I will enjoy ignoring them for doing it.


Did you really mean to say this Frank?
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2015 05:42 pm
@maxdancona,
I don't have any problem with your efforts to find mutually acceptable definitions of the terms. However if you choose to define progressives as seeking to provide more rights for more people, you should also deal with the observable fact that most of these efforts so far by self-styled progressives have in fact been dedicated towards giving more publicly funded entitlements to more people (as opposed to rights). These entitlements, besides vastly increasing the public debt, have, at the same time, significantly reduced the freedom of most people to govern their own lives as they may wish and restricted their freedom to exercise previously acknowleded rights to do as they chose in seeking health care and increasingly exercising their previously acknowledged rights to free expression and association.

The key point here is that most so called progressive policies themselves proscribe various "right behaviors" and thereby reduce the free action of people and restrict their rights. This irony should not go unacknowledged.

In the unlamented 20th century various adherants of Marxist social/political theories also campaigned for added "rights" for the so called working class and designated themselves as the "vanguard" of that class - those who (alone) knew what's good for everyone else. They ended up creating a collection of wretched authoritarian socialist states that produced only tyranny and poverty for all. Along they way they found they needed to deal with those who didn't agree with their program, In Lenin's case this became what he called "the elimination of the irreconcilables" a program that ended up involving mass exterminations and deportations to the Gulag. After wasting the lives of a generation of Russians the sustem they created collapsed of its own internal contradictions and the dull, oppressive tyranny they had created. Their Eastern European satellites couldn't wait to throw off their chains when the whole system collapsed. So much for that branch of progressive politics and the new rights they gave their slaves.

There are, of course other much more moderate versions of all this, and the largely sclerotic economies of the EU are the prime examples. Except for Germany I wouldn't bet a lot on their futures either.
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2015 05:53 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

Quote:
Anyone who thinks something is wrong with that kind of thinking... is free to do so...and I will enjoy ignoring them for doing it.


Did you really mean to say this Frank?



Yeah, but the "ignoring" does not preclude my defending my position.

I want safety net programs now in place protected and expanded. I would hope that some day we will get to the point where these kinds of programs will be sufficient to insure that EVERYONE can go to bed at night free of worry about where the next meal will come from; how shelter and clothing needs will be met; how medical care will be obtained; how an education for children will be afforded...and the like.

If my wording did not sound right...a different rendition would be:

Tough! That is my position...and I do not care if some people do not like it.


0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2015 05:54 pm
@georgeob1,
My attempt to find common ground on the distinction between progressives and conservatives seems be failing.

The goal is to define the distinction between the two sides in a way that is not insulting to either side. Your definition isn't a helpful step towards the "mutually agreeable" goal.

Are you willing to try to reach common ground with me (at least on defining the distinction)? Or, is this a lost cause.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Wed 16 Dec, 2015 07:38 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
Yet you like the word "liberal" any better?

Yes. That's the word I use.

maxdancona wrote:
The word "liberal" has changed around, and has had as many different meanings as the word "progressive". No one who is called a "liberal" nowadays in the US is spouting Adam Smith...

Only the ones who have actually read Smith's books. I agree that's deplorably few. But in my experience, those American liberals who have read The Theory of Moral Sentiments tend to be quite fond of it.
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 04:00 am
A picture fom when people thought that progress was a simple and objective matter:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/12/American_progress.JPG
American Progress, an 1872 painting by John Gast is an allegorical representation of the modernization of the new west. Here Columbia, a personification of the United States, leads civilization westward with American settlers. She brings light from the East into the darkness of the West, stringing telegraph wire as she sweeps west; she holds a school book as well (it is not a Bible). The different stages of economic activity of the pioneers are highlighted and, especially, the evolving forms of transportation. [source: Wikipedia article on "Manifest Destiny"]

Also note the natives fleeing into darkness, on the extreme left of the painting. They were against progress, I guess.
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 10:38 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
I think a useful definition needs to make a distinction between "progressive" and "conservative".

For my understanding: Suppose there was a political reform movement, but you thought its reforms would be bad for your country. What word would you use for it?
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 10:44 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
It's not the US, it's me. I know what politically-educated people are trying to say when they use the word. I just don't like the word because I have a literalist mind and because literally, the word "progressive" means nothing and practically, it means whatever politics the New York Times editorial board happens to favor that day. That's why I don't use it myself, except for the specific purpose of disparaging it.


LOL, you take literalism to autistic levels. Do you also oppose the use of the word "blue" when describing someone's mood because they are not, you know, literally the color blue?

And progressive is not any more inexact than conservative (who don't always want to conserve or oppose every change, its just a general tendency toward previous values vs a general tendency toward future values).
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 10:50 am
@Thomas,
Are the reforms toward a conservative political position or toward a progressive political position?
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 10:54 am
@Thomas,
I don't know Thomas... maybe "feminism"?
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 10:58 am
@Thomas,
The point is that words have a commonly understood meaning within a cultural context. We need words like "progressive" and "liberal" and "conservative" and "feminist" to describe ideas that are really only relevant in our present political context. Our current meanings of any of these words is different from anything that existed 100 years ago. And in 100 years our the current meanings will be irrelevant.

I don't think the word "progressive" is any different then the word "liberal" in this regard.

We still need these words, and they still are useful for us to communicate with each other. And all Americans right now have a common understanding that Bernie Sanders is a progressive and that Ted Cruz is not. And whether you support Sanders or Ted Cruz you will still agree on this distinction.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 01:41 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
LOL, you take literalism to autistic levels.

Thank you! I take this as a compliment.

Robert Gentel wrote:
Do you also oppose the use of the word "blue" when describing someone's mood because they are not, you know, literally the color blue?

No. The difference is that progressives general claim that the reforms they favor do, in fact, make things better and thus constitute literal progress. People who use the word "blue" for "melancholic, depressed" claim nothing alike, so there is no false-advertizing problem with the latter.

Robert Gentel wrote:
And progressive is not any more inexact than conservative [...].

I disagree, because the future states of affairs we could create far outnumber the past states of affairs we can revert to.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 02:02 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
Are the reforms toward a conservative political position or toward a progressive political position?

Let's say the year is 1900, and the Progressive movement is about to go all-in on eugenics. And because is 1900, eugenics is indeed "progressive" to those who approve of it because it's future-oriented rather than history-oriented. But you oppose eugenics. So you say to your them: "Don't fall for eugenics, it's _____ !"

What adjective do you use to fill in the blank? Obviously you wouldn't use "progressive" because you oppose the sterilization of handicapped people. You also wouldn't use "conservative" because a policy of sterilizing handicapped people hasn't been pursued before. So what's a similarly-generic adjective that expresses your opinion of the policy?
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 02:24 pm
@Thomas,
Quote:
Let's say the year is 1900, and the Progressive movement is about to go all-in on eugenics.


Can't you make the same argument about the Liberal movement and social Darwinism?
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 02:59 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
Can't you make the same argument about the Liberal movement and social Darwinism?

I don't think so. If I had been a Guilded-Age Liberal, I might very well have said something like this: "The policies outlined in Herbert Spencer's Social Statics, if enacted in practice, would confine large parts of the working classes to conditions akin to slavery. Therefore, these policies are illiberal. " To be sure, most of my classical-liberal contemporaries would disagree with me because they'd disagree with my factual premise. But if they did agree with it, I'm pretty sure they would have agreed with my conclusion. The logic of my inference, and my usage of the word liberal as "promoting human liberty", would have been uncontroversial.
 

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