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

 
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 03:13 pm
@Thomas,
Quote:
The logic of my inference, and my usage of the word liberal as "promoting human liberty", would have been uncontroversial.


Really? I am highly skeptical that this it true.

Ted Cruz wants to promote human liberty. He is no more a liberal than he is a progressive.

Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 03:22 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
Ted Cruz wants to promote human liberty.

Whether he wants to promote it or not, he doesn't actually promote it. That's why he's not a liberal.
maxdancona
 
  3  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 03:26 pm
@Thomas,
And Ted Cruz doesn't actually promote progress either. That's why he is not a progressive.

The problem with your argument is that you are assuming that definition of what constitutes "liberty" is somehow universal in away that "progress" is not. Of course that is not true. People on both sides of the Civil war were fighting and dying for liberty.

As long as you assume that your definition of what constitutes "liberty" is the only correct definition, then of course you are correct (by definition). There is no reason that you or I can't do the same thing with the definition of "progress".
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 03:33 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
And Ted Cruz doesn't actually promote progress either. That's why he is not a progressive.

That's easy for you to say because you disagree with Cruz on which policies constitute improvement, ie, progress.

maxdancona wrote:
People on both sides of the Civil war were fighting and dying for liberty.

No they didn't. People on one side of the Civil War did; on the other they were fighting and dying for slavery. If you're seriously contending that slavery is liberty, your moral relativism has officially crossed the line into the world of George Orwell.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 03:42 pm
@Thomas,
Quote:
That's easy for you to say because you disagree with Cruz on which policies constitute improvement, ie, progress.


I can play the exact same game Thomas. It is easy for you to say that Cruz is not a liberal because you disagree with Cruz on which policies constitute improvement, ie, liberty.

Ted Cruz uses the word "liberty" quite a bit, including the times he has spoken at Liberty University (see what I did there). It is a perfectly good word when he uses it to communicate an idea to the people who share the same political views as he does. They understand what "liberty" means perfectly well in this political culture.

The reason that you can't accept the understanding of the word "liberty" when it is used by Ted Cruz (in spite of the fact the word is perfectly functional at communicating an idea his audience) says more about you than it says about the word.


0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 03:43 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
The problem with your argument is that you are assuming that definition of what constitutes "liberty" is somehow universal in away that "progress" is not. Of course that is not true.

Oh, but it is true! Your liberty increases and decreases in proportion to the choices available to you. In principle, then, you could objectively test if a reform increases or decreases human liberty. Just count the realizable choices, aggregated over all humans, before and after the reform. Sure, this is easier said than done, but in principle we could do it.

What objective test can you offer for a reform being progressive?
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 03:44 pm
@Thomas,
Make the argument that social welfare programs, where the government forces its individual citizens to pay taxes and then gives them to the less fortunate, is an example of liberty.

Most American liberals (including me) support these social welfare programs. But, I think it is a logical stretch to call this "liberty".
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 04:16 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
Thank you! I take this as a compliment.


No surprise, you take pride in that aspect of your personality and there's a lot of good reasons to, it's one of the reasons you are one of my favorite people to discuss things with most of the time.

But most people communicate very differently and in cases like this (where I am a bit less further on the autism spectrum) it can be maddening to see such a literal approach to language, which does not at all lend itself to that kind of prescriptive, gonna-ignore-what-people actually mean approach to literalism.

Quote:
No. The difference is that progressives general claim that the reforms they favor do, in fact, make things better and thus constitute literal progress.


You've moved the goalposts. "Blue" does not "literally" mean "sad" (unless you, you know, accept that language is living and that yes it now does) but claimed your qualm with the term was that it does not always literally mean "progress" (in your narrow definition of it).

If your qualm is that progressives think their politics is better it still makes no sense. Everyone says their political preference is better, that is is not objectively possible to prove says absolutely nothing about the validity of this term. None of the other terms you prefer are ANY better about this and you are moving the goalposts from that this is not "literal" enough to that they have no empirical evidence that their position is better.

Well neither do "liberals" or "conservatives" either and the validity of the definition has nothing whatsoever to do with the validity of the political positions.

The term just means people whose general political preference leans towards the social evolutions we tend to make, whether or not they are right says absolutely nothing about the validity of the word to describe a very clear and very understandable side of the political fence.

Quote:
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.


And this lies in your extremely narrow and completely incorrect parsing of the definition as everyone but a few like you use it. Progressives do not support all future changes. Conservatives do not oppose all changes. This is not a literal "I like all change" and "I hate all change" meaning at all. Virtually nobody uses it this way. What these terms describe for most people is a general tendency. For example while cracking down on Mexicans might be something you here construe as a "new" change the impetus for conservatives to support this change is because they prefer the way things were in terms of less multiculturalism etc and don't like that latinos are going to outnumber whites one day.

Conservatives also don't reject all advancements and change (e.g. many adapt to new technology) and progressives do not support all change either.

Your definition is maddeningly autistic in that it flatly refuses to awknowledge that pretty much everyone uses the word just fine and understand what it means just as well as they do with "liberal" or "conservative" and you've just latched onto a very literal definition of just one of these terms.

Conservatives are often not for nature conservation, that is not "literal" either and "liberal" in the meaning of promoting liberty is as open to interpretation as well. Liberty is itself in the mind of the beholder and all liberties come at the cost of another liberty.

Want the liberty to carry a gun? Well that deprives someone else of the liberty of living in a gun-free society. Want the liberty to say what you want? Then someone else may lost the liberty to not hear things they don't like.

Now it's obvious which kind of liberties I prefer (or that are "better") but to pretend that "progressive" is somehow a fatally flawed definition while "liberal" is A-OK is just silly. "Liberal" is just as open to interpretation as "progressive" and from a descriptive linguistic perspective "progressive" is much clearer than "liberal" is now (owing to less history of bastardization and evolution of the living language).

There is as much definitional conflict about both terms and both are understood perfectly well (in general terms, which is as best as these labels can hoe for) by people who don't take things to absurd literal extremes.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 04:22 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
Make the argument that social welfare programs, where the government forces its individual citizens to pay taxes and then gives them to the less fortunate, is an example of liberty.

A few rich citizens lose the option to sail a yacht and to vacation in on Martha's Vineyard. Many poor citizens gain the option to eat, sleep in beds, and have a roof over their head while they're doing it. The overall number of options in society increases. Therefore the reform is liberal.

With some effort, I think I could even provide a mathematical model for it. The outline, which includes some not-too-controversial assumptions, would look something like this:
  • The number of options in society is the product of the number of options each individual has. (Each individual can exercise each of their options independently of each other, and we're counting all possible combinations.)
  • Income is a usable proxy for the number of options available to the individual.
  • The overall income in society is limited.
  • For example, take the city of Maxville, with a GDP of 20 Danconas, which is distributed among Maxville's population of 10 according to the following list: [1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 11].
  • By multiplying the elements of the list, we find that the initial number of options in Maxville is 11.
  • Now the mayor of Maxville imposes a 9-Dancona tax on the richest citizen, the one with the income of 11, and redistributes it evenly among the other 9 citizens. Now the income distribution is [2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2], and the number of choices 2**10 = 1024.
  • Because the total number of choices in Maxville has increased, the mayor's reform is liberal.

As I said, this is just an outline. It's missing a number of real-world features, including the effect of the income distribution on work effort and the constraits on Maxvillians' options from the options exercised by other Maxvillians. But the purpose of the model was to show how the "liberalness" of a reform can in principle be objectively tested by counting choices via the income distribution, and for this purpose it's good enough.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 04:25 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
Let's say the year is 1900, and the Progressive movement is about to go all-in on eugenics.


This term did not exist back then with the meaning it does now, there is no corollary to modern progressives and imaginary progressives of the past.

Quote:
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 _____ !"


I don't know but trying to shoehorn terms that describe modern political groups into places they didn't exist make no sense to me. Just like Democrat and Republican are clear political terms now that don't fit there either.

Quote:
What adjective do you use to fill in the blank? Obviously you wouldn't use "progressive" because you oppose the sterilization of handicapped people.


No, I wouldn't use it because it has nothing at all to do with the non-autistic definition of "progressive" and the politics from that era shares nothing with the modern era. It is not a word that just means "progress" just like "blue" is not just a word that means the color blue.

"Progressive" politics currently means something pretty simple and clear: people who prefer the current trend of changes in societal evolution in general, not people who preferred what the state of "progress" was hundreds of years ago.

Back in another day, when the political direction was vastly different it makes no sense to try to call these people progressives or not as it relates to modern political terms. Just like it would make no sense to try to describe whether eugenics was a "green party" thing.

Quote:
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?


I'd just call it shitty, there's no reason to try to shoehorn a modern political term to fit a backwards non-modern time. I have no idea why the politics from hundreds of years ago should have to be able to neatly fit modern political parties to you.
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 04:32 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
I don't think so. If I had been a Guilded-Age Liberal.....


Who are nothing like modern American "liberals" who are nothing like "liberals" in other countries etc etc.

You are acting like language is proscriptive, and I get why. I would like it to be too, it's the pedanty, autie way I think. But language is not static, it is a living breathing thing and the liberals of that day bear little resemblance to the liberals of modern times.

Quote:
To be sure, most of my classical-liberal contemporaries would disagree with me because they'd disagree with my factual premise.


And if everyone agreed with progressives that their policies represent beneficial progress too then it would not have any definitional problems but just like what is best to conserve what liberties are the best (or what even represents liberty) and what progress is best this is not something about which everyone is in agreement with but most importantly they do not have to for these terms to have great utility and clear meaning.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 04:34 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
Whether he wants to promote it or not, he doesn't actually promote it. That's why he's not a liberal.


In your estimation, not his. The notion that there is one canonical definition for everything ignores that this has never been the case and never will be.

"Liberty" like all words has a meaning in the eye of the beholder and not all liberties are valued the same and some conflict with each other.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 04:36 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
No they didn't. People on one side of the Civil War did; on the other they were fighting and dying for slavery. If you're seriously contending that slavery is liberty, your moral relativism has officially crossed the line into the world of George Orwell.


Slavery is liberty to own slaves for slavemasters. I certainly disagree with it but the liberty of the slaves came at the cost of the liberty to be a slave owner.

It is not controversial now but once was. The notion that "liberty" has a single true, and unwavering definition is just not true. It is a concept that has evolved over time and person.
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 04:39 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
Oh, but it is true! Your liberty increases and decreases in proportion to the choices available to you.


Individual liberty does not exist in a vacuum. If I have the liberty to kill anyone I like (more choices available to me) it infringes on the liberty of others to choose to live another day.

Quote:
In principle, then, you could objectively test if a reform increases or decreases human liberty.


Only if you accept your personal definition that liberty = more choices. This is not the definition that everyone shares or should share.

Quote:
What objective test can you offer for a reform being progressive?


I don't think any of your "objective" tests are so. I fundamentally believe that these terms cannot objectively be as neat as you would like them do. All words suffer from definitional drift, no matter how much you rail against it.

One day "liberal" may just mean the politics of people who favor slavery. This will happen simply if enough people choose to use the word that way. You don't get to choose what words mean for everyone.
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 04:41 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Like anarchy. The guy who grabs your stuff creates the guy who's stuff is grabbed...
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 04:51 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
The problem with your argument is that you are assuming that definition of what constitutes "liberty" is somehow universal in away that "progress" is not. Of course that is not true. People on both sides of the Civil war were fighting and dying for liberty.


This is it in a nutshell, Thomas think his definitions are universal truths and that's not how language works.
0 Replies
 
RABEL222
 
  3  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 05:00 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Progressive, liberal, conservative, are just words to fool the voters into believing that they have a choice between two candidates who have already been chosen by the one percent who have already purchased the loyality of the candidates with their billions. I will vote as I have always voted knowing it wont change a damn thing. The very rich have always controlled government and always will. The same rich families are still controlling government. Yes I know that 1% of the 1%changes over 30 or 40 years which means that 99% of the 1% still control government.
RABEL222
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 05:04 pm
@Olivier5,
I might point out Oliver that just as in Israel it was the Europeans who stole the Indians land and killed them off so they could steal it.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 05:04 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

Thomas wrote:
Let's say the year is 1900, and the Progressive movement is about to go all-in on eugenics.


This term did not exist back then with the meaning it does now.

You've got to be kidding.

Robert Gentel wrote:
I'd just call it shitty,

Works for me.

Robert Gentel wrote:
there's no reason to try to shoehorn a modern political term to fit a backwards non-modern time.

If 1900 is non-modern to you, then "progressive" is not a modern political term. It's a term with a history. But if your point is that the history is irrelevant because people reinvent the meaning of the term ad lib, I suppose that's my point in different words. I rest my case.
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Dec, 2015 05:05 pm
@RABEL222,
That's the first thing you ever said that I happily thumbed up. So, my question: If you actually have a chance to stick it to the assholes running the country, what would keep you from doing it?

Smile
 

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