Category Archives

Archive of posts published in the category: Progressivism

Acid Pragmagtism

“By pragmatism’s own metaphors, their philosophy is like an acid that dissolves dogmas. The problem with acid is that it never knows when to stop burning. That’s why liberals are constantly discovering new crises that require more government solutions. Suggesting to activist liberals that maybe some day they could just go home and get a real job elicits nothing but bewilderment or rage when you bring it up.”

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The Folly of Pragmatism

“Hence, the great irony: Hayek, one of the greatest champions of individual liberty and economic freedom the world has ever known, believed that knowledge was communal. Dewey, the champion of socialism and collectivism, believed that knowledge was individual. Hayek’s is a philosophy that treats individuals as the best judges of their own self-interests, which in turn yield staggering communal cooperation. Dewey’s was the philosophy of a giant, Monty Pythonesque crowd shouting on cue, “We’re All Individuals!”

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Progressivism and Populism

“Nothing separated Progressivism from Populism, or for that matter from all previous American democracy, more sharply than this faith in the presumptive expertise, integrity, and political authority of the academic mandarins.”

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Progressive Principles

“[t]he progressive idea, simply put, is that the principled American constitutionalism of fixed natural rights and limited and dispersed powers must be overturned and replaced by an organic, evolutionary model of the Constitution that facilitates the authority of experts dedicated to the expansion of the public sphere and political control, especially at the national level.”

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The Enemy of Democracy is Arrogance

When you possess the infallible truth dissent is evil, compromise is surrender, and the opposition is demonized and pathologized.  But the fundamental assumptions are never questioned; the heliocentric model of the solar system was  rejected because it undermined the faith in the Church.  The social scientific outlook requires a religious like faith in its institutions that means it never admits failure or defeat.  Arrogance is the great enemy of democracy and political deliberation.

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Consensus and Credibility

“the diminished credibility of the major news media, the courts, the political professionals, and the academics is not the result of histrionic right-wing criticism. It is the result of shoddy work by the people entrusted with the care and development of those institutions, of corruption and intellectual dishonesty at the highest levels filtering down to high-school history classrooms.”

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Availability Bias

“I doubt our press has any such higher purpose. It has become so besotted with availability bias—a social science term for the need to conform to accepted tropes—that it no longer has a nose for a real story. Instead it relies on leaks, and even whole “narratives,” dropped in its lap by manipulators who assure reporters they are on the side of the angels. “

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The Market for Experts

In a complex society we must depend on experts; but we also depend on the proper functions of markets where experts compete. The problem is not lack of respect for expertise, but the understanding of the proper role of experts, and the false confidence in expertise in areas of our existence that defy expertise. Scientific reasoning does not apply to areas of humanity that requires moral judgment and social and economic tradeoffs, where there is not a single truth to be unveiled. Without a competition of ideas, progress and improvement are stifled.

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Lunatic Mimes

“If the page is written but we imagine it is blank, then we will act from ignorance, and live our lives without a knowledge of the truth, although the truth is there for us to know. But worse yet, if the page is blank and we imagine it is written, then we will enslave ourselves to our own fantasies, and live like mad men or lunatic mimes, running into walls which are not really there.”

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The Despotism of Illusory Knowledge

“Certainty, as we have seen throughout our tale, is a dangerous powerful force. If it proves true, then it can establish necessary limits on human action. But if it proves false, is it so often does, then it can create unnecessary barriers – imaginary cages in which we are needlessly trapped. “

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A Permanent War Footing

The left learned to respect the power of government during their control of the economy during WWI and WWII and sought to use that same power to further the cause of social justice, but wars end and the country returns to a different footing.  The battles of social justice go on forever and becomes a permanent war footing with a similar economic outcome. 

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Progressive Tension

While the Progressives sought to extend the restraints of political power to economic power, Hayek sought to bring political power to recognize economic realities. This new era of conservatism reaffirmed the genius of the founders of our constitution that dispersed power was best suited for the dispersed knowledge that generated our dynamic economy.

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Sacrificing Liberal Values

Democracy is a means to an end, not the end itself.  That is why the founders constrained it with federalism, checks and balances and strategically staggered terms. The objective should be the upholding of liberal values particularly those in the Bill of Rights.  Modern liberalism (as opposed to the classical liberal tradition now called conservatism) has become illiberal advocating the restraint of free speech and unlimited central power, identity politics and political correctness.  

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True Power

We have taken a detour on Hayek’s Road to Serfdom; we have managed to cede more power to the central government while retaining much of the individualism of the Constitution.  This is a unique outcome in political evolution attributed to the genius of the Constitution itself combined with a unique American political culture that shrouds it. At its best progressivism expanded the promise of political equality into the economic sphere, assuring equal economic opportunity if not results; at its worst it was seduced by the false confidence of the historicists shared by its technocratic sisters in Europe.

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We Are the Problem

The voters, however, cannot escape some responsibility for this outcome. The more dependent we become on the government to solve our local and personal problems the more disappointed we will become with the results and the more likely we will be seduced by radical solutions.

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So, You Think Bernie Sanders is the Answer? Part Deaux

Capitalism becomes the basket where you place all your gripes about our economy. Capitalism is just a form of political freedom and like all rights and freedoms they’re not unrestricted and unregulated. There are good regulations and bad regulations. Good regulations support the proper functions of liberty and free markets; bad regulations undermine the institutions that support liberty and markets. If much of our problems come from bad regulation and bad government policy, then how is handing more power that source going to help? Progressivism grew to protect us from special interests, but what happens when the special interest we need to fear the most is the one that seeks to protect us?

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So, You Think Bernie Sanders is the Answer?

Socialism hinges on a belief in a general or unified will that is a myth.  We are a diverse nation with diverse and competing interests and our Constitution is the most advanced political system ever devised for dealing with these competing interests. The belief in a unified interest becomes a justification for imposing one group’s interests on another. This is the essence of Hayek’s noted Road to Serfdom.

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The Bernie Sanders Threat

Bernie is the moral supremacist progressive of the first Progressive Era of 1900-1920 that reacted to the Gilded Age and inequality of that period. Bloomberg is the elite technocrat Progressive of the second Progressive Era of 1932-1980; beginning with the New Deal and ending with the Great Society. The irony of a “progressive” reclaiming old and exhausted positions from fifty to a hundred years ago is lost on most who accept progressivism.

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The Nature of Knowledge

Levin observes that for the left it is forever 1965 and we are just one huge federal program away from supreme social justice. For the right it is forever 1981 and we are just one big tax cut away from economic nirvana. The conditions of 1965 or 1981 no longer exist.

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Political Thoughts 2020 02 16

The problem with greater federal power is no longer legitimacy but competence. The failure of the left to maintain control of their sacred institutions has not led them to decry it’s competence but to question its legitimacy; but by not supporting the institutions they relied on they have brought their own legitimacy into question.

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