Monday, April 1, 2013

I know LOTS of people that need to deeply acquaint themselves with this post

Nine things that Progressives (i.e. - turn of the last century Progressives) are not.

There's no way of identifying a libertarian with an extremely lazy mind operating on bad faith quicker than asking him what he thinks of the Progressive movement.

There is also no easier way to illustrate why people associate libertarianism with Glenn Beck. Calling yourself "BHL" or complaining about the youngsters in the movement is really missing the point.


  1. It would be more persuasive if it was a list of things that progressives were not unequivocally. On the one hand, this dude points out that though many progressives were racist, they were ahead of their time collectively. Does that mean that 50% were racist or 80% were racist? If it's the latter, calling them racist is probably still fair.

    On the other, he can come up with counterexamples to progressives as technocrats. Weren't they much more technocratic than the average group at the time?

    Those are contradictory standards... I think they are in the list just to get it to nine.

    And the glaring omission from the list - eugenics! Given how he stretched the last two examples I mention, I'm going to Bayesian update and say that ALL turn of the century progressives LOVED eugenics, because he would have provided the evidence against the statement in this post if he could.

    1. Either I'm confused about how Bayesianism works or I'm confused about how your brain works ;-)

    2. That was a joke.

      I understand your argument/joke (honestly not sure which it was in your case...)

  2. The author doesn't make much of an argument regarding Marxism. All he says is: "If you don’t support the (forceful) abolition of private property, you are not a Marxist." There are many legitimate definitions of marxism out there, not all of which include the forceful abolition of private property. I tend to think of marxism as being defined by its application of the hegelien dialectic to class struggle. I think there are some legitimate definitions of marxism which are applicable to the progressive movement. (or parts of it)

  3. Yeah, the argument about Marxism is a bit weird. A fair number of Progressives in fact did argue for the forcible confiscation of land (particularly of Native Americans - there was definitely an element of Progressives who basically viewed Native Americans as a dying element of human society and that it was best to just push that process along through land confiscation, the seizure of children, etc.), but that by itself didn't make them Marxists.

    Still, we've seen a pretty decent corrective in the historical literature on the Progressives in the last couple of decades, if some people have plugged into the more negative aspects of that correction people ought not find that surprising.

  4. Just a note, this was an April fool's post.

    Conor Williams in general is a progressive and he's done a series of useful posts on what they actually are. It's in that context his post was meant.

    1. Huh. I've linked to Conor's writing in the past on Progressives and it's great.

      This was a little informal, but what's so April-Foolsy about it?


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