Who in their right mind would ever be opposed to progress? By extension, who in their right mind would ever want to be regarded as an enemy of progress? When “progress” is used as a prop in a socio-political drama, there is no stopping its power to manipulate and reshape the very consciousness of the audience. Nothing less than “nobility” is the inevitable perception resulting from the repeated use of the term. It’s no mystery, therefore, that progressivism is as popular as it is powerful in our (post) modern socio-political climate. As a political ideology, its victory is guaranteed—as surely as the sun will rise in the morning.
Progressivism is all about “progress.” If no exploration of the subtleties of how that term is defined ever sees the light of day, there will be no barriers to its widespread acceptance and celebration. And the grim reality is: very few people in our society ever ask such questions. The masses are characteristically content to ride the waves of enthusiasm any given terminology inspires without going below the surface to discover what force is in fact propelling them.
Why this is the case is not the subject of this essay. But that it is an obvious reality is partly what inspires it. Bono once said, “the world is more malleable than we think, and it can be wrestled from fools.” Our thorny problem is that progressivism has malleated the world and we aren’t doing a very good job of wrestling it away from them. So if there is any hope of winning such a wrestling match, a thorough understanding of what progressives mean by progress is indispensable. In fact, it’s vital to our survival as a civilization.
Progressivism is a form of collectivism, where the measure and definition of progress lies in how close we can come to an ideal society (i.e. collective) through social engineering. This stands in contrast to forging a more “just” society only if we stand opposed to that term being redefined as thoroughly as progress has. It used to be that progress was a matter of achieving a higher degree of true justice, which here means that people couldn’t get away with doing harm to their neighbor (as often) and that people were gradually more free to be the “architects of their own futures” as D’Souza put it. If people of faith add what could arguably be the most important aspect of justice to the recipe, it would look more like the Kingdom of God becoming more of a palpable reality on Earth, even though it wouldn’t do so on an apocalyptic scale without God’s intervention. No, progressivism has no such aspirations. This is a purely human enterprise, where religious ideology is seen as primitive and oppressive, and clashes with the objective of emancipating itself from all such archaic barbarism in the name of human actualization.
Please don’t misunderstand: those who fly the flag of progressivism will swear on their mother’s grave that they endorse freedom of religion. But it’s necessary, again, to clarify even that terminology: does it mean freedom of private worship, or the freedom to live out our religious principles in the public square? The former is innocuous. The latter threatens the progressive agenda far too much to be tolerated.
Speaking of the “Kingdom of God,” if progressives ever are interested in religion, it is in a nominal sense—motivated by the agenda to invade Christendom in order to bastardize and overthrow it. As such, they have a brand new shiny definition of that term as well: the achievement of a great society where all systemic oppression has ceased and equality reigns—just like God would have wanted it. When we speak of personal redemption, it either sounds like gibberish, or it suffers the same fate as the words of a DJ when driving under a bridge. Even the term “equality” is redefined in the Progressive Kingdom. Our ears are still ringing from the blast of the progressive trumpets with “equality” engraved on their bells: equality of outcome, not equality of being created in God’s image—a concept far too parochial to survive the assault of regressive social justice ideology. In any case, no strategy is more seductive than convincing the naive to give more power to those who pretend to be champions of “equality.”
Progressivism is about control, which is one of the many reasons progressivism and socialism are such sleazy bedfellows. Socialism involves, among other toxic fumes, central control of economic activity—the kind of control that puts a twinkle and a gleam in the eye of any progressive who is just as enchanted with that kind of power as any garden variety dictator would be. And you can’t make any progress toward the ideal society unless you control the ideology of all its members. Their unquestioned credence to the progressive social agenda and ideology is absolutely critical to its success. Is it any wonder that conservatives, evangelicals, and capitalists are sprayed with disgust and contempt from the progressive snake pit at every possible opportunity? The progressives have been rehearsing that ridicule for so long that they can recite it in their sleep. It overwhelms the every-day commoner with the most clever and inspiring rhetoric they’ve ever heard before or since. It just has to be true. And the average commoner will gladly accept the erosion of their own liberty if it means those whom the progressives have told them are being “oppressed” can be “set free.” They see this as not only compassion, but personal moral development, regardless of the obvious fact that the neighbor they are supposed to love has been enslaved by the new deception just as much as they have. When you feel the euphoria of moral superiority, you hardly notice when your neighbors quietly slip into serfdom.
Part of the genius and wisdom of the founders of the United States is recognizing that all men are fallen, and therefore corruption is built into their very souls. They therefore can’t be trusted with unlimited power, and as such must be restrained by the immutable individual rights of the governed. This wisdom is straight out of a Biblical world view, which is why modern progressives despise it, and why they want to replace it with a totalitarian agenda having a benevolent facade but a dark and pernicious nucleus. Make no mistake: there is nothing admirable or compassionate about progressive culture.