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  • What Are the Fundamental Axioms of “Progressivism”?

    Posted by David Foster on August 5th, 2015 (All posts by )

    Arthur Koestler, himself a former Communist, wrote about  closed intellectual systems:

    A closed sysem has three peculiarities. Firstly, it claims to represent a truth of universal validity, capable of explaining all phenomena, and to have a cure for all that ails man. In the second place, it is a system which cannot be refuted by evidence, because all potentially damaging data are automatically processed and reinterpreted to make them fit the expected pattern. The processing is done by sophisticated methods of causistry, centered on axioms of great emotive power, and indifferent to the rules of common logic; it is a kind of Wonderland croquet, played with mobile hoops. In the third place, it is a system which invalidates criticism by shifting the argument to the subjective motivation of the critic, and deducing his motivation from the axioms of the system itself. The orthodox Freudian school in its early stages approximated a closed system; if you argued that for such and such reasons you doubted the existence of the so-called castration complex, the Freudian’s prompt answer was that your argument betrayed an unconscious resistance indicating that you ourself have a castration complex; you were caught in a vicious circle. Similarly, if you argued with a Stalinist that to make a pact with Hitler was not a nice thing to do he would explain that your bourgeois class-consciousness made you unable to understand the dialectics of history…In short, the closed system excludes the possibility of objective argument by two related proceedings: (a) facts are deprived of their value as evidence by scholastic processing; (b) objections are invalidated by shifting the argument to the personal motive behind the objection. This procedure is legitimate according to the closed system’s rules of the game which, however absurd they seem to the outsider, have a great coherence and inner consistency.

    The atmosphere inside the closed system is highly charged; it is an emoional hothouse…The trained, “closed-minded” theologian, psychoanalyst, or Marxist can at any time make mincemeat of his “open-minded” adversary and thus prove the superiority of his system to the world and to himself.

    In debating with “progressives,” one often encounters this kind of closed-system thinking:  there is absolutely no way you are going to change their minds, whatever the evidence or logic.  (I don’t think this is true of  all  “progressives”–otherwise the situation in America today would be even more grim than it actually is–but it’s true of a lot of them.)

    But what are the “axioms of great emotive power” in which “progressives” believe?  It is pretty easy to write down on one sheet of paper the basic beliefs of Christianity, or of Marxism, or of American Democratic Republicanism.  The fundamental tenets of Naziism…Nationalism, Socialism, anti-Semitism, etc….were well summarized by Joseph Goebbels in this pamphlet.

    I find it difficult to summarize today’s “progressive” belief system.  It does not seem to be a coherent intellectual system, not even a faux-coherent intellectual system such as Marxism.  But it clearly appeals deeply to millions of people, and has largely pervaded many if not most institutions, ranging from academia to popular media, throughout America and Western Europe.

    So let’s try to identify these axioms.  What are the things in which one must believe if one is to be a good “progressive”?  Please try to be maximally objective and to maintain emotional distance, as if you were describing the religious beliefs of a lost tribe in South America or a band of Christian heretics in the Middle Ages, and try to separate the intellectual content of the belief system from the emotional drivers of those beliefs.

     

    38 Responses to “What Are the Fundamental Axioms of “Progressivism”?”

    1. David Adair Says:

      I would suggest reading Thomas Sowells book “A Conflict of Visions”. In it he presents what he refers to as the Constrained visions and the Unconstrained visions. The Unconstrained visions very well describes the values and world views of liberals and progressives in general.

    2. David Foster Says:

      David…generally familiar with Sowell’s constrained-vs-unconstrained model though I haven’t read the book. I think the unconstrained vision, if I understand it, correctly, would be consistent with *any* top-down ordering of society. By itself, though, it wouldn’t account for “progressive” differences from Marxism, such as the hostility toward industry which permeates much of the “progressive” mindset, or the differences from Fascism, such as the obsession with race/ethnicity combined with a hostility toward nationalism.

    3. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Another way to model and comprehend Progressive thought is to see it as religion. It is morality versus immorality. If a private company provides a service that costs X to it’s customer and make a profit of 10% of X, that is evil because it profited. Profit is a sin, full stop. If the government provides the same service, but it takes twice as long, is twice the hassle, and cost twice as much, that is preferable, because the government ‘belongs to everyone’ and is ‘everyone working together’. It’s a communitarian sacrament.

      The government, provided it is controlled by and staffed by progressives, is a sort of church, a place of community doing things. Its leaders are members of that church, a priesthood, and the president a sort of pope or bishop or even a demigod. The doing of the works of socialism is a holy calling. You are helping people – or at least mean to. If you are actually making things worse, that’s OK, because you’ll do it better next time. Or somebody will. There’re supposed to anyway. If they have time. And enough money. More money will probably be needed. But that OK, it’s for the right cause. It would be evil not to want to contribute a little more to help. And if that’s not enough, maybe a little more again. It’s everyone’s money anyway. Everyone helped make it after all, didn’t they?

      To oppose any of that, well, what can be said? You’re immoral. To be very opposed is very immoral – evil. Your evil words of opposition should be stopped. Your acts of opposition should be punished. The government, the church, should stop it, needs to stop it, for everyone’s benefit. You should be banished from polite society, you should not walk among the decent and the holy such as they.

      Results are irrelevant, meaningless. What matters was intent. What matters is feelings. What matters is what the community wants and decides. That is the moral thing, the correct thing. Only goodness can flow from that. And it would, if only the satanic capitalists and free marketers and that evil ilk would stop sabotaging it.

    4. newrouter Says:

      Matt Yglesias, Intellectual

      http://acecomments.mu.nu/?post=358299

    5. Mike K Says:

      I think it is a combination of magical thinking and religion. Religion which is environmentalism where children are taught recycling before they learn arithmetic. Magical thinking where they think, “If we are nice to them, they will be nice to us.”

      There is a lot of appeals to authority and dismissal of opposing points of view as “ignorant” as seen in the global warming hysteria. I don’t see a single principle.

    6. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Another interesting take from Ace of Spades, discussing an article in Jezebel where they conclude that conservative women are, indeed, prettier:

      One thing you really can’t get away from in politics is that, generally — and here I speak in broad, broad generalities just like Davis and Jezebel do — politics can be reduced to a battle of the Inners and the Outers.

      The Inners have the inside track to conventional success; they are smart, make good choices and thus good money, and are, as far as women go, generally gifted with the conventional charms of femininity. They’re reasonably attractive.

      Inners do not rebel against the natural (not conspiratorially imposed, but natural) sort of social sorting that occurs because they generally come out okay by the conventional sort of social sorting.

      The Outers, on the other hand, are (or at least feel) frozen out from the conventional pathways to social status-gaining. This could be because they are of a disfavored race, or speak a disfavored language as their first, or have a disfavored sexual orientation, or just aren’t very gifted with mental virtues (from intelligence, to discipline, to emotional IQ, to steadiness), and hence don’t advance much economically in the normal, natural system of social sorting.

      Thus, they oppose the natural system of social sorting, and want to upend it, and make everyone forcibly “equal,”…

      There’s something to that, I think. Harrison Bergeron.

    7. Paul Gregory Says:

      I think part of the issue is that many progressives define themselves more precisely as what they are “not”

      Not in favor of Bill Clinton’s impeachment and ready to “move on”
      Not in favor of George’s Bush’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
      Not in favor of having a prison in Guantanamo
      Not racist
      Not sexist
      Not a polluter
      Not a capitalist
      Not a hater
      etc.

      Several problems follow from this.

      It is often more difficult to articulate what one “is,” than what one is “not.” What, exactly, is the opposite of a war-monger, or a hater, or a racist or a polluter. What are the words? It is easier to describe what one is “moving on” from than what one is moving toward.

      Also, it assumes the existence of the “other” who favor these things and must be rejected and often vilified. The awareness than this is not nice is an internal contradiction than must be repressed.

      Third, the inarticulate desire to be “not evil” drives a search for greater and greater purity that becomes competitive and can result in conflict within the group.

    8. Michael Brazier Says:

      Progressivism has, I think, one ruling principle: practical success is sinful. If you have more wealth, more ability, more power than someone else does, you are guilty and must atone by surrendering what you have to those who have less. On the other hand, if you are a practical failure, you are saintly and may demand anything you please from the successful. Paradise will come when everyone is the same in every imaginable way.

      It isn’t a complicated system – nearly all of its intellectual content is in the casuistry that defends the ruling principle – but the principle does exist, and the source of its emotional power is obvious once it’s stated plainly.

    9. Deep Lurker Says:

      Axiom: That government is inherently and fundamentally good.

      Most everything else follows from this:

      A. “Democracy” is good because it gets the people to submit to more government than they would otherwise accept.

      B. Sometimes the people will oppose government, out of ignorance, stupidity, or being victims of malicious fraud. The solution is to instruct, cajole, and benignly trick people into supporting more government, and to impose regulations (like “campaign finance reform”) to prevent that malicious fraud.

      C. Some aspects of government are too important to be left to elections. A permanent “meritocratic” Civil Service is required to allow these aspects to continue, no matter who happens to win the election. (And if the politicians who win elections are merely figureheads whose chief job is to pacify the people into accepting more government, then so much the better.)

      D. All anti-government folk are evil, and all evil folk are anti-government.

      E. Even when evil folk try to turn government to their evil ends, they do so primarily by weakening and undermining government, and by making it fail to act. Making a positive action by the government into something evil is well-nigh impossible, because (by axiom) government is inherently and fundamentally good.

      F. “Evil governments” are actually failed governments; vaguely government-like bodies that allow evil to happen because they are failing to govern. The proper solution is to reform them, to build them up into real governments, strong governments, which (by axiom) are inherently and fundamentally good.

      G. Non-government organizations are suspect at best, and most likely reservoirs of anti-government scum and villainy. The only exceptions are those organizations that support more government.

      And so on.

      This stuff about anti-racism, anti-sexism, environmentalism, etc. is just a matter of fashion, and not fundamental to Progressivism at all. See, for example, the deeply racist Woodrow Wilson. Also see the change in the party line WRT sex on college campuses, which went from celebrating “human sexuality” courses, with criticism of those courses being put down as prudish neo-Victorianism, to the current prudish neo-Victorianism where attempts to talk about sex get put down as “rape culture.”

    10. RonaldF Says:

      The Salem Witch Trials seem to hold a fascination to the progressive side of the spectrum. There is little substance of law, yet who would dare to speak out.

    11. Ginny Says:

      Progressives embody a great paradox: they want to obtain power and control all – waterways, highways, sources of energy – coal & oil, personal and professional, spiritual and social. It seems to me their next step is to drain away that energy to leave a public more malleable and dependent.
      Assumptions: all are equal in ways the elite dictate; nurture is always more important than nature and personal responsibility is nonexistent except for really bad “others” who need to be fed to the lions. The intentions of the elite more important than the consequences; tradition is bad – because it has produced modern flawed man.
      (As Pinker pointed out, the assumptions in such fields of Progressivism as sociology are based on two myths: The noble savage and the blank slate. Between Pinker and Sowell the problems with Progressivism seem defined, but it is all pretty depressing, when the next EPA regulation or IRS scandal arises.

      Progressives have undercut traditional studies in rational thought; I respected those who with Catholic educations because their reasoning had been trained and gave them clarity when my own blurred and impressionistic thought left me confused. I doubt that distinction is true today – and not because public schools study traditional rhetoric rigorously. The church, too, had its closed nature, but someone coming out of that would surely reject ad hominem – as you note so central to Progressive argumentation today. But isn’t that just what was likely to happen with Rousseau’s kind of romanticism? Ad hominem works best when there is an “in” group with power and enforced homogenous values; an open marketplace is more likely to argue the points.

      Then there’s Emerson with his delight in whim and distrust of “system.” He valued immediate emotional response. Within a generation or so the twentieth century opened with doubts about the reality of a self that integrity had always seen as to be found but also to be molded, to be expressed but also to be restrained. But what if there was nothing? (Significantly Chopin’s Edna in The Awakening was reading Emerson’s essays as she slowly became aware that perhaps there was nothing – family, society, church, work, art, place – to which she felt loyalty and which gave her life purpose. Her suicide followed – a desire to be lost in the abyss of the ocean.)Emerson – buoyant and joyful as he can be – prepared the way for Freud.

      Murray sees family, friends, vocation, religion as making people happy. But they are also counterweights – is power or money more important than the birth of your child, than a beautifully executed work of art, even then the product of a beloved vocation or hobby? The Progressives desire to have a populace defined by the state are not surprising in their passion for abortion, for politicians that lie, for a government that can tell us what to eat and wear and how to live. Obviously, if we are nothing, then someone needs to wind us up and set us in motion.

      Without these counterweights we have little to give us courage – the raw self needs grounding. Loyalties, duties, purposes help us be true – to say what we mean, to live up to our word. If power is the be all, then what’s a lie here or there – the compromised self is a given, just point to others’ compromises.

      Progressives play with words undercuts the power of the truth, the power of integrity – the importance of a vow, the importance of a substantial vocabulary and shared meanings to reinforce our sense of our history and precisely communicate among ourselves. We’ve come to accept lies from our leaders – large lies, big lies about big things. That seems the result of the progressives’ worship of power, of charismatic leadership (as they turned to, say, Mussolini in the past, they now seem to take pride in Obama’s assertions, thin as paper, thinner, indeed.)

      A rambling response – but certainly David you have brought up some important but rather sad thoughts. I don’t want my children to inherit the world that Douglass describes where the truth was not spoken – and preferably not thought. I remember that cynical humor from the iron curtain days – a humor that seemed dead, witty, cerebral, and totally unengaged with life. That’s the life the Progressives want. And the truth will not come out easily or quickly in such a closed system, which will let that thinking last far longer than its abysmal failure as an economic or social system. Natural law works its way through an open system, enabling us to learn about human nature and accommodate it, allow room for its mature growth. Some of our policies may not work out, but in the closed system of the Progressives few are debated. The more of a hold they have – as in some academic disciplines – the questioning becomes heretical (and funding dries up). If our system were open, I’d be more sanguine about the inherent risks of Obama’s policies, a closed system means they live longer than their economic or social or cultural viability would indicate they could. The scientific method and skepticism are no longer (if they ever were) applied in the social sciences.

    12. dilys Says:

      @Ginny
      “a desire to be lost in the abyss” — “All is One, and that One is Me”

    13. David Foster Says:

      Ginny…”lost in the abyss”…reminds me of something said by the now-defunct Italian blogger Joy of Knitting:

      “Cupio dissolvi…These words have been going through my mind for quite a long time now. It’s Latin. They mean “I (deeply) wish to be annihilated/to annihilate myself”, the passive form signifying that the action can be carried out both by an external agent or by the subject himself…Cupio dissolvi… Through all the screaming and the shouting and the wailing and the waving of the rainbow cloth by those who invoke peace but want appeasement, I hear these terrible words ringing in my ears. These people have had this precious gift, this civilization, and they have got bored with it. They take all the advantages it offers them for granted, and despise the ideals that have powered it. They wish for annihilation, the next new thing, as if it was a wonderful party. Won’t it be great, dancing on the ruins?”

    14. David Foster Says:

      Have not read this yet, but looks very relevant:

      http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2012/12/13/dissecting-baby-boomer-liberalism-like-a-frog-in-science-class/?singlepage=true

    15. mark+ Says:

      I think the first measure of truth is that it aligns with reality. For progressives, their ideology trumps reality.
      Michael Brazier noted that for progressives: practical success is sinful. I tend to agree. I think the first measure of truth is that it aligns with reality. For progressives, their ideology trumps reality. Their ideology does not align with reality. If it does not work, that does not matter.

    16. Vader Says:

      So far, I don’t see much in the way of axioms in the comments. I see a lot of comments about flawed reasoning, and a lot of observations about lousy outcomes, all of which seem right but none of which actually get to the axiomatic basis.

      I suspect that, if we dig deep enough, we will find that there are at least two axioms to Progressivism that are in direct contradiction. This would be the equivalent of a mathematician adopting as axioms both a proposition and its opposite. Once you have axioms in contradiction, all statements that can be proven can be disproven as well, which may explain why so much Progressive reasoning is so deeply flawed. The lousy outcomes then follow from the flawed reasoning.

      I’d say one axiom of Progressivism is secular millenarianism. We are moving ever closer to Utopia (or would be if not for the neanderthals outside the progressive movement) through human effort alone.

      Perhaps the axiom in contradiction to this, that throws the whole system into incoherence, is that Man is just another animal, with no particular spark of divine reason.

    17. phwest Says:

      The search for the axioms of progressive thought should start at the apparent contradictions. Why is sexual conduct given broad license while other forms of personal conduct (smoking as a prime example) subject to ever increasing restrictions? Why is abortion supported and capital punishment decried? Other pairings will come to mind.

      One key axiom is that the individual (and only the individual) defines his true identity. Allied with this is a strong principle of equality. From this flows several key postulates :
      1) Spirituality is the quest to define one’s authentic “self” (thus the general hostility to organized religion)
      2) All such “authentic selves” are equal in dignity and value
      3) This identity (which is internal and valid) is more important than any national identity (which is external and artificial)

      You can see these principles in action when you look at what behaviors are approved and which are condemned. Gay rights made limited headway under the banner of personal liberty. Only when gay rights abandoned the argument “people should be allowed to choose their sexual partners” in favor of the idea that homosexuality is innate and thus a matter of personal identity did gay rights really begin to resonate in the mainstream. Whatever the issue, casting it as a matter of self-identity is the ultimate trump.

      Group politics is a natural outgrowth of this. Having recognized your identity, you naturally search for others who share that identity. The presence of such groups allows those born as outsiders to recognize their “authentic self”, so it is obviously vital to allow all such groups a visible and dignified presence in public space.

      This is, I believe, a distinctly American thing. To draw on David Goldman, America’s founding was a collection of decisions to self-identify as a “Tribe of Christians”. The rejection of that Christian faith left behind a sense of the value of non-conformance, but adrift from any foundation. What had begun as a quest for Truth (as revealed religion) inverted into a voyage of self-discovery. Thus conduct as a matter of choice and principles that can be judged gives way to a code that embraces any conduct as long as it is presented as being true to oneself.

      There are, of course, other axioms in the progressive system. Most of them come in conflict with this set, but that conflict is managed by the emphasis on identity. The principle is not individual autonomy, but much more limited.

    18. Tamsin Says:

      Read up on John Rawls and his veil.

      Equality is Justice, would be the axiom… We ought to progress towards More Equality.

      It follows that All Profit is Theft, etc.

      For a lively introduction to the problem of Rawlsian justice, give a listen to http://tomwoods.com/podcast/ep-445-john-rawls-and-the-lefts-case-for-redistribution/.

    19. JB710 Says:

      Whittaker Chambers explained it in Witness:
      “[the Communist Vision] is the vision of man’s mind displacing God as the creative intelligence of the world. It is the vision of man’s liberated mind, by the sole force of its rational intelligence, redirecting man’s destiny and reorganizing man’s life and the world…On the plane of faith, it summons mankind to turn its vision into practical reality. On the plane of action, it summons men to struggle against the inertia of the past which, embodied in social, political and economic forms, Communism claims, is blocking the will of mankind to make its next great forward stride…No other faith of our time presents them with the same practical intensity. ”

      It’s this “practical intensity,” and the associated “moral strength” (perceived or otherwise) to carry it out, that allows Leftists to “berate their opponents with withering self righteousness,” as well as to rationalize the “atrocities, the purges, the revelations, and the jolting zigzags of Communist politics.” The ‘closed-minded thinking’ encountered by the author is a demonstration of that self-righteousness.

      Excerpt From: Whittaker Chambers. “Witness.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/ED__3.l

    20. phwest Says:

      I agree that secular milleniarianism is a nice way to summarize the axiom at the activist core of the progressive movement (which is the secular legacy of the Puritans). I wouldn’t describe “man as just another animal” as an axiom in opposition though. It’s more of a splinter sect that rejects the secular humanism at the core of the Progressive movement. They are still tolerated because they are useful in the struggle against more traditional values, but that is more like how Muslims operate within the global left. Not part of it, but for the moment fellow travelers. It is an alternate closed system.

    21. Ginny Says:

      I suspect man is just an animal – but some men (like Progressives) are special – is closer to the surface than many would like to think. Some instances: the last weeks’ abortion videos, the “black Lives Matter” but not white ones; the refusal to see the black mortality rate in places like Chicago as important; the refusal to accept the statistics that argue many are saved by possessing guns; the arguments for euthanasia; ignoring crucifixions and beheadings as the murders committed in such grand scales by Stalin and Mao, the large percentages if not numbers in Cambodia and Viet Nam, the small scale but vile practices of Che and then the Castros. If these beliefs (reinforced by their bizarre discussions of Cuba and North Korea today) are that each individual has a soul and purpose and meaning, they have a funny way of showing it.

      Here’s an instance: some of my youngest child’s friends are problematic. She keeps in touch here – and I’m glad she’s in Nebraska. Anyway, a friend she cares deeply about has been going through one in a long number of rough patches. Her live-in boyfriend & father of her child died the evening she threw him out. Whether it was suicide or an overdose appears in question – he (and she) have long records of drug use and dealing. My daughter, who is not religious though her two sisters are, reported that her friend’s solution was to find a group to talk with – The Atheists Club. For a variety of reasons many have turned from religion; my appreciation for Christianity is more rational than spiritual. But, my daughter observed, her friend hadn’t seen a future with him because he was “nihilistic”, which she recognized as a death spiral. They’d been deep in the Goth. My daughter, however, finds her solution puzzling; she sought out a new group that didn’t remind her of him, as her friends so often did. It is an atheist club. To say those waters are muddy seems understatement.

      Back to Progressives’ axioms: At the core of much is pride – a sense that all that went before just wasn’t up to snuff. This tends to imply that humans – from the Old Testament to America in the fifties – were pretty much idiots and only made choices driven by a lust for power (of the rich over the poor, man over women, adults over children, majorities over minorities)and silly superstitions. Why someone would scoff at a belief system that produced David and St. Peter’s has always seemed a bit presumptuous to me. I was a pretty prideful full of myself type, but I never thought we had somehow happened on the key to utopia in the 60’s. Indeed, little looked like utopia around me. To have thought that must have come from an ability to lose all touch with reality. The reviews of the new biography of Boudin seem to tell us that was how the Weathermen lived but I’m not sure it was a sane (or moral) group.

      I’ve always found Pinker’s great (and it does seem to me often great) Blank Slate a bit curious – yes, the belief in the noble savage is absurd; yes, the belief that nurture is all-important has led to tragedies and stupidities – from gender neutral child raising to Lysenko to the engineers of (and therefore death camps human souls. But lumping in the “ghost in the machine” – that’s the role of the simple minded village atheist. As Krauthammer observed so beautifully in the interview Jonathan linked to last week, skepticism about that ghost can not make a positive argument in any useful or honest way. And while skepticism may be honest, a firm atheism requires a blinkered imagination and an inappropriate pride in one’s own powers (though not necessarily as grand an assessment of others as is natural to believers in a system that sees the divine as well as inalienable rights intrinsic in the other.)

    22. Tamsin Says:

      Robert Nisbet rakes Rawls over the coals in this essay from 1974, The Pursuit of Equality.

      “[Among intellectuals,] A Theory of Justice can be regarded as the long-awaited successor to Rousseau’s Social Contract, and as the rock on which the Church of Equality can properly be founded in our time.”

      Rawls’ difference principle explains just about everything: from Obamacare’s ten essential benefits that must be purchased without regard to sex or parental status, to Obergefell v Hodges that confers equal dignity as a constitutional right, to Disparate Impact analyses that find actionable discrimination without intent to discriminate.

    23. David Foster Says:

      The belief in the Blank Slate is interesting. There are no plants or animals that have a Blank Slate nature, nor were there any Blank Slates in machinery until the development of the programmable computer in the 1940s. But the BS idea goes back much further.

    24. Mike K Says:

      “The belief in the Blank Slate is interesting.”

      I hope we agree that “The Blank Slate” was the argument of Stephen Jay Gould and Pinker’s book is a refutation of it.

      Gould and the political left are certain that anyone can be made a “New Soviet Man” by the correct conditioning. Pinker says that behavior is genetic and provides quite a bit of evidence. I am agnostic but I think I would much prefer Pinker’s argument as it relates to religion.

      There is quite a bit of similarity in how Pinker sees human nature and how Christians and Jews see it.

    25. ahem Says:

      I so-called Progressivism today is characterized by immaturity: a misguided, juvenile anger towards authority, psychological and emotional naivete, historical and economic ignorance, and envy.

    26. Whitehall Says:

      The limitations of progressives’ moral inventory is made clear, based on hundreds of thousands of surveys, in Jonathan Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind.” Highly recommended!

      http://www.amazon.com/Righteous-Mind-Divided-Politics-Religion/dp/0307455777/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438908038&sr=1-1&keywords=the+righteous+mind

      Essentially, Haidt’s surveys sorted into 7 different moral foci. Conservatives integrate all 7 and have to balance amongst them. Progressives value and recognize only 2, making for a more simple moral universe. Libertarians also only have two but a different 2 from progressives.

      I’m almost finished with Paul Johnson’s “History of Christianity” where many of the attitudes and methods of “mechanical Christianity” are mirrored in today’s progressives. There’s little new under the Sun. The book is more properly a history of the Roman Catholic church as that is the main focus though.

      http://www.amazon.com/History-Christianity-Paul-Johnson/dp/0684815036/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438908120&sr=1-9&keywords=paul+johnson+books

    27. Whitehall Says:

      Let me add that as progressives gain political power, expect them to reprise the methods of the Inquisition and other means of dealing with heresy.

    28. RJ Says:

      The first rule of progressivism is that popularity is both the goal and reality of human life. There is no life’s journey. Introversion is a disease. The lowest form of life is not a murderer or a rapist but the hated “loner”. From the schoolyard to the government it is the . simple ability to influence others and take a large share of material pleasures that is the ultimate goal and reality. The more extrovert, narcissistic, manipulative and domineering the more one is plugged into the real nature of Earth’s existence. All morality, political causes and ideology supposes that at the core someone will take and someone else will participate in relation to their own ability to attract numbers and favors. There are no private citizens, only flunkies and bagmen. There are no true leaders, only exalted beneficiaries and there are no personally kept ideas but causes that can only be measured according to the coercion they can bring about.

      A closed system must at first have enough material rewards to make joining the hothouse worthwhile. It must have a real world application that does not necessarily mean intellectual insight but a pipeline to a rewards system. Corporate politics in a company that is destroying its own future through a corrupt management will produce much of the same atmosphere. Attention to words to look for loyalists and those that are discontent, the continuous reference to the “plan”, the continually promised turnaround and the blaming of the very people who are not profiting by the corruption as being the problem. In Animal Farm it was clear the pigs were getting richer. The dialogue remained emotional and remained revolutionary but the underlying reasons for having the dialogue had changed. It was about keeping a particular class in control and weeding out the “counter revolutionaries”.

      Can we really have a discussion about closed systems without a discussion about pervasive corruption. Most closed systems are successfully avoided. They are groupings of self destructive idiots who reveal themselves to be angry, unbending and self destructive. Without the feed trough they can’t get sufficient numbers to make themselves formidable enough to create the closed system they desire. They become sub-sub-cultures at best.

    29. David Foster Says:

      Liberals, conservatives, and obedience to authority (re Haidt’s theory of moral decision factors):

      “This problem occurred to Jeremy Frimer, who did a paper on how conservative and liberal attitudes towards authority shift when you shift who the authority is. “Together with my collaborators Dr. Danielle Gaucher and Nicola Schaefer, we asked both red and blue Americans to share their views about obeying liberal authorities (e.g., “obey an environmentalist”). In an article that we recently published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, we found that liberals were now the ones calling for obedience. And when the authorities were viewed as ideologically neutral (e.g., office manager), liberals and conservatives agreed. Only when people perceived the authority to be conservative (e.g., religious authority) did conservatives show a positive bias.””

      http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-08-06/liberals-can-t-admit-to-thinking-like-conservatives

    30. David Foster Says:

      There is a certain inverse Burkeanism in much of today’s “progressive” thinking. Burke, in reaction to the French Revolution and to calls for increased liberty and individualism in general, wrote: “We are afraid to put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason; because we suspect that this stock in each man is small”

      The Leftists would mostly agree with this, but Burke continues: “individuals would do better to avail themselves of the general bank and capital of nations and of ages.” But far from recommending an appeal to tradition, the “progressives,” while agreeing with Burke that the majority of people need guidance, want this guidance to be supplied by a contemporary elite.

    31. Louis Wheeler Says:

      It’s hard to answer this question because the Progressives are changing. Back in 1830s, there were a group of post-millennial pietists who wanted to create a perfect world. They needed this before the rapture would come. They needed to create a 1000 years of perfection, a Heaven on Earth, before Christ would return. Since God did not seem to be accomplishing this, they decided to use government to do it. The problem with choosing this scheme was that God became unnecessary. These people became what is known as the “social gospel.”

      As time passed, they became more secular. Their name now was the “Reform Movement.” They engaged in a large number of social programs: Trade Unions, public education, the blue laws, the closing of brothels, saloons and theaters. This is all intended to improve public morality. They were behind the Prohibition movement.

      When these pietists took over leadership of the Democrat Party in 1906, they joined up with leftists. The intent was to slowly move America in a leftist direction with more government control. The leadership of the Democrat Party now is a combination of New Left, who are socialists, and the Progressives, who want to make us better people.

      All this requires governmental power. They cannot afford to tell you that they intend to reconstruct our minds, remove all our freedoms and turn us into slaves. They must talk about particular issues and denounce any alternatives. Especially, the traditional American alternative which made America great.

      The only way that you can prove that you belong with them is that you slavishly ascribe to political correctness. Any independence of mind makes you a demon: a conservative.

    32. Arthur E Hippler Says:

      They are non-religious religious fanatics. The best description of their need to punish themselves (and others ) is that they want the cross, but without Christ

    33. ADE Says:

      The axiom is:

      We care, and we care without favour.

      Implied is that you, of course, generally don’t care, but even when you do, you discriminate.

      So, how do you argue with virtue signalling at this strength?

      The best answer is to dra

    34. ADE Says:

      The progressive axiom 1 is:

      We care, and we care without favour.

      Implied is that you, of course, generally don’t care, but even when you do, you discriminate.

      So, how do you argue with virtue-signalling at this strength?

      The best answer is to draw up the balance sheet.

      Take Hiroshima, now that Progs want to make it a ‘War Crime’. Just look at how Bill Whittle draws up the balance sheet at http://www.pjtv.com/series/afterburner-with-bill-whittle-56/from-the-archives-jon-stewarts-stupid-nuclear-commentary-1808/

      But to draw up a balance sheet, you need a currency. This leads to Prog Axiom 2:

      We are all members of a tribe/group, not an individual

      So a Prog sees him/her self as a member of a tribe. Implied in that is the need to signal membership constantly – otherwise banishment from the tribe.

      Given the “without favour” of Axiom 1 and the “my tribe” of Axiom 2, there is a disconnect.

      Pity the Prog, what’s he to do? Create Axiom 3:

      Discrimination in favour of an underclass tribe (in the mindset of the Prog) is good.

      The axioms are now complete. The Prog can signal wildely that he is a member of the Prog tribe because he can signal he cares, but unlike you, he cares for the other.

    35. Mike K Says:

      “So, how do you argue with virtue signalling at this strength?”

      Virtue signaling can get out of hand such as The Seattle Bernie Sanders rally that was taken over by Black Lives Matter protesters.

      The left is unable to deal with black terrorism because of white guilt. This is 1968 all over again.

      I suggest reading The Revolt Against the Masses. by Fred Siegel

      In a news release posted on social media, local Black Lives Matter activists said they were holding Sanders and other white progressives accountable for failing to support their movement.

      Citing the anniversary of Brown’s death, they said, “We honor black lives by doing the unthinkable, the unapologetic, and the unrespectable.”

      I expect more of this. What is rewarded, you get more of. Next year’s Democrat convention should be interesting.

    36. Anonymous Says:

      axiom: we are NOT americans. We are African Americans, Sioux Americans, Hispanic Americans, Mexican Americans, etc etc. Cultural differences matter.

      axiom: the only good white man is a dead white man; the only good christian is a dead christian.

      axiom: Islam is a religion of peace that needs nuclear weapons for self defens:e.

      axiom: He who counts the votes determines who rules.

      axiom: Democracy gives a ruler legitimacy but a good ruler controls the vore counters.

    37. Whitehall Says:

      We should ask Dr. Ben Carson.

      He’s looking into the brains of many a Progressive over the years.

    38. Tala OFM Says:

      Great article! Thanks for your insight, I have never really looked into the fundamentals of a closed system. Only through this can progressivism occur.