While the term liberal describes an attitude, progressive describes an agenda.
Historically, Progressives view themselves as "enlightened" social reformers apart from the ignorant and unwashed masses. Same-sex "marriage" for example is considered a progressive social reform.
Colonialism and the Enlightenment
Progressivism became highly significant during the Age of Enlightenment in Europe, out of the racist belief that white Europe was demonstrating that societies could "progress" in civility from uncivilized conditions to civilization through strengthening the basis of empirical knowledge as the foundation of society. Figures of the Enlightenment had the racist belief that "progress" had universal application to all societies and that these ideas would spread across the world from white Europe. By the early-20th century progressivism was tied to eugenics
In the mid 19th century Social Darwinism, with its racism and commitment to science, was an important facet of Progressivism; in America however, after the Civil War, many adherents of the Social Gospel movement called themselves "progressive" and advocated for equality for Blacks and social reform. For a time there was an odd admixture of atheists and racists citing a scientific basis for their beliefs, and church people, all claiming the name progressive.
In Europe however, after the First World War, Progressive atheists won a great victory with the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, the suppression of the Russian Orthodox Church, and overthrow of the existing social order.In explaining the ruinous upheavals Progressivism brought to his homeland, Alexander Solzhenitsyn said,
"while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.">
Progressive era 1892-1924
It was also meant to create a belief that conservatives are not able to think of a progressive future for the United States. The most famous historical usage of the term in America was in the 1890s to 1920s, sometimes called the Progressive Era. During the Progressive Era, politicians of both parties and various ideologies adopted the term, notably Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican who founded the Progressive Party and implemented the Civil Service Act, and Woodrow Wilson, who imposed segregation throughout the federal government.
Presidential election 1948
The Progressive Party of 1948 was a creation of the Communist Party, growing out of CPUSA General Secretary Eugene Dennis' February 12, 1946 order "to establish in time for the 1948 elections a national third party." The Progressive Party's candidate for President was Henry Wallace, one of Franklin Roosevelt's former Vice Presidents. Wallace was reportedly "most impressed" with Soviet collective farming, and in 1933 had urged FDR to become a "farm dictator." Wallace said if he were to become President, he would appoint as Secretary of State the pro-Soviet Laurence Duggan, now known to have been a Soviet agent. Had FDR died 82 days earlier, Wallace would indeed have become President. Wallace finally recanted his support for the Soviet Union in 1952. In 1955, the Jenner subcommittee cited the Progressive Party on its list of subversive organizations, identified as a Communist front.
Modern revival 2003 -
The term was revived in the early 21st century by politicians and media celebrities who considered traditional liberals too willing to compromise with moderates and conservatives. As such, the anti-democratic Marxist ideal of single party control was revived.
This revival occurred shortly before the 2006 midterm elections when liberals supported the War on Terror. It was implemented to help distance politicians from the actions of the Democrat caucus at that time.
Progressives accused liberals who voted for the Iraq War and the Patriot Act of betraying the cause of socialism. Ironically, it was progressives in the Obama administration who used provisions of the Patriot Act that allowed for spying on domestic groups sympathetic to Al Qaeda, and applied them to the Trump campaign from 2015 on to further the anti-democratic objective of single party control.
Progressive policies, in political science, are those which make progress towards goals seen by progressives as benefiting society. Since all politicians claim that their ideas and policies are meant to benefit the public, calling a policy "progressive" may be thought of as meaningless.
The term has been popular among the media. And although most of the population still refers to the two major philosophies as conservative and liberal, it is often used to describe a more specific type of liberalism. This is likely because these two titles are familiar to the current population and better recognized. Because of this familiarity, it is easier to visualize the contrasts between conservative and liberal than the contrasts between conservative and progressive, because of the specific nature of "progressive".
Progressives use the term in contrast to "regressive" policies of their opponents. For example, progressives will ask rhetorically, "Do you want to go back to the 1950s?" implying that women were oppressed by being forced to be housewives and men were oppressed by being falsely accused of favoring Communism (see McCarthyism).
A useful distinction to keep in mind is this: "progressives want bigger and supposedly better government; conservatives want less and supposedly better government."
A foundational core belief of Progressivism is to consider crime a treatable illness by social psychology. In this core precept is the notion that criminals are not responsible for their actions. Since collectivists do not respect the notion of private property, the propertyless are considered oppressed victims.
Prisons, which incarcerate property and violent offenders, are usually the targets of "progressive reform." Because extremists do not reject violence to bring about social and political change, violent offenders must be qualified on the basis of their politically correct views.
Far leftists have historically used re-education camps and gulags as the basis of incarceration policy, and offenders graded on ideological grounds.
While progressives seek radical social change, it is often pursued incrementally. Two examples serve in the Obama era: Obamacare and same-sex "marriage".
Obamacare with its individual and employer dictates was designed to fail. The progressive objective of a big government, Soviet-style single payer system was too radical a change to implement during the brief window of opportunity given between 2009-2011, when Democrats controlled both the White House and a veto-proof Congress. Progressives settled on a system that allowed private insurance companies to continue to operate, provided they sold only policies dictated by progressive regulators. A dictate that all American adults - working or not working - be required to purchase insurance, or submit to eligibility requirements for entitlement care by income means testing, was also implemented. Penalties accrued for anyone non-compliant. The plan was phased in over a period of election cycles with the hope that those who received a subsidized entitlement would appreciate "free healthcare," and when the plan failed would support a progressive single payer system. The single payer system then would need progressives in Congress perpetually to insure its annual funding.
The first hurdle in the homosexual "rights" movement was overcoming the progressive reform of the 1950s that treated criminals as victims of psychological disorders. By the 1960s homosexuality was considered by experts and the courts as both a crime and a mental illness. Due to claimed "ethical concerns" over locking people up on the basis of a psychological disorder (but in reality, due to political pressure imposed by radical homosexual activists), the psychiatric profession dropped the diagnosis of homosexuality as a mental disorder in the early 1970s. In the 1980s the states began de-criminalizing homosexuality with the idea that law enforcement resources could be better utilized elsewhere, the war on drugs for example. With homosexuality "normalized" now, by the 1990s the Equal protection clause was being invoked for a group in the coalition of identity politics.
Attacks on Free Speech
One of the first steps by Progressives in shutting down all opposition is censorship, shadow banning, and attacks on the free expression of ideas. Progressives do not foreswear violence to attain political objectives, and the terrorist group, Antifa, is a militant progressive organization. Antifa are the Black Shirts of the Democrat Party.
- Leonard, Thomas (2005). [ "Retrospectives: Eugenics and Economics in the Progressive Era"]. Journal of Economic Perspectives 19 (4): 207–224. doi:10.1257/089533005775196642. Archived from [] the original] on 20 August 2017. .
- Freeden, Michael (2005). Liberal Languages: Ideological Imaginations and Twentieth-Century Progressive Thought. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 144–165. ISBN 0691116776.
- Roll-Hansen, Nils (1989). "Geneticists and the Eugenics Movement in Scandinavia". The British Journal for the History of Science 22 (3): 335–346.
- Barry Loberfeld, "The Real Meaning of "Progressive" Politics, FrontPageMagazine.com, September 28, 2004
- Eugene Dennis, What America Faces (New York: New Century Publishers, 1946), pp. 37-38. Cf. Arthur Meier Schlesinger, The vital center: the politics of freedom (Transaction Publishers, 1997) ISBN 1560009896, p. 115; Arthur Meier Schlesinger, A Life in the Twentieth Century: Innocent Beginnings, 1917-1950 (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2000) ISBN 0618219250, pp. 455-456; Karl M. Schmidt, Henry A. Wallace: Quixotic Crusade 1948 (Syracuse University Press, 1960), p. 265 (PDF p. 291)
- Henry Agard Wallace, 33rd Vice President (1941-1945), Senate History, United States Senate
- "Roosevelt Is Urged to Ask Wide Power as 'Farm Dictator'," The New York Times, March 12, 1933, p. 1
- Ethan Bronner, "WitchMay 9, 2008ing Hour; Rethinking McCarthyism, if Not McCarthy," October 18, 1998
- 1613 KGB New York to Moscow, 19 November 1944
- William C. Martel, Grand Strategy in Theory and Practice: The Need for an Effective American Foreign Policy (Cambridge University Press, 2015) ISBN 1107082064, p. 472
- Linda Rodriguez, A celebration of almost-great men, CNN.com, May 9, 2008
- Henry Agard Wallace, “Where I Was Wrong.” This Week, September 2, 1952
- Independent Progressive, joincalifornia.com
- David De Leon (1994). Leaders from the 1960s: A Biographical Sourcebook of American Activism. Greenwood Publishing Group, 253–259. ISBN 978-03132-74145. “Early on Kameny developed an absolute belief in the validity of his intellectual processes and a habit of challenging accepted orthodoxies.”
- Peter J. Smith (4 Jun 2008). Prominent Homosexual Activist Says Bestiality OK "As Long as the Animal Doesn’t Mind". LifeSiteNews.com. Retrieved on 13 December 2015.
- Multiple references:
- Suarez Sang, Lucia I. (September 3, 2017). FBI, DHS warned of increasingly violent Antifa clashes in 2016, documents show. Fox News. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
- Meyer, Josh (September 1, 2017). FBI, Homeland Security warn of more ‘antifa’ attacks. Politico. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
- FBI and Homeland Security deem antifa 'domestic terrorists' as they warn of escalating violence between the left and white nationalists. Daily Mail. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
- Anarchist Extremists: Antifa, Dept of Homeland Security, June 12th, 2017