October 22, 2016

When being “progressive” means you're walking off a cliff

David MacKenzieRebel Columnist
 

Early this month, Don Murray, a long-time reporter from the subsidized Canadian broadcaster whose name we shall not utter here, wrote an article on the Polish government’s recent unsuccessful push to eliminate all abortions in that country. 

To this social conservative, the subject matter alone was enough to pique my interest.  However, as I soon found out, embedded within this article was a subtle form of contempt for conservatism that also bears close scrutiny. Indeed, I’m rather indebted to author Mary Eberstadt for helping me to perceive and articulate this issue. 

Here are two quotes from Murray’s recent article:  when referencing the critics of the Polish government’s abortion policy, he wrote, “They see it as a part of a broad government offensive to turn back history”.

On the other hand, in describing Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the government party leader, Murray wrote, “He set out, not so much to create a new Poland as to re-create an old Poland.” 

In political columns and debate, conservatives see this all too frequently— an uncharitable reference to the clock. More to the point, we see time being used as a kind of social truncheon.

Just one day before Don Murray posted his article on Poland, Christian political scientist and author Dr. Michael Wagner, was advised by a radio-show caller in Calgary, “This is 2016, not 1916” — words very reminiscent of our progressivist Prime Minister’s proud explanation of his cabinet choices last year.

It doesn’t have to be an obvious time-based analogy either; it could be as simple as describing toothpaste that cannot retreat to the tube.

Either way, embattled conservatives are supposed to come to terms with their own futility— with ideas that “the enlightened” have already abandoned to the past.

Social media is full of this kind of ridicule. In just the last few days, I have read commentary invoking the following phrases in debates with liberals: “The Cons trek backwards continues”; “if only these guys could move back to 1950”; or this rather amusing version, “Flintstones was a documentary, wasn’t it?” This last one is particularly telling— it emphasizes the prehistoric, while also attempting to turn conservatives into ignorant buffoons.

Mary Eberhardt draws from philosopher Karl Popper in naming all of this “historicism”— a form of political determinism where time itself is the totalitarian master and all humans its hapless subjects. Once time has moved on, we must move on— in unrepentant lock-step.

Eberhardt argues that historicism is heavily “incubated by Plato, and developed in full by Hegel and Marx.”

She encourages conservatives to recognize its presence — even in everyday discussion whenever one’s opposition assumes that “religious people stand on the ‘wrong side of history”; that society can’t “turn back the clock,” or that “the genie can’t be put back in the bottle”.

For Eberhardt, these are no mere “trigger” words. Rather, this is false dogma— a denial of the free agency of humans. 

She calls all these catch phrases “retail expressions” of historicism.

And then adds, “They’re used as ideological weapons to shut down free debate.”

However, relegating conservative moral claims by assigning them to a supposed “by-gone era” can only be accomplished if conservatives allow it. Whenever the term “old-fashioned” goes unchallenged, for instance, it represents a rhetorical failure on our part. The reduction of morally important assertions to some dusty crack between the cobblestones of a Roman (or Victorian) public square is not accomplished except by conservative complicity— or cowardice. There is also a secondary issue: do conservatives still believe in defining “the good”? We should. 

How convenient it is for the storm-troopers of progress to dispense with all definitions of “progress”! One might think humans would all start with some basic definition— like: “achieving more of what is good”.

However, so long as conservatives are inarticulate about what precisely constitutes the “good”, we will forever be made victims of what, supposedly, validates the new.

C.S. Lewis made a very incisive observation about such trends in "Mere Christianity":   

“We all want progress. But… if you have taken a wrong turning then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road progress  means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road and in the case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. We have all seen this when doing arithmetic. When I have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start again, the faster I shall get on. There is nothing progressive about being pig headed and refusing to admit a mistake.”

Therein lies the point of real friction. True progress means having to admit to our own mistakes. Perhaps this is why cozying up to a mere timeline is so much easier. We don’t like judgements that interrupt our “forward” motion. Why bother with such unsettling binaries as “good” and “evil”? Why ask whether an abortion-free Poland might be a better Poland, when we can just boringly agree with Mr. Murray, and dismiss the whole prospect as “old news”.

As conservatives, consider this:

When was the last time you recall any of your liberal friends having an unsolicited discussion about social decay? What conservatives know from history, progressives believe to be confined to history. Hence, the latter are both naive and vulnerable.

Of what “progressive” use is being proud of forward momentum if it simply means stepping off a cliff? In the interest of charity— even to liberals— social conservatives must not become the unwitting accomplices of our opposition’s tragic historical determinism.

We must claim our freedom, and act now for the sake of the good.   



Comments
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commented 2016-10-26 00:11:08 -0400
Regarding atheism, Solzhenitsyn declared:

Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”
commented 2016-10-26 00:03:55 -0400
Jan G., Solzhenitsyn also warned us of this. The west’s brand of materialism will overwhelm it as it is an inadequate foundation to build a society on. Just as Soviet materialism did.
commented 2016-10-24 19:45:35 -0400
I was just watching a documentary today about Poland and the various countries who broke free of communism (Liberating a Continent).
John Paul II warned, however, that with this new freedom, western humanism and relativism would be the overwhelming threat.

And it is now happening.
commented 2016-10-23 21:20:17 -0400
Jimmy, you are like the people Ian Tyson talks about in his song, Lost Herd:
“Which away the game goes.
Which away the wind blows.
How she’ll tally up the Lord only knows.
And He may never come this way again.
Lost herd drifts with the wind.

Funny how you deny any objective truth yet you berate conservatives as if there is.
commented 2016-10-23 19:00:38 -0400
Progressives discount history, refuse to learn from it, call those who do learn from it afraid of change and fear mongers. They seem happy to throw the baby out with the bath water. They take that flying leap off that cliff without learning the most important lesson, how to land. Without an awareness of the consequence of an action you cannot make a calculated decision, or calculate the risk. Not calculating risk is immature. Progressives are immature, instant gratification junkies with no concept of self preservation.
A never ending supply of candidates for the Darwin Awards.

AL PETERSON commented 19 hours ago
Excellent work and thinking, David.
C.S. Lewis also coined the term for a logical fallacy: “Chronological Snobbery”.
‘Lewis defines this chronological snobbery as “the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate of our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that count discredited.”’
http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/webfm_send/596
commented 2016-10-23 18:58:33 -0400
Raj Shebal posted, “Fuck the ‘unborn’. The way you people are going —-they are only good for Liberal sex . The younger the better. You Liberals are as bad as Muslims. The younger the better. One of the ‘unborn’ is the worth equivalent of an ounce of Black Rhino horn.”

I don’t know about your ‘you people’ tag, unless you mean progressives. In that case I agree with all three of your examples. Children are being left to the wolves.
Raj, in case you’re not clear on who gets paid for the ‘unborn’, it’s Planned Parenthood, when they sell body parts from babies they have aborted. The late term ‘specimens’ garner the largest amounts of money, probably equivalent to an ounce of black rhino horn.
commented 2016-10-23 18:48:25 -0400
Justin Trudeau is evil. What poetic justice it would be if he were assassinated by an Islamic Jihadist terrorist.
commented 2016-10-23 18:45:57 -0400
METAPHORICALLY speaking (not in terms of real years AD….as opposed, of course to the fatuous CE) the ideology of the liberal left is set in the year 1984. As Orwell so lucidly and terrifyingly portrayed it.
commented 2016-10-23 17:11:38 -0400
Peter Netterville if it did not affect the rest of us i would not actually care, i would enjoy them destroying themselves, as i imagine you would. It would make some good reality TV for a change. Pop some corn and watch the lemmings walk to their own demise.
commented 2016-10-23 14:23:30 -0400
socialists/progressives = lemmings
commented 2016-10-23 13:15:19 -0400
The difficulty is in convincing the “progressive” that he has taken the wrong path and needs to turn back.

This is especially true with the “progressives” today since they never see themselves ever having taken the wrong path. They rush headlong and blind towards the flame.
commented 2016-10-23 11:58:21 -0400
Jan G.: I’m sorry I didn’t make my point clearer. i.e. you wrote: “It has nothing to do with HR Management” My example was simply a current sample occurring in educational institutions of discarding past knowledge out of hand, only to be replaced by current fashions; usually in an attempt to appear Progressive. As another Commenter Al Peterson wrote, this is an example of chronological snobbery or “the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate of our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that count discredited.” And David Mackenzie wrote in this Rebel Column, “In political columns and debate, conservatives see this all too frequently— an uncharitable reference to the clock. More to the point, we see time being used as a kind of social truncheon.” And so chronological snobbery is prevalent in many organizations – government, politics, education, and even religion.
commented 2016-10-23 10:30:05 -0400
Shebel, you seem to be going off the rails here lately. All aborted babies were alive until the moment the are killed. So your weird rant of saving the “Live ones” is kind of inconsistent.

Jan G. You are right. There is a steady stream of attacks under various “isms”. As soon as one is beaten down – Naziism then another one arises- communism. Once communism is beaten down then Islam arises. Scripture tells us that “already many antichrists have entered into the world”. Truly “,the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
commented 2016-10-23 03:59:49 -0400
I was just saying crazy stuff . Playing silly games. The fact is, this Abortion nonsense means nothing to me , other than it is sad when some little girl needs some one to help and she doesn’t get it. You fucking people ,that think You have the Right to ‘trans’ your lack of morals on to some little girl——- under the Guise of ‘Saving a child’.—— are sick. Save the Live ones.
commented 2016-10-23 02:43:47 -0400
It is peoples’ perception of good and evil . There is no struggle . There is no snuggle. I don’t like when some moral equivalent of a ‘rat’ decides to jabber and natter on about the morals of abortion. I don’t really carry about the ‘unborn’—- People go on and get violent about the Rights of the ‘unborn’ . Fuck the ‘unborn’. The way you people are going —-they are only good for Liberal sex . The younger the better. You Liberals are as bad as Muslims. The younger the better. One of the ‘unborn’ is the worth equivalent of an ounce of Black Rhino horn.
commented 2016-10-23 02:25:35 -0400
Change does not always equal progress , i wish the left could figure that out.
commented 2016-10-23 02:24:44 -0400
I did hear that progressives can fly, they should all try it by walking off of a cliff.
commented 2016-10-23 02:15:05 -0400
Folks, this is a struggle between good and evil. Period.
There is great evil in this world and abortion, assisted suicide, on and on are simply the evil methods being used today.
It has nothing to do with HR Management (!), etc. etc. etc.
It is the 2016 attempt to destroy Christianity.
Pretty simple. Same as when Communism, Marxism, Nazism, all the isms have tried to destroy Christianity.
They are simply using manipulative political language = progressive/liberals = CBC.
Poland is now the latest target especially after the highly successful Catholic World Youth Day held in Poland this past summer.

This struggle, this attempt to destroy the Catholic Church, Christianity, will never end.
Neither will Catholicism.
commented 2016-10-23 02:14:03 -0400
Removed for violating rule:Avoid excessive profanity.
commented 2016-10-23 01:36:29 -0400
Ironically, progressive liberals believe they are looking forward in their globalist views, but in reality, they are embracing ancient cultures of brutality and inequality (Islam) while destroying modern western civilization.
It appears to me that conservatives just want to take a moment to think, then step back just a little, while progressive/globalist/liberals want to go all the way back to a time when women were chattel, theologies wanted to conquer the world, and those who think or do anything not compliant with the narrative of the day, would be killed or enslaved.
commented 2016-10-23 01:29:36 -0400
What are you attempting to say ? Evelyn— What the hell is this nonsense—- Increasingly I see University Human Resource Management courses, including of course many Professors who more commonly have negligible experience actually leading and managing people, downplay, to the point of ridiculing and/or ignoring established (conservative?) management concepts, theories, and processes, and instead vigorously promote the current theories as obvious “fact”. It’s 2016 of course.

Tragically however, many, and from my experience most HR Management failures in organizations are caused by ignoring the experience-supported fundamentals, and focusing too much on the newest, “sexy” concepts that have little solid research support. But again, its 2016, and one must be seen to be progressive.
commented 2016-10-23 01:20:50 -0400
Please Jesus—- Forgive me because I know no naut of what I am about to do.
commented 2016-10-23 01:05:23 -0400
Al Peterson: Thanks very much for the excellent reference.
commented 2016-10-23 00:23:02 -0400
Poland has been, other than some S. American countries, the most Catholic country. With a pop of approx. 38million, 33million are Catholic.
Unfortunately, like many other parliaments, the politicians are bending to the pressures of the feminist protest. Most opponents have been women. The question is, were these women Polish or ‘hired’ to protest (ie. George Soros, Ireland).
This is a direct attempt to attack the Catholic Church in Poland along with the history of the great Saint Pope John Paul II.
Think of it; what an accomplishment to shut down the accomplishments of JP II (who fought and won against communism) and legalize abortion in Poland.
There is more behind this story than is being told. The truth will eventually come out, same as in Ireland where George Soros has been funding the pro-abortion activities.

Demonstrates the evil that is spreading throughout the world.
commented 2016-10-22 23:46:12 -0400
Excellent work and thinking, David.
C.S. Lewis also coined the term for a logical fallacy: “Chronological Snobbery”.
‘Lewis defines this chronological snobbery as “the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate of our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that count discredited.”’
http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/webfm_send/596
commented 2016-10-22 22:20:36 -0400
WOW ! Holy Shit . That was so good.. I am forever chastised.
commented 2016-10-22 21:08:22 -0400
Murdering a helpless human is wrong in any year ending in 16.
commented 2016-10-22 21:02:21 -0400
… and also these days, if something is apparently not working or just old and boring� – “We Need CHANGE”. I cringe every time I hear that word! Not a thought is given if it will be Good change or Bad change. Being a progressive, they automatically think that all change is good.

I think a lot of Social Conservatives today are just born into it, and don’t really know the arguments to effectively defend it. Of course, another problem is that in order to argue a point, you have to “Know Your Enemy” and tailor your argument to what they would understand. …but then you would have to find a Progressive that will be willing to reconsider their position.

Sounds like Mission Impossible.

Great column, David.
commented 2016-10-22 19:57:49 -0400
Increasingly I see University Human Resource Management courses, including of course many Professors who more commonly have negligible experience actually leading and managing people, downplay, to the point of ridiculing and/or ignoring established (conservative?) management concepts, theories, and processes, and instead vigorously promote the current theories as obvious “fact”. It’s 2016 of course.
Tragically however, many, and from my experience most HR Management failures in organizations are caused by ignoring the experience-supported fundamentals, and focusing too much on the newest, “sexy” concepts that have little solid research support. But again, its 2016, and one must be seen to be progressive.