Politics, Recommended

Progressivism and the West

The biggest threat to Western civilization is posed not by other civilizations, but by our own pusillanimity—and by the historical ignorance that feeds it.
~Niall Ferguson

I was wrong.

For a long time, I considered the loose collection of ideas and assumptions I will call “progressivism” to be a regrettable but mostly tolerable side effect of affluence. This quasi-ideology—espoused by prominent progressives from the academy and Vox to Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren—holds that, inter alia: (1) All demographic groups are roughly equal on all socially valued traits; (2) racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry are ubiquitous; (3) almost all demographic disparities are caused by unfair discrimination; (4) diversity is an unalloyed good; and (5) there are many bigots who stand in the way of social progress, but eventually history will redeem the noble and we will inhabit a just society.

Wealth frees a person from immediate survival concerns and therefore increases the importance of symbolic identities. And this, coupled with youth’s natural affinity for rebellion, almost inevitably leads to at least a passing phase of identity-based radicalism. So while others sounded the tocsin, proclaiming this a grave threat to social sanity, I remained skeptical. Of course, I agreed that social justice ideologies were often odious and possibly pernicious, especially inside the elite institutions where they most rapidly proliferated; but, I also thought that alarmism about the problem was equally unhelpful, diverting limited cognitive resources from more constructive activities.

However, I am no longer skeptical. I have come to believe that the hostility to the West embedded in this kind of thinking and activism is a serious and growing problem. It is therefore critical that we understand the motives that drive it and the conditions that enable it, and that we challenge its erroneous assumptions and persuade others of its corrosiveness, preferably without alienating those who find it appealing but are also willing to listen to reasonable objections.  

I’m not predicting imminent disaster. Most cultural threats are absorbed or combatted without causing lasting damage. Instead of ending civilization, they inspire conversations for the comfortable descendants of those who were certain that a cataclysmic disaster was quivering on the horizon. But, my earlier insouciance has been replaced by a steadily advancing anxiety.

Social justice progressivism encourages at least six tendencies that are inimical to the norms, values, and ideas that have allowed the West to flourish. In what follows, I will briefly explore each in turn.

1. Misunderstanding Human Nature

The most fundamental flaw of this thinking is that it is premised upon a profoundly inaccurate view of human nature. Many have suggested that this view is “blank slatism,” or the belief that human traits are highly plastic and largely determined by social forces. However, I think this is only partially correct. Contemporary progressivism is, more accurately, a selectively blank slate ideology. It is eager to posit genetic causes for obesity, addiction, and homosexuality, and only becomes skeptical of genetic explanations when they appear to contradict sacred values or strongly held policy preferences. Instead, it seems to meld cosmic egalitarianism (the belief that all demographic groups are roughly the same on all socially valued traits) with a Rousseauian optimism about the fundamental decency of human nature. These erroneous ideas directly promote at least two dangerous tendencies: (1) blaming discrimination for all disparities in society; and (2) promulgating policies that sound noble but will likely fail because they contradict human nature.

Because progressivism is dedicated to the view that all demographic groups are roughly the same, it sees almost any disparity as a manifestation of bigotry. This is why so many were outraged by James Damore’s “Google memo.” Damore had the temerity to suggest that sex disparities in tech-jobs were likely (partially) caused by genetically influenced differences between men and women, and that approaches to diversity that ignored these differences were doomed to failure. This violated a sacred progressive value about demographic similarity and therefore provoked a furious backlash. Similar stories abound. For progressives, the only just and acceptable outcome, it seems, is absolute demographic equality in all socially valued occupations.

But, because demographic groups are different from each other, the only way to achieve this equality is to contravene principles of procedural fairness and to promote people not because of talent but because of their demographic profiles. This, however, only increases society’s obsession with demographic characteristics, violates basic notions of fairness, inflames ugly resentments, and decreases social productivity and efficiency because it misallocates human talent. Better, it seems, is to stick with the West’s great achievement in promoting a largely meritocratic society in which talent and skill are rewarded with pay and status and employers are encouraged to ignore irrelevant immutable characteristics such as race or sex and to live with the inevitable disparities, knowing that most of them are not caused by malice but by natural variation.

This misunderstanding of human nature also encourages bad political and economic ideas. After a long time down, socialism is making a remarkable comeback among young progressives. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, and others openly profess their fidelity to it, while many more on the Left have embraced one-time pipe-dream policies such as Medicare For All and a radical Green New Deal. The relationship between the rise of progressivism and the rise of these policies is almost certainly not a coincidence. Both often rely upon a romantic view of human nature, a view that posits that humans were largely altruistic and egalitarian until tasting the fruit of civilization and being cast out from paradise. Capitalism is therefore perceived to be a monstrous and often destructive force that encourages avarice and destroys cohesion and community. They also believe that humans are fundamentally cooperative creatures and that, therefore, policies that promote cooperation rather than selfishness can fundamentally alter human behavior so long as we properly re-educate humans, steering them from the sins of greed, selfishness, and atomistic consumerism.

The danger with these policies is that they sound morally laudable but are generally unobtainable because of basic and intractable human characteristics. They are then used as evidence of the slightly sinister pessimism of realists who urge caution and incremental adjustments to society. And they may seduce enough people into attempting radical experiments with a social and economic system that, although flawed, works reasonably well for many millions of people. Whatever the policies of the future, they will have to grapple with and conform to recalcitrant facts about human nature. And so long as progressives embrace a romantic vision of humans as largely cooperative and pacific creatures, they will promote policy solutions that are impossible to achieve and quite possibly dangerous to implement.

2. Elevating Victims and Encouraging Victimhood

Progressivism’s most powerful sacred value is the protection and elevation of perceived victims groups such as blacks, Muslims, homosexuals, women, and other marginalized minorities or putatively oppressed peoples. Almost certainly, this sacred value arises from a noble motive: a desire to promote fairness. For thousands of years, according to this perspective, these groups have been oppressed, harassed, maligned, and disrespected in reprehensible ways; and even today, they are subject to overt and subtle forms of discrimination and invidious stereotypes. Therefore, we should work indefatigably to draw attention to injustices, to rectify past wrongs, and to dismantle the machinery of oppression that is built into Western society.

The problem with this view is that, despite some obvious and widely denounced counter-examples, actual instances of blatant discrimination or racism in the West are vanishingly rare; therefore, progressive activists are constantly searching for smaller and more subtle forms of victimization so that they can expose the ugly heart of bigotry that beats behind a facade of tolerance and cosmopolitanism. This search is aided by increasingly elaborate and decreasingly plausible theories of oppression which contend that even though explicit bigotry has waned, new and more insidious forms of “symbolic” racism or “benevolent” sexism have arisen to take its place. A large demand for evidence of bigotry has vastly outgrown the supply, potentially leading to a variety of hate-crime hoaxes, which are dutifully trotted out as proof that the West is still haunted by the prejudices of the privileged.

Victim culture also encourages people to feel slighted by subtle, unintentional infractions because it rewards victims with prestige. Instead of teaching confidence and resilience, it teaches insecurity and haplessness. Perceived victims soak in sympathy and righteous tribalism, while perpetrators of these subtle “crimes” are reviled and ostracized. This creates understandable bitterness and resentment and alienates more and more people from social justice ideologies because they are horrified by their overreach and fearful that they might be accused of some ghastly and unforgivable sin and forced to withstand a public ordeal.

Of course, caring about victims is a good thing as is attempting to rectify the real sins of Western civilization. The claim is not that the West is and has always been a perfect paradise of justice and equality. It is not and it has never been. But, whatever its flaws, it has raised more people out of indigence, misery, superstition, and intolerance than any other civilization in history. Today, it is laudably cosmopolitan and largely free from grotesque forms of discrimination and bigotry. An ideology which fails to recognize this, which insists that racism and sexism are woven into the fabric of everyday life, will probably alienate more people than it convinces and will unfairly malign and misrepresent the state of Western society, encouraging devout believers to seek victimization while disaffecting those who grow increasingly weary of constant complaints and accusations of intolerance.

3. Encouraging the Censorship of Speech and Inquiry

Freedom of speech is likely “unnatural” in that humans do not readily create societies that protect and champion it; consequently, it took many centuries of near incessant battle for those in the West to win it. The temptation, of course, is always to promote freedom for opinions one likes while encouraging censorship for those one doesn’t, especially if the disliked opinions are perceived as legitimately harmful to vulnerable populations. Because of its emphasis on victims and its contention that Western society is teeming with bigotry, progressivism makes this temptation virtually irresistible to believers.

Evidence suggests that support for censorship, in some form or another, is increasing on college campuses. This should not be surprising, because many college students and professors enthusiastically embrace progressive ideology, championing it in writings, at meetings, and in the classroom. As one would predict, the decline in support for free speech among more recent college students is driven mostly by the desire to promote cosmopolitanism and to protect perceived victims groups from the threats posed by particular speakers or ideas that challenge Woke orthodoxy about diversity and the ubiquity of bigotry. This intolerance for certain forms of speech appears to be spreading, infecting elite corporations who often posture as socially righteous businesses and who likely fear besmirching their images by allowing heterodox opinions to go unpunished (see James Damore, for example).

More alarmingly, this kind of thinking has begun to infect the sciences, especially the social sciences. Battles about freedom of speech and inquiry in science are nothing new, of course, and stretch back to its very inception, becoming acute at the dawn of the scientific revolution as intellectuals began to challenge the dogmas of the Catholic Church. More recently, these battles have focused on new sacred values about human nature. As noted, progressive ideology appears to adhere to notions of cosmic egalitarianism, or the belief that there are few or no genetically caused demographic differences. Therefore, adherents are particularly offended by science that contends that there are such differences and often morally denounce the scientists who pursue such topics, accusing them of unseemly motives or “fetishes” and potentially even malignant biases. These accusations are potentially damaging, causing professors to self-censor and, what is perhaps worse, to encourage others to self-censor. Creating a stifling atmosphere and fostering resentments and suspicions, this current tendency to moralize inquiry has likely thwarted progress in the social sciences and has potentially created entire disciplines whose chief function is to provide theoretical support for progressive ideology rather than to pursue the truth wherever the evidence may lead.  

Of course, words can cause emotional distress and science can shatter comforting myths. Indeed, in many ways, science is a great destroyer, mercilessly reshaping our narratives about reality. But, these emotional inconveniences are more than recompensed by free inquiry and exchange. Free speech allows us to test ideas by having them encounter skepticism. Sometimes they triumph. Sometimes they transform. And sometimes they perish. Without this clash of contradictions, ideas become bloated and stale and errors and imprecisions accumulate. Even good ideas congeal into uninspiring dogmas. And, worse, as we stifle scientific freedom, our ability to understand the world is diminished, potentially depriving us of effective solutions to vexing problems. Disparaging scholars who pursue taboo topics might be temporarily satisfying, but it is ultimately damaging to the entire scientific enterprise, which requires us to steadfastly protect the pursuit for truth whatever its discomforts.

4. Eroding Due Process and the Presumption of Innocence

Like free speech, due process and the presumption of innocence are likely not “natural,” and were won through many centuries of struggle among citizens, parliaments, and kings. Humans are vindictive and desirous to punish those perceived or accused of violating social norms. Perfunctory assessments of the evidence will often satisfy any lingering doubts about guilt, especially if the accused is disliked or a political enemy. Therefore, it is imperative that society insists upon the presumption of innocence and the rights of the accused. Without such insistence, natural propensities lead to cycles of incriminations and punishment with little concern for guilt and with little protection for those wrongly accused.

Progressive ideology, because it focuses so strongly on victims, has started to encourage a shift from presumption of innocence to a presumption of guilt (so long as they are members of victims groups). This is especially prominent in discussions about sexual assault allegations. Popular hashtags such as #believewomen imply that women are incapable of lying or misremembering. Popular public figures compete to show support and assert their unconditional belief in the word of accusers. And those who don’t enthusiastically endorse this dubious moral philosophy are assailed as sexual assault apologists or obfuscators who protect the powerful. Perhaps worse still, some contend that the wrongful public shamings are a tolerable side-effect of the pursuit for justice. The wheel of righteousness must crush some butterflies on its path toward a better tomorrow.   

The appropriate way to protect potential victims and to make society more just is not to eschew important legal principles, but rather to highlight the crimes and carefully document the evidence. It is true that in many cases the people accused of these crimes will never see a courtroom, so progressives argue that the principle of due process is irrelevant. They maintain it is not applicable to public shame or to destroying the career goals of a judge or a politician. But, if careers can be ruined by mere accusations, even if the accused is not thrown into prison, then we incentivize false allegations and ruin the emotional security that respect for presumption of innocence provides. At bare minimum, it seems prudent to promote a preponderance of the evidence standard and to maintain the West’s strong support for due process and presumption of innocence against the retrogressive insistence that we should “believe the accuser.”

5. Encouraging Mobocracy and Disproportionate Punishment

As noted above, humans are vindictive creatures. One of the great achievements of Western civilization is to sublimate the desire for vengeance into a system of impersonal and carefully calibrated punishments. Barbarism is subdued but our ineradicable thirst for revenge is at least partially slaked. However, the new tools of social media are beginning to encourage a new kind of mob justice, which is neither rational nor proportionate, but which promotes frenzied passions and the unremitting humiliation of its targets.

Although there are many examples of this lamentable trend, Justine Sacco’s remains representative and chilling. In 2013, on a layover before a flight to Africa, she Tweeted an acerbic and ironic joke about white privilege: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” By the time she had landed 11 hours later, her life was absolutely uprooted by zealous online justice mobs who had apparently confused her witty tweet for a literal one, believing she was declaring her ethnically conferred immunity from HIV while mocking an entire race for their vulnerability to it. One sample from the many thousands of frenzied and outright appalling tweets about her: “We are about to watch this….bitch get fired. In REAL Time. Before she even KNOWS she’s getting fired.”

At worst, Sacco’s tweet was unfortunate and possibly deserved a friendly “maybe you should consider how people might take this” message. Moral righteousness, however, is a powerful and blinding emotion, impelling individuals to inflict horrible suffering on others to “balance the scales of justice.” And so thousands of Twitter users, encouraged by narratives about ubiquitous racism and the urgent need to battle against bigotry, delighted in destroying Sacco’s reputation and her career while causing her unknown and unimaginable amounts of suffering. This example has replayed many, many times since, leading to the term “cancelled,” in which justice mobs jettison a transgressor from decent society altogether (and then brag about it).

Some people deserve punishment, and some tweets deserve scorn. And undoubtedly progressives are correct to draw attention to some cases of intolerance and bigotry. But vindictive moral righteousness can quickly get out of hand. We should be wary of promoting an ideology that dresses our demons as avenging angels and relishes the righteous suffering they cause. History is full of unfortunate examples in which a fever of sanctimony led to the destruction of thousands, even millions, of lives. People in the West have worked sedulously to discourage such moralistic barbarism and have rewarded its lucky inhabitants with a largely enlightened criminal justice system. 

6. Encouraging Contempt for the West and Its Icons

According to the progressivism, the West is today’s predominant culture because of its rapacious imperialism. It brutalizes and exploits people and then uses their blood, sweat, and tears to fuel its insatiable lust for conquest. Furthermore, it is a racist patriarchy, a civilization built on war abroad and on oppression and injustice at home. Celebrated intellectuals eagerly encourage this narrative, documenting the myriad crimes of the West, from Columbus to Clinton. One-sided books contribute to a Manichean history of an unflagging battle of the overwhelmed but never-vanquished forces of justice against the rulers of Western civilization.    

One time heroes of the West such as Washington, Jefferson, Wilson, and Churchill are now pilloried as grotesque white male racists, unambiguous oppressors who deserve obloquy for their heinous crimes and beliefs. Even quoting one of these once revered people approvingly, astronaut Scott Kelly discovered, can invite intense criticism and scorn. Healthy but complicated discussions about changing the names of certain buildings or taking down the statues of Confederate war leaders are routinely escalated as ideologues search for a wider pantheon of historical fiends to be stripped of their status and removed from history.

The West is not perfect, of course, and its history is littered with crimes and injustices. Furthermore, none of its heroes are saints. They were all men and women of their time, bound by the concerns and prejudices of the world in which they lived. But, the West has also created prosperity and freedom for millions of people, establishing law-based, cosmopolitan societies in which ordinary men and women live lives that would shame the ostentatious pomp of many kings. And its heroes, however flawed and myopic, contributed to the great project of Western Civilization, a project which has succeeded only because of their talents, skills, and sacrifices. Individualism, markets, the rule-of-law, and representative government were not the generous donations of the gods, but rather the incalculably expensive gifts of our ancestors. If we do not cherish them, nurture them, and protect them against attack, then they will perish, and our descendants will be justified in denouncing their forebears as furiously as today’s progressives denounce ours.


Bo Winegard is an essayist and an assistant professor at Marietta College. You can follow him on Twitter @EPoe187

Featured Image: “Explusion from the Garden of Eden” by Peter Paul Rubens [wikicommons]


  1. X. Citoyen says

    I had a brief spell of believing it would burn itself too in my undergrad days. But then I noticed a disturbing pattern. Liberal professors, who weren’t radicals but were the majority, indulged radical progressive students in the most outrageous behaviour, no matter how uncivilized. A progressive could screech at others, denigrate their his students, and generally take over the class until he’d run out of breath.

    I’d often ask my professors why radical students were exempt from the norms of civilized discourse—rules the professors themselves would never break—and how they could not see where this was all leading. I’d always get the same unintelligible non-response. Like crazy cat ladies to stray cats, liberals were simply incapable of saying no to progressives.

    I saw the same thing play out in grad school, and now I’m seeing it infect the world outside the academy. But the vector is the same: liberals’ inability to say no to their stray cats, no matter how destructive they are.

    • @ E. Citoyen

      Try broadening your circle. Tradesmen and their families are largely immune from these beliefs. Affirmative action and immigration effects the working classes much differently than proffesional people. It also impacts people where they are most vulnerable, such as access to medical care.

      The scary part of this perspective is discovering how the toxic ideologies of progressives and their wide criticism of masculinity, Christianity, heterosexuals, suppression of non PC speech, comedy ect. Is actually beginning to goad many Good people into behaving in ways, that the progressives have been accusing them of doing for decades. I guess if you call someone, a homophobe, racist etc five times a day, they eventually think, why not? They’ll accuse me anyway?

      • JoeC says

        Um, what? So if someone calls you a Nazi, you’ll eventually think “I may as well start persecuting Jews”?

    • Serenity says

      Have you ever had to stand up to a bully?

      Bullying and incitement of struggles for the sacred values have the same root causes.

      It is not the proclaimed sacred ends but the preferential means which draw the red line between social justice warriors and genuine supporters of the common good. People who genuinely seek to find common ground and to reconcile differences don’t shut down their opponents and don’t assign them pernicious labels. People who genuinely seek lasting peace and mutual understanding don’t incite, support or engage in psychopathic behaviour like lying, misrepresentation of information, bullying and the rest of it.

      Nothing new.

      Hitler: ”The greatness of every mighty organization embodying an idea in this world lies in the religious fanaticism and intolerance with which, fanatically convinced of its own right, it intolerantly imposes its will against all others.”

      • Hitler and the NAZIs, were socialists after all, as are most academics and students, and, true to form, they all behave like the NAZIs did.

        • Serenity says

          It’s not just Nazis who incited a struggle for the sacred values, Anita.

          [According to the research of the anthropologists from the University of Oxford] in some of the most embattled regions of the world… jihadists fuse their individual identity with that of the group, and they adhere to ”sacred values”. Sacred values are values that cannot be abandoned or exchanged for material gain. They tend to be associated with strong emotions… [jihadists] who hold sacred values are perceived by other members of their group as having a spiritual strength… What’s more, sacred values trump the other main characteristic of extremists: a powerful group identity. ”When push comes to shove, these fighters will desert their closest buddies for their ideal.” New Scientist

          If you replace in the above paragraph the word ‘jihadist’ with the word “communist“, “extremist“ – with “bolshevik“, “sacred values“ – with “hegemony of proletariat“, you will get a brief description of the Russian Bolshevik Party and its inner power struggle, which resulted in Stalin’s totalitarian regime where millions perished behind bars.
          Now replace the word “jihadist“ with the word “national socialist“, “extremist“ – with “Nazi“, “sacred values“ – with “supremacy of Aryan Race“ – and you will get a picture of Hitler’s rise to leadership of German Nazi Party, followed by his dictatorship and WWII.

          Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. As long as a sacred value can be attached to group identity, the actual idea behind the sacred value does not matter.

          • @ Serenity

            You do realize that in every socialist take over of every country the university students and teachers initially led the policy?

            But they were the first to be killed.

            I too have entered the sacred halls of academia. I have learnt your theology, when thank God, the best graded essays, back then, were those that fought against what the lectures and tutors taught against their will to keep their jobs.

            I feel so sorry for your serenity, around all the scary ideas that are life, don’t be frightened little one.

            But when you get the courage, perhaps really read something. Maybe a Book?

            Or is that now too scary ?

          • Ray Andrews says


            I’m at a loss to understand your rudeness to @Serenity. You seem to be attempting to make a Warrior out of her/him and it is very clear that that is not the case. You are embarrassing yourself here.

          • Paul Bardo says

            Eric Hoffer cited these groups describing the necessary traits of the True Believer. He included Christians too.

  2. blitz442 says

    “This quasi-ideology—espoused by prominent progressives from the academy and Vox to Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren—holds that, inter alia: (1) All demographic groups are roughly equal on all socially valued traits; (2) racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry are ubiquitous; (3) almost all demographic disparities are caused by unfair discrimination; (4) diversity is an unalloyed good; and (5) there are many bigots who stand in the way of social progress, but eventually history will redeem the noble and we will inhabit a just society.”

    The likes of Ocasio-Cortez and Warren don’t actually adhere to at least 4 these precepts…

    (1) All demographic groups are roughly equal on all socially valued traits.

    Wrong. They believe that certain groups, such as affluent white males, are grossly deficient in these traits. The corollary is that oppressed groups hold a virtual monopoly on some of these traits.

    (2) racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry are ubiquitous.

    Wrong. An oppressed person cannot be racist or sexist, so racism is nonexistent in minority groups and sexism is nonexistent in groups of women.

    (3) almost all demographic disparities are caused by unfair discrimination;

    Wrong. More women than men now get college degrees, but that is because men are less intelligent and lazier than women, and not because of discrimination against men.

    4) diversity is an unalloyed good

    Wrong. When groups are dominated by women or minorities, nobody cares about increasing diversity by adding more white males. Lack of diversity is only a problem when groups have white male majorities.

    I’m not even sure about 5. Who do they consider noble?

    • Sean says

      Excellent points.

      “so racism is nonexistent in minority groups”.

      I’ve heard this before. The thinking is prejudice + power = racism, Does this mean that in sub-Saharan African countries, Haiti and Jamaica, that whites cannot be racist but blacks can be racist to whites as whites don’t have the power in these countries?

      Or am I unwoke?

      • E. Olson says

        Sean – let me explain things by expanding on Blitz’s excellent post.

        First, only whites are racist, and it doesn’t matter if they are the majority racial group as in the US or Europe, or a minority group as in Africa and Asia and Haiti. In other words, some group’s lack of success is always the white race’s fault.

        Second, Asians, Jews, or Hispanics who appear to be having disproportionate success or power, are automatically classified as white, and hence are ok to be vilified.

        Third, only males can be sexist, and it doesn’t matter if they are the majority as in construction workers, or in the minority as in university students or gender study majors. In other words, some group’s lack of success is always the male’s fault.

        So in summary: white males = bad, unsuccessful non-whites or females = good.

        • Sean says

          Thank you E. So moving country won’t move me up the victimology hierarchy.

          Maybe if I feel the need to move up I’ll put on a dress and identify as transgender.

      • Ray Andrews says


        You are the sort of person who giggles in a seance and asks difficult questions of politicians aren’t you? Be instructed: ‘power in these countries’ misses the point. The hegemony of whitey, and his racism, is like gravity — it is everywhere, all the time. There are no exceptions to this hegemony, usually called ‘white privilege’; neither whites nor Victims can ever make it go away. Blacks cannot have Privilege anywhere, ever, thus it is impossible for them to be racist. Whitey can never free himself of Privilege, anywhere, ever, thus his racism is intrinsic as mass is intrinsic to matter.

      • You are absolutely correct in that logic. However when I have pointed this out to the anointed they have rejected it. The idea that their beliefs indicate universal principles that could be used elsewhere means nothing to them you see. Theirs is the righteousness of the bigot. Ignorant and intolerant of what their own beliefs imply. Like any religious fundamentalism they demand you conform to the beliefs, not analyze why they do not make sense.

    • Peter says

      All your points are utterly infantile but this one made me laugh the most “racism is nonexistent in minority groups and sexism is nonexistent in groups of women.” LOL maybe because the terms imply multiple parties. Of course you cant be racist within your own race, the whole concept of racism is behavior toward another race. Likewise sexism requires 2 sexes to be involved

      • david of Kirkland says

        @ Peter – Huh? How is “minority groups can’t be racist” transformed to “racism can’t exist within your own race”? A minority group is by definition different from the other.
        Sexism requires 2 sexes? Yes, but if you read clearly, you’d note he said only men can be sexist, which is of course the case. We never hear about the need for more men in women-dominated endeavors because women have held men back. The opposite is the norm.

      • Uh, I think you are misunderstanding his statement. I have run into people that claimed a minority can’t be racist due to their lack of power.The problem of course being that minoritys can still hate other minoritys based on race just fine. Plus the very idea of power and privilege is racialist and magical thinking as it conveys unearned moral absolution upon a group and moral condemnation on the other based on skin colour.

    • Ryan says

      You are confusing their ideology (what they believe the world to be) with the way the world is.

    • Tanner Beale Lawrence says

      In general, great points. I would slightly disagree with your point (3), as I would not define it as “laziness” if someone decides to go to trade school or to work in more manual labored tasks instead (which men are more likely to do). In response to Number (5), they consider themselves as the noble arbiters of the just society they see fit. The problem is that this is not a just society. And, if the society is deemed as just, then there is no victims (meaning that there is nothing left for them to “fight” for).

    • ChristinetheThird says

      For many of us we had little to no control over the oppression we were born into. And you are correct you can become a product of the tea you steep in. But we all have choice an oppressed people choose to be bigots and blame.
      An oppressed person cannot be bigoted ? Why not? Does oppression remove a persons ability to render an opinion ? No. Some of the most bigoted persons I have encountered were born of oppression.
      Bigotry and Victimhood are ugly twins that tend to drop their baggage at the same doorstep and settle in, if you let them. It takes courage, enlightenment and will to evict them and live your life not blaming others for your oppression. To take responsibility for yourself and your life and to find joy. It can be done. It is time for everyone to stop the crying and put on their big kid pants. There is not greater feeling on earth than helping yourself… wait I am wrong there it.. and that is being without and helping someone else who has even less.

    • Norm Corin says

      You’re off a decimal point – it’s 50 years too late. Don’t forget that the first big wave of anti-*isms gained traction in both the establishment and the population no later the 60s. I’ve seen it all first hand (as a paleoliberal), which led me to a realization, that there’s something indefensibly wrong with the standard “progressive” claims

      If racism, sexism, etc. appear to still be growing after two generations of education, then, it has include one, or both, of two significant errors:

      1) There’s something wrong with the correction mechanisms:
      – Maybe browbeating the masses through on-high broadcasting methods by elites, as opposed to true interaction/engagement with individuals “in the field”, doesn’t actually change minds. A “conversation on race” in such case is simply a lecture.
      – Maybe the browbeating additionally feels entirely hollow and disingenuous, when it follows whites/males good-faith efforts, over decades time, to overcome whatever racism/sexism does exist in them. So naturally resentment builds.
      – Maybe neoliberal austerity progresses in a single direction in parallel the entire time, ratcheting up the stress, don’t help anything.

      2) There’s something wrong with the assertions of fact:
      – Maybe the anecdotal publicity of several “racist” or “sexist” individuals in the news spin cycle each week are not really representative of 330 million people.
      – Maybe the shifting definitions of “racist” or “sexist” in which the “racist” or “sexist” isn’t even aware of it do not actually describe racism in any sensible way at all.

      Which leads me (or anyone who thinks) to question what kind of transformation – exactly – is being pushed forward, and for what purposes.

      • James Lee says

        @Norm Corin

        You are waking up to a fact that is almost never mentioned in Quillette, nor by the Classical Liberal crowd.

        The new Woke religion is being pushed by Western elites along with rank and file true believers and the usual useful idiots.

        Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, the New York Times, and virtually all of the Official Prestige Media- all of them push the Religion now.

        Nike and Proctor and Gamble (Gillette) have dramatically jumped on board along with the rest of the transnational corporations (witness the growth of Diversity departments and Diversity initiatives). Look also to the plethora of well funded activist attack groups. The SPLC has been especially active in hunting Witches, and they sit on hundreds of millions of dollars in an offshore Cayman Islands bank account. Where did that money come from?

        Hope Not Hate, another far left activist group who has been working with the state broadcaster BBC to produce an attack piece against Tommy Robinson (a prominent critic of mass immigration), apparently has dinner meetings with the wife of former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is a financial backer.


        Chase bank, MasterCard, and PayPal have all financially blacklisted prominent mass immigration critics including Robert Spencer, Tommy Robinson, and Lauren Southern (who was banned by the UK government under anti-terrorism legislation after saying that “Allah is gay”).

        And many in the Classical Liberal crowd believe that we actually have “free market Capitalism” instead of a form of Cartel Capitalism with rampant rent seeking and which actively squashes true competition. Adam Smith warned that without regulation, Capitalism will always tend to expand the market and narrow the competition. And yet, our financial regulators exist in a largely accountability-free environment, with revolving doors between plum industry and government jobs. Corporations increasingly control the public square, and decide who is allowed to have a voice, and who is not. Meanwhile, many members of Conservatism, Inc. say that “corporations are people too” while they are being actively blacklisted by those same corporations in the new McCarthyism… the Republican Party appears to be lost in some dream from the 1950s, where they don’t think that they will be electorally destroyed by the widespread adoption of Woke Religion across the tech and media landscapes.

        Our blue blood elites are busy implementing policies which are directly destabilizing Western culture and society. The final result will be the handing of the keys over to China, who are implementing their own financial/behavioral blacklisting system. At least China’s leaders are honest about it.

        • Norm corin says

          @ James Lee

          “The new Woke religion is being pushed by Western elites along with rank and file true believers and the usual useful idiots.”
          – Thinking is hard. And for the vast majority, on both left and right, breathtakingly so.

          “Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, the New York Times, and virtually all of the Official Prestige Media- all of them push the Religion now …”
          – It’s important to go beyond gathering evidence merely for its existence, and put work into hypothesizing the backstory – all the while, again, gathering evidence for it. Otherwise we either remain stuck in reactive mode or simply promote evidence-free hypotheses that eventually backfire.

          • James Lee says


            Here’s the basic narrative. As a basic narrative, I am sure it is not correct in all details, and is missing many important perspectives. But I think it provides some explanatory power which is lacking from the standard analyses.

            But if you have something to add regarding motive, I’m all ears.

            Globalist billionaires (including the “rightwing” Koch brothers and the “leftwing” George Soros) along with the upper echelon of transnational corporations have been pushing de facto mass immigration/open borders to push down wages and increase profits. As Huntington, Lasch, and now even Tucker Carlson have described, members of this elite class tend not to identity with any particular nation– instead they view themselves as transnational cosmopolitan actors.

            Samuel Huntington wrote a nice essay in 2004 describing this novel change and the creation of “Davos Men”:

            “The public, overall, is concerned with physical security but also with societal security, which involves the sustainability–within acceptable conditions for evolution–of existing patterns of language, culture, association, religion and national identity. For many elites, these concerns are secondary to participating in the global economy, supporting international trade and migration, strengthening international institutions…”


            The first phase in this globalist project was on the economic front. Western elites shipped most of the factories and jobs out from under the working classes of Western nations and into the 3rd world, where they could increase their profits through lax or nonexistent environmental and worker protections and low wages.

            The second phase is ongoing mass migration in order to benefit elites. From an outstanding essay, “The Left Case Against Open Borders”

            “And the bosses almost universally support it. Mark Zuckerberg’s think tank and lobbying organization, Forward, which advocates for liberalizing migration policies, lists among its “founders and funders” Eric Schmidt and Bill Gates, as well as CEOs and senior executives of YouTube, Dropbox, Airbnb, Netflix, Groupon, Walmart, Yahoo, Lyft, Instagram, and many others. The cumulative personal wealth represented on this list is enough to heavily influence most governing institutions and parliaments, if not buy them outright. While often celebrated by progressives, the motivations of these “liberal” billionaires are clear. Their generosity toward dogmatically anti-labor Republicans, like Jeff Flake of the famous “Gang of Eight” bill, should come as no surprise.”


            The Woke religion is great for Western billionaires. It is anti-free speech, it is inherently divisive making it easier to control the citizenry, and it ignores the staggering and growing inequality in the West. Occupy Wall Street has been destroyed. 2019 appears to be a key year in the ongoing corporate-led attack on free speech, all under the guise of the Orwellian phrase “hate speech.”

            I’ll end with the quote from Bernie Sanders in his interview with Vox:

            “Open borders? No. That’s a Koch brothers proposal.”

          • James Lee says

            one small addendum…

            Where is the indoctrination into Woke Religion the strongest?

            In the most elite sectors. It is pervasive at Harvard, Yale, Oxford, and in the most elite elementary and high schools in America. The Ruling Class is very keen that their own children are brought up in the new religion.


            And to be clear, I’m not saying this is some evil “conspiracy”, although of course billionaires (like commoners) have always worked to further personal agendas.

            I am saying that there is a systemic logic that favors Woke Religion for Western ruling elites. It serves their interests. We aren’t merely dealing with some obscure academic virus that grew from the ground up. The virus has major food sources that are provided by the most elite actors in Western civilization.

        • peanut gallery says

          The US has a socialist oligarchy, that is frequently cited as being free market capitalist. It’s quite amusing, but only because I decided that crying all the time is “uncool.”

    • William F. Buckley, Jr. documented the anti-Western orthodoxy of his professors at Yale in his book Man and God at Yale. It was published in 1951.

      We’re at least 50 years late, as Norm Corin writes.

      Now, we fight against an intolerant ideology that is institutionally entrenched and virtually unchallenged throughout our education system, from kindergartens to dissertation committees; across our political parties, precluding an ever-widening range of policy positions from consideration; and since 2012, this crushing orthodoxy dominates in corporate and consumer culture, poisoning everything from superhero movies to the ACLU.

      Don’t take comfort in the fact that most people aren’t woke. History is made by motivated minorities. Don’t expect reason, science, or dialogue to de-escalate this conflict. Tribes that can’t agree on the definitions of man and woman have no common ground. Don’t hope for exogenous non-violent solutions. These problems are intrinsic to our intellectual culture and won’t go away until we fix them.

      So what do we do?

      We need to accept the extent of the loss. Massive damage has been done and we can’t rectify it in most cases. Entire institutions are corrupt. Attempt to retake them is a waste of precious, limited time and resources.
      We need to build new, parallel institutions. The most crucial will be private schools and alternative means of education and tutoring that will enable parents to educate their children without subjecting them to indoctrination. We need to keep progressives <10% of the general population.
      Pray that the progressives never take control of the government.
      If they do, we may see the first episode in Western history where Europeans intervene to liberate Americans. Thank god they owe us. Hopefully the EU doesn’t subordinate the East. If it does, Western Civ will become a woke version of China.

      • david of Kirkland says

        @ ?abunga, dude (@86631yt91) – These are incompatible ideas. You cannot have both. You cannot be both free and enslaved. You cannot choose for yourself and have others choose for you. You cannot speak freely and be told not to say that. You cannot work for wealth and have your wealth taken for those who do not work.
        Societies bloom and societies die. There is no type of government and social order that’s lasted particularly long. Even the longest running cultures, like those in India and China, have played with socialism and capitalism, authoritarianism and democracy.

      • Stephanie says

        Cowabunga, I agree with your prognosis and appreciate your realism and call to action. As we come to understand this phenomenon (as the author of this piece explains so well), it is time to start focusing our attention on solutions.

        An alternative education stream seems most pressing. Considering the wealth of knowledge contained in even just Quillette readers, we could surely develop an initiative to start a homeschooling program.

        • Ray Andrews says


          Yes, solutions. Just to argue the case, I’m not sure that the entirety of the educational system need be abandoned. Supposing certain institutions have very quietly avoided going woke? Supposing they all hoisted their flags — openly declared war on wokeness — all at once? I suspect that we do hold a bit of ground yet, think of it as the Pusan Perimeter of academia. With institutions openly declaring their sanity, I wouldn’t be surprised if people started stampeding to get in — remember that < 10% of people really believe in wokeness and lots of people want a real education. So the older institutions wither on the vine, and we buy them at firesale prices and restore them to sanity, one at a time.

        • Daz says


          But wouldn’t an alternative education stream just create more division. Islamic and Catholic schools already push this idea.
          Society needs a common an equal education system, one that has always been sadly lacking.
          I believe a system can only be changed from within.

      • Norm corin says

        @ ?abunga, dude (@86631yt91)

        “Pray that the progressives never take control of the government.”
        – Arguably, that has been true for 50+ years already as I mentioned above. But not “progressives” (a la 1900), really — instead, Totalitarianism 2.0. So instead I’d pray that they not get an excuse for full-blown martial law – where the veil is lifted, and henceforth no lame, hypocritical rationales are provided for manifestly irrational behavior. But they’re working damn hard at creating the excuse for it.

      • Lightning Rose says

        “Left-wing activists” were estimated recently by major polling institutions to be no more than 8% of the US public. “Uncommitted” or even “Politically Disengaged” polled at more like 33%. Working people, tradespeople, business owners’ minds are on a living wage, paying off debt, funding their children’s education, and maybe saving for retirement, same as ever while the “chattering classes” bang on about their made-up abstract “issues” surrounding chimeric “racism,” “intersectionality,” and “climate crisis.” No evidence for any of this crap exists in the real world, and the common run of people are not worried about any of it.

        The Chattering Class now only talk to each other, the endless circle-jerk of their favored publications, which coincidentally aren’t read by “regular people.” THEY are reading The New York Post, where the favorable economic numbers are juxtaposed with Lady Gaga in her drawers.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @Lightning Rose

          ” No evidence for any of this crap exists in the real world”

          Sorry but it is now a reality in the common world. Men guilty when charged of something sexual. Active and blatant discrimination in academia and in hiring for real jobs. Forced use of Newspeak at least in Canada. Mandatory pledges of commitment to DIE all over the place. Cops who will not respond to crime if the criminal is black — least there be the need to shoot and the inevitable BLM descends. Swamping of countries with Africans and Muslims. Gutting of moderate protections for the working class. Etc.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @?abunga, dude (@86631yt91)

        “Europeans intervene to liberate Americans”

        Really? It seems to me they are 30 years further gone than the Americans. Sweden and Holland and Germany are going to liberate America from Correctness?

    • Greg says

      Matthew, “Two times to plant a tree, twenty years ago and right now.” Chinese Proverb

      This article is especially interesting. It lays out the Progressive’s relation to the “Narcissistic Parent.” Mobbing, Transference, Equality which actually creates inequality, favoritism, and the parents desire being forwarded by the parent, with the participants not really knowing “why” they adhere to the parent’s beliefs. Include one child being punished for everything, and the other being excused for everything. It’s all in this essay.

      Something that is hallmark for Narcissistic Parents are; Low Self Esteem, and Munchhausen’s by Proxy.

      Consider all the Alphabet agencies created to Regulate, Spy, and punish average citizens and you have the “Domestic Stalker” in a nutshell. Then there are the splinter groups like ANTIFA, that show up at other people’s rallies to create havoc and violence in the name of “Social Justice.”

      The place where we could change this dynamic the most is, on the Playgrounds of schools. It’s way past time to allow “Playground Justice” to reign upon the schools again. There is a certain amount order and decorum inherent to those experiences.

      • Sean says

        Like all extremist movements, this one will die too. This movement is already far left and moving ever further left. Eventually it will turn on former allies.

        Consider recent developments regarding the movie about Venus and Serena Williams. Will Smith (Fresh Prince of Bel Air actor) has been talked about to play the Williams sisters’s father. However, many sjw’s are saying he shouldn’t as his skin is lighter than the real life father. This is apparently ‘colorism’ wherein black people with light skin have privilege over black people with dark skin.

        In the search for fresh hunting grounds, the far left is now dividing up black people.

        There is already some pushback on left lunacy. In this Quebec school, kids are allowed to play rough and tumble:

        • That’s the calculation we’re constantly making, and to your point there have been many such examples. It’s not obvious to me at what point this campaign will be doomed, though, as thinned herds often only strengthen the remaining zealots and their victims stack up. What I’m waiting to see is not so much more moles exhausting the progressive hammer, but rather an identified witch unapologetically defying the torch-bearing mob. The next Roseanne really needs to say (as she might have 30 years ago), “No, screw off. Whatever it is that scares you, it will not be ushered in with a schoolyard joke, I promise you.”

          That, and we need to reassert the wisdom of maturity. Jordan Peterson and Eric Weinstein both mentioned this in lectures recently. We should not be FOLLOWING KIDS for Christ’s sake. They can sit at the table, but their perspective will be sufficiently scrutinized. That’s part of growing up.

        • jakesbrain says

          I’m not worried about this movement dying — I know it will. My main concern is all the ruined lives it will take with it when it finally goes down.

          How long are we willing to wait for it to peter out? Soviet Russia had a run of about seventy years before it finally fell apart; are we really willing to wait seventy goddamn years for this movement to fall apart too? And how many people will have to suffer or even die before it happens?

          • Sean says

            I agree, there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth before it’s done. When you consider how quickly we’ve moved this far left, I can’t see it lasting a long time.

    • X. Citoyen says

      While I agree that BW is a little late to the game, and I agree that parallel institutions are important to renewal, I do think progressives are still the minority. Liberals and centrists are still the majority, and it is these people who still have the power to eject the progressives, if they can be reached before their radical stepchildren have taken over.

  3. ga gamba says

    I have come to believe that the hostility to the West embedded in this kind of thinking and activism is a serious and growing problem.

    It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

    Fundamentally, it’s power politics at play. Sure, progressives attempt to give it a veneer of respectability with the DIE agenda, but when you examine the constituent parts and the fundational ideas, you come to understand it isn’t about ending wrongdoing, it’s to reverse the trajectory of wrongdoing to harm the descendants of wrongdoers, though same colour of wrongdoer is also acceptable. Those who have not been wronged claim the right – a moral one at that – to wrong those who have not wronged. And if you don’t play along, preferably by subservient allyship though shutting up entirely will work too, you’ll be smeared or worse.

    To substantiate the assertions requires changing definitions to serve the purpose; using univariate “analysis”, such as by sex and colour, that simply state outcomes as proof instead or performing a multivariate analysis to understand why, i.e. this is what it is rather than determining why is it so; everything is explained by isms and obias; with the near absence of evidence of genuinely oppressive behaviour, over-egg the claims of implicit bias (that appear only to go in one direction because the implicit biases of others are given short shrift); assert that actions by the very few are representative of not only the majority, but of the systems and institutions as well; and, if all that fails, make oppression up with hoaxes.

    • X. Citoyen says


      I take from your reply that you’re not persuaded BW has completely seen the light. I’m not persuaded either. He still thinks we’re in a battle of ideas when we’re witnessing an institutional takeover by a bad religion.

      Liberals like BW can’t see it because progressives have instrumentalized liberalism: An activist will complain of her “right to free speech” being infringed upon while holding a sign proclaiming “Free speech is hate speech!” The liberal hears only the former, never the latter. Progressives don’t want to win in public discourse, they want to shut it down.

      I picture BW spearheading a campaign to raise money for Meghan Murphy’s case against Twitter, only to be flabbergasted when Murphy later spearheads a campaign to have him banned from Twitter for wrongthink and fired from his job to boot.

    • augustine says

      “though shutting up entirely will work too”

      It will only work up to a point. Progressives will dictate ever finely graded designations of unwoke wrongdoing, as the article’s author indicates here. It is inherent in the ultimate telos of liberalism (well beyond Classical Liberalism) and mirrors Hayek’s explication of socialism’s process in The Road to Serfdom. Well worth a read.

      In the future one may not need to speak up or speak out at all in order to attract the cultural persecutors. Every news story I see about “mind-reading” tech, facial recognition, exclusionary monetizing platforms and IP collation must make the mouths of progressives water. The architects of the Left hold sway in these technologies after all. Does anyone believe for a moment that they are not desirous of controlling the lives of those who might outvote them, silent or not?

  4. Nakatomi Plaza says

    OK, you did it. You published an essay that captures every single concern Quillette has with the left. Nice work. It’s broad, it’s expansive, and it hits all our favorite talking points. It’s Friday night – which is absolutely perfect – so we can all have the greatest, wildest circle-jerk in history tonight and then sleep in late tomorrow after congratulating ourselves for being so awesome and so completely correct about everything. We’re the champions. Everybody sucks but us (especially the left), and we have all the evidence we need right here in this article. Congratulations.

    So can you please not publish the same shit every fucking day? How about something that isn’t about the exact same, boring, redundant, indulgent shit tomorrow? For once, please? It’s just a little bit sad at this point that this place is as intellectually diverse and deep as a mud puddle.

    • ga gamba says

      Why don’t you submit something?

      Barring that, there are dozens if not hundreds of other sites that you may visit in search of the content you prefer. That’s one of the many lovely features of capitalism.

      • Mike says

        Thank you for replying for me, GG. What a nonsensical post from Nakatomi…

        • Stephanie says

          Nakatomi’s comments are always aggressive and nonsensical. There are a few others like that. I suggest we ignore them, because some of these trolls are successful at generating 10s of replies, polluting the space.

    • The phrase “the sins of greed, selfishness, and atomistic consumerism “amused me as I pictured young progressives in designer clothes using expensive technologies to support their views. Too self-obsorbed to recognise they are the greediest and most spoilt generation.

      I think the writer is right to feel anxious. The last “radical experiments with a social and economic system ” were hippies, largely to limit their experiments to communes which mitigated the damage to broader society ,at least initially.

      Ultimately, those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.

      Great article.

    • George G says

      @Nakatomi Plaza

      “So can you please not publish the same shit every fucking day? ”

      any chance of taking your own advice?

    • Doctor Locketopus says

      So can you please not publish the same shit every fucking day?

      When I dislike the material a site publishes, I just stop going there.

      But here you are. Still.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Doctor Locketopus

        Yes, but let’s try to extract something positive. She has a point: I think almost everyone here is already 100% convinced of the evils of Progressivism, we hardly need to cover the same ground every day. What is needed IMHO is a plan of action, and perhaps also some effort to create a broad platform. For example, tho I myself am as absolute in my hatred of SJW/Correctness as anyone here, I’m a centrist when it comes to economics whereas most Quillette readers make Hayek look like Harold Wilson. We should ‘work’ on what divides us, not on what we already agree on..

        • Peter from Oz says

          Harold Wilso. Now there’s a name you don’t hear every day. I suspect that’s because he was really a man of no fixed principles at all. He wasn’t left wing so much as interested in power which he exercised very poorly.
          He was lucky that the Tories at that time were going through one of their wimpish phases. With Ted Heath as your main opposition it would not be hard to look better than you are.

    • Heike says

      Again with the “you disappoint me” narrative. It’s like this every time. I suppose it’s interesting to see the reaction when pieces like this can’t simply be deplatformed, as they would on any left-controlled outlet.

      • jakesbrain says

        He has a habit of trying to sneer us into silence.

    • Littleman says

      I would put it much more mildly…but I sort of agree with you. This long essay is just a definition of what conservatives are (for example, see the copy/paste reflection by Edmund Burke on iterative social change vs radical change).

    • Yikes, sounds like maybe this isn’t the place for you? I’d love nothing more than for the left to suddenly get their shit together so we wouldn’t have to constantly point out their horrifying errors.

    • david of Kirkland says

      That you read it all suggests you actually are a fan and love it. Actions speak louder than your grumbles. It’s like TDS, with people who seem to be in love with the president because they spend all day reading about him and talking about him. If you do it daily, you probably love it or are insane.

    • Sarah Allsop says

      Dear nakatomi, Quilette is obviously not meeting your needs for intellectual discourse. May I humbly suggest you head over to the Washington Post, New York Times, Huffington, etc, where you’ll be much happier, and leave us poor irredeemable wretches to enjoy reading “the same shit” every day.

      • peanut gallery says

        That’s a bit of an insult to Vicki, who was at times incomprehensible, but did sometimes offer something interesting. I like the idea of being reminded not to be in a circle-jerk or get stuck in, but NP offers nothing else. There is no counter-point, just an attack on the authors and readers. Not even a refutation of the list of things. This may surprise NP, but I read other sites on occasion. I don’t feel like Quillette misrepresents the progressive ideas or actions. I wish they did. I miss dunking on fundamentalist Christians. Secular fundamentalists are just way scarier and have more power culturally and politically than the far right. We got to get our crazies in balance.

  5. Saw file says

    Very good article.
    There’s little I disagree with, other than some political bents.

    “I have come to believe that the hostility to the West embedded in this kind of thinking and activism is a serious and growing problem. ”

    ‘Watson’ would be scribbling away asking, “what else, Sherlock?”


  6. Catullus says

    “The appropriate way to protect potential victims and to make society more just is not to eschew important legal principles, but rather to highlight the crimes and carefully document the evidence. It is true that in many cases the people accused of these crimes will never see a courtroom, so progressives argue that the principle of due process is irrelevant.”

    Dutch Cobbler’s Fallacy. And this from a website ostensibly dedicated to nuanced, rational debate. Quillette– you’re better than this.

    • Stephanie says

      Catullus: a Google search reveals nothing for “Dutch Cobbler’s fallacy.” I don’t see what you think is wrong with the quoted passage, either. Explain?

      • david of Kirkland says

        Remove the apostrophe, but then I only found https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netherlands_fallacy which I presume was the intent.
        One issue with justice in the west is that we can see that the rich and powerful get one set of justice, while the poor and minority groups get the worst. Like we hear how often blacks are arrested, or commit murder, as if they experience the same justice/police and social/political/academic/job environment.

        • Stephanie says

          Thanks, David, I did find that one. The wiki summary:

          “The Netherlands fallacy refers to an error Paul R. Ehrlich and his co-authors claim others make in assuming that the environmental impacts of the Netherlands and other rich nations are contained within their national borders.”

          I don’t see how that addresses Catullus’ point, even if we remove the ecological aspect and generalise it to a tendency to ignore problems you’re responsible for but that are out of sight. The author was summarising a position he doesn’t agree with.

          I agree that there seems to be a two-tiered justice system, which is the heart of the SNC scandal.

          With regards to blacks in the US, the problem is more fundamental than the police and justice system, who are responsible for taking care of the tail end of the problem. Police arrest black men in precise proportion to the representation of tips pointing to a black male suspect.

          The front end of the problem is lack of parenting and cultural influences. The most comprehensive study to date reveals that black women have similar socioeconomic outcomes to white women when controlled for starting situation. Black men have similar outcomes only in neighbourhoods with many fathers in the community.

          This is true even for black boys without fathers; just having fathers around prevented boys from getting into crime, dropping out of school, ect. Without fathers, the major masculine influence becomes pop culture, predominantly hip hop, which imparts values antithetical to success.

          We ought to treat the disease not the symptom.

          • Phil Major says

            Black cultural squalor. People like Sowell and Elder speak about this somewhat frequently. A culture that seems, as you phrase it above, “antithetical to success” in nearly every way. Devaluing education, encouraging fatherlessness, eschewing proper English, glorifying gang life and shallow trinkets over longer term thinking…

  7. Saw file says

    @Noodle Plaza
    How many ways can yummy potato salad be made, and why do you hate it so much?

  8. LargeMarge says

    Can we get an article about intersectional ideology that isn’t just another essay about “I was wrong and here’s why.”? I would like to read something written by someone who hasn’t spent the last few years with their head up their ass: something insightful, something bold, something I haven’t seen 1000 times before.

      • Saw file says

        @X. Citoyen
        Yes. Very good piece.
        It’s too bad ‘Anonymous’ troll hammered the crap out of the comment thread, tho.

        • X. Citoyen says

          @Saw file,

          The troll was partly my fault. I squeezed his nuts a little in the comments on another article and he went postal. On the upside, he’ll burn out faster this way and either calm down or leave.

      • x. Citoyen

        Good piece in Areo. I also have found the term “virtue signalling” not quite accurate. Having lived in the Belly of the Beast (Cambridge MA) for a number of years I agree that “display” is more accurate than “signalling”. I have no problem with the term “prestige” though I tend to think the motivation isn’t precisely “prestige” as it is “innocence”. “Woke” people are perpetually “displaying their innocence”, by which I mean, they are demonstrating that they are free of the sin of “discrimination”. This is what Alan Bloom was getting at when he described modern education as being dedicated to the creation of the “unprejudiced human”.

        And, I would note, that since thought itself requires discrimination, a display of no-discrimination is nothing less than a display of idiocy.

        • david of Kirkland says

          A “signal” is a “display” with a message that’s received, and the message is more meaningful than just the signal itself. Think the “peace sign”. As a display, it’s just two fingers. As a signal…you get it.

        • Lovernios X says

          I would say preening might be a better term.

      • Stephanie says

        Thanks for the recommendation, X Citoyen, it was a great article. I’ve added Areo to my roster.

      • This one on the benefits of being a victim, also from Aero, is good as well: https://areomagazine.com/2019/02/24/the-appeal-of-victimhood/

        I notice that Saw file and Ray the dolphin frequent the site as well.

        But all that aside, playing the victim, shaming the fence-sitters and making a cartoon of the evil opposition have always been the stock-in-trade of revolutionary movements. It happened during the English Civil Wars of the 1640s and it happened over the five or ten years preceding both the American Revolution and the American Civil War.

        The question is: Why is “Revolution Now” so important to so many of the people we might well think have benefited mighty from the status quo of the last 25 years?

        My guess is fear of the future. I suspect that people younger than 30 believe (not unreasonably) that absent rebellion and a world turned up-side down where all things will be made new again; their only future is in the gig economy as some sort of social services councillor, barista or personal fitness trainer (essentially over credentialed day laborers) who also happen to be saddled $30-100,000 of non-dischargeable student loan debt (I’m basically a marxist historian so I’m not as dismissive of economic and social pressures as the two Aero article I just read).

        • Saw file says

          That’s an interesting point, and it somewhat supports my own pet theory regarding the topic.

          I see in most of these types of people an almost manic desperation to be relevant. To, ‘be the change’. To be noticed and acknowledged. To be a social ‘hero’.
          It’s a form of self-righteous narcissism that exists as a collective.
          I could go on, but I dislike writing extended text on .my phone….

  9. Barry says

    A fine essay! It is very important lesson to recognize an error and then to learn from and allow change in yourself and your worldview.

  10. SeanV3 says

    This is beautifully written: clear, concise, logically-sound, and scathing. I will likely be sending snippets of it along to people in my personal life. Bo also managed to write about this article in a way that isn’t the usual beating-the-dead-SJW-horse that I see in other places.

    Much appreciated.

    • jimhaz says

      Agree. I think this essay will “go places”. Something that will be referred to. From my centrist view it feels encapsulating.

      Either that or I’m just enjoying this umm last bourbon for the night

  11. John M. says

    Ok, I don’t want to sound like the language police, but when we call these people “progressives” that is completely misleading. Progress, to the degree it exists, is the product of the work of both liberals (classical definitiond) AND conservatives.

    Let’s start calling these people what they really are: progressivists. Progressivists are people who want all others to believe that they stand for progress while in fact they stand for nothing but exerting control over society through appeals to emotions (movements of neurotransmitters). Emotions are innate to members of our species, and it is this collection of emotions that allowed human societies to exist in the first place. Large groups of progressivists are unwittingly hacking our species’ innate behaviors in an (purely biological) attempt to control other members of the species.

    Have we seen this before? Yes, when Christianity swept across Europe.

    • @John M.

      Thank you, I too dislike the term progressives. Here they are frequently paraphrased as ” regressives ” which I find accurate, but I don’t know how widely the term is used.

      You are right that many political conservatives also use “progressive ” techniques, I have found that views that today are considered “extreme right “, were mainstream left in the 80s and early 90s.

      Today I see Christians as a benign force, but certainly their new adoption by Rome was a contributing factor. When the “Rise and Fall ” of today’s west is finally written I’m sure the religions of intersectionality and Islam will deserve many chapters.

    • John M. says

      Here’s an essay that shows the Mainline Protestant (Congregationalists [Puritans], Unitarian/Universalists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians etc.) roots of the Progressivist movement of the 19th and early 20th century. “Race science”, eugenics, birth of social sciences, it’s all addressed.

      Religion and Evolution in Progressive Era Political Economy:
      Adversaries or Allies?
      Thomas C. Leonard
      Duke University Press

      Thomas C. Leonard also wrote Illiberal Reformers which shows the dark underside of the progressivist movement. Did you think the minimum wage had something to do with allowing poor people to have nice stuff? No, it had to do with excluding immigrants from anywhere other than Northern Europe.

      Progressivism is not nearly as progressive as you think.

      • John M.

        I’m sorry but when it comes to different countries the history of the last century or so varies when it comes to the political power of the church/churches, I for one defer to your local knowledge.

        Our constitution actually protects the citizens from non- European migration. Without referendum this was changed in the 70s by a Labor government, since the 90s it has been abused by conservatives to stave off a recession and to support business by increasing consumption, whilst freezing wages.

        Also abused by Labor who win the immigrant vote/ currently at a majority in many electorates.

        For decades we have suffered higher per capita immigration than Europe. I can’t help but notice you disagree with your churches intervention against non-European immigration. Here many churches, especially the Uniting Church ,love mass immigration.

        I wish our conservative churches had had a fraction of the political power you ascribe to your churches. Here it was trade unions that played the role of the churches you referenced.

        Truly I do hope you are never driven to regret your position. I hope you’re wives and daughters are not afraid to go out alone, I hope you don’t constantly worry about home invasions and car jackings, child rape gangs and local acts of terror that the police and media downplay. I pray you can continue lofty notions of justice. But that will depend, justice always has a price, and our perception of justice, is, Whose paying the price?

      • tarstarkas says

        Minimum wage was enacted in the USA to suppress blacks because they were willing to work for lower wages. Very similar in kind to the fight for fifteen, which in some places has transmogrified to the struggle for thirty three. It’s as though these people are actively activating for replacing the workforce with robots or are Klansmen in disguise.

    • Doctor Locketopus says

      Let’s start calling these people what they really are: progressivists.

      Or better still: communists.

      The American “left” is made up of bots running scripts that were written by the disinformation section of the KGB. I’m not exaggerating in the slightest.

      As Eric Raymond has noted, if you take any strongly-held belief of the “left” and trace it back far enough, you’ll find a Soviet or Soviet-sponsored communist behind it.

      Since the pravda upgrades stopped coming at the end of the Cold War, their worldview has diverged further and further from reality, so that by now they’re just simply batshit crazy.

  12. Pingback: Progressivism and the West | How blue

  13. Andy Getz says

    Holy hell let me get out my thesaurus!! Good read though. I learned what “obloquy” means, too. Seriously this disease reminds me of the puritanical witch hunts or McCarthyism. All are driven by sanctimonious “street cred.”

    • @ Andy Getz

      Sorry it’s actually worse than the witch trials, because it is the whole of western civilization, not just a community who had overzealously read two books on the subject.

      And historicaly, witches were often “stand over merchants ” who literally used people’s belief in witches to demand, money, food and services. Reading the primary court documents, and researching who is who, and who got paid what by whom makes this clear.

      The American cases maybe different, because at that time, the most extreme puritans had moved there. I still suggest to follow the money.

      Following the money in the current climate is also interesting, in my country the progressively defined witch is a white person, is a baby boomer, a person who is self – funded in retirement, or plans to be in retirement, people who own property, people who eat meat, people who drive cars, people who fail to do the next thing the witch demands.

      The progressives, I believe, are actually the real witches, they prey on weak people with more money. They try to cast spells to extract money.

      For reference, from the top of my head, the Lancashire Witch Trials, all documents now online, and Antonia Fraser’s book “The Weaker Vessel “

  14. Chris says

    Read Moldbug if you want to know about progressivism.

  15. Num num says

    “For progressives, the only just and acceptable outcome, it seems, is absolute demographic equality in all socially valued occupations.”

    Important limitation, “in all socially valued occupations.” No outcry for demographic equality in trash collection. But there’s another limitation… underrepresentation of men and especially white men is never a problem, so “demographic equally” being the goal is just a lie. “White male exclusion” is what”social justice” is more demonstrably about.

  16. Simonas Jakelis says

    I don’t want to sound boring here, but income inequality. I would recommend an excellent book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas Piketty. The system, how it is set up now, will only further and further increase income inequality, and Piketty in his book points out how it is mathematically true. The old capitalist model can not sustain itself and keep living standards bearable for huge part of the US at the same time.

    Under such circumstances, people will start looking for social justice of course. And it is very important that these processes are happening, although with sometimes flawed ideas. Because the distribution of wealth HAS to change in the US or it will lead into some sort of revolution, with violence, death and complete disorder.

    • E. Olson says

      S.J. – Piketty’s dataset and analysis is highly flawed – he clearly wanted to show bad things associated with increasing wealth disparity. But how bad is wealth disparity when the poorest people in the US are the most obese? How bad is wealth disparity when the poorest people in the US have larger homes, and more material possessions such as cars, big screen TVs, smart phones, dishwashers, air-conditioning than middle-class Europeans? How bad is it when 70% of high school graduates are able to start a college degree? How much more redistribution is needed when the US already has among the world’s most progressive rates of taxation, with the top 1% income earners nationally pay 90% of federal income taxes, and the top 1% in New York pay 50% of New York’s state income taxes? This is far more progressive taxation than Scandinavia, which gets most of its tax revenues from the middle and lower classes via high VATs and very low thresholds before hitting the highest marginal tax rates on income.

      On the other hand, many of the policies advocated by Piketty were implemented in Venezuela, and they are actually experiencing revolution, violence, death, and complete disorder – not to mention starvation.

      • Serenity says

        E. Olson,

        The growing influence of progressive radicals on the liberal movement does not necessarily mean that the left-wing have advanced its political agenda too far or even close to “far enough”. However, for those who genuinely look for consensus, for the peaceful reconciliations of differences there are always solutions.

        For example, the present-day conflict of poor vs. rich often boils down to the increasing disparity between maximum and minimum employees’ wages, whereby pay is soaring at the top and the low-paid majority does not have a fair deal. To solve this conflict of interests, governments in well-developed democracies increase minimum wage to push up the stagnant income of working people while protecting new start-ups with tax relief.

        Pension schemes and health insurances becoming a mandatory part of compensation for all employees could also help to reduce the gap in the living standards and help cut governments’ social security expenditure.

        Meanwhile, the introduction of capped remunerations for the top jobs can limit self-awarded pay-outs and thus address the failure of corporate governance.

        • E. Olson says

          Serenity – certainly there is growing research that suggests executive compensation in the largest firms has grown far more rapidly than is warranted from a productivity or performance point of view, with much of the rise attributed to the growth in stock based compensation that was designed to align the interests of management with shareholders. This “problem” is, however, almost entirely limited to Fortune 500 type firms, as CEO compensation among lesser firms has risen far less rapidly relative to average worker compensation.

          Yet analysis that suggests top management is over-compensated does cannot be reasonably used to justify higher minimum wages for workers, because both the top and bottom of the income scale should be linked to labor supply and demand and productivity. If a new worker only contributes $5 per hour in revenues, it does not make any economic sense to pay him $10 per hour no matter what the CEO is paid. Similarly, if a firm advertises 100 job openings at $10 per hour and receives 1,000 qualified applicants, it makes no economic sense to pay higher wages no matter what the CEO is paid. And even if top management was to accept reduced salary and offered the savings to workers in the form of higher wages, analysis typically finds such moves would only result in a few cents per hour increase in average worker wages. Higher minimum wages, and mandated health insurance and pensions that increase labor costs can only be supported if workers generate enough value to pay for them, otherwise firms will be forced to reduce headcounts and hours, which is exactly what is happening in all the places that have recently introduced significantly higher minimum wages.

          Low wage workers have never had it so good, and concerns about income inequality are driven by nothing except envy.

          • Serenity says

            E. Olson: “…firms will be forced to reduce headcounts and hours, which is exactly what is happening in all the places that have recently introduced significantly higher minimum wages.”

            This happens when labour market is knocked out of balance by uncontrolled immigration. With labour supply by far exceeding demand – employers can do whatever they like.

            E. Olson: “… labor costs can only be supported if workers generate enough value to pay for them”

            Business will pass the labor cost to its consumers by increasing prices. The purpose of the minimum wage is to grow the economy by balancing consumption with production.

            The old Keynesian idea was to tax the wealthy then use government to redistribute the money to the working class via a robust welfare state and public improvement projects. The downside of this approach – too much welfare makes people work-averse. Raising taxes on the wealthy is much more likely to be diverted into funding bloated government bureaucracies than to add economic or social value.

            Raising the minimum wage is a much better way to get consumption back into lockstep with production. It reduces the welfare state by making work pay more than welfare.

            For employers is much better to pay their people more money, than to have the government impose higher taxes on business in order to redistribute it with a sloppy welfare state bureaucracy. Business’ employees are also its customers. Raise their pay and then the money comes back into the business.

            A high minimum wage drives up the cost of living, but the overall effect is to greatly soften income inequality

          • E. Olson says

            Serenity – I agree with you that uncontrolled immigration is definitely hurting the working class, and the Democrats as the traditional party of the working class has totally abandoned them by supporting open borders.

            As for firms being able to pass on the costs of higher minimum wages to customers, price elasticities and competition often make it impossible to do so, which is why so many firms are laying off workers and reducing hours as higher minimum wage laws are implemented.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @E. Olson

            “if workers generate enough value to pay for them”

            So it seems strange that whereas productivity has increased by [statistic] over the last [number] decades, wages are either stagnant or have even decline by [statistic], depending on who you ask.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @E. Olson

            No, sorry, they have had it better. The concerns are only very minimally driven by envy. I congratulate Musk on his billions, he earned them. Vigorous working people do not begrudge anyone their success, they in fact want to emulate it. But we have a grossly bloated CEO/executive class that has managed to protect itself from competition. A few cents per hour you say? Fine then, let’s have real competition among the plutocrats, and I’ll take those few cents — but I think it is really rather more than that.

          • E. Olson says

            Ray – it is a myth that worker compensation has stagnated, but much of the increase has been non-cash fringe benefits such as employer health care and pension contributions rather than higher hourly salary. Such “stagnation” calculations also tend to not include other benefits such as earned income tax credits and other welfare benefits, and the lower relative cost of many daily expenses such as food, clothing, home electronics, appliances, cars, and travel.

      • SommeVerdun says

        @ E Olson

        “Piketty’s dataset and analysis is highly flawed”

        My takeaway from Piketty was that his argument was basically that r > g, and that’s the root of all evil, so to speak. Here r is the rate of return on investments, e.g. the rate of return of your stock portfolio or your house appreciation. And g is the growth rate of the economy, which has famously been about 3 percent for the last year or so. My understanding of Piketty’s main point is that when capital accumulates at a rate (this is r) greater than that with which the economy grows as a whole (this is g), you will have the people who already have capital gaining faster than the people who don’t. Hence the growth of inequality.

        I read the whole book, but since I’m not an economist I probably missed a lot of what he said.

        In any case, I’m curious about what you mean about Piketty being highly flawed. In a book that big there are bound to be some errors. But I don’t think Piketty should be dismissed out of hand.

        • E. Olson says

          Sommeverdun – can I assume you are interested in WWI as well as Picketty? There have been a lot of criticisms of the Picketty datasets, which rely on making his judgments to smooth out flawed historical data on wealth distributions, and suggest Picketty’s desire to show growing inequality likely biased the way he did the smoothing to give him the results he wanted (similar to the climate science debates). The other main criticism is that even if we accept that his data and analysis are correct and that inequality has been growing, he doesn’t demonstrate how this has been damaging to the economic prosperity and standard of living of the non-elite masses, nor justify his recommendations for 80% marginal tax rates. There are lots of thoughtful commentaries on the book, and I include a couple of links that summarize some of the major criticisms.



        • Ray Andrews says

          @E. Olson

          ” it is a myth that worker compensation has stagnated”

          As always one can’t be sure of anything one hears. But virtually everyone seems to agree about wage stagnation, even folks who seem conservative. More to the point, I see it myself. What my observations lack in breath they make up in directness. I do believe what I see, and I see people struggling. Mind, like Frisco, Vancouver is one of those boom cities where international speculative investment has made finding a place to live very difficult.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @E. Olson

        “with the top 1% income earners nationally pay 90% of federal income taxes”

        I despair of statistics. We need facts, but folks always seem to be able to come up with statistics that can prove anything they want, as Mark Twain so famously noted. So then, if the top 1% had their taxes raised by 10% then income taxes could be abolished for everyone else? That sounds like a good idea. Given that the IRS could shrink to a tiny fraction of it’s current size, the savings might result in those taxes shrinking back to where they were before being increased by 10%.

        Here’s how bad it is: They say that the three richest families in the country own more than the bottom half of the country. They say that most American families could not meet a $500 emergency expense. When I was a kid, an average guy could expect to own a house and his wife probably didn’t need to work. No mo. People used to have pensions. No mo. (Yes, ‘gold plated’ pensions, the kind that you think need to be stripped away, we don’t keep dairy cows alive after they’ve stopped producing, why on earth would we keep workers alive, ditto?) Ordinary workers now live in flop houses. ‘Middle class’ workers can barely afford a shared apartment. (Tho, yes, there will be a TV in it.) And so on.

        • E. Olson says

          Ray – why is it the government’s role to redistribute wealth that has been earned legally? Why does the successful entrepreneur, Fortune 500 CEO, or millionaire sports star owe the alcoholic gang-banger or single mother of 6 children by 6 different fathers anything, unless the successful person chooses to give a gift out of their own free-will?

          And speaking of pension fairness. Why should a police officer, firefighter, school teacher, or city bus driver be able to retire at age 55 with a generous six figure public pension paid for by citizens who must work until 66-67 to a far less generous social security or private pension retirement? How about we all pay for our own pensions from our own savings, which would potentially be much higher without being forced to “contribute” to a bankrupt social security and public employee pension systems.

          As for housing prices, why do ordinary and middle class workers in large cities keep voting for politicians that enact zoning laws, environmental laws, safety laws, rent control laws, etc. that make it virtually impossible to build new housing that would lower housing costs? And if you can’t afford to live in Vancouver, or San Francisco, or Manhattan there are plenty of places with jobs and much more affordable housing (and lower taxes, better schools, less traffic, less crime, less human feces on the sidewalks), although you might have to put up with living in Flyover country.

          • augustine says

            @E. Olson

            It’s worse than that. You are probably aware of some of the shenanigans involved with state pension funding. The example that really got to me was explained on a local radio show. Workers can, and do, tilt the system by working longer hours during their last year of service. What I did not know is that their pension is based on their last years’ pay rate and not on some accumulated average wage. This is corruption is extremely costly for all citizens yet most news media never highlight these crimes. Instead they look for the wayward dishonest repairman once in a while.

            There is a good case to be made against state unions altogether and pension profligacy is just one aspect. The general population, which is majority liberal of course, simply assumes that government at work is in their own best interest and that they get screwed only by organized private interests. Conservatives tend to believe the opposite. Both sides should talk with each other more often.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @E. Olson

            “why is it the government’s role to redistribute wealth that has been earned legally”

            Firstly because to some extent every country does it, so there must be some reason for that.

            Secondly because any society has the right and the obligation to decide on the rules that will govern it. I observe — note, I do not narrate, I observe — that societies from hunter-gatherers up to modern western democracies engage in some sort of redistribution. The basic idea seems to be that everyone can be down on their luck at some point, therefor the group as a whole institutes a sort of insurance. Those are the the agreed upon rules, and if you don’t like it, that’s too bad since we can’t have different rules for people as they choose. We do not get to choose if we like where our tax dollars go.

            Thirdly because we can’t have a society without taxation. Army, fire department, roads. All taxes redistribute. The question is who does the most paying and who does the most benefiting. I don’t want my taxes redistributed to the army, but that’s too bad. You don’t want school lunches, and that also is too bad, we both have to pay.

            “the alcoholic gang-banger or single mother of 6 children by 6 different fathers anything”

            I’m no fan of that person either. My view of socialism is a rather harsh one, but I do not dismiss it out of hand on the false logic that the government has no right. The government very much has the right, the question is doing it properly, and that is very much open to debate.

            “be able to retire at age 55 with a generous six figure public pension paid for by citizens”

            I don’t claim that there are not problems there. In my case, I paid into my pension fund for 30 years, did retire at 55, and have exactly what I was promised, what I negotiated, and what was agreed to by all parties. That’s capitalism for you, some win, some loose. I won. Devil take the rest … or do you advocate justice in this case? But only justice that involves retired workers taking a haircut? We’d not ask a $50,000,000 PA CEO to cough up a little bit more to fund pension fund shortfalls, would we?

            ” How about we all pay for our own pensions from our own savings, which would potentially be much higher without being forced to “contribute” to a bankrupt social security and public employee pension systems.”

            Because back in the day, workers negotiated pensions. Law of the market you know? Greed is good, and greedy unions achieved that for their workers. I say it again: greed is good. In the Free Market, every contract is a good contract. No?

            “that make it virtually impossible to build new housing that would lower housing costs”

            Good question. As you know, I’m on both sides of the fence when it comes to politics and economics.

            ” And if you can’t afford to live in Vancouver”

            My family are all here,and I’d rather stay. For me this is not a question of shrugging one’s shoulders and saying that folks can just move. Life is a bit more complicated that that. I’d rather that prudent measures be taken to lower prices. As you said, that might mostly be about removing restrictions. To take a cheap shot, if I can ‘just move’ then so can you — move to a country that has no social system. Mali perhaps?

            Sorry, that’s too cheap.

          • E. Olson says

            Ray – your sense of history is far too kind and gentle. Hunter-gather tribes never had social safety nets because they were always on the edge of survival, and hence a tribal member who wasn’t able to contribute didn’t get food or shelter and were expected to go off and die. Infants born with birth defects were usually killed. Archaeology examinations of human bones in ancient cultures has also find frequent evidence of cannibalism as adults at children to survive during food shortages.

            Paying for legitimate government services is not usually considered welfare or redistribution, and very few “rich” or “politically Right” people object to paying their share (or more than their share) for national defense, police, courts, fire protection, roads, schools, post offices, etc., which traditionally represent only a small share of government spending (although exploding public employee pensions are changing that at the local level). Is it fair, however, that you and your pensioned buddies can vote to take wealth away from some “overpaid” CEO so the pension you were promised by reckless unions and corrupt bureaucrats gets paid a few months longer? No system in the world can generate enough wealth to allow substantial portions of the population to work 30 years and then have 30+ years of generous paid retirement, but throw in lots of regulations and confiscatory taxes that slow economic growth and the system will collapse even faster.

            As for taking my own advice. Actually I have as I have moved many times in my life and far away from family and friends for better educational and economic opportunities. I’ve never taken any government welfare, never had a school loan, and am saving enough money so I can comfortably retire even if social security and pension systems collapse. I also never took drugs, finished school before getting married, pay my credit card balance every month, pay my taxes, watch what I eat, exercise daily, and thank God every day for blessing me with loving and supportive family, good health, and above average intelligence. I’ve been blessed in many ways, but no welfare program can ever duplicate what I have received and earned, and it is a waste of money to try.

          • Daz says

            “How about we all pay for our own pensions from our own savings”

            Or maybe a superannuation scheme like in Australia? Where all employers have to pay 9% into a private scheme.

        • augustine says

          @Ray Andrews

          I think everyone should have a stake in the economic system by paying taxes, unless they are truly indigent. I’ve read that something like 40% (!) of Americans do not pay any income tax after net adjustments. This is morally wrong. Even if the poor ponied up only $10/year that would be OK. Everyone needs to ante up if they are playing in the game. No one cares about something (like a country) unless they are vested.

          • Ray Andrews says


            That’s a fair point. Mind, there are so many layers of hidden taxes, that everyone does pay, really. Still I know what you’re saying.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @E. Olson

            “Hunter-gather tribes never had social safety nets”

            Some of the things you mention I agree with. No, no welfare, OTOH hunting was communal and so was eating. The remnants of this are still to be seen up north among the Inuit. Everyone ate, unless times were hard enough that, as you say, some had to be left to die, but even that was done for the good of the group as a whole — an extended family really.

            “so the pension you were promised by reckless unions and corrupt bureaucrats gets paid a few months longer?”

            It is a question of whether contracts entered into by the state should be honored. That question is not much different from the question of whether the bonds held by the rich should be honored. You throw your bonds into the street, and I’ll get used to the fact that I’m going to either starve or maybe eat, but live in a bunk house. If the state had to raise taxes on some billionaires so as to meet it’s obligations to both of us, I’d say it should.

            “but throw in lots of regulations and confiscatory taxes that slow economic growth”

            Agree about the regulations, but taxes just recirculate money, they may slow growth or they may speed it up, depending on how the money is spent. Frankly I don’t care how much I pay in taxes (even retired, 1/4 of my income goes to tax), what I care about is the value I get for my taxes. If the government wanted to spend every penny I had, but they spent it to my benefit even better than I could spend it myself, I’d be quite happy — not that that is very likely.

            Nope, it’s about consumption. Retired unionized state workers do have it rather good. Rather better than many others, and much better than the workers of the future, who will have to put aside some of their minimum wage income to provide for their retirement, or literally starve to death, no? Or perhaps they should not even have a minimum wage? Certainly not $15, but how low?

            “As for taking my own advice.”

            I recognize you as a non-hypocrite. My own life has been equally virtuous apart from my 30 years working for the government. But I did most things right, too. Virtue should be taught, and expected. I am opposed to all forms of pandering. But I would design the economy (all economies are designed, tho some pretend otherwise) to let the producing class keep — the exact figure is debatable — perhaps as much as half of what they produce for themselves. Perhaps 10% would go to parasites below, and that leaves 40% for the plutocrats.

            “no welfare program can ever duplicate what I have received and earned, and it is a waste of money to try”

            I agree.

        • Phil Major says

          @Ray Andrews “When I was a kid, an average guy could expect to own a house and his wife probably didn’t need to work. No mo.”

          When women entered the work force en masse, they halved the value of labor. Thus, two incomes to replace what used to be one.

          (Obviously there is a lot more than just this aspect to consider, i.e. immigration, technology, etc)

          • Ray Andrews says

            @ Phil Major

            Yeah, that would be part of it. Still, they say productivity has tripled since I was a kid, and we have two salaries instead of one, so why are people not six times richer? If point of fact they seem to be poorer. Something ain’t right. Someone is not telling us the truth.

  17. codadmin says

    “..actual instances of blatant discrimination or racism in the West are vanishingly rare”

    Great article, but the statement above is completely false.

    Hate and racism are at the core of the ‘progressive’ movement. ‘Encouraging Contempt for the West and Its Icons’ is rooted in a deep and pathological hatred of white people.

    ‘Hatred of the West’ is simply a euphemism.

    • E. Olson says

      Very good point and you are absolutely correct about the hatred and racism that are in recent times almost completely a product and tool of the Left, which the author largely overlooks and/or excuses because the sins of the Left are associated with what the Left believes are good intentions. I find this to be a common problem among reformed/former Leftist writers.

      • codadmin says

        To be fair to ex-leftists, even most conservatives still refuse to call out the blatant race hate of the ‘progressive’ left. ( much better described as the fascist left )

        It’s a lot more palatable to believe ‘well meaning, but wrong, white liberals’ are driving the movement.

        Admitting that white liberals are now subservient, and are required to denigrate themselves before their racist, intersectional masters, has a very depressing, but logical conclusion.

        The ‘culture war’, if it ever was just a culture war, is now a ‘race war’.

      • Amin says

        @ E. Olson

        Give it a rest! Whites are the real victims now of Racism, at the hands of… oh other Whites!?

        The usual utter horsehit out of you. And you post it everywhere!

  18. dirk says

    I would say, Bo’s loose collection of 5 (inter alea) ideas and assumptions on “progressivism” are all typical strawmen, and thus, indeed, intolerable.

    • scribblerg says

      So your approach is a driveby insult, a pose and no substance in your comment? And you think that’s impressive or something? How about trying to prove these are strawmen? I dare you to try.

      • dirk says

        Why try to prove it, scribble, I don’t need to impress here, are you? We live in a world of like/don’t like, long and extensive arguments aren’t read by anybody. But, to come with at least some explication,what to think of numero uno- all demographic groups are roughly equal on all socially valued traits-. Maybe not even a real straw man, can this proposition be either true or not true? Or is it senseless?

        • hail to none says

          @Dirk I would read your argument. That’s one of the things I appreciate about Quillette- the articles followed by commentary, sometimes expansive. Websites filled with simple insults or one-line rejoinders are a dime a dozen.

          • dirk says

            E.g.: I cannot imagine, Hail, that persons like Elizabeth Warren, lawyer and advocate, would ever come with such vague and sweeping generalisations as the number 1 expressed above. Am I wrong here? If so, excuses for the insult.

        • Stephanie says

          Dirk, if it was worth your time to try to impress everyone with your shallow, dismissive complaint, why isn’t it worth your time to actually justify your take?

          In case you haven’t noticed, there are many long comments on these forums, and they are not only read but appreciated and engaged with. Most of the time, anyway.

          • Dirk, with number 1 in the original post I think BW is echoing the arguments of Pinker made at length in the Blank Slate– that we can’t ignore evolutionary biology, especially with regards to gender differences. The right and left also have long been split on views of human nature and the degree to which policy can really re-shape human society without bad unintended consequences.

          • dirk says

            Ola Stephanie (also to Hail and scribble): yes, the problem as so often is here: short statement, judgement, stance,position, or long arguments, point by point. I didn’t choose for that last, for that one read Blitz here above, and Coffee Clatch here below, both of them fiercely attacked though, for not being argumentative or analysing at all ( “Doctor” Lock : I’m not arguing with you, I’m telling you to fuck right the hell off here, strange language for a doctor). BTW, I was not alone in my negativity about Bo, read Lakatomi, Tim, Dershem, Peter (utterly infantile), Morgan (Q. more and more platform for chagrined white males). I neither agree with all those criticasters. Should I have joined the crowd with my points, at length? No madam, sometimes I do, of course, especially where I feel more at ease, but not here, in these matters. BTW, I remember, in a former essay on Orwell and Totalitarian West, we pretty much agreed on our similar memories of Morocco, Turkey and Iran, on the history and direction of the islam and islamism, and there I needed a few sentences more, because it was less of a dog fight situation, less abstract and more personal.
            Have a good Sunday!! I always read your comments (because seldom long, though, little bit longer than mine maybe). Those of Coffee Clatch and Blitz I didn’t read out, too long).

  19. Marko Alavanja says

    ‘West’s great achievement in promoting a largely meritocratic society in which talent and skill are rewarded with pay and status’

    Meritocracy?? Im assuming the author considers being born into a family of affluence a ‘merit’. Its all luck…all of it. Some are luckier than others. We should do our best to ensure that those born into unfortunate situations are guided with compassion, and that those born into positions of power are not needlessly demonized.

    • E. Olson says

      Marko – is there any society in history that has successfully dealt with the problem of unequal luck what parents each individual is born? Many Leftist governments (e.g. Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin) have attempted to exterminate or “re-educate” the intelligentsia or merchant classes, although arguably those policies were about eliminating potential political rivals rather than “equalizing” society, but I can see no evidence that they were effective in creating a more meritocratic society.

      Thus we are left to judge meritocracy by how individual talents and gifts are discovered and utilized by society, so that children who are found to be intellectually, athletically or otherwise gifted by God, genes, or circumstance are given a chance to reach their potential even if they have few family benefits regarding wealth and connections. Given the value placed on diversity today, schools, companies, and government agencies are literally scouring the countryside and globe to find talent and ability, especially if held by “victim” classes, and when found this talent is offered free tuition, preferred hiring, signing bonuses, and fast-track promotions. Arguably the only groups now discriminated against and shown little compassion are the unprivileged members of “privileged” groups – i.e. “trailer trash” white kids from W.Virginia coal country, and Asian kids with good but not perfect SAT scores.

      On the other hand, would a society not be judged compassionate of the unfortunate when its poorest members are the most obese, when its drug abusers are supplied free clean needles and medical care when the OD, and where homelessness and hunger are limited to the mentally ill and the addicted who refuse help? There has never been a better time to be highly talented or highly unlucky than today in a Western society.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @E. Olson

        ” we are left to judge meritocracy by how individual talents and gifts are discovered and utilized by society”

        I agree. My idea of ‘socialism’ is not that we try to engineer or legislate success for Victims when that program will inevitably fail and cripple the economy into the bargain, my ‘socialism’ rather invests in success and encourages the best to be better still. BUT … it does so with the understanding that the success of the best will then be reinvested in society itself. Nobody starves, even morons have a roof over their heads (UBI), but at the same time, we do not waste billions trying to turn morons (if they belong to Victim identities) into software engineers for reasons of Equity. Thus, it is possible to foster vigorous, merit based competition with genuine ‘socialism’ (substitute the term of your choice, you get my meaning).

        ” its poorest members are the most obese”

        Sorry, but that’s because junk food is the cheapest.

        “the addicted who refuse help”

        Yes, some few are so lost that they can’t be helped. That is a poor excuse for removing any social supports for anyone.

        • E. Olson says

          But Ray, we are already well past what you desire. Is anyone in Western countries starving? Is anyone without a roof over their heads – unless by choice?

          On the other hand, do fat people deserve food stamps? Should people with low IQs get taxpayer subsidized college educations? Do long-term drug addicts deserve the best medical treatment? Does the welfare mom who has her 4th kid deserve more child support, more housing support? Where does personal responsibility come in? Where does living with the consequences of your own choices come in? If you reward bad behaviors, won’t you get more of it? Why do the unproductive and lazy have a right to the wealth created by people who work hard, and find success by investing in their own futures with education, personal savings, and entrepreneurship?

          • Ray Andrews says

            @E. Olson

            “Is anyone without a roof over their heads – unless by choice?”

            Yes, and far too many. Again, I admit to a bit of bias here because Vancouver is an exceptional case.

            ” Should people with low IQs get taxpayer subsidized college educations?”

            No, because that ends up being a waste of money. We cannot engineer success, but we can give folks a chance to improve themselves. And we can be sure even those not fit for advancement will at least live decently. I have a mildly retarded niece, she works hard but she’s not going very far in the knowledge based economy. She gets a little stipend from the government and that’s fine with me.

            “Does the welfare mom who has her 4th kid deserve more child support, more housing support?”

            No. After her first welfare baby she should be reversibly sterilized. You can’t have kids that you can’t look after.

            ” If you reward bad behaviors, won’t you get more of it?”

            Yes, you certainly will, which is why Victim/need centered social interventions are often counter productive. My social interventions would be entirely based on helping you to improve. Or they would be morally neutral, like UBI — don’t bother with the sob story, here’s your cheque, spend it well, there’s no more coming. You may be an entrepreneur who lost everything on a magnificent but failed enterprise, or you might just be a perennial looser or maybe an unemployable moron, we don’t care, here’s your cheque. Not enough for a big screen TV? We don’t care, you’ll have to work if you want one. Oh, and if you can’t manage on UBI you end up in The Institution — a place for the incompetent. No ‘rights’ no luxuries.

  20. scribblerg says

    So, when conservatives offered this exact critique of the Left for the past several decades, we were right after all? And now, just cuz creepy soft-progressive pseudo-intellects are publicly clutching their pearls and objecting to the obvious inanity of the Left’s Progressive positions, I’m supposed to applaud?

    No, what I’d like to hear is why this vapid dingbat of an author denied these obvious truths for decades? What’s wrong with his moral and intellectual compass that he allowed himself to dismiss men like me who told him this 20 years ago? Where’s the humility?

    And be clear. What he describes above are essential elements of Marxism and Socialism. Yet he misses this too. The anti-Western bit is particularly ripe – Socialism begins with a rejection of classical liberalism. Socialism arose as an idea before Marx, and was about moving past classical liberalism. The roots of everything this author decries are embedded in Socialism and Marxism, and neo-Marxism.

  21. It seems to me what we call progressivism today is the most recent and most extreme manifestation of a shift in consciousness whose genealogy can be traced back centuries. If consciousness can be seen as a kind of adaptation to the world in which it finds itself, then modern consciousness is an adaptation to the objectified reality generated by modern science, technology and rational bureaucratic systems.

    This is a big topic, but one salient characteristic of the modern mind is a kind of psychological fragmentation and a disconnect of thinking from lived reality. This results in a fixation on abstractions. As Hannah Arendt points out, a fixation on abstractions and a kind of psychological and social atomization are the grounds of totalitarian thinking.

    I don’t disagree with the author’s (or Niall Ferguson’s) concerns about progressivism, but I’m skeptical that the mere affirmation of certain values is an adequate antidote. We modern human beings exist and function in a world where thinking is consistently disconnected from doing. Affirming one set of abstractions over another is no substitute for experiencing the consequences of our ideas. William Blake: “If a fool persists in his folly, he will become wise.”

    • X. Citoyen says

      It seems to me what we call progressivism today is the most recent and most extreme manifestation of a shift in consciousness whose genealogy can be traced back centuries.

      Agreed. The genealogy of progressivism is one of the missing pieces in the otherwise excellent Areo article I cited above. It’s also something we can’t ignore because the origins of the movement—whatever marks its current form—shows that it’s wholly distinct from Anglo-American liberalism, which has an entirely different origin.

      I’m skeptical that the mere affirmation of certain values is an adequate antidote.

      So am I. Liberals have to eject progressives from their number the way that (some brave and clear-sighted) liberals ejected Communists from theirs a century ago. Until that happens, the rot and dissolution of public discourse and our institutions will continue until bad things happen.

  22. Without slavery which provided much of the labor and genocide/ethnic-cleansing which provided much of the land and resources whatever this writer claims as ‘the sacred West’ [and what that isn’t entirely clear] existed where and did what? Sure it had some nice sounding ideas about political freedoms but these were not for export to either non-whites or non-wealthy. Is it so hard to get over the facts that Washington gamed the law as President to hold onto slaves, Jefferson had raped errr had sex with his underage property and kept his own spawn as slaves, that Wilson was a Klan-man, and that Churchill was a bigot. That presently, the “West” is not so completely persuaded of its own superiority [well certain white male subpopulations still are] isn’t such a big problem. It wasn’t the West’s ideas that ‘carried the day’ nearly as much as its weaponry and proclivity towards robbery with violence. Leopold’s Congo and Adloph’s camps are of the West. This piece is kinda whiny.

    • codadmin says

      Slavery provided virtually no labour in the development of West. Non-slave labour has dwarfed slave labour in the West. Western nations owe more to child or animal labour than slave labour.

      Stupid racist.

      • In the US between 1790-1860 more than 80% of the US’s foreign exchange was derived from the plantation economies of the slave states. That’s why Art. IV, sec. 2 of the Constitution included slaves under the rubric “persons held to service or labor.”

        Certainly, GB profited mightily from the slave trade itself and from the products of slave labor in its American Colonies and in those parts of India controlled by the East India Company between 1715-1811.

        • Stephanie says

          There’s little reason to consider the agrarian products of slavery as the driver of Western economic growth. The Industrial Revolution (not cotton-picking) was the major economic driver, and British income from American and Indian colonies was less than 5 % of their annual budget at the time of the Industrial Revolution. The South was also always pooerer than the North, and the US only became a true economic powerhouse after slavery (and arguably even segregation) was abolished. This is not consistent with slavery being important to economic development – our intuitive understanding that slavery is barbaric and a detriment to society is more accurate.

          As for space being created by the genocide of Aboriginals, this again ignores that the Industrial Revolution originated in Scotland, the printing press in Germany, ect. If we want to focus on the US, let’s not indulge in Noble Savage tropes. A non-racist read of history reveals that warfare and land grabs was a constant in the history of the region, and Europeans were just another group that played the same game. Diseases unwittingly transmitted did most of the killing. Horrors like the Trail of Tears are estimated to have killed about 16 500 people, about half the number of Americans killed every year in car crashes. Hardly sufficient to empty the country for white habitation.

          Does that excuse slavery or death marches? Of course not. But historical context dispels the myth that Western gains are ill-gotten.

          By necessity, people of history do not measure up to modern moral sensibilities. Would you prefer that no moral progress be made? What is important is the trajectory, and on that front no other civilization has made more astounding gains on economic uplift, human rights, and wellbeing, for more people, more quickly.

          Perhaps Western society doesn’t measure up to your idea of utopia, but that is simply a sign it is time for you to let go of that adolescent idealism. Better to focus on advancing the best system put forward to date, rather than tearing it down in pursue of a fantasy.

          • Amin says

            @ Stephanie

            Ah! Steph! The murderous bitch who will excuse anything…

            “Perhaps Western society doesn’t measure up to your idea of utopia, but that is simply a sign it is time for you to let go of that adolescent idealism. Better to focus on advancing the best system put forward to date, rather than tearing it down in pursue of a fantasy.

            If you were living in those times, you would be pro-Slavery and all that racist baloney on EXACTLY the same criteria. So less of the utter bollock out of the likes of you…

          • codadmin says


            When slavery existed in Western society, Western society was dirt poor by todays standards.

            Slavery was far more entrenched in the Islamic world during their period of dominance, yet they were also dirt poor by todays standards. The same applies to ancient Egypt, ancient Rome, etc. All slave societies and empires in human history have all bene dirt poor by todays standards.

            In fact, per capita GDP didn’t change much from the start of human human history up until the middle of the 19th century, despite thousands of years of slavery, empires, conquest…so what changed?

            You allude to what changed…the ‘robots’ ( machines ) created the wealth. The machines the West created revolutionised productive capacity. That’s what created the wealth we have today.

            But, even though machines created the wealth see see today, we still can’t forget the overwhelming majority of human labour that contributed to the West was not slave labour.

          • Amin says

            @ codadmin

            Huh! Very scholarly link there as a reference. Slave trade wasn’t just about the slaves but exploitation of vast resources that powered the machine. The slaves themselves in manpoer contributed…

            … were all the factors totted up? I think not.

            Slave trade is a very lucrative business. Always has been. And until the robots really take over, it will still be.

      • Amin says

        @ codadmin

        “When slavery existed in Western society, Western society was dirt poor by todays standards.”

        How poor? Figures? Evidence? References? Or did you just make that up on the fly?

        You missed the point, and didn’t answer… I suspect you haven’t got a clue as to what you are on about. Clearly the benefit of a slave is NOT just the trade itself. So where are your working outs?

        “In fact, per capita GDP didn’t change much from the start of human human history up until the middle of the 19th century, despite thousands of years of slavery, empires, conquest…so what changed?”

        Unsubstantiated. And I am guessing nonsense. But if you are going to provide the evidence for your claims then…

        “The machines the West created revolutionised productive capacity. That’s what created the wealth we have today.”

        Yes. And that is EXACTLY why slavery was so enticing – despite everyone knowing it to be immaroal 10,000 years ago. Cheap labour is cheap labour. Even today.

        “But, even though machines created the wealth see see today, we still can’t forget the overwhelming majority of human labour that contributed to the West was not slave labour.”

        Yes and no. Exploitation of labour WAS a very large factor. It still is…

    • dirk says

      Who the hell is that Adloph? Leopold I know pretty well, he owned central Africa as a private property, but that Adloph? I wonder , but don’t think belongs to the good guys.

    • Doctor Locketopus says

      Virtually all cultures had slavery (or near-equivalents, such as bondservants and serfs), but only one culture put an effective end to it.

      Which culture was that?

  23. TheSnark says

    Why are they even called “progressives”? Their world view is little more that a warmed-over rehash of the socialism fashionable in Western intellectual circles in the 1930’s. But that had already been thoroughly discredited in 1914 (when the workers did not unite against the capitalists, they joined up with the capitalists along national lines), and has been again discredited with the fall of the all the “socialist utopias” in the 1990’s.

    The want to “progress” to some post-capitalist paradise. But there have been many attempts to attain this goal, and every one has resulted in social, economic, and political disaster. Why do they think they will be different? How can they claim it is “progressive” to follow an ideology that has been proven not to work?

    • codadmin says

      They’ll attach themselves to any ideology as long as it means the destruction of the West. Hence their love affair with Islam.

    • jakesbrain says

      The want to “progress” to some post-capitalist paradise. But there have been many attempts to attain this goal, and every one has resulted in social, economic, and political disaster. Why do they think they will be different? How can they claim it is “progressive” to follow an ideology that has been proven not to work?

      They honestly think they can get it right this time. The repeated failures of communism can’t possibly be because the whole philosophy is dead wrong and incapable of accounting for the corruptibility of human nature, it must be because it was badly implemented by corrupt people the last two dozen times it was tried. Two dozen failures don’t prove jack shit — it has to work eventually, it says so right in this book!

  24. Quillete is starting to resemble a 12-step group for chagrined white male college professors who know something is wrong but aren’t quite sure there is anything they can do about it that won’t get them mobbed and fired.

  25. Noontide Demon says

    “For a long time, I considered the loose collection of ideas and assumptions I will call “progressivism” to be a regrettable but mostly tolerable side effect of affluence. ”

    You weren’t wrong. It is a product of affluence, there are no other conditions under which this efflorescence of self-absorbtion could occur. However, it is still worth asking which path got us here in order to understand our direction of travel. I think there are two ways of thinking about progressiveness; one economic and the other cultural/historical. Progressivism is possible because the right abandoned questions of culture and identity, partly due to secularization, mostly down to laissez faire and globalization. A political consensus emerged in the era of supply-side economics, one where the right was happy to yield the problem of values so long as the market was inviolable. In doing so the right embraced a tenet of classical marxism, namely that the economic base determines the cultural superstracture. And why not, after all if the market mechinism works and values are left to the market then the truth will out. Except the market doesn’t determine the truth, it is a calculus of preferences and preferences can also be irrational. Hence we have woke media, woke capitalism and woke billionaires to the bewilderment of the obstensively libertarian right who have no means of criticising this state of affairs.

    Then there is the historical view. Progressivism is a product of late culture. We live in the fin de siecle of the American century and what we see is the decadent expression of a pathological culture, one where the 1% parasitices the economy with the conivence of the state. Either way a change in economic conditions is going to be unkind to progressivism.

    • augustine says

      “a change in economic conditions” can usher in the worst of imagined consequences of preexisting, bad ideology. Little more than “good” economic conditions keeps us distracted from our worst tendencies and fears, a sort of material buffer against human nature.

      What do you mean by this: “the economic base determines the cultural superstracture”? I would have guessed that those who construct a successful economic model would be in a very good position to reinforce their own cultural values but this seems not to be the case. Unless… those self same stakeholders in fact never were keepers of traditional (conservative) values in the first place. I.e., the culture is always up for grabs, the economy not so much.

  26. Andrew says

    Totally awesome article. I love it. One small criticism: describing Medicare for All as a “one-time pipe-dream” sounds a tad ethnocentric i.e. many, if not all, Western nations (other than the US) have some version of it. In Canada, where I live, virtually all conservatives have no problem with it, even the renowned Jordan Peterson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxHglXh99SI

    • A good comment on this article’s weakest argument. I thought of Peterson’s video too, which should be watched by anyone interested in healthcare financing, or who thinks Jordan Peterson is just another right-wing conservative.

    • Rev. Wazoo! says

      @Andrew Re: Medicare for All
      An important distinction to be made here and illustrative of the self-harm of the self-delusion the article highlights: “Medicare for All” is supported in Europe by both left and right as a compromise: everyone pays a flat contribution to pay for it, a mandatory x% of wages as an insurance premium matched by employers. Here it averages average 5.5% plus or minus depending on country. Similarly, Medicare in the US ( health insurance beginning at 65) -is currently paid for (in advance) by a 1.45% slice of employees wages matched by employers. Income transfer is built in but everyone paying roughly the same number of hour’s wages per month is acceptable to everyone especially as capped at around 120,000)

      Medicare for All could work in the US with a 7% contribution by employees and employers (prices are higher there) and it’s not a free lunch. There is already a national insurance bureaucracy in place set up to take premiums from employees and employers and give payments to all doctors hospitals etc; enrolment would be simple (if a huge increase) and could proceed apace with the glitches of scaling up any system.

      What’s being pushed in the US is a non-starter used nowhere else: “free health care by taxing the rich in general” (a free lunch) which is a different kettle of fish entirely and an example of the self-defeating nature of bubble-living and de-platforming. As an article of faith rather than policy so never having had to justify to the faithfu how it would work, nor how it works in theoretically exemplary places, places has led proponents to give pie-in-the-sky methods (“tax the rich”) instead of tried-and-true ones.

      Now is a brief window when universal enrolment in the existing national insurance system might be achieved with the (sometimes grudging) acceptance of the vast majority of the populace and it is being wasted because the proponents themselves (Ocasio-Cortez et al.) have never had to discover how it works where it does nor had their inchoate dreams scrutinised by critical thinking.

      This is the great tragedy of politically correct social justice methods: they actually cripple their participants to the point they can’t even do a simple search to see how things exist in fact and therefore are completely incapable of using objective observations to help create the change they want.

      It’s a fundamentally self-defeating methodology.

      PS: As a center-left Yank resident in Europe, I think American entrepreneurialism would be greatly improved by adopting compulsory national health insurance a la Western Europe. I may be wrong, but it’s not a loony left position so it’s very sad that the rare chance for this to be done is being squandered by SJW’s who’ve never had to think out the consequences of their proposals nor actually experience diversity of thought in the real world. Alas.

    • Phil Major says

      “In Canada, where I live, virtually all conservatives have no problem with it, even the renowned Jordan Peterson”

      And they would be wrong in their acceptance of this gross and growing form of wealth redistribution. Government health expenditures represented 11.5% of Canada’s total GDP in 2017. Health care is a provincial responsibility, and Ontario, Canada’s largest province, spent 42% of their 2017 budget on Health.

      Public health spending is chewing up an ever greater portion of the available monies governments have to spend each year. It’s not slowing down with the boomers about to crash the hospitals en masse.

      The public, single player, health system is badly broken and must be replaced for practical, if not moral reasons. That is, unless you like being denied the health services you need, love outrageous wait times (18+ months for a rotator cuff surgery, 8-10 hrs for an ER doctor, etc.).

  27. Tim says

    “They also believe that humans are fundamentally cooperative creatures”

    Is it really your claim that humans are not fundamentally cooperative creatures? Being cooperative creatures is why we are so bloody fit as a species. Navigating and coordinating cooperation is why our brains are so large. Do you actually dispute this? If so I can think of no greater misunderstanding of human nature.

    • REv. Wazoo! says

      You’re right of course but then human are also a fundamentally competitive species. The false dichotomy between competition/cooperation is the issue here, I think; they’re not opposites but complements. Often we cooperate in order to compete successfully: companies, families/couples, armies & sports teams etc cooperate to compete with other such cooperative groups.

      Similarly, we also compete for the opportunities to cooperate: in job interviews and promotion opportunities; the dating scene; and within political groups we compete fiercely to win the chance to form a cooperative relationship with others.

      The Rousseau-ian fallacy is the assumption that there can be cooperation without competition and the reverse. They are two sides of the same coin and humans will always do both in order to achieve both.

  28. john higgins says

    Had this opinion been offered by a Stanford student or its “opposite take” having been offered by a student from Marietta/FlState, I would would held to a minimal hope, but Bo knows….all is lost.

  29. geeky says

    Great article! I wished the author had delved deeper into disproportionate punishment and the collateral damage it bears upon those who said nothing. “Cancelling” someone’s job for speech not only invalidates decades of education and work experience over a mere word, but also disproportionately punishes spouses, children — people who said nothing at all — by jeopardizing their healthcare, food on the table, and a roof over their heads.

    I’ve noticed that the little guy often bears the brunt of this disproportionate punishment. For example, the leftist response to then-candidate Donald Trump’s comments on undocumented Mexicans, calling them, “rapists.” The SJWs attacked Trump’s business alliances, in particular, they demanded Macy’s sever relations with Trump’s menswear line. Indeed, Macy’s capitulated under the weight of growing public scorn, but in the aftermath, who was materially affected? Certainly not Donald Trump, who even after losing business, still slept in the finest linens money can buy, still rode to work in a limosine, and still enjoyed pleasures aboard his yachts. And he was elected President!

    So who did the left punish then when Macy’s dropped Trump’s menswear line? Very likely those punished were impoverished garment workers in China and Indonesia, who sew neckties for a penny a piece, and in losing big client Macy’s, were likely laid off. People who desperately need the $2 / week they earn sewing garments. Which is counterproductive to social justice ideals isn’t it?

    Leftist SJWs aren’t the only party guilty of misusing disproportionate punishment to silence speech. Folks on the right called for boycotts of the NFL in response to Colin Kaepernick’s kneel down. The jury is still out on the boycott’s effectiveness, however the unanticipated consequence of lost revenues would be layoffs of low-level staffers — ushers, concessioneers, parking attendants — but not the players, who are the talent, the draw.

    Beyond the little guy, “cancelling” someone for controversial speech also bears unanticipated collateral damage on the employer itself, as in many cases the employer is required to spend thousands on sourcing, recruiting, and training up replacement staffers. Surely there are more efficient methods of fostering workplace harmony.

    Society itself pays too. With all of these firings and boycotts for speech, we’re scarcely asking ourselves where do we put all of these “cancelled” workers and their families when they’re shunned from the working world and lose their homes? Do they all sleep under a giant bridge somewhere? Do they go on welfare and Section 8 housing? We’re proverbially sweeping these people under society’s carpet, but at what point are their numbers so great that we can we no longer hide the consequences of our petty punishments?

    I’d love to read a more in-depth analysis of the growing effects of disproportionate punishment on speech and the unanticipated collateral damage it bears.

    • jakesbrain says

      @geeky: The collateral damage of which you speak is a feature, not a bug. They want the consequences of thought crime to reflect on and hurt as many people as possible. Eventually wrongthinkers will be walking around with targets on their backs, and be socially ostracized by people who don’t want the damage to splash over onto them when it inevitably comes. Oh, this hurts you too? No sympathy here! Shouldn’t have associated with HIM!

      They want to hurt your spouse and children. They want everyone you know to suffer for what you said. That way it’ll eventually be impossible for anyone to say it at all, for fear of calling down the wrath of King Mob on the heads of everyone they’ve ever cared about.

  30. Benjamin Perez says

    21st-century conservatives are intent on defending the West while rejecting the Enlightenment; 21st-century progressives are intent on rejecting both.

    • K. Dershem says

      “21st-century progressives are intent on rejecting both” — That may be true of the Regressive Left, but is doesn’t describe all progressives. The views of figures like Steven Pinker, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer, and John McWhorter are all left of center. They (and many others like them) reject political correctness while staunching defending the values of the Enlightenment.

      • Benjamin Perez says

        K. Dershem, Pinker and friends are probably better defined as liberals than progressives. Alas, many (most?) progressives today actually consider Pinker and friends conservatives. That’s how far left much of the American left has moved. They’re obviously not conservatives (I’m not sure if secular humanists can be “conservatives”), but not being “Woke” has come to mean not being progressive. I guess there’s a “Woke” left and a non-“Woke” left, with “Woke” being what most people mean when they say “progressive.” (Am I making sense.)

        • K. Dershem says

          It’s pretty confusing; obviously the terms “liberal” and “progressive” aren’t used in a consistent way. According to some commenters on this site, anyone who’s even slightly left of center is a stalking horse for Communism, so YMMV. Personally, I don’t think that liberals OR progressives (the progressive movement made important contributions in American history) should abandon those labels to the Regressive Left.

  31. Mostly depends on your beliefs about human nature and human biological variation. Progressives are wedded to beliefs that are known to be false or soon will be known to be false. The danger is that they will destroy too much that is valuable before they are forced to accept the truth (if they can be forced to accept it).

  32. david of Kirkland says

    I love the notion about the diversity of cultures, except they hate when culture “binds” people. Could it be that social conventions elsewhere are great, but are oppressive in the west alone?

  33. david of Kirkland says

    The thing is, we see this is human nature. Control over others is natural. Authoritarianism is natural, starting with parents, then schools, churches and of course all our layers of government.
    It is good to recognize the values of the west and the Enlightenment, but those values are often not present in actual policies in any country, including the USA. We have grossly unequal government, with corrupted tax policies, war machines that see “national interests” everywhere, massive deficit spending, unequal policing, unequal sentencing, etc. The right needs to accept that things are far from perfect and should be preserved as is.
    The leftists just take the opposite foolishness, assuming that we have problems, so their limited worldviews (in space and time) are thought to be novel rather than rejected. Being kind is kind; being charitable can be kind if not enabling; but government isn’t kind, never has been anywhere no matter how it’s organized. Power corrupts, and it’s true whether you pretend to love or hate the west.

  34. ianl says

    Yes, this article is way too late. It is accurate but impotent.

    It also commits a cardinal mistake from the very start in its’ title. The words “progressivism”, “progressive” and similar are actually the preferred language of the left, since they instantly imply that opposition is “regressive”.

    Reverse this. Change the title to something like: “Regressive Socialism and the West”

  35. Jezza says

    Bo Please explain the term “atomistic consumerism”.

  36. Jezza says

    I take being called a ‘racist’ as a compliment. It means they think I’m better than they are and I know I’m not. lol.

  37. Coffee Klatch says

    This is probably the stupidest, most racist, sexist and strawmanning article that I have read on Quillette — and that is saying A LOT. If this is what passes for intellectual thought — we are completely intellectually bankrupt. This is nothing more than reactionary pablum, completely detached from reality. Let’s take points:

    This is the most complicated one, by far — but it boils down to two main points:

    a. If it’s true that particular genetic groups are “better” than others, it’s as dangerous to let a “meritocracy” or rule of the powerful/able run rampant as it is any other form of extremism. This is why ruminating over this is pointless. If a certain category of people are always going to dominate, it’s “human nature” that they’re going to look out for their own best interest — and you’re (because this already fucking happened) going to create oppression as the strong make the world in their image. This is exactly WHERE racial and cultural supremacy and patriarchy are invented and entrenched. And, from what we’ve seen, no matter who the people on top are — they are not particularly good at looking out for the welfare and health of those at the bottom. The application of power in the real world is oppression, erasure, genocide and extremely class/caste-based societies.

    b. Even if it is true, generally, it is not true to the individual. For all the bitching that you idiots do about the collective, it is completely useless to focus on genetic traits because environment, social value and possibly gene methylation can render your “hypothesis” useless in practice. I think Ben Carson is a fucking idiot on all matters concerning government and religion, but he’s a good brain surgeon or something, from what I understand. I have plenty of dumb, fat WASP relatives that proved one million times less value to society than a brain surgeon. You absolutely CANNOT deny social/identity collectives and insist on making policy based on genetic ones.

    c. Because none of your pontificating bullshit actually matters on the ground (because we already tried white man civilizes everyone to his dead god and starched pilgrim collar — read the article in the Atlantic today about Native American Boarding schools — to great failure), the only thing that should matter is making sure that all groups have a seat at the table. That means equal representation — and what it means is that governments and businesses should strive to create opportunities for underrepresented groups. Note the word “underrepresented” — not victims, not the oppressed — but actively recruiting and giving preference to underrepresented groups. There are plenty of reasons why there might not be as many women coders that have nothing to do with their IQ – they might be, from youth, tracked away from STEM. They might be pressured to become mothers and wives — society still gives primacy to the male being the go-getters, they themselves internalizing this expected drive. We’ve seen how men can’t even act like civilized human beings if a person in a skirt is in the workplace (see Wall St. article about not hiring women). Families might prioritized the education of boys, etc. There is nothing wrong with active campaigns to even out these inequities to give women power in the tech space. Same with POC and immigrants.

    Did you say that instances of discrimination in the West are relatively rare? You have lost your fucking mind? This is the most bonkers section of the article and I’m not even going to entertain this in the face of a bunch of pasty puffboys marching with torches, a shot-up synagogue, and the busting of a white supremacist ring of hundreds of people two weeks ago. How about the study that shows that white schools have a ton more money than black ones? How Paul Manafort got 4 years, but a black person gets 10 years for having some pot on him in Alabama?? Are you fucking serious?

    As for the other stuff: people do not call out microaggression for “prestige.” They are called attention to because people don’t realize that they harbor deeply entrenched and subtle prejudices and assumptions that are offensive. They are micro because they are hidden — but they are aggressive because they are really fucking aggressive. Not because they’re a little aggressive. When I say to someone with an accent “where are you from?” more often than not, the response in NYC is “From Brooklyn, you stupid bitch.” And should be. Assuming someone fat wants to diet. Assuming someone living a modest lifestyle is poor. Assuming that the way you live is the center and every other culture revolves around your WASP sun. Assuming people want you to pray for them and not just fuck off with your dead god. Assuming someone doesn’t eat because they are thin. Assuming someone is straight. Calling a little Asian woman “a pixie.” And when someone calls you out on this, you should be sorry. And if you keep doing it, you should be shamed and ashamed.

    The part about encouraging victimhood is especially insidious. The idea there is to place the onus for misbehavior on the victim, rather than the perpetrator. To get people to ignore power, and scrutinize those who have been oppressed.

    This is another stupid one. The objections to people like Milo Y and the other right-wing circus of shit brigade is that people want to say outrageous things without pushback or protest — and want to be given a platform everywhere. The arguments counter to your horseshit have carved a well-worn path. To pretend you’re not aware of them is disingenuous, which doesn’t surprise me, because one of the main arguments against some of what comes out of these camps is that you and others like you argue and troll in exceedingly bad faith, making a mockery out of serious scholarship and discourse. Otherwise, if Twitter, your book club, or whoever chooses to ignore your bullshit — you’re just going to have to deal with it. And if there are consequences to your speech from any private entity, well, good luck with that.
    Again, if you don’t believe in systemic problems with “due process,” you’re a fucking idiot. Juries are fickle. Justice is not always easily come by. Sentences are selective. Crimes are arbitrary. Deals are made. Even in the face of evidence, some people — like strong-jawed male swimmers raping someone behind a dumpster — find a sympathetic ear with the patriarchy. The percentage of false claims is extremely small. One in three women and one in six men will experience sexual violence in the US (not to mention exploitation and sexual harassment on top of that). One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before 18. The overwhelming amount of perpetrators are males. I don’t want an innocent person to go to jail anymore than you– but we have a scourge of scumbags thinking the world is their spooge towel and we need to take vigilant measure to protect the victims and their future victims. Check where your concern is greatest.
    Free country. No one has to hire you, buy your shit or patronize your business if you’re a scumbag. And if you put yourself out there to be a general racist, sexist or otherwise scumbag, expect that people will make calculated choices about whether they want to fund your existence. It’s the flip side of free speech — others are also free to speak, think and organize.

    You guys are such fucking whiners. This literally reads like a Quillette manifesto. Grievance v. Grievance. Take some introspective moments and realize your motivations and emphasis and then try to educate yourself out of it with measured, critical thinking. The more you guys keep writing these articles, the more you believe it and the more you become untethered. You think you’re intellectuals, but you sound like the garden-variety, ignorant hoi polloi of the furthest reaches of Ignorantville.

    • Doctor Locketopus says

      And when someone calls you out on this, you should be sorry.

      Nah, brah. Not sorry. I’m perfectly fine with you not liking me, so you can just fuck right the hell off with your Stalinist thought-policing.

      You guys are such fucking whiners.

      I’m not the one throwing a foot-stomping hissy fit because someone asked where I’m from, or pretending that calling someone a “pixie” is even on the same spectrum with human chattel slavery.

      • Coffee Klatch says

        That is not a real argument. No one says that. That is a lie. The worst thing that would happen to you is someone would say something and you should feel some humility and take seriously that YOUR fucking worldview is but a tiny slice of existence and experience and the centering of yourself can leave you blind and dumb and prejudiced. You can’t say “we don’t care if we other and ridicule you — you can’t say anything because we literally haven’t chopped your head off, yet.”

        • Doctor Locketopus says

          That is not a real argument.

          I’m not “arguing” with you. I’m telling you to fuck right the hell off. Arguments are reserved for those who debate in good faith, and you (and your fellow SJW travelers) are doing nothing of the sort.

          You are, quite simply, bullying other people because it makes you feel powerful, and you have chosen this particular form of bullying because it lets you (falsely) assume the appearance of virtue by claiming to “speak for” the disadvantaged (none of whom have elected you to “speak for” them).

          In another era you would be happily burning harmless old ladies as witches, throwing Jews down wells, or lynching black people. For “virtue”. You are vile.

          • Coffee Klatch says

            Interesting that you equate being asked to be contrite and be open minded enough to learn from other people with WITCH BURNING and LYNCHING. This is how people like you act and feel — so much bravado that you can’t even be humble in the face of what you don’t know (which is much) for even a minute. It shows a small mind, defensiveness and fear.

    • @Coffee-

      You raised so many issues it’s hard to know where to start, but for the time being I’ll only comment on your point on due process. Yes, the legal system has flaws, but to argue against due processes would only make things worse. “Believe all victims” would very likely hurt those who are vulnerable, including minority defendants, the most.

      Also, I appreciate reading rebuttals, including parts of your own, but the anger in your comment detracts rather adds to your points- it comes across more as a tantrum than a reasoned argument.

      • K. Dershem says

        “I appreciate reading rebuttals, including parts of your own, but the anger in your comment detracts rather adds to your points- it comes across more as a tantrum than a reasoned argument.” I completely agree. I would classify Coffee’s post as destructive (rather than constructive) criticism. Its machine-gun approach stands in stark contrast to the original article, which is far more thoughtful and nuanced.

        • Coffee Klatch says

          The original article is extremely fucking racist, sexist and damn near crazy. It’s more an offense to civilized discourse than an impassioned response grounded in reality.

          • Doctor Locketopus says

            The original article is extremely fucking racist, sexist and damn near crazy.

            Where “racist” and “sexist” are defined as “disagrees with a communist”.

            You’re not fooling anyone here. Take it back to the faculty lounge.

            P.S. I wouldn’t assume that “having a hat trick of advanced degrees” puts you above the crowd in this venue. Some of us have advanced degrees in real disciplines, not made up Marxist heresies.

      • Coffee Klatch says

        With all due respect that is a logical fallacy. I have plenty of reason. And, I’m pissed. I’ve had almost five decades and a hat trick of advanced degrees to ruminate on this — saying I’m having a tantrum is lazy. At least call me boring — then you’d have subjectivity on your side.

    • @Coffee Klatch

      Are you trying to shame me with a lunatic-level meltdown?

      It’s not working.

      BTW, Manafort got four years because he didn’t have priors.

      “A black person [who] gets 10 years for having some pot on him” has priors, and maybe some suspended time from his last conviction that he now has to make up.

      But then, you knew that, didn’t you.

    • augustine says

      “You absolutely CANNOT deny social/identity collectives and insist on making policy based on genetic ones.”

      Genetic and social/identity collectives are often congruent. If that bothers you, why?

      “There is nothing wrong with active campaigns to even out these inequities to give women power in the tech space. Same with POC and immigrants.”

      You have determined unilaterally that the reasons for this inequity are unjust. You imply that you somehow know that inequity is avoidable, and also what equity will look like, having ruled out the possibility that inequality can be a natural phenomenon. Therefore you want power over nature itself.

      “When I say to someone with an accent “where are you from?” ”

      Your experience here: So what. I ask people with accents where they are from all the time. I have never had an adverse reaction, probably because I am genuinely curious. I’ve had some very interesting and uplifting conversations this way. I may be more embracing of actual diversity (not merely tolerant) than you are.

      “The idea there is to place the onus for misbehavior on the victim, rather than the perpetrator.”

      You do not get to provide a universal definition of “misbehavior”, prejudice, etc., in these cases. That is the power you want and when you get it (micropower) you abuse it and reach for more. Umm… no.

    • Karen Eliot says

      You have chosen to see all human relations in terms of power, group identity and, as a consequence, oppression. It is perfectly valid to apply this perspective now and then as we are a social species for which dominance hierarchies exist. But to apply it all the time, use it as sole moral compass and turn this into a crusade will rather promote suffering than lessen it. To demand that every group gets “a seat at the table” one first has to create group identities and force individuals into it, then assume zero sum conflicts over resource allocation to these groups, and turn the allocation into a moral issue. While this may seem justified in the abstract and is a common theme in our narratives about ourselves (fight against injustice, rise of the oppressed etc), the concrete it’s often silly and harmful. Look at one of your examples, “women having to little power in tech space”. Why exactly should there be as many female coders as male ones? Is womenkind, or a particular woman, somehow diminished because this is not the case? Do you imagine software developers form a secret cabal that accrues all kind of unjust privileges (real ones) for themselves? And if that were the case, should we not stop this unjust exploitation of non-coders, instead of making sure that there is an equal sex distribution among our oppressors? Or even better, why not let every individual woman simply decide for herself if she wants to become a software developer? It’s the 21st century, ffs!
      Or take your “micro aggressions”. Do some people get annoyed when they are being asked for the 100th time where they come frome? Probably. But everybody gets annoyed by random stuff other people say. While it would be nice if this was not the case, I don’t see what we can do about it, except for trying to be nice to each other. Splitting people into groups is easy. Convincing these groups that they are under attack by another group is also easy. The next step is to ascribe “good” and “evil” to the respective groups, and then your’re almost at the witchburning stage. Your whole comment was basically a manichean description of the world, with the good people here and the bad people over there. That’s the way to more suffering, not less. Which means I’m against it.

  38. Jezza says

    I perceive a flaw in that revered document produced by the founding fathers: “the pursuit of happiness” should read “the pursuit of truth”. Consider the ramifications.

  39. K. Dershem says

    I agree with most of Winegard’s points and think his essay provides a useful summary of the anti-SJW ideology. However, it’s worth nothing what the article (and Quillette more generally) leaves out in its myopic focus on these concerns.

    First, Winegard claims that the U.S. (part of the the “West”) is a “largely meritocratic society in which talent and skill are rewarded with pay and status and employers are encouraged to ignore irrelevant immutable characteristics such as race or sex and to live with the inevitable disparities, knowing that most of them are not caused by malice but by natural variation.” I think it’s equally untenable to (a) blame all disparities on discrimination and (b) deny that discrimination remains a significant force that affects people’s prospects despite the tremendous progress we’ve made. There’s abundant evidence that the poor (who are disproportionately black and Hispanic) are likely to attend worse schools, get exposed to more environmental toxins (which can affect their intellectual development), receive inferior health care, face harsher penalties in the criminal justice system, etc. It’s true that the poor are also more likely to make bad choices (e.g., dropping out of school and having children out of wedlock) that compound their disadvantages, but these choices are made — at least in part — in response to their circumstances. In my view, the playing field is far from level. Perfect equality of opportunity (let alone equality of results) is impossible to achieve, but Winegard seems to think that we’ve gotten close enough. I disagree. In my view, more can and should be done to enable social mobility.

    Second, Winegard is rightly concerned about the deterioration of due process for men who have been accused of sexual impropriety and the disproportionate punishment inflicted by social media mobs. However, he fails to mention the many other problems with our deeply flawed criminal justice system — problems that affect far more people. It may seem unfair to criticize an author for the article he didn’t write (i.e., what he left out) instead of focusing on what he did write, but I think it’s odd to focus so intently on the relatively small number of cases in which #metoo has gone too far while neglecting issues like prosecutorial misconduct, excessive use of plea bargaining, the crippling impact of fines and fees on poor defendants, selective enforcement of the “war on drugs” (blacks are about as likely as whites to use and sell drugs but are far more likely to get arrested and end up in prison), and high rates of recidivism (due in part to the virtual abandonment of rehabilitation programs in many prisons).

    As I said, I agree with Winegard that (1) humans are innately self-interested and social systems that ignore this basic truth are doomed to fail; (2) individuals should be encouraged to be more resilient, not hyper-sensitive to supposed slights; (3) freedom of speech must be defended, especially for controversial ideas; (4) everyone who’s accused of a crime should be afforded the presumption of innocence; (5) mobocracy is dangerous madness; and (6) we should revere the founders of the Western tradition even while we acknowledge their flaws. However, I think there’s a danger that the (over-?)reaction to SJWs is congealing into its own ideology — one which also has favored victims (in this case, white males) and blind spots.

    • K. Dershem says

      “… worth noting …” — ugh, a typo in the second line. Someday there will be an edit function …

    • Stephanie says

      K Dershem, you say:

      “There’s abundant evidence that the poor (who are disproportionately black and Hispanic) are likely to attend worse schools, get exposed to more environmental toxins (which can affect their intellectual development), receive inferior health care, face harsher penalties in the criminal justice system, etc.”

      Is this actually discrimination? These just sound like the natural consequences of not investing sufficiently in local taxes that fund schools and health insurance. Environmental toxins as far as I can tell from places like Flint are the result of voters choosing corrupt politicians, who bribe them with promises of free things but are similarly succeptible to bribes themselves. Harsher penalties are likely the result of poor representation and higher rates of delinquency.

      It also isn’t obvious that the inescapable fact that life will be harder for the poor than for the rich should have some implication to the race debate. In the US a bright and motivated minority student has scholarships and acceptances to elite institutions thrown at him. To escape poverty all that is required is to marry before having kids, finishing high school, and getting a job. It’s a low bar that we should expect minorities to meet if we believe them equal.

      I do agree that there are ways we can help. Developing homeschool cirricula to get students out of the toxic atmosphere at many minority-majority schools would be a huge help.

      • K. Dershem says

        Poor parenting is part of the problem in many lower-income households. I don’t think homeschooling is a realistic solution for the majority of impoverished children.

      • Ray Andrews says


        “Is this actually discrimination? These just sound like the natural consequences”

        Somehow the question if framed badly. It is both at the same time. If my dad long since disappeared and my mother is a crack ho, yes, I am disadvantaged. My entire life ‘discriminates’ against me. The SJW says that the cycle of poverty isn’t my fault — or my mother’s or my father’s or their parents or … anyone Of Color … it is whitey’s fault and whitey will pump as much affirmative action and as much money at me as is necessary to make me into a success. I am forbidden to fail and even if I do, that also will be whitey’s fault.

        The hard rightie will say that there is nothing that can be done for me. The Free Market will decide my outcomes and any notions of support or help for me are Socialism and entirely bad.

        I take a middle road: My bad situation is very largely the result of poor choices made by my parents and my culture. Society should offer me some help, but it can’t force me to succeed if I am determined to continue my culture’s tradition of failure. I am Discriminated against, but if I put my shoulder to the wheel, I can break free, eg. Dr. Carson. Society should offer me help if I’m willing to take it but not force it on me because at the end of the day, my success is up to me.

    • ga gamba says

      (blacks are about as likely as whites to use and sell drugs but are far more likely to get arrested and end up in prison),

      Use. Yes. Use in public in view of police? No. Deal? Yes. Deal in view of police? No, again.

      Whether they’re stupid, don’t care, think the law is illegitimate, or believe they’re invisible, blacks are more likely to get busted because they are more public in their breach of the law.

      Michael Tonry, professor of law at the University of Minnesota: “Whites are more likely to sell to people they know, and they much more often sell behind closed doors. Blacks sell to people they don’t know and in public, which makes them vastly easier to arrest.”

      Getting caught red-handed is an easy route to conviction, and 95% of those arrested on drugs offences are caught red-handed.

      Blacks arrested for drugs are more likely to be sent to jail because they’re more likely to have had a previous conviction – the court tends to take sterner measures with recidivists. Police tend to patrol high-crime areas more frequently than low-crime areas. High-crime areas tend to be the poor areas, which have a higher proportion of minorities. Policing isn’t done equally across all areas because it’s an inefficient use of resources; you police more heavily where the crime reports are.

      Further, almost no one goes to jail for first-time simple possession. That’s handled with fines, probation, community sentence, time served, and administrative procedures. The great majority of those imprisoned for drug offences are dealers, traffickers, and producers, an entirely different group of people, ones convicted of felonies, than someone with a few grams of cannabis, which is treated as an infraction or misdemeanor.

      Lastly, and important, the two big enforcement pushes in the war of drugs, that of heroin in the late 60s and early 70s, and that on crack, starting in the late ’80s, came at the behest of the black community who accused authorities of under policing the black community – “They don’t care when blacks become addicts and die, when blacks are victims of crime perpetrated by drug users, or that black neighbourhoods are terrorised by gangs dealing drugs and battling each other for sales territory.”

      • K. Dershem says

        GG, I don’t disagree with your analysis, but I think there are historical and sociological reasons that blacks are more likely to live in high-crime areas and have a criminal record. (There may be biological ones as well; I’m agnostic on that point.)

      • Ray Andrews says

        @ga gamba

        Thanks, that’s a classic example of unpacking statistics.

      • K. Dershem says

        Ah, Quillette. I should have known better than to mention race in my comment … it’s an irresistible lightning rod for commenters here. I intentionally led my post by discussing social class, but that evidently wasn’t enough. Oh well.

        @codadmin, there’s abundant evidence of racial prejudice in the criminal justice system. It’s obviously not the sole cause of racial disparities in prosecution and incarceration, but I think it’s clearly a factor.

        • codadmin says

          @K .Dereham

          I don’t think there’s any evidence of anti-black racism in the criminal justice system. African Americans exhibit the same comparitive levels of crime as sub-saharan africans.

          American is a multi-racial society, and the criminal justice system is a reflection of community crime rates.

          Compared to whites, Asians are underrepresented in arrests, stop and search, police shootings etc. Is this racism?

          If the criminal justice system was racist, then it would affect all minority groups, but it doesn’t.

          But, let’s assume racism did play a role. What percentage of role do you think it plays?

          • K. Dershem says

            @codadmin: Obviously, Asians have a very different history in the U.S. than African-Americans. Racism does not mean that “all non-whites are equally disadvantaged.”

            Yes, blacks are (on average) more likely to commit certain kinds of crimes than whites. You may think that’s due to genetic differences; I’m not convinced that’s the case. Even accounting for that disparity, there’s still strong evidence that the criminal justice system is racially biased against blacks and Hispanics.

            If you’re actually interested in examining the evidence, I would encourage you to start with the Wikipedia entry and proceed from there.


    • codadmin says

      “(blacks are about as likely as whites to use and sell drugs but are far more likely to get arrested and end up in prison)”

      There’s multiple reasons for this, and none of them are racist. Leftists take a discrepancy and immediately jump to ‘racism’ without any evidence whatsoever.

      BUT, this particular leftist canard doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. For one, blacks are far more likely to have previous convictions because of higher crime rates in their community. The one fact alone is enough to explain it.

      • Dan Flehmen says

        And blacks are more likely to commit petty drug crimes in public – sidewalks and street corners – than whites, who smoke their doobies in the living room or back yard. Standing up to the man by committing minor offenses in public is cool and prestigious, even if you do end up in the slammer, gaining you that much more street cred.

        • Dan Flehmen says

          Apologies to ga gamba. I only saw that much better comment after making mine.

          • ga gamba says

            No need to apologise, mate. Everyone is welcome to have their say.

    • Phil Major says

      “There’s abundant evidence that the poor (who are disproportionately black and Hispanic) are likely to attend worse schools..”

      This seems like the expected case. Poor communities spend less educating their kids, and thus their kids attend worse schools. Where is the controversy?

      “In my view, the playing field is far from level.”

      Again, why would we ever expect it to be? Siblings are unequal in their talents and dispositions. If there can’t even be equality among siblings, why would we expect it in society at large?

      Yours is an earnest, respectful, and well-communicated comment. I just feel as though there is this underlying assumption that people – inherently equal – have been distorted by corrupt societal forces. When it’s really the case that people are far from equal, and the offspring of those who are better prepared for success (who delay gratification, make timely sacrifices and sound decisions, and who work hard consistently over time, etc.) will have access to greater resources to foster their own development.

      Why should it be otherwise?

  40. DJS1784 says

    The described cultural/French/ revolution / witch hunt dynamic exits in the real world only on university campuses and in tech companies whose office environment and vibe are modeled on a university campus and referred to as such.
    In rest of the world it exists only in the virtual universe of social media. Question I have no answer to. Why do victims of these attacked do not ignore them? These are literally streams of zeros and ones, some generated by anonymous user, some by real people one does not know and some by computer programs. I closed my twitter account. If this post generates tsunami of attacks I will never even know it, not mention consider offering groveling apology. What is the text of SJW post if there is nobody there to read it? Let them talk to themselves.

  41. Fickle Pickle says

    Notice that Bo did not even mention the function of the three most powerful institutions that pattern and control every minute fraction of everyone’s live and the culture at large (or what remains of it) in the USA.
    The Pentagon.
    Television (propaganda central)
    The Advertising Industry (the brains of propaganda central)

    The military/industrial/propaganda-“entertainment”/complex.
    In a very real sense they could be called the (very) unholy trinity because they seemlessly reinforce each other.

    The anti-culture produced by this unholy trinity is a collective form of insanity, an absurd soap opera that controls the destiny and experience of the total world of human beings. And that soap opera is, in its root disposition, totally indifferent to, and indeed hostile towards the well being of all beings on this planet – not just the humans.

    The real handling of business is not being done at the present time. Now, everybody is on the brink with everybody else playing the never ending self-righteous “gotcha” game. It is everywhere like that. The daily “news” is that. The human world of nowtime is like colossal Reality-TV – a dreadful mini-series, a few weeks until death. The common world of nowtime is a form of potentially fatal collective psychosis.

    Turn on your TV – such is the nature of the death-saturated soap opera in which we now all “live”.

    • Lightning Rose says

      I got rid of TV over 12 years ago. 1.3 million Americans cut their cables just last month. The people aren’t quite as stupid as the Left would like to think!

      • peanut gallery says

        @ Rose Enh, those stats just speak to the increased popularity of streaming. Don’t worry, we’re still getting our dose of brain damage. I was a big fan of Neil Postman’s books. It’s still relevant. The media is the message.

  42. Peter Pan says

    Some paragraphs from a 1992 Dharma talk by a Buddhist Spiritual Master who was very sensitive to the humanly created world situation.

    The separation and division and death of human beings all over the world is the dramatization of the separative ego made collective, made political. Understand that that is what is happening around you – all over the earth. And that collective egoity is not only being manifested politically and socially, it is being manifested in the whole atmosphere of the earth as the hole in the ozone layer, the possible rising of the tides, storms, destructiveness everywhere.

    You can make a positive difference by cooperating with one another, by refusing the impulse to non-cooperation among human beings, by manifesting the principles of your religion – of compassion, cooperation, and love. If you do not manifest those principles in your personal life every day, you are supporting the destructiveness that is going on all over the world. Am I asking too much?

    You are at a critical time in this epoch Do not manifest intolerance in your speech or in your life. Exhibit tolerance, compassion, love, freedom from self-obsessed acts in your life, your speech, in your actions. This is not a moralistic matter. It is necessary for humankind’s survival. All over the earth people are dying every day, because of separatism, dissociation, so called ethic cleansing

    You must understand the times you are in. It is not like it was in the eighties, the seventies, sixties, of the fifties. This is a very, very dark and difficult time. People are being murdered by the thousands every week. The situation on earth must change or humankind is going to self-destruct. There are ground level very human obligations. They are about tolerance, and compassion, and cooperation. You are collectively destroying the natural environment upon which you depend, in which you are non-separately entangled at many levels.

    Meanwhile 26 years later the humanly created world situation has become much darker, by many degrees.

  43. Donnerhauser says

    Mr Winegard, I want to say that this was an excellent article (I have followed your work, particularly your collaborative work on authoritarianism). Your first part, where you examine how progressives are selectively sceptical about human nature, was something I was thinking about recently and you are completely right. I know people who argue claims about human nature are nothing more than a reflection of current cultural norms or class ideology (these people tend to be Marxists), yet then insist that homosexuality or gender dysphoria is down to biology.

    This doublethink is not unique to progressives of course, conservatives do this as well, but that’s not the issue at hand. My concern is that as results fail to materialise themselves, radicalisation will occur – after all, if you are convinced that the only thing preventing group equality is oppression, then you will conclude that your failures are purely down to a perfidious oppressor class and thus more radical solutions are required. And when those fail, you try even harder, until everything breaks down.

  44. Dan Flehmen says

    I am hardly a conspiracy theorist but it is easy to interpret the entire progressive assault on western ideals, and the social groups who have given us modern liberal democracy, as a focused effort to destroy the West. The progressives attack all pillars of western society, even heterosexuality, the most basic feature of the last billion years of evolution, and inculcate hatred of them in the young. The movement is almost uniquely destructive in the West (1930’s Germany being the exception) and It is hard to see this as the natural or innocent development of twentieth century academic ideas.

    Who would gain from the weakening and self-abasement of the West – the Russians, the Chinese, the oil Arabs and jihadis, space aliens?

    • K. Dershem says

      The gay rights movement is an application of Enlightenment ideals, not an abrogation of them. You’re conflating traditional Christian teachings (which condemn homosexuality) with “western ideals” more broadly. Modern liberal democracy is a product of the Christian West, but Christian doctrine alone was obviously not sufficient to enable its emergence. Christendom existed in various forms for well over a millennium before the founding of the American republic.

    • Coffee Klatch says

      Do you not realize that you’re a literal fucking fascist?

      • K. Dershem says

        @Coffee: I understand your frustration. Some of the commenters here are deeply ideological and relentlessly uncharitable to opposing points of view. However, I don’t think that insulting them does any good. If you’re interested in having actual conversations instead of just venting, I recommend ignoring the extremists and engaging with the more reasonable and open-minded commenters. Quillette is a right-wing website and attracts right-wing readers — not exclusively, but (if the comments are any indication) in significant numbers. I’m center-left myself, but I’ve actually learned a great deal from both the articles and some of the more nuanced comments. Even reading the extremists can be instructive if you’re looking to understand that perspective (which I regard as an equal and opposite reaction to the SJW ideology).

  45. Bryan says

    This is a succinct and beautifully written article outlining the very real and present danger that progressive ideology currently poses to western values. It was a pleasure to read. However, it begs the question as to what is actually behind the six ideas put forth as the foundations of leftist ideology. It is the will to power as a means of ensuring personal survival that is the ultimate driving force. We humans have a profound and understandable propensity to hide our selfish motivations from others as well as ourselves, but the conscious effort to conceal totally self-serving and intentionally harmful goals and actions behind a veil of altruism may be the very definition of evil.

    • jakesbrain says

      Altruism itself can be dangerously shortsighted, as anyone familiar with Ayn Rand can tell you at length, but I think you’ve identified the greater danger — pure lust for power disguised as altruism.

      • K. Dershem says

        If you think that everyone who expresses concern about social justice is motivated by a “pure lust for power,” I can only surmise that you’re projecting. It reflects a profoundly cynical point of view which is extremely uncharitable to people (there are many) who sincerely care about injustice in society.

        • X. Citoyen says

          K. Dershem,

          Maybe saying social justice is motivated by a lust for power is a stretch because no one really knows another’s mind. On the same principle, how do you know many sincerely care about injustice? Or, rather, what leads you to believe that someone like Coffee Klatch cares about injustice?

          When I see someone volunteering at a shelter or a soup kitchen week-in and week-out, I’ll say that person cares about the downtrodden. But I don’t really know that person’s motives; all I can know for sure is that helping others in this way makes the person feel good because that’s why people do things. Still, their behaviour issues in a good and imposes a cost on them, so I think it fair to say that the person cares.

          When I see someone ranting and raving and making po-faces over social justice, I see…someone ranting and raving and making po-faces at others. As before, I infer from such behaviour that it makes the person feel good about themselves. But no good comes of it, and, more importantly, there’s no cost to it. In fact, there’s only an upside, the frisson of self-righteousness that comes from putting others down. That’s virtue on the cheap.

          I’m all for charitable readings of people words because strawmanning refutes nothing. But I don’t see why I have to believe a Coffee Klatch or anyone else is motivated by high ideals when their actions bespeak someone motivated by base desires.

          • The etymology of the word “compassion” is the Latin “to suffer with”.

            The new improved definition of “compassion” is “to pay someone else to suffer with”.

            Or perhaps more precisely, “to force someone else to pay someone else to suffer with”

            Or perhaps even more precisely, “to talk about forcing someone else to pay someone else to suffer with . . .”

        • Diana Ayala says

          K. Dershem,
          The problem is that liberals play up injustices where there are no instances of any existing. Take me, for example. I grew up in Honduras. I’m a “person of color” (hate that term). I went to college in Arkansas. I work for a nonprofit. Since coming to the USA I’ve been told by liberals how injustices are being perpetrated against me- I’ve never experienced it In fact, the nastiest people have been liberals who discard me the moment I don’t join in their pseudo-religious SJW mantra.

        • Phil Major says

          “It reflects a profoundly cynical point of view which is extremely uncharitable to people (there are many) who sincerely care about injustice in society.”

          Aside from those who oppose taxation beyond one’s own costs to the system, who else is preoccupied with justice? Serious question.

          Those willing to demand “rights”, which more often than not turn out to be more like entitlements (that they aren’t entitled to), also demand that someone else pay for what they want. The unjust confiscation of my wealth to pay for things you want access to undermines any efforts to further justice.

          Unless you’re footing the bill yourself, or someone has volunteered their resources for your cause, it’s very likely that your cause is unjust at it’s core.

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  48. dirk says

    The difference between progressives and progressivists? If I look it up at Google, I see even a difference of the ideas between the NLs and Belgium. And in the USA, I read, there was already progressivism end 19th century, but is this the progressivism as meant in the essay above? More important: is a definition where we talk about necessary before starting a discussion? Scarcely, I fear.

  49. TheSnark says

    Western Civilization offers many benefits and, of course, suffers from many shortcomings. The “progressives” don’t even realize that the benefits exist, they simply assume these benefits are part of the natural order of things. But they obsess over the shortcomings. Since in their mind Western civilization offers no benefits (they think the benefits are part of the natural order, and will be there forever), their logic leads them to conclude that tearing down the entire structure is a good way fix the shortcomings. A classic case of “be careful what you wish for”.

  50. See Through Their BS says

    Excellent article. Well thought-out and generally on point.

    As I’ve encountered and read about this issue, I’ve developed a sort of litmus test to know whether the righteousness warrior you might be observering or reading on a given day is actually motivated by the right things and trying to right an actual wrong, or is little more than a self-righteous, self-absorbed miserable SOB who wants everyone else to be miserable with them.

    If the person doing the yelling or finger-pointing or shaming is:
    a) the “loudest person in the room”
    b) white
    c) never actually harmed or directly impacted by the thing they’re yelling about
    d) like a broken record (crusading for one person today, another person next week, another the week after)

    …then you can be pretty sure their #1 motivation is to be seen by others, doing the righteous yelling, finger-pointing, shaming they’re doing. The biggest lie about this whole movement (especially on campuses) is that its ostensibly for the betterment of the victims, for other people. It’s not for other people it’s for the people yelling the loudest, making sure everyone knows just how righteous and right they are and how they’re “fighting for good”. Except that their fighting doesn’t actually improve anything; it merely degrades the evironment in which we’re all supposed to communicate and learn.

    Real social justice people, the ones really out there doing good. You don’t know their names, you don’t know their Twitter handles, or Facebook feed. They go about their work (yes work, not hot air) quietly and thanklessly, and they don’t care because they’re not doing it to “make a statement” or be seen; they’re doing it to actually solve and actual problem of someone being wronged by some company / entity / whatever it is.

    In summation, the louder and more acidic their tone, the more you should simply ignore the person and not engage them in any way, shape, or form other than a quick look in the eye that says “you’re a fucking fraud and we both know it.” Because they are.

    • Charlie says

      Excellent comment. Never considered them as frauds but they are. I liken them to the empty can which makes a noise when kicked down the road; they have no expertise to solve problems so they make a noise. It is the opposite of deep waters run quiet.

    • Tom Falkingham says

      This article is an embarrassingly simplistic, selective and ultimately unhistorical overview of “progressive ideology” which struggles to explain how the social and scientific progress that has occurred over millennia, for complex reasons but predominantly in western societies, will now be the West’s undoing. For one thing, the Western intellectual tradition is a self-critical tradition and, historically, “progressive” thinkers in that tradition have always rejected Wineberg’s type of “one size fits all” analysis and succeeded in winning hearts and persuading skeptical minds because they are capable of critical thought and attending to nuance. However, nuance and self-awareness present problems for Wineberg whose ideological biases are finally betrayed when praising “the great project of Western Civilization, a project which has succeeded only because of their talents, skills, and sacrifices. Individualism, markets, the rule-of-law, and representative government were not the generous donations of the gods, but rather the incalculably expensive gifts of our ancestors”. Among those gift-giving ancestors the article should have acknowledged, if not highlighted “those progressive thinkers and activists fighting tooth and nail against the kind of vested conservative interests for whom Wineberg is still prepared to run interference”. The “West” has nothing to fear but fear itself, as FDR almost said, but dumb, uncomprehending fear is all that the unconvincing conservative speedhump, Wineberg is offering here.

  51. another fred says

    You are missing the single dominant thread to the angst of the young, to wit, the sense that they must act to “save the world”, a thread that runs through most of the commentary on this site.

    It started in the 60s and became the most powerful meme in humanity about the middle 80s, about the time of USA for Africa and “We are the World”.

    We were told by scientists in the 70s that population was the problem, but that idea brought about thoughts too ugly to contemplate so the campaign diverted to symptoms (global warming, save the whales, etc. etc.).

    The distortions to traditional mores brought on the Trump reaction, not unlike the ghost dances or Xsosha cattle killing cults.

    Population has continued to increase, although at a barely reduced rate. While most of the young and almost all “progressives” continue on their quest to “save the world” there is a growing proportion of the population focusing on “sauve qui puet.”

    One might think about that.

  52. Dan R Smedra says

    Thank you! A beautifully written clarion call for sanity.

  53. Rational Number says

    Sad to hear that the man voted “Greatest Briton of the 20th Century”, the great Winston S Churchill, is vilified by these screaming haters yelling ‘witch” at everyone that does not toe their line.

    James Damore was so right, but weak companies fold easy.

  54. KDM says

    Great reply! If I could give this multiple thumbs up I would!

    Overall good artical. But I agree with another commenter who said it was 5 years too late.

    Roger Kimble wrote this book in 2001.
    “The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America“


    And before that there were people screaming loudly raising the alarms, all the way back to the 1970’s.

  55. Aerth says

    Progressives change nothing, only makes other people lives harder (or destroy them in too many cases), but are masters at telling themselves they have “made a difference”.

  56. tommy mc donnell says

    don’t you know that communists say they can change human nature. check out the Frankfurt school.

  57. Ron Liebermann says

    The author makes a mistake early in the essay. Bo states: “Because progressivism is dedicated to the view that all demographic groups are roughly the same.”

    That’s not true at all. What Bo calls progressivism is actually communism. It’s the idea that a certain group of people have the political right to make decisions on behalf of other people. They have never claimed that all demographic groups are the same. On the contrary, they claim that demographic groups are different; therefore they must be equalized, using force, if necessary.

    Now let’s look at another mistake: Bo writes “Capitalism is therefore perceived to be a monstrous and often destructive force that encourages avarice and destroys cohesion and community. They also believe that humans are fundamentally cooperative creatures and that, therefore, policies that promote cooperation rather than selfishness can fundamentally alter human behavior so long as we properly re-educate humans, steering them from the sins of greed, selfishness, and atomistic consumerism.

    The danger with these policies is that they sound morally laudable.”

    Communism is morally laudable? Apparently Bo has never been to Russia. He would love it there.
    Everybody is a communist, and the men are a bunch of alcoholics. Why? Because they have been taught that personal success is nothing but greed and selfishness. Therefore, self-annihilation is the only way out. You know: marijuana, tattoo’s, depression, suicide. That sort of thing. But don’t worry, it won’t happen here.

    So let’s finish up, Bo writes: ” One of the great achievements of Western civilization is to sublimate the desire for vengeance into a system of impersonal and carefully calibrated punishments.”
    Wow! I didn’t know that we were so accomplished. Instead of a source of freedom, education, and beauty; Western civilization and Capitalism have really been nothing more than the Spanish Inquisition! You learn something every day.

    Look, this guy “Bo” is nothing but a low-rent communist who thinks that he can sugar-coat his ideas so that people will agree with him. It would be so much better if he just came out and said “I’m willing to give up my freedom to serve Lenin.” At least that would be honest.

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