Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Progressive Boot Camp

This seminar for young Progressive activists detailed in Frontpage Magazine is interesting to note. While in college my fellow conservative students and I attended many similar seminars for students on the right with groups like ISI and others. You get a variety of people at these types of meetings. Some are serious, others not so much. In recent years (e.g., the last 20 or so) conservatives certainly have had a leg up when it came to organization on the campuses. It has been necessary given the bent of most college faculty and administrators. Now it looks like the left is trying to catch up. Judging from this article, however, attempts to organize progressive students may face some stiff competition. Left wing faculty members have enjoyed so much power on the campuses that groups like this have not really been necessary to get students motivated to support their views. It does not appear that alot of these faculty are going to take kindly to the efforts. But this protestantization of the left’s message has led to much radicalization and a lack of unity.

In order to engage in a truly serious discussion you must have a strong point of agreement. The best debates are always between people who, basically, agree. That’s why the intramural sparring among conservatives can be so interesting. Granted, it is sometimes maddening and self-defeating, but it is always interesting and usually important. But the fighting between liberals almost always seems unhinged. They are always searching for their "core." When you have to look for it, you don’t have one. When everything goes it seems nothing makes any sense. It doesn’t seem serious, focused, or relevant. The description of this meeting does not make efforts at organizing progressive students sound promising. Perhaps they’ll kill each other before they get a chance to kill us. I think that’s likely and, of course, it’s good. (And for the record, "kill" is not meant in the literal sense--unlike Paul Begala’s use of it last year at this convention when he claimed that Republicans “want to kill me and my children”!)

Discussions - 4 Comments

Progressives! Progressive activists!!!
Why do the liberals and leftist get to frame the debate and define the terms in that debate? Leftist are not progressive, but rather radical secular fundamentalist (RSF). Our "friends" - the RSF - are the flip side to the Taliban. Why cede the intellectual high ground by calling the liberals and leftists something they clearly are NOT? Radical Secular Fundamentalism is real, it’s here, it’s now, and it is at the root of the culture war. E-mail Bill O’Reily and tell him to stop calling these folks "secular progressives". What’s in a name... everything. JHP

One can only make the mistake of thinking that the terms "Progressive" or "progress" are unqualified good things if one buys into a Progressive way of thinking. In other words, you have to believe that humanity is on some march toward perfection . . . the river of history . . . or whatever you want to call it. I don’t buy any of that and so I don’t mind the term. They can have it. I am much more offended by their use of the term "Liberal" as if they were lovers of liberty! Apart from the fact that the term "Liberal" has been torn apart since Reagan, the real reason that the smarter (and more honest) among them don’t use "Liberal" but prefer "Progressive" is that they know it isn’t accurate. They, and history, are post-liberty now. That’s all very 18th century, after all.

I dislike the term "conservative" very much because I consider myself more of a liberal in the real sense of the term . . . but the war over those terms was lost well before I was born. Still, I think it is important to remember that American conservatives are distinguished from so-called conservatives in other countries by what it is we wish to conserve . . . and that is Liberty. Gosh, aren’t we backwards?

I object to the use of the word "boot" when you are talking about Progressive Camp. Unless you are a marine or a soilder talking about "boot camp" is rather silly... If the event was anything like CPAC or ISI there was very little running, pushups or situps involved, not to mention yelling and screaming.

I totally dig what you are saying so far as the word "liberal" goes.."insert favorite Hayek quote".

Simultaneously I do agree with John that "progress" is more or less an unqualified good definition. You can argue that some new products are not improvements on older ones...that the reality is a marketing gimick...but then you are really argueing about what consitutes progress. True progress is always a good thing...then again all progress comes with a price tag. An opportunity cost/externalities if you will. So perhaps some progress isn’t worth the cost...

Human beings are largely on a march to perfection...the question is always to what extent the perfect is worth attaining. While everyone has heroes...very few of us seem to muster the courage or will power to emulate them...why is that? Well in essence the truth is that we don’t really want to be like Jesus or like Spiderman or Barry Sanders or "insert your hero here". Human beings are largely on a march towards good enough...because most human beings realize that on some level they are happy with good enough and anything better would require too much effort.

People that have been to basic trainning or boot camp understand this implictly... The Drill Sergeants or Instructors are always trying to march the recruits towards perfection... the recruits for the most part are attempting to march towards anything good enough to deflect the ire of the Round Browns... which requires a certain budgeting of "progress". The result is something that approaches perfection or the "standard" but is always of necessity short of it. Of course once we get out of that environment we regress and occationaly progress to whatever standard we wish to hold ourselves to. Provided the destination unit maintains "standards"...the default standard is always what your collar can handle...or usually what looks good enough to achieve your ends.

In so far as all human beings by means of acting or not acting aspire to some degree or another towards some standard of good enough progress, and if we can also say that to some degree the standard of good enough is rising...then in certain areas we can say that "progress" is being made.

I think it is a mistake to give up a word like progress...rather the discussion should be towards what "standards" progress should be made/measured.

John . . . where to start? First I’ll take your criticism and apologize for using "boot camp"--though it does have a generalized meaning in the vocabulary that is now somewhat divorced from it’s real and precise meaning. But I can see why that might offend a military man and I can accept that. So, sorry.

Progress, by definition, is decidedly not an unqualified good. It is and is meant to be a neutral term as to goodness. The use of it implies that there are no unqualified goods. Progress is beyond good and evil and thinks of the juxtaposition of good and evil as an outmoded relic of primitive thought. Progress--especially as it was used by the Progressives--was meant to express a way of herding along the masses with the flow of history. It was a bit Darwinian in that it was assumed that history was leading us toward a more evolved state. Do you really think the history of the 20th and 21st century bears that out? Do you think we have any moral superiority over the generations that have preceded us? On the contrary, I see no difference between us except in our arrogant assumption that we’re on a higher plane because we’re more "modern." We’re making all the same mistakes that previous generations have made but we don’t have the humility to be penitent or even to have a sense of humor about it. That’s one reason why I find the Progressive critique of Bush’s arrogance so amusing and hypocritical.

None of this means that the use of the term "progress" in its ordinary and pre-Progressive sense is incorrect. You make progress toward becoming a Marine and that’s a good thing. But the goodness of it is defined by the END your are pursuing, not the pursuit itself. If you made progress at becoming a Somali warlord or Jihadist your progress would not be so good, right? So the word progress is not a bad word--it’s just not an unqualified good word. It, like the people who lionize it, means and proves nothing.

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