The Progressive Presupposition

There is all the difference in the world between describing certain beliefs or assumptions as “intolerable” or “unacceptable” as a point of rhetorical emphasis, and describing them this way as a matter of practical governmental policy, i.e., between strongly disapproving of someone’s thoughts and actively engaging the coercive power of the state to criminalize and punish those thoughts. Unless, that is, one happens to be a progressive, in which case the world of difference between rhetorical emphasis and the impulse to state coercion evaporates. For progressivism is essentially the belief that it falls within the proper role and moral authority of the state to forcibly eliminate all the intolerable and unacceptable aspects of life, including — or perhaps especially — intolerable and unacceptable thoughts, as well as the people who think them.

The fragility of modern freedom lies in this distinction, however, because to the liberal mind, objecting to an idea, even in the strongest possible terms, means only that one wishes no one believed that idea, whereas to the illiberal mind, such wishes always give birth to horses, along with tanks, purity tribunals, and police state surveillance. That is to say, there is an inevitable imbalance in the political discussion, as those who object to the imposition of tyranny will naturally dismiss any notion of forcibly silencing the arguments for tyranny, whereas the advocates of tyranny (under any of its pseudonyms) will naturally make the forcible silencing of any and all opposing views a primary objective. In a battle of ideas and principles, John Locke and George Washington will defeat Mao Tse-tung and Justin Trudeau easily and eternally. But the intellect is not the field of battle on which the Maos and Trudeaus of this world, once given power, will operate. Force is the arena they will always choose, for force itself is the idea which they espouse.

This is why any modern man or woman who values individual freedom and craves a society grounded in self-determination will inevitably condemn progressivism in all its forms as fundamentally intolerable and unacceptable.

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