political philosophy in support of social progress and reform

Progressivism is a political philosophy for improvement of society, based on the idea of progress, which asserts that advancements in science, technology, economic development and social organization are vital to the improvement of the human condition.


  • Please make your full contribution to making this ancient civilization the most progressive and the most powerful. By progressive and powerful I do not mean the most dreaded. A dreaded society is not a civilized society. The most progressive and powerful society in the civilized sense, is a society which has recognized its ethos, and come to terms with the past and the present, with religion and science, with modernism and mysticism, with materialism and spirituality; a society free of tension, a society rich in culture. Such a society cannot come with hocus-pocus formulas and with fraud. It has to flow from the depth of a divine search. In other words, a classless society has to emerge but not necessarily a Marxist society. The Marxist society has created its own class structure.
    • Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, as quoted in My Dearest Daughter : A letter from the Death Cell (2007), p. 15.
  • Wherever they govern, progressives repeat the same kinds of patterns: (1) Violate the very laws of economics and, as Rothbard says, nature itself; (2) Observe the consequences of their behavior; and (3) Double down on their original declarations and blame capitalism, religious believers, or anyone else serving as a scapegoat.
  • Progressivism is not a blueprint for governing. It is a blueprint for disaster. We have seen the wreckage in many places, but there is one thing progressives apparently need not fear: paying a political price for their misdeeds. As long as these electoral and governance patterns exist, progressives will expand their power bases — and continue to govern badly.
  • It [National Socialism] was a progressive cause, embraced at the time by the progressives’ progressive, H. G. Wells. Marie Stopes, the great apostle of contraception in interwar Britain, was also—like many among the progressives of the time—a keen eugenicist. In 1935, she attended a Congress for Population Science in Nazi Berlin. In August 1939, she even sent Hitler a volume of her dreadful poems, accompanied by a treacly epistle about love. Yet all this has been forgotten amid continuing progressive admiration for Marie Stopes’s embrace of what are nowadays known as “reproductive rights.” Marie Stopes International, a powerful and flourishing modern organization, still bears her name as it campaigns for and defends those “reproductive rights.”
  • The progressives of Theodore Roosevelt’s day were a varied lot, and some of their disagreements would reverberate, often loudly, right through the New Deal. But they shared a commitment, as Walter Lippmann had said, to substitute mastery for drift, or, as Hoover might have put it, social planning for laissez-faire: a commitment, in short, to use government as an agency of human welfare. Progressives of all persuasions believed that government must somehow superintend the phenomenal economic and social power that modern industrialism was concentrating into fewer and fewer hands. No longer could the public interest simply be assumed to flow naturally from the competition of myriad private interests. Active governmental guidance was required.
  • Neither are the progressivists, in present-day America, revolutionaries or enemies of the order. Being "radical" or "progressive" they merely want to continue with greater speed and determination along the established, wrong trail.
  • Those mid-century liberals were not opposed to capitalism and private enterprise. On the contrary, they thought that government programs and strong labor unions made capitalist economies more productive and more equitable. They wanted to save capitalism from its own failures and excesses. Today, we call these people progressives. (Those on the right call them Communists.)
  • The hatred that often passed for 'progressivism' in 'activist' circles was truly astounding, and I fell lock-stock-and-barrel for it. One was trained only to look for the negative in every nook and corner, and, if it didn't exist where one looked, to imagine and fervently believe that it did. One's whole life became one great protest. Protesting against real or imaginary injustice was almost the only respectable thing to do. It was as if there was nothing at all good in the world to celebrate, and even as if celebration and joy were themselves an 'unnecessary diversion' or a 'unaffordable luxury' that truly committed 'activists' had to carefully shun. That explained why many 'progressives' and 'radicals' were horrifically negative as human beings, many of them being irritatingly obnoxious, judgemental, cantankerous, dour and sullen. Their penchant for protest made them only more so. Believing themselves to be somehow morally superior to others because they had, so they thought, devoted themselves to the 'oppressed' made many of them painfully sanctimonious and proud. Of course, I need not clarify that this was not always the case, and I did have the good fortune of meeting a number of other activists, truly sincere in their commitment, who were among the most loving and compassionate souls I've ever come across. But these were rare exceptions, I have to admit.
    Negativism, then, was a defining feature of being 'progressive', and that's what I began to revel in. But such negativism was almost entirely one-sided in 'activist' circles, for to be counted as a 'real' 'social activist' it was simply unthinkable that the 'oppressed' could be faulted for almost anything at all. For a 'social activist' to even mention, leave alone condemn, the foibles of the 'oppressed communities'--gender injustice or caste rivalries among Dalits or the obscurantism and misogyny preached in many Muslim madrasas or the terror attacks and killings of innocents by Naxalites and radical Islamists--was tantamount to nothing less than treason.
  • Men reached the moon in July 1969, and Woodstock began three weeks later. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that this was when the hippies took over the country, and when the true cultural war over Progress was lost. Today's aged hippies no longer understand that there is a difference between the election of a black president and the creation of cheap solar energy; in their minds, the movement towards greater civil rights parallels general progress everywhere. Because of these ideological conflations and commitments, the 1960s Progressive Left cannot ask whether things actually might be getting worse.
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