A Critique of the Progressive Mentality

The problem with the modern, progressive perspective is the overlooking of limited resources in the grand vision of expanding human potential. There exists an idealistic agenda to satisfy the needs and wants of every human through a complete restructuring of the current social/economic system, despite the fact that there are dire limitations to human ability and resources.

There is an intense desire to supersede traditional customs and law with experimental, progressive theories that have been proven valid only by the collective rationale of those who push these beliefs forward. Instead of approaching the faults of the current economic/social system with a sense of respect for its achievements and forerunners, the progressive adamantly condemns its existence and curses the thinking and beliefs of those individuals who put it into place.

An attack on tradition is quite simple, as it requires completely deconstructing the status quo and identifying every little fault in the system, and then attributing each defect to a common vice that is supposedly possessed by everyone who created or supports it. In other words, the problems of the traditional social and economic system are not mere products of the many complex factors and dynamics that underlie modern society but are the result of the sins of those who sustain it (“The wealthy are fueled by innate self-interest and are therefore the preeminent cause for poverty”). It is easy to criticize a prevailing custom, especially if that custom has existed and been practiced for centuries. The longer an entity exists, the more time that follows to develop critique against it. This is a cause/effect relationship that is inevitable in an imperfect world such as the one we live in. Any product or idea curated by man is imperfect and is completely vulnerable to criticism (though some allow for greater quantities of critique than others due to larger flaws). The progressive chooses to ruthlessly attack the creations of man that have existed for greater lengths of time, by correlating historically perpetual injustices to historically prevalent systems (the exploitation of the worker is the effect of the capitalist cause). This is not to say that historically prevalent systems have not been flawed. The point is that an absolute overturning of tradition based on the assumption that it is, and has always been evil in some way, is irresponsible, unreasonable, and quite frankly immature. It produces an ignorance for the minds of the past. A statement like: “The founding fathers were just old, white men. Society and technology have progressed too far for their ideas and laws to still be relevant”, is asinine. The laws, ethics, and societal structures found in the constitution for example, are grounded in beliefs and theories that have stood the test of time and been studied for ages by some of the greatest political thinkers, philosophers, and leaders. Free will, human nature, power struggles, the balance of democracy and authority, family structure, morality, and building an economic system that adapts to the needs and drives of the people are just a few examples of complex phenomena that have been debated and discussed for centuries by intellectuals and common folk alike.

An individual holding to a progressive mentality will often dismiss the traditional, western approach to these topics merely due to the background and identities held by those who propelled these ideas into the forms of what they are today. Now the principles of postmodernism become entangled with progressivism as the progressive thinker questions the authority of those who have constructed the so called “meta narrative” of the traditional system. Why should we succumb to the laws and truths of the western intelligentsia? What foreknowledge do they possess that sets their ideas apart from our own subjective realities? These are dangerous waters that the progressive unashamedly treads, questioning every source of authority as if it held no less value than a grain of sand. So the progressive condemns the time-honored methods of established practice–what system does he insist on taking its place? Often the solution is radical. Revolution and eccentricity are highly favored and frequently shouted from the rooftops among the reformist community. A complete restructuring of laws, tradition, or even society is aggressively advocated for. Do their theories hold validity? Can they be held accountable? Have their ideas been tested? If so, did they produce results satisfactory enough to legitimize advocacy? Proponents of these theories do not allow for criticism however, as the burden of proof lies not on their shoulders, but on the intrinsically flawed, established order. As the famous political writer and economist Thomas Sowell puts it, “Those with sweeping schemes for reconstructing society seldom pause to ask about the sufficiency of anyone’s knowledge for such a task.” Knowledge, wisdom, and conscientiousness are not prioritized in the procedure of progressive policy, rather power and efficiency are the core drives in establishing their brazen motives.

Revolution and reform are to be enacted instantaneously, without opposition, and are typically justified on some type of “higher moral standing”. For example, consider the recent fanatical bill, “Green New Deal”. Despite major criticisms of the extreme financial demands and extreme systemic changes it calls for, it is fiercely being pressed by the democratic party on a premise of superior morality and a desire to “preserve the environment”. The noble intentions of the progressive overrides any questioning of procedure or factual defect. Rep. Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez made a great illustration of this principle in her interview on 60 Minutes. When her statements were challenged, she claimed that what mattered was that she was “morally right” even if her fact weren’t. Truth and validity are now tossed aside in the name of progressive reform. This can be, once again, correlated to the postmodern mindset of modern progressivism and the subjectivity of facts, morals, and written laws in the name of radical political change. This critique could continue with unrestrained intensity, but brevity and the attention of the reader calls for a conclusion. Progress is not inherently wrong, and reform is certainly a noble precept. When progress, however, is favored over discernment, rationality, respect, and careful observation of the state of affairs, chaos and societal disrupt is bound to occur.

“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.”

⁃             G.K. Chesterton


This article was written by 🗼M from @asianamericanpolitics (IG)



Chesterton, G. K. Orthodoxy. Wilder Publications, 2009.

Rosenfeld, Sophia. “Is It Bad That Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Cares More about Being ‘Morally Right’ than Facts?” The Washington Post, WP Company, 10 Jan. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/01/10/is-it-bad-that-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-cares-more-about-being-morally-right-than-facts/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.5aa626272de8.

Sowell, Thomas. The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy. Basic Books, 1995.

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