Author- Vladimir Zark
I’d like to be clear. A few years ago, there was no fear about politics turning into outright chaos and falling on the brink of madness like it is today. Our enemy, the progressive Left, had always been out of touch, had always lacked the proper decency to communicate with the other side, had always been the chauvinistic and imposing type of movement that shows how backwards its philosophy really is – but only a few months ago did I really say “it’s time for a change”.
To remedy the damage the Left has caused both pre and post-Trump, we must help mobilize our supporters and even the other side to understand what it is about our ideas that make them superior to those of the other side. We must be clear about what progressivism is, what libertarianism is, what conservatism is, and we must prove the point that our philosophies are stronger and build better societies.
To start, we must focus on modern progressivism, which is the bane of all our social and philosophical goals. The seemingly harmless definition given by Wikipedia is that progressivism “is the support for or advocacy of social reform”, which is taken from the Oxford dictionary. The Wikipedia page on progressivism describes the view that progress is being suppressed by “vast economic inequality between the rich and poor, minimally regulated laissez-faire capitalism with out of control monopolistic corporations, intense and often violent conflict between workers and capitalists, and a need for measures to address these problems” (Nugent, Walter (2010). Progressivism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 2). Can you see the powerful Marxist overtones here, the assumption of the so-called ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’, the separation of ‘workers’ and ‘capitalists’? It’s all very cynical and anti-West, when the topic is analyzed deeply enough. Of course there are people who are being suppressed by economic inequality, but it’s hard to believe that progressivism, especially what we have today, will be the solution. It requires an oppressor and oppressed, quite like the modern-day Left, and it requires a victim and a villain – big bad corporations, and the lowly, unfortunate worker. This is a communist narrative, when you really think about it, and is insulting to any true American who works to get out of his financial misfortunes. This is a narrative for the moralist, not the moral person. I believe our story is very different.
Let’s look to libertarianism, which is the philosophy that emphasizes liberty as the ‘core principle’. It is very different from progressivism, clearly, because it doesn’t presuppose a conflict between haves and have-nots. Instead, it’s focused on the weakness of government as a corrupt entity, and emphasizes the power of the individual to make his own decisions. That’s why libertarians do not rely on the state, and in fact are distrustful of the state, when making decisions. Henry David Thoreau famously said in Civil Disobedience that “that government is best which governs least”. He describes it as “a sort of wooden gun to the people themselves”, believing that the government cannot be called a legitimate entity when it “has not the vitality or force of a living man; for a single man can bend it to his will”. This is an important point about libertarianism’s superiority to progressivism and the Left: the Left is made up of idealistic and hopeful people who want their dreams to be realized, never asking for the cost or consequences of their dreams, but only for these dreams to be realized. To achieve this, one needs to ask for many favors from the government, thereby placing many people in debt. Libertarianism is focused only on what you as an individual are entitled to – property rights, legal rights, personal rights, etc. That means that a libertarian doesn’t need the government’s permission for anything, doesn’t depend on anyone, and doesn’t ask for favors. In the clearly difficult and brutal market we have, the libertarian can do well for himself if he tries – and the difference is that he knows his responsibility.
Finally, we have conservatism, which is defined as “commitment to traditional values and ideas with opposition to change or innovation”. This definition might put off some of us from committing to the Right, but we know very well that things have changed drastically since a few decades ago. Traditionalism and preservation may have been seen as childish some 50 years ago, but now? We’ve reached so much progress that going backwards would actually be beneficial. This idea of ‘opposition to change or innovation’ is what keeps a society stable. If libertarianism is for the individual, conservatism is for the collective. The idea is that a society can only make a certain amount of so-called progress before it falls into decline. You must keep the values that make a country great in order for it to thrive and prosper. Our nationalism that was first established by the Founders still keeps this country alive. Our constitution, though changeable, has the same soul as when it was written back in the 18th century. Our spirit, which is founded on liberty and the rights of man, must be preserved.
I think Progressivism is a bastardization of classical liberalism, and I consider classical liberalism to be a good thing. We don’t need to conserve indefinitely, or even be conservative per se – classical liberalism is often mistaken for the Right today, and yet liberalism is most definitely a movement forward. A mixture of libertarian, conservative, and classical liberal ideals will make for a perfect society. You move a little bit forward, extend more rights to the people, and preserve – and you keep going with that logic. I think that’s the key to a prosperous society. My only gripe is with the modern Left, the progressives who are delusional and idealistic. Hopefully you share the same sentiments as I do, and can understand my need to defend libertarians and conservatives over progressives. The modern Left is a mess, and hopefully I’ve managed to illustrate why. The Left would destroy this country and run it in the ground, the way it’s moving now. At least we have philosophies like these that could keep us free.