Pro Tea Party writers in the USA still, mostly, call their statist enemies “liberals“. Later in that same piece I’ve linked to, its author, Michael Gerson, also uses the phrase “panicked progressives”, partly because “progressive” is an alternative word for “liberal” that is now doing the rounds with what appears to me, from here in the UK, to be particular vigour just now (having (like “liberal”) been around for many decades), and partly, presumably, because panic and progressive both begin with p and the phrase sounds good. I like pretty much everything Gerson says in this piece, but put it like this: I wish he lived in a world where there already were better words hammered into everyone’s heads to describe the people he is criticising other than “liberal” and “progressive”.
Because, the word “progressive” is just as wrong as the word “liberal”. The statists who argue for the destruction of the dollar and for bank bail-outs (again) and for nationalised derangement of medical care and for green-inspired economic sabotage aren’t “liberals”. They do not believe in liberty; they believe in curtailing liberty. But neither do they believe in anything which it makes sense to anybody except them to call “progress”. Progress is the exact thing these statists are now trying and have always tried to destroy, and just lately have been doing a pretty damn good job of destroying. Progress means things getting better. These self styled “progressives” are only making things worse.
Underneath these unsatisfactory labels, which the statist (a better word for these people in my opinion) enemies of liberty and progress have chosen for themselves and have been using for decades, is an assumption, both by the statists and by those who really do believe in liberty and in progress, that the statists are the people who will inevitably continue to decide about such labels.
But the statists no longer do. One of the biggest events to have happened in the entire world in the last two or three years is that the statist tendency has lost its monopoly control of the media in the USA. The statist media used to be “mainstream”. No longer. Now, their bias is utterly clear and out in the open, because there is now a whole different torrent of different media outlets exposing this bias, every day, every hour, every minute. The statists no longer control the agenda. The statists no longer control the language.
Well, that’s not quite right. Statists are still controlling the language, because they are still being allowed to.
But statist words will go on meaning what the statists want them to mean only if the real liberals and the real progressives allow such foolishness to continue. For the people who really do believe in liberty and in progress can now decide their own language. They can use their own preferred words amongst themselves and they can attach their own preferred words to their enemies, and when they do, there will not be a damn thing that the statists will be able to do to stop them.
In this blog posting, which is centrally about not using the words “liberal” and “progressive” to describe people who are neither, I have instead called these people “statists”. I am somewhat unsure about that word’s rightness, not least because it might suggest greater devolution of power within the USA, in accordance with its Constitution, from the Federal Government to state governments, rather than any sort of generalised opposition to or suspicion of governmental compulsion of all kinds. Comments on that, including comments to the effect that there are much better words than “statist” out there, just waiting to step up or which already have stepped up to verbal stardom, so to speak, which I hadn’t thought of or which I have temporarily forgotten about, would be very welcome. Dirigiste? Centralist? Governmentalist? Despotist?
Whatever. “Statist” (or whatever) is not central the point of this posting, which is a double negative, rather than anything positive. What I am very sure about is that people who really do believe in liberty and in progress should stop calling the enemies of liberty “liberals” and should stop calling the enemies of progress “progressives”.