We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

“Mediocracy prides itself on being progressive. Its critics (to the extent they are permitted to survive, and allowed to express themselves) are derided as conservative, reactionary, and so on. However, the kind of progress that mediocracy promotes is rather specific. Curiously, it often takes tribal life as its paradigm. Movement ‘forwards’ is movement towards a model of a pacifist, egalitarian community, not exploiting the environment, sharing all tasks equally, with each member answerable to the whole community. Other kinds of change are considered inappropriate, and therefore not described as ‘progressive’: e.g., greater freedom from state interference, fewer restrictions on commercial activity.”

Mediocracy, by Fabian Tassano, page 142.

17 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Robert Scarth

    I’ve thought for some time now that “progressive” is the most obnoxiously smug self description. But its worse that that; its nothing less than an attempt to label *all* disagreement as illegitimate. When an individual uses the word “progressive” to describe an idea or a person what they really mean is that they approve of the idea or the person – there is not supposed to be any argument about this – they approve, all right thinking people approve, it is “progressive” and therefore right, if you disagree you are not only wrong but your ideas are illegitimate and you have no right to express them.

  • Andrew Zalotocky

    It might be a useful tactic for the opponents of “progressive” politics to describe themselves as the “transgressives”. It casts the left as the stifling orthodoxy from which free minds are trying to escape and uses their own language against them. Making the new leftist establishment face the fact that they are the establishment is like holding a mirror up to a vampire. They cannot face it because it proves that they are not what they pretend to be.

  • chuck

    Shouldn’t the be *the* mediocracy?

  • Well yes, because one good rule of thumb regarding proggies is that the truth is always the opposite of whatever they claim to be doing, like that Orwell thing. Progressivism is, stripped to its bare bones, just ultra-conservatism (conservative in the negative sense of pastism, rather than the positive sense of “don’t fix what ain’t broke”).

    The Proggie ideology is just the ruling class terror of progress, liberty, and so on. They want to take us back to the Middle Ages, or rather an imaginary Lord Of The Rings type Middle Ages full of hobbits skipping through the greenwood hand in hand.

    The sad thing is, they all think they can crash the world population and have the remaining few labouring in hovels, and still have iPods for themselves. Twats.

  • AKM

    OT, just to bring this article to the attention of Samizdata: http://www.cobdencentre.org/2010/01/money-is-not-working/

  • Alice

    IanB has it right. The self-proclaimed “progressives” want to take everyone back to a 1950s kibbutz, where everyone lives in a 1900s tenement, governed by 19th Century Marxism, riding on 19th Century trains, powered by 16th Century windmills, and with a warm spot in their hearts for a certain 7th Century misogynistic religion.

    Maybe we have to start by taking back the language. They are the regressives, and should be so described at every opportunity. And we, as Andrew Z suggests, should be the transgressives. Not a gay hobbit among us.

  • I like ‘transgressive’ too.

    I don’t think progressivism is seriously regressive in its stated goals, so much as uncritically utopian. Irrational anti-pastism and anti-presentism are among its most common and depressing affectations. Many of the individual things progressives demand are things many of us would like too. The original sin of progressivism is to stuff all these with a bushel of wormy turnips and some botulistic late-night kebabs into one unitary package, with any who try to pick and choose cast into the tooth-gnashing darkness.

    It is a sin of method much more than content, which content indeed can change quickly and inanely with fashion. That is its weak point, since current progressivism attempts to co-opt not only innovation but diversity and tolerance and methodological caution, for its own overarching programme.

    Every one of those is an avenue for transgressivist seduction; an approach for cutting desirable persons out of the conventionally progressive throng, and spiriting them off to smaller and more select venues where they may find a much better evening of it, laughing till their teeth knock, dancing in the dark.

  • Hugo

    Andrew Zalotocky, that is a very good idea.

    I thoroughly recommend the whole of this stunning book.

  • Tedd

    Andrew, et al:

    I really like the term “transgressive” — great idea. I’ve felt for some time that it’s important to proclaim myself as being opposed to so-called “progressive” ideas, in part to undermine the assumed right-thinking consensus that Robert Scarth alluded to. But having a specific, positive label such as “transgressive” or “transgressivist” is even better.

  • Paul Marks

    Prof Pigou at Cambrige in the 1920’s believed that people who wanted a lower level of government spending than he thought “scientifically correct” should be sent to prison (Pigou being presented as a free market person is one of the in jokes of Keynes’ “General Theory…” of 1936).

    So Progressives being intolerant of dissent is hardly just an American thing.

    After all H.G. Wells and G.B. Shaw spoke many times about how people who did not agree with their vision for the future (or even did not work hard enough – by their definitions of hard enough and what was useful work) should be murdered (although they did not use the word “murdered”) by the state.

    J. Goldberg (the author of “Liberal Fascism”) is one of a ling line of people who have tried to expose just how nasty Progressives are – they really are rotten to the core.

    And they are, of course, treated as the great figures of modern academic and cultural life.

    “But their influence on politics is only indirect Paul”.

    Not always – after all the academic Progressive Wilson became President of United States.

    This is the Wilson whose favourate novel was that of his his friend and “other self” Colonel House “Philip Dru: Admistrator” (totalitarianism presented, without irony, as a good thing).

    Glenn Beck has noticed this book – I thought he would eventually.

    Interesting seeing the shock on his face and hearing it his voice.

    I was a boy (many, many years ago) when I found out that people who were presented as moral heroes in the history books (such as Wilson) were actually beasts. I suppose I was just as shocked at the time.

    Of course Wilson lacked the STRUCTURE to enforce his desires.

    Totalitarian plans without STRUCTURE (without effective administrative control – subverting if not destroying all alternative centres of power) are just day dreams in the end.

    It has taken the Progressives (non-Marxist, such as Wilson, and Marxist) more than a century to build the structure they need.

    However, their victory is still not certain (far from it) – as there is the little matter of ECONOMIC LAW that they do not fully understand.

    Their policies bring destruction (they are designed to – in order to bring destroy the hated “capitalism”), but they then assume that socialism will rise on the rubble of the old civilization.

    They underestimate the harm that they do – and they have no clear idea how this socialism would work.

    Yes I really mean that – after CENTURIES of plotting for socialism, most of the collectivists still do not bother their heads about how things will work AFTER they achieve total power.

    The failures in the various Marxist ruled nations in the 20th century do not really interest them.

    It is astonishing – but they still operate under Karl Marx’s doctrine that it is “unscientific” to try and work out how their system will work, but not unscientific to try and bring it about.

    The “utopian socialists” (Robert Owen and so on) never came up with an effective response to the flaws that economists (real ones) spotted in their ideas – errors in the ideas that led the economists to correctly predict that their communities would fail.

    However, at least Owen and others TRIED to work things out (even Colonel House and Wilson did a bit – see Philip Dru Administrator, although it is vague on the most important points).

    But the Marxist tradition has won out – I am fairly sure that Barack Obama has never spared a second’s thought for the basic question “how is it all going to work?”

    That is such an “unscientific” question you see.

    So they march down the road to mass starvation without a doubt in their heads.

    And people say I am harsh and intolerant to hate them as I do.

  • el windy

    “Progress” and “progressive” has a long history and is based on the idea that humankind will inevitably move forward towards a cleaner faster brighter world. these ideas have so far given us both fascism as well as communism. Charles Darwin unwittingly gave them a “scientific” basis in which “progress” was seen as an inevitable result of “evolution” and anything which had evolved from its previous state was bound to be positive and hence “good”. Most modern day articles in scientific journals still play this marked card despite Popper’s warnings re scientific method. Markets can, of course, go both up as well as down and so can societies, nations, governments etc…It’s mostly up to us how we want things to develop but “progressives” don’t want us to realise that as they pretend to be the arbiters of the appropriate choices.

    I also vote for “transgressive”. How can I join?

  • Tedd

    I’ll add that part of what I like about “transgressive” is its double meaning: it can be read both literally, as in “transgressing the (progressive) status quo,” or as a contraction of “transcending [the] progressive.”

  • I vote “transgressive” too!

  • Tedd

    If you’re interested, you can read Philip Dru Administrator (the book Paul Marks described, above) for free at Project Gutenberg.

  • Nuke Gray

    Just give progressives their correct name, and they will scuttle back into the shadows! That name is Programmaniac! Programmania is the belief that everything can be programmed, and planned; if everyone else would just get with the program, we’d all be happy! It is caused, I believe, by a swelling in the ego region of the brain, which overflows into the logical, planning, part of the brain. Let us now hope that pharmacists find a solution to this dreadful condition, which afflicts whole countries.

  • Paul Marks

    Nuke Gray – agreed.

    By the way the original quote is very good.