It is often said, and is true, that progressivism is in revolt against nature, but it is only true because progressivism is in revolt against the past and past knowledge, and a large part of our accumulated wisdom is knowledge of the nature of man, what humans naturally are. Progressives are not only in revolt against nature, but revolt against civilization.
Civilization is an artifice, a bunch of skills and methods by which large groups of people are able to live together and coordinate their activities.
Progressivism abandons all such artifices, leaving us with the social instincts that were adequate for a band of a dozen unarmed apes wandering through the jungle eating ants and leaves. (Our more recent ancestors, killer apes, being insufficiently progressive.) Civilization requires several inventions and virtues that are counter intuitive, and have to be continually re-learned, reinforced, reimposed, and enforced.
Civilization is the collection of skills and behaviors that we have discovered that made large groups possible for us.
- Cleanliness. You cannot have cities unless people and places are clean. Without cleanliness, people cannot live close to other people, because they get diseases. Thus, dirty people are bad, need to be treated as bad, repugnant, undesirable people, and similarly dirty places. Civilized people stay out of dirty places, or they get rid of the dirty people and clean those places up. Progressives tend to be dirty. Recall the astonishing piles of filth and trash left behind after the One Nation rally, the Occupy Wall Street encampments drowning in their own slowly accumulating garbage and human faeces, and the stench and disease characteristic of Britain’s public hospitals.
- Economics: Respect for private property, freedom of contract, the free market, and freedom of trade. Adam Smith explained how this solves the coordination problem. Violating these rights complicates the coordination problem, making it unmanageable and impractical to coordinate large numbers of people. Nuclear families are naturally socialist, for as long as they all live under one roof, and this works well enough provided that Dad is dictator. It fails even within families if Dad is not dictator. The larger the group, the larger the necessary role for private property, freedom of contract, and freedom of trade in relations between the smaller groups of which the larger group is composed.For big groups, every intrusion on property is a disaster because it makes the coordination problem more difficult. The criterion for regulation should not be “would this regulation provide some benefit assuming the regulators are sufficiently wise”, but “is this regulation so vital that I myself would hold a gun to my grandmother’s head to make her submit to it and I myself would pull the trigger if she did not comply”. Because the coordination problem is hard, regulators are never sufficiently wise. The more visible coordination you have, the less actual coordination you have, because for large groups, visible coordination works poorly. When the best leader’s work is done, the people say “We did it ourselves.”
- The scientific method. Progressivism rejects the scientific method for the “scientific” consensus, such as peer review. We continually need to ask “how do you know that”, rather than relying on a suitably prestigious authority – we need to use what Wikipedia deprecatingly calls “original research” – which is to say, replicated research, not original research. Without this, society becomes riddled with superstition, and lives in the demon haunted dark – for example recycling rules, and the dietary rules against animal fat. Science ended around 1942 or thereabouts, as peer review replaced replication. The demon haunted dark closes in upon us, shutting down nuclear power, forbidding fracking, superstitiously terrified of dangerous compounds at one thousandth their harmful levels. Science needs to be restored.The need for the scientific method is a phenomenon of large groups. In small isolated groups, everyone is close to the original evidence, the testimony of the senses. In large groups we become overly reliant on what other people tell us, which can circulate and endlessly recirculate entirely disconnected from the testimony of the senses. The scientific method is a continual demand that such disconnects be watched for, detected, and rejected. Peer review needs to be treated as abhorrent and immoral, like plagiarism or research fraud, since it is in practice a continual demand that such disconnects be ignored, that official truth shall rule over observable truth. Peer review in practice detects and punishes heresy, not error. Indeed, by its nature, how could it detect error? Only replication can detect fraud and error. Scientific consensus must rest on evidence that has not been filtered through consensus. Peer review creates consensus that rests on consensus, anti scientific consensus, faith that rests on authority rather than observation.
- Fatherhood. Males need to raise their children, which requires rules for families that make it attractive for males to stick around, in other words: patriarchy and female chastity. As the rules have been changed to be less and less favorable for males, more and more children have been deprived of their natural fathers, and even when fathers stick around, they are less and less involved in their children’s lives.
- Crime needs to be suppressed. It should seem odd and shocking that we need to lock our doors and take the keys out of our cars. It should be bizarre and horrifying that there are large parts of the city where it is simply hopelessly unsafe for an outsider to go. There are plenty of societies where the victimization rate is a hundred or a thousandfold lower than it is in the modern west, for example Singapore, and they accomplish this using methods that horrify modern progressives. Gangs that attack random people in the street should be as bizarre and improbable as man eating crocodiles in the municipal pond. They don’t exist in Singapore. Why should they exist anywhere?Observe the crime surrounding the Occupy Wall Street encampments. Observe that under Hugo Chávez, “Venezuela has turned into the most violent country in South America, and that Caracas has become a global murder capital. According to the independent Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, the annual number of homicides nationwide grew from 5,974 in 1999 (when Chávez took power) to 17,600 in 2010”. Similarly observe the extraordinary explosions of murder and violence that occurred with the end of apartheid in South Africa, and the left wing takeover of Detroit.
- Civilization is unequal and undemocratic: The civilized, being better able to coordinate, impose civilization on the uncivilized. Individuals and groups are unequally civilized, and the civilized need to rule over the uncivilized. Adults impose civilization on children, men on women, law abiding people on criminals, races highly adapted to a world of artifacts and agriculture on races adapted to wandering naked through the jungle, employers on employees. Civilization is not natural and spontaneous. At the current stage of our evolution, it has to be taught and enforced. The civilized minority, knowing what is needful, has to impose what is necessary on the uncivilized majority. In a well functioning civilization this happens primarily in the form of fathers imposing it on children and husbands enforcing it on wives. Propagating civilization through families is the most pleasant and humane form of enforcement, Other, less affectionate forms of enforcement, inhumane forms of enforcement, up to and including chattel slavery and execution, become necessary in proportion as civilization is not propagated in the family. That aspect of segregation that involved manufacturing a well behaved black middle class, installing it in power and affluence over the black majority, and upholding the authority of black fathers, should be understood as an effort to civilize blacks by a more civilized method than chattel slavery. As far as possible, civilization should be transmitted through the patriarchal family, where the bonds of natural affection limit the propensity of the civilized minority to mistreat the uncivilized majority, and through employer/employee relationships, where the liberty of the employee to walk away limits the possibility of mistreatment. Other means necessarily result in abuse and mistreatment of the uncivilized majority by the civilized minority, but the probability of such abuses should not restrain the civilized minority from doing what is necessary to uphold civilization.
And that is what is needful to hold back the darkness, a darkness populated by imaginary demons and real criminals. Eighteenth century Britons were correct to belief that upholding civilization justifies a great many sins, and frequently necessitates them.
If you have a plan for victory over progressivism, don’t think of making entitlements expand at a one percent slower rate, think of restoration of the basic requirements for civilization, think of civilization protecting itself by enforcing them against the savages and subhumans. Plan on jailing a significant number of government employees, and forcibly rusticating most of them. Plan on taking a good part of the criminal underclass and some of the welfare underclass permanently out of circulation.
Any plan for victory over progressivism has to start with firing most government employees, imprisoning those that say “you cannot fire me”, and similarly throwing most of the priesthood (by which I mean official science, public broadcasting, high status universities, and the like), off the government tit. This is necessarily going to be rather like a coup.
Victory over progressivism means firing the old official priesthood, and hiring a new, saner, and substantially smaller, official priesthood. Changing the official priesthood is apt to result in a holy war, which can get very nasty indeed, although when the old priesthood is decadent, one can frequently get away with a single battle, as when the Regent of the King of Hawaii defeated the high priest. I am pretty sure today’s progressives are decadent, and have been decadent for over a century, so full scale holy war may well be avoidable.
Now this may seem like a crazily ambitious proposal. Progressivism has been going from victory to victory for one hundred and eighty years, but progressivism has developed a great weakness. In abandoning civilization, they have abandoned what is required for large group coordination. So when progressives attempt to mobilize as a large group, for example the Occupy Movement, total chaos ensues. They are coordinated only through holding the apparatus of the state, coordinated only through the apparatus of the state. As with the government of a banana republic, should a handful of state functionaries go off the air, there would be nothing left.