Archive for September 22nd, 2008


Liberal Versus Progressive

Reading this article by Wick Allison, while very interesting of itself, got me thinking about how Conservatives are always ranting against Liberals (though not the topic of the article itself). Mr. Allison gives an interesting definition of Liberalism.

Liberalism always seemed to me to be a system of “oughts.” We ought to do this or that because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of whether it works or not. It is a doctrine based on intentions, not results, on feeling good rather than doing good.

I’ve said it before: I’m not a Liberal. I’m a Progressive. But what does that mean to me? I think both would be considered “left of center” if you want to use the very bad, linear view of politics. So how are they different?

Both ideas deal with what ought to be. There ought to be equality of the sexes, the races, the sexual orientations, economic prosperity, healthy and educated citizens, etc. The difference between Liberal and Progressive is subtle and it deals with reality and time, with culture/society as a crucible.

Liberalism dreams up the end goal and immediately tries to implement it, regardless of real world elements that oppose it or make the goal simply unattainable. Therefore liberals often fail in attaining their goals despite their best intentions. They cannot simply wish something into reality and make it so. You can think of it as trying to force a round peg into a square hole. Maybe the peg should fit into the hole but it just won’t and wanting it to fit doesn’t change the reality of the situation. The only way to make it “work” right now is to bang it with a hammer… until something breaks.

Progressives think of an end goal and make plans, step by step, to bring that end goal into reality. Instead of going straight to the end goal they take things in stages. This takes patience which Liberalism inherently lacks. Each incremental stage of change is designed so that society understands the change and benefits. When the next step is taken the previous step is already a part of the culture. Society sees the new changes as a normal continuation… A progression. You still have the round peg and square hole, but you use some tools to make the hole a bit rounder and less squarish, and later you might lathe the peg to be a little smaller. Eventually you could have them fit easily though you no longer have a “square” hole or exactly the same peg.

My thoughts haven’t exactly gelled with this idea, but I think it’s rather valid. Liberals are, in a sense, quite extreme in that their method is to skip to the end and the end justifies the means. Progressives know that the means justify the ends, and that it has to be taken in stages. In this sense I can almost hear Mr. Allison in his article calling the current batch of “so-called conservatives” the most Liberal of them all.

7 Comments | Catergorized: political  thoughts


A Little Pissed Off

I’m a little pissed off. Last Thursday I was attacked by an asshole near work. I’m fine, but for the past several nights before sleeping all I can think about is what I should have done (walked away from the situation much sooner; not turned my back on the guy) and what I wish I had done (fucking ignored my glasses, which he’d punched off my face, and fought back instead of retrieving them). Now it’s 2AM and while I was sleepy when I went to bed two hours ago I’m wide awake now.

Fucking asshole not only ruined my Thursday he’s ruining my sleep, too.

1 Comment | Catergorized: grrr  life  san francisco
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