Progressivism: A Primer on the Idea Destroying America
a book by James Ostrowski
(our site's book review)
America is dying from an idea she only dimly understands, so-called "progressivism." So says Jim Ostrowski, the author of this provocative tome. He is drawing on his 45 years in politics, law and the Liberty Movement. He deconstructs and demolishes the idea that has dominated American life for longer than any of us has been alive. He lays the hidden premises of progressivism bare for all to see and then shows how they have led to the destructive policies that are dragging America down.
Ostrowski exposes the mental force field progressives carry around that protects them from having to answer for their multitude of policy failures. He also deconstructs progressivism's chief opponent for the last fifty years, conservatism and its marquis strategy, constitutionalism. These approaches have failed and crowded out progressivism's only viable adversary, true liberalism: the proposition that human beings have the natural right to do as they wish with what they own. The book not only diagnoses what is wrong with America but proposes numerous and detailed strategies and tactics for what individual Americans can do right now to battle progressivism. LibertyMovement.org will be the vehicle for promoting and coordinating those efforts.
According to the author, the actual mindset of the average American about progressivism, and the average member of the media's mindset about progressivism, and the average politician's mindset about progressivism and government is, in a one-sentence definition: “Whatever problem comes up during the course of the day or the week or the month, there’s a governmental solution to that”. This disempowers citizens and greatly empowers the state, which keeps getting more bloated as it conjures up ways to throw money at the problem. It doesn't solve anything, but it gives liberals a warm feeling inside that they've done something.
Our government never acts according to results—only according to intentions. If they were results-guided, they'd have to shut down the government, and thousands of useless bureaucrats would be begging on the street. When they couldn't get enough money for food, they'd turn to mugging passersby. But victims would report that all these bureaucrat-bandits laughed as they mugged—they'd get known as the laughing muggers. It seems that the muggers were noticing the irony of mugging citizens: it's what they'd always done. They were just more honest about it now!
If government programs were results-guided, they'd have to shut down the government, and thousands of useless bureaucrats would be begging on the street until they learned mugging worked better
The State keeps getting more bloated as it conjures up ways to throw money at problems, which does no good but they never act according to results—only according to intentions
“There is not a single accomplishment of American conservatism,” says Ostrowski, who believes the conservatives are lost, and they are no more shrinking government—which they claim to champion—than a cancer tumor is shrinking a human body.
The author disparages how our military went into Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria trying for a progressive solution but ended up botching everything terribly, so now we have ISIS. Our neocons lied to us, got our leaderships behind them, attacked everything that moved, and made the U.S. the most hated and feared nation on the planet. Terrorism increased dramatically, which is the opposite of their promises. Again, if results-testing was in effect, our soldiers would return home—permanently.
In Progressivism: A Primer on the Idea Destroying America, Ostrowski goes after the sacred cows of 'the Progressive State of America (PSA)'
"While the left would lead us to believe that progressivism is based on science and a zeal for progress, Ostrowski reveals that progressivism has become a 'faith for the faithless.' The State replaces God. Heaven will be achieved here on earth and by means of 'Godvernment.' Those familiar with James Ostrowski’s writing know that he is not a timid author who tip-toes around to avoid challenging his readers. In Progressivism: A Primer on the Idea Destroying America, he goes after the sacred cows of 'the Progressive State of America (PSA)' at such a rapid fire pace that you might miss them if you’re not careful. To name just a few, he skewers day care, government education, pro-labor regulations, agricultural subsidies, social security, unemployment insurance, the progressive approach to race relations and even modern day democracy itself." Ostrowski says progressivism does not have a limiting principle and therefore it tends toward creeping totalitarianism. If America does eventually descend into full-blown tyranny, Ostrowski’s readers won’t be able to say they didn’t know the true culprit. (Source: Book Review of Progressivism: A Primer on the Idea Destroying America, Patrick Krey, LewRockwell.com)
We need to quit looking to social engineering superheroes and rely on local community efforts
According to the author and Lew Rockwell, if you travel abroad, it is a liability to be an American. The Progressive State of America has been intervening into the internal affairs of other countries since the time of the first war progressives helped to instigate: the Spanish-American War in 1898. For 50 years, the pathetic role of the GOP in the Progressive State of America is to make failed progressive programs work better, without serious consideration to replacing or abandoning failed programs. No one dares consider that social engineering is basically a flop. As Ostrowski sees it, one more Democratic victory and we will have a permanent structural progressive Electoral College majority, basically, a one-party state. (So he was glad Trump won.) While Ostrowski believes that "the left controls virtually all of the idea-disseminating organs of society," the truth is more sinister: See Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion and learn that the shadow government controls the press via filters installed in all major mainstream media outlets back in 1917! The filters are still there a century later although the CIA runs the filters starting in the year 1947.
In case the implications of Ostrowski's beliefs are not strong enough to register for you, he sees the USA as The Progressive State of America, in which there are two parties representing the delusion that progressivism works and is viable and productive. Each expresses and manifests the progressive cause in its own way. Ostrowski would like to see an antiprogressive party take hold. Trump is the most REGRESSIVE president in decades, but—by June of 2017 had not raised any antiprogressive flags above the White House. So far, it looks to most people that the The Progressive State of America flag will continue waving.
The U.S. military's attempt at proving 'might makes right' has failed in the eyes of the world, which clearly sees the USA proving conclusively that 'might makes stupid'
Ostrowski identifies pragmatism (the idea that “might makes right and it is entitled to do so”) and utopianism (the belief that man can and should bring about an ideal state of affairs on earth) as the unrealistic philosophical underpinnings of Progressive politics. Other than that, his book gives a broad historical retrospective of U.S. Progressive policies and their impacts on America and the world, none of which are good. Ostrowski makes his case that whether direct or indirect, violent force backs up every Progressive policy. However, when the author indicts public schools as the forced incarceration of our children in prisons where drugs and sex are rampant, he goes too far, and perhaps he needs to stop watching bad B-movies about immoral delinquents.
Our democracy is now an oligarchy where democracy is merely the pretense—the cover story. As one reviewer on Amazon (Dave Todaro) sees it, "we are allowed to choose between Jiff and Skippy; either way, we’re voting for peanut butter. Ostrowski sees the logical end of this process as totalitarianism." Force-backed intrusion of natural human rights in the USA are the insult. Force-backed intrusion of other nations by our forces overseas are the injury. Progressivism, therefore, is simply adding insult to injury.
All in all, the author failed to deliver any real solutions to the overall predicament of being stuck up a progressive creek with no paddle. He underestimated the impact of the failure of Libertarians to acknowledge that some level of contribution from citizens to government is necessary for us to prevent anarchistic “jungle rule” and to preserve us from external threats. This makes the Liberty Movement as guilty of utopianism as Ostrowski has rightly indicted progressives such as President Obama, Clinton, Carter, etc. Could their overt libertarianism be anarchy, covertly and in disguise? The Liberty Movement cannot offer direct solutions in post-truth America but it can be the tool to develop a critical mass of enlightened citizens who will discover a better solution together at the grassroots level. See The Quickening of America: Rebuilding Our Nation, Remaking Our Lives, The Revolution Of Hope, Tools for Radical Democracy: How to Organize for Power in Your Community, Organizing for Social Change: 4th Edition, and Politics and Government.
We are allowed to choose between Jiff and Skippy; either way, we’re voting for peanut butter
Here is the U.S. dropping a little 'democracy' on some country, which neocons view as very 'progressive' for their obsessive American Empire building project
"The Idea of Progress, which asserts that advancements in science, technology, economic development, and social organization are vital to the improvement of the human condition. Progressivism became highly significant during the Age of Enlightenment in Europe, out of the belief that Europe was demonstrating that societies could progress in civility from uncivilized conditions to civilization through strengthening the basis of empirical knowledge as the foundation of society." See The Third Wave, which recommends using the highest quality power source, which is knowledge, only using coercion or money (the lower quality power sources) as a last resort.
Enlightenment thinkers believed in progress via science
Progressive thought says that progress is being stifled by vast economic inequality between the rich and the poor, but James Ostrowski disagrees. He believes it is Progressivism that prevents progress.
"Figures of the Enlightenment believed that progress had universal application to all societies and that these ideas would spread across the world from Europe. The meanings of progressivism have varied over time and from different perspectives. The contemporary common political conception of progressivism in the culture of the Western world emerged from the vast social changes brought about by industrialization in the Western world in the late 19th century, particularly out of the view that progress was being stifled by vast economic inequality between the rich and the poor; minimally regulated laissez-faire capitalism with monopolistic corporations; and intense and often violent conflict between workers and capitalists, thus claiming that measures were needed to address these problems." (Source: Progressivism)
"Progressivism in the United States is a broadly based reform movement that reached its height early in the 20th century and is generally considered to be middle class and reformist in nature. It arose as a response to the vast changes brought by modernization, such as the growth of large corporations and railroads, and fears of corruption in American politics. In the 21st century, progressives continue to embrace concepts such as environmentalism and social justice. Social progressivism, the view that governmental practices ought to be adjusted as society evolves, forms the ideological basis for many American progressives." (Source: Progressivism in the United States)
Chomsky brilliantly explains who is dragging America down in his book, which shows why we have no class mobility
The most important book of this century (along with The Forest Through The Trees) is Noam Chomsky's Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power. Chomsky brilliantly explains who is dragging America down in his book, which shows why we have no class mobility so no one can get anywhere. Blaming the progressive left (like Ostrowski and other rightwingers and libertarians do) or the regressive right (like the Left does) will not help. It isn't a political issue. It's an elitists, oligarchs, rich neocons issue of rigging the game and setting up barriers to progress or to anyone changing anything or fixing anything or making anything better.
In the class mobility ladder picture above, you can see that the rich have rigged the game. In Ostrowski-think, the progressive-inundated government is the enemy, taking our money and our rights and the lives of countless foreigners in an aggressive violence-backed campaign of just point to a problem and we will fix it with our grand schemes and even grander intentions, which involves throwing money at it domestically or throwing troops at it in foreign lands. And of course we will never submit to results testing so as a result we will create endless intrusive, useless domestic programs (e.g., the war on drugs) that are proven to make matters much worse; and we will create endless intrusive, useless gunboat diplomacy programs (e.g., the war on terror) that are proven to make matters much worse. Progressives refuse to look at results—they recognize only one word: INTENTIONS. As a result the drug war has made everything worse and the war on terror has created terrorism by the bushelful, as if the U.S. military was actually a terrorism factory.
With only intentions and not results factored in, the drug war has made everything worse and the war on terror has created terrorism by the bushelful, as if the U.S. military was actually a terrorism factory
Ostrowski is of course right that the way progressives practice their governing skills is a disaster. Social engineering leads to a cycle of unintended consequences. If they cannot improve things, they need to step aside and stop interfering with citizens' lives, admitting their incompetence and switching to libertarian ways of thinking, says Ostrowski. He wonders why we didn't all learn from the horrible results of the progressive social engineering disasters of the 20th century. Of course, the answer is twofold:
One: their INTENTIONS were always good so that (a mantra they keep telling themselves) is all that matters. Obama doubled the national debt from January of 2009 to January of 2017, but liberals gave him a pass because his INTENTIONS were good (a contention that is now in dispute—see The Corruption Chronicles: Obama's Big Secrecy, Big Corruption, and Big Government).
Two: when is the last time you saw bureaucrats admit they were doing nothing productive so their positions need to be terminated to save the government money? Bureaucracy spreads like a cancer tumor, getting only bigger, never smaller. Its initial goal is to accomplish X, but the real goal soon becomes to, above all, CYOA (cover your own ass), look busy, claim there's so much to do you can barely get it done, create makework, deflect blame for anything that goes wrong, stab competitors in the back—getting them before they get you, try to get your friends cushy jobs working alongside you, currying favor—kissing whatever asses are needed to either get a raise or a higher position, fake it to make it—it matters not what you do but only what you look like you are doing to higher-ups, go along to get along, never get caught napping or playing computer games, create paper evidence of how much you've studied X which has led you to realize that further study is needed, never quite complete X or you may set yourself up for a layoff, etc. Sound familiar? The idea of results testing for the results of the X program never occurs to anyone. The only result anyone thinks about is job security for themselves, so they manipulate anything and anyone in any way in order to keep their cushy jobs.
The real goal of a Bureaucracy is, above all, CYOA (cover your own ass), don't rock the boat, and go along to get along
So it is inconceivable for progressive governments to ever get smaller, to ever respect the citizens and their hard-earned taxes enough so that they keep their departments lean and mean—a gogogetter machine. Trying to actually have integrity and keep a department lean and mean ends up being a violation of the most important bureaucratic axiom of all: DO NOT ROCK THE BOAT! You must never get so efficient less workers are needed and you must never do whistleblowing on the abuses that your organization is guilty of. Obama used to send well-meaning whistleblowers to jail—the man hated people. See Bravehearts: Whistle-Blowing in the Age of Snowden.
And being so good at your job that less workers are needed is a direct threat to other workers, so they will sabotage you, blackball you, blame you, and stab you in the back at every opportunity until they fire you for being a troublemaker. And there you have it: in most bureaucracies, good workers, efficient workers, and workers with integrity will soon be fired as troublemakers. The lazy, the deadwood, the useless, the ass kissers, and the best fakers—they will all stay on.
So the bureaucratic formula—the progressive formula—is built for failure. Failure is intrinsic to its nature. Given the unwritten rules of the progressive "we-can-fix-anything" mindset, progressivism is an exercise in futility, not just because of the nature of bureaucracies but because of human nature itself. Organizations are only as strong as their weakest links and bureaucratic weakest links are greed, self-centeredness, lack of integrity, and all the weaknesses built into human nature. Not having the integrity to take responsibility for ones actions is the most critical one of these weaknesses because it is the final nail in the coffin of progressivism. It leads to humans deciding that programs and policies have only one prerequisite: good intentions. The results are irrelevant. The we-can-fix-it mentality is actually—unacknowledged—the we-can-try-to-fix-it mentality.
It leads to actions any shrink would deem insane: trying the same thing over and over, always expecting a different result than the failure that is produced. When patients do this, they end up in the rubber room. When progressives do the exact same thing, they end up with nice bureaucratic salaries. Both the nut in the rubber room and the bureaucrat had great INTENTIONS. But the bureaucrat had no doctor judging his insane behavior. He had only fellow bureaucrats cheering him on, with an unacknowledged awareness of an unacknowledged pact they all shared: I'll pretend not to notice your bad results if you'll do the same for me. And around and around the merry-go-round goes, never stopping, but always eating up taxpayer money and always keeping useless people lacking integrity off the street—which prevents a lot of potential muggings. (Sigh . . . )
Trying the same thing over and over, always expecting a different result: when patients do this, they end up in the rubber room, but when progressives do the exact same thing, they end up with nice bureaucratic salaries
Those that make it to Congress or the associated professions attached to Congress soon learn the score—to their dismay. But they need work, jobs, income. They didn't go to Washington to be corrupt or immoral or even amoral. But part of "the score" they learn is that you have to go along to get along. The cardinal rule imposed by the Oligarchy and Corporatocracy, and obeyed by those in Congress who are not members of this de facto "ruling class," is this: don't rock the boat.
The cardinal rule imposed by the Oligarchy and Corporatocracy, and obeyed by those in Congress who are not members of this de facto "ruling class," is this: don't rock the boat; this fellow did not listen, so he is about to be swallowed
But let's get back to class mobility. In the class mobility ladder picture above, you can see that the rich have rigged the game. There are 10 main ways they control wealth and power to ensure the elite oligarchs and neocons get it all and the little guy gets screwed.
If the people had any real power, they'd stop the rich from screwing the poor and middle class, so the rich would become less rich, which they would hate, so the rich ensure the nonrich are powerless
With the game rigged against class mobility and the progressives ruining everything, we are so far beyond screwed we couldn't catch a bus back to screwed
IF WE DO NOT organize and just keep on truckin' with business as usual, here is what we can expect: There is an old saying that life's a poop sandwich except that they don't actually furnish any bread. But we heard a new version of it on The Middle (© ABC) the other day: In the immortal words of Mike Heck, We're all born with a crap sandwich. Some people get a big one. Others get a small one. You eat your way through it and then you're dead.
It's not just that "Every promise made by the proponents of neoliberalism is a lie." The very idea that we expect Big Daddies to furnish us anything is flawed. It was obvious from the start that they—in spite of rosy rhetoric to the contrary—are only interested in what they can take from us. This progressive "getting" idea needs re-examination in the cold light of realism. Mike Heck expects he'll at least get bread with his crap. But after reading Chomsky's incredibly insightful book, we can clearly see now what we can expect from the "they" who we think are looking out for us. Oh, we'll get the crap sandwich all right, but there simply won't be any bread. Heck was too optimistic.
We can clearly see what we can expect from the "they" who we think are looking out for us. Oh, we'll get the crap sandwich all right, but there simply won't be any bread, however, there will be crap painted to look like bread, cheese and pickles
Given all of the above, let's redefine progress and progressivism more realistically. The game is rigged so that there is great progress and people succeed wonderfully. But which people? There is a wonderful old Ray Charles blues song Them That Got that says: "Them that's got are them that gets and i aint got nothin' yet." And that is the secret to it all: only them that's got ever get. The middle ladder rungs are missing from the class mobility ladder so that the non-rich stay that way and the rich stay that way. Success ambitions are hampered by an incredibly cynical, greedy Maine Joke: You can't get there from here. Instead of middle rungs, the non-rich get the middle finger.
The elites don't want the peons joining them in their exclusive clubs so they rigged the system to prevent it—now the difference between us and them is radical and obscene
Social progressivism, the view that governmental practices ought to be adjusted as society evolves, forms the ideological basis for many American progressives. The Idea of Progress asserts that advancements in science, technology, economic development, and social organization are vital to the improvement of the human condition. But after reading Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power, or seeing the movie, you begin to better understand how our democracy was traded in for a newer model—an oligarchy that is still called a democracy to keep the natives from getting restless.
Social progressivism, the view that governmental practices ought to be adjusted as society evolves, although it refers to how the progressive leaders ought to change their practices to benefit the citizens as needed, has changed its operational definition to mean that the progressive leaders ought to change their practices to benefit the oligarchs as needed as society evolves. Citizens would never agree, of course, but that has become irrelevant. As the game was being rigged, it disempowered citizens in 10 ways so they no longer had enough power to affect the game. The aristocrats count on the powerlessness of the citizens who are merely serfs, functionally. There will never be someone we can vote for to change any of this. Even if there was, there will never be a Congress that allows changes to the rigged system. Congresspeople vote according to who contributes most to ther campaigns, NOT according to the wishes of the people they pretend to represent.
The Idea of Progress asserts that advancements in science, technology, economic development, and social organization are vital to the improvement of the human condition, but the conversion from democracy to oligarchy has changed how the game is played. Advancements in propaganda science, marketing psychology, methods of manufacturing consent, corruption that is impossible to catch or prove, and more effective methods of marginalizing the population have turned our pseudo-democracy into one big pretense. Americans are living a lie. The non-rich don't know it or understand it so they just keep working at Walmart, watching sports on the boobtube, and believing that their leaders are taking good care of them. The rich oligarchs DO know it and understand it (that American citizen/sheep are living a lie) and they heartily approve, because that lie is what is keeping them rich and powerful.
The oligarchs stay rich by continuously mugging the non-rich and the citizens don't protest because they don't see it happening; Here a burglar is putting money he robbed from the non-rich into an oligarch's safe!
Progressivism: A Primer on the Idea Destroying America is a great book to see the flaws in progressivism but is weak in solutions. Also, it comes at the huge oligarchical issue ailing our country at a 90-degree angle. Noam Chomsky, in his book and movie Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power, comes at the monolithic transfer of wealth and power from the non-rich to the rich head-on, staring it in the face, calling this evil, greedy robbery what it is: class warfare (and we lost).
Neither author has much to offer in the way of solutions. They know violent rebellion will just precipitate marshal law so that is a terrible idea. But a long-term solution is to be found in revamping character, parenting, lifestyles and relationship styles via the MC movement. See The Big Answer: Microcommunities (MC) and Personal Status Boards (PSB™), The Forest Through The Trees, and MCs—Frequently Asked Questions.
Progressivism: A Primer on the Idea Destroying America has some good ideas and it competently exposes all the flaws of progressivism, but it has serious problems—such as missing the bigger picture—a picture where Chomsky excels.
The Liberty Movement cannot offer direct solutions in post-truth America but it can be the tool to develop a critical mass of enlightened citizens who will discover a better solution together at the grassroots level. See The Quickening of America: Rebuilding Our Nation, Remaking Our Lives, The Revolution Of Hope, Tools for Radical Democracy: How to Organize for Power in Your Community, Organizing for Social Change: 4th Edition, and Politics and Government.