Someone posted a comment in response to a line in this post on frats the other day. The line was “Whatever American Progressivism was in the past, it is now a nihilistic death cult.” The comment was:
I don’t disagree, but could you explain that a bit more? Are progressives even aware of this? I recognize the kind of progressive you describe. They are very helpful. And they leverage their helpfulness in order to impose their ideology, and to control the organization of which they are a part. Death in what sense? How are they not aware of their own nihilism?
Instead of addressing it in the comments, I thought it was a good topic to explore in a full blog post. In fact, I could write a book on it and maybe I am.
There are two issues at work here. One is the self-awareness, or the lack of self-awareness, we see with Progressives. We’re all used to seeing Progs preach against something they are doing to excess. Google “the opposite rule of liberalism” and see what comes up. The other issue is about agency. These tactics we see them employ to corrupt public institutions suggests a level of plotting and scheming that strains credulity. On the other hand, the pattern suggests agency. They plan their work and work their plan.
The first part is probably the easiest one. People in a cult are not sitting around saying to one another, “This is a great cult. I’m really enjoying my time as a cult member.” Similarly, no one sits down one day and says, “I think I want to join a cult.” People in a cult think the beliefs and rules of their cult are perfectly logical and rational. They provide an explanation and framework for understanding the world. People on the outside, however, see the rules and beliefs of a cult as weirdly irrational and maybe even dangerous.
The other thing about people in cults is they join from self-loathing. They hate themselves and seek to swap their hated individual identity with that of the group. It’s why they will savagely defend their group like a mother defending their young. It’s self-defense. The group is them and they are the group. Therefore, any criticism of the group, or the beliefs of the group, is the same as an attack on the member. It is why they consider criticism the same as violence. From their point of view, it is violence, violence against their identity.
As a result, they lack self-awareness. I once had a lefty friend tell me he moved to Arlington Mass for the diversity. Arlington may not be Reykjavik, but it is not diverse. That did not matter. He and his coreligionists talk about diversity the same way vegans always talk about their diet. It’s about signalling. Their revealed preferences are in direct contradiction to the chants, but that’s not their focus. Their identity is defined by their membership in the group that celebrates diversity, not about their personal decisions.
This natural unwillingness to examine their own lives is why they are are always seeking to shift the focus of all debates away from their group or their preferences and onto someone else. For example, my moonbat friend’s reaction, when I started laughing at his claims about Arlington, were met with an accusation. He accused me of being narrow minded with regards to what constitutes diversity. He was shifting the focus from him and his thing onto me. This is instinct, not agency. The Prog fears self examination.
The Progressive success at infiltrating and destroying institutions is a tougher nut to crack. The war on frats is really a proxy for the war on white men. The people who originally struck the financial deals with the frats were probably being practical. It’s later that Progs saw control of the purse strings as a tool they could use in their war on the males. Even so, how is it that the Progs have suddenly declared the white man an enemy of the faith? It does feel like it just happened, all of a sudden, as if it was planned.
The most likely answer is serendipity, which is why the Left is so successful. Progs seek safety in numbers. It’s why they will be very aggressive when they have a numerical advantage, but they will be docile and compliant when outnumbered. We all have Prog friends, who are great one on one, but they turn into something else when they are with their coreligionists. In all probability, their desire for safety is what leads them to focus on getting fellow Progs into the organization until they hit critical mass and take over.
The great puzzle of the Progressive epoch is that they have never been more than 20% of the white population, but they have dominated American life since the Civil War. Alawites are just 12% of the Syrian population, yet they run the country. An organized and dedicated minority can punch well above its weight, if the majority is disorganized or unwilling to enforce its majority privileges. For this to happen for five generations speaks the power of fanaticism when expressed as a group behavioral trait.