Cultural Marxism: How Progressives Cling to the Past

Some of us have been pointing this out for years. Here is Logan Albright writing at about progressives:

Progresses claim to be forward-looking, but they are actually rooted in the distant past.

The political Left, particularly in its extreme forms, has always been skillful in the use of language to further its ends. Recognizing that perception matters more than reality, exponents of socialism and communism use words in a particularly Orwellian way, imparting meanings to words directly opposite to what their etymologies would lead us to suspect. A well-known example is the word “liberal”, which derives from Latin liber: “free”. Originally applied to thinkers who favored individual liberty and small government, the word now, thanks to the tireless efforts of the Left, connotes an advocate of high taxes and invasive regulations.

A less-recognized perversion of language can be found in the term “progressive”, now preferred to liberal by many on the Left. It’s not hard to see why a movement would desire such a label. Progressive connotes progress, and progress is by definition a good thing. Nobody speaks of progress towards bankruptcy or tyranny. Progress implies movement towards a desirable goal. Who could be against that?

But here again, the word doesn’t mean what you would expect; in fact, it means quite the opposite. For all their talk of progress, what leftists really want, the foundation on which all of their ideas are based, is a return to a culture both primitive and tribal. I’ll explain.

The Word ‘Progressive’

In the early 20th century, when the term progressive began to be used, it had some merit in that it was not wholly dishonest. Progressives of the time were interested in science, technology, and the future. American eugenicists sought to apply the theories of Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel to the human race, engineering a more perfect species through scientific design. The Italian Futurists may have been fascists, but at least they were honest about their desire to tear down traditional structures and look only forward.

Read more: Foundation for Economic Education

Image credit: ‘The Stone Age’ (1882-1885), detail of a painting by Viktor M. Vasnetsov. Source: Public Domain.