Being progressive. It is one of the current ‘buzz words’. Like all buzz words, it rarely stands up to scrutiny – in fact, any scrutiny at all.
I am not going to go into all the philosophical problems with progressivism. Instead, I just want to highlight two inconsistencies with two of its dogmatic ‘principles’ – those of choice and shame.
Consider this recent story in the papers about shaming those who fly here. The article’s basic themes are that flying creates carbon; carbon is bad; and consequently we should all takes trains … or perhaps walk if we don’t have access to a horse and buggy. Furthermore, people are feeling shame at flying and in fact, should feel ashamed.
Now, progressives talk big when it comes to choice and shame. Everything is a choice. In fact, it is pretty much the sole moral and ethical consideration. If you want to choose something, you can. If you don’t want that choice, well, don’t choose it! You get this with the big moral debates like abortion and euthanasia – if you don’t want one, don’t have it. You get it with the smaller issues too, such as what is on TV or marijuana (though surprisingly, not tobacco smoking!). If you don’t like a particular television programme, well don’t watch it.
However, this choice only applies to those issues and matters which progressives like. And herein lies the glaring contradictions and hypocrisies. I mean, think plastic bags – no choice here anymore. But let’s consider this more widely. Progressives are always very keen, particularly via schools (as there is nothing quite like getting to indoctrinate the young), to impose compulsory subjects – sexuality and gender theory programmes, certain languages, or their view of history. No choice allowed. Just compulsion. Equally, they are always keen to ban the topics they do not like, e.g. Bible in Schools. No choice here either. I mean, you could choose to attend or not … but that is not what progressives mean when they talk of choice. What they mean is choosing what they believe is the right choice.
And then there is this concept of shame. Shame is bad progressives say. You shouldn’t feel shame about your choices. Ever. In fact, shame is not even an innate concept – that is, something that is intrinsic to you. Instead, it is something fully imposed from outside. That is, if you are feeling shame it is not because you have done anything wrong, but rather those around you are making you feel this way. Shame on them!
Yet, here with this article on flying, shame is seen as a good thing. The implicit message is that you should feel ashamed of flying. In fact, progressives want you to feel ashamed. Confused? Well, that is the nature of progressivism. Shame, just like choice, is not always a bad thing as progressives will have you think. Shame is something they do not wish to feel around their own choices, but something they are more than willing to pedal when a choice you make does not align with their thinking.
So, next time a progressive speaks about ‘choice’ and ‘shame’ just remember they use such words loosely and usually for their own ends. They are never consistent concepts to be applied. In many ways, they are verbal and convenient weapons to attack those they do not like or to defend their often indefensible positions.
All this said, it is your choice as whether you want to agree with this or not; and don’t feel ashamed if you disagree with me.