The four tenets of Progressivism

George Will has discerned four core tenets of progressivism.  See them after the jump.  Where do you see these ideas being manifested in, for example, the Democratic presidential campaigns and in academic speech codes?  Those of you who are progressives, do you agree that this is what you believe?

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Happiness vs. Freedom?

In a description of his new book, The Intolerable God, author Christopher J. Insole tells about a central struggle in the philosopher Immanuel Kant:  the conflict between happiness and freedom.

Now this sounds strange to American ears.  Surely, freedom is essential to happiness.  But Kant relates the issue to God.  Here is how Insole describes Kant’s dilemma:

We need God if we are to hope for happiness, as Kant thinks we must. We also need freedom, in a strong sense, in order to be moral. God must withdraw for this freedom to be possible. But if God withdraws, happiness can no longer be attained.

Read about this after the jump.  How would you resolve this dilemma?  I offer some thoughts myself. [Read more…]

The varieties of irrationalism

In September 2006, Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech at the University of Regensburg, which earned him much criticism for dissing Islam.  But what the speech was about was the importance of a proper use of reason to Christianity and the West, something missing in Islam.

Samuel Gregg writes about the address and the issue in a provocative post for the Catholic World Report.   He and the former pope observe that the Logos, from which the word “logic” comes, is essential to Christianity as the ordering principle of the universe, as well as the Son of God (John 1).  Without this order principle, we get irrational violence AND the irrationalities of the postmodern universities, with their “safe spaces,” political correctness, and rejection of truth.  We are also getting the kind of irrationalism that reduces reason to empiricism alone, without considering larger truths, meaning that reason is no longer of much help in addressing moral issues.

Benedict recognizes the problems of scholasticism that subjected Scriptural revelation to Aristotelian philosophy, an imbalance that Luther and the other Reformers castigated in their critiques of reason alone.  What is needed is a proper use of reason.  The address also gives ammunition for classical education, as Benedict argues for the necessity of preserving the “hellenic” heritage of the West. [Read more…]

Leftists go from frightening to frightened

When someone chalked “vote for Trump” messages on the sidewalk, students at Emory University protested, saying seeing these words made them feel “frightened.”  The administration, playing the role of in loco helicopteris parentis, held their hands, offering counseling and promising to investigate who committed this brazen act of democracy.

Similarly, in Scripps College in California, someone wrote “Trump 2016” on a whiteboard, leading to charges of “racism” and the claim that the campaign slogan was an act of “violence.”  This is all of a piece with university students demanding “safe spaces” where they will be protected from any words or ideas that they find disturbing.

Leftists used to project a menacing swagger.  The old Marxists made posters of themselves as brawny workers with hammers and sickles and openly talked about “liquidating the bourgeoisie” (that is, exterminating the middle class).  In my day, the “new left” college radicals stencilled a clenched fist on sidewalks and whiteboards.  They taunted their opponents with “up against the wall, ************!” (referring to the use of a firing squad).

But now these “post-Marxist” leftists–who substitute race, gender, and sexual identity for the old left’s concern for economic justice and class struggle–are so timorous, so fragile, so easily frightened by opposition, that it’s hard to take them seriously. [Read more…]

Young voters prefer socialism, reject conservatism

A poll of first and second-time voters, age 18 to 26, has found that two-thirds prefer socialism or even communism to capitalism.  A majority believe that America is no better than any other country.  And only 15% favor Republicans.  This may spell doom for Republicans and conservatives in general for the next three decades.  So says pollster Frank Luntz.

I would say that once this cohort gains some life experience, some of their political beliefs will change.  That’s usually the pattern.  It certainly was for those of us in the Sixties generation.  I also suspect we are seeing the fruit of today’s educational system.  The founders believed that a free republic requires an educated citizenry.  Not just any kind of education, but a “liberal” education, the term coming from the Latin word for free citizens.  That is, the classical liberal education that expanded the mind, taught discernment, stressed the lessons of history, and studied the high points of our civilization.

When that kind of education is jettisoned in favor of relativism, revisionism, and leftist political indoctrination, what can we expect?  Why wouldn’t they think that socialism and communism are “more compassionate” than capitalism, if they know nothing about economics, history, or objective reality? [Read more…]

The problems with socialism

As we’ve been seeing, socialism of various flavors is back in vogue.  But, as University of Oklahoma professor David Deming points out, socialism not only has a bad track record, it is problematic morally. [Read more…]