Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Theses for a Progressive Reformation

Agent Commie (N.B. his pen name is a troll) has a list of theses for a progressive reformation here:
“Progressive Reformation,” Samizdat, 1 December 2016.

“Progressive Reformation: Theses 21 to 40,” 5 December 2016.
It is a very good list, and I reproduce it below:
1. Exceptionalism based on white male guilt has been a profoundly negative influence on the 1st world political left. It minimizes the flaws of foreign peoples and governments, and minimizes the strengths of western peoples and governments, and drives the profound distortions that plague the progressive world view. Recognizing this does not preclude an honest and critical assessment of western civilization past and present.

2. Karl Marx was a brilliant man with many useful insights. But the historical dialectic, this determinist, bipolar division of society into oppressive Empire and marginalized and oppressed Rebels needs to die. This is not a call for a blind moral relativism and especially not a call to exempt rich and powerful elites from scrutiny, but rather a call for a more nuanced view of history and social conflict. That said, the idea that ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ belongs at the center of any sane view of society.

3. It is flattering to believe oneself a part of a larger than life, heroic struggle against some kind of oppression or another. A world view like this adds excitement and meaning to any otherwise drab or spoilt life. It also enables self righteousness in favor of self reflection, and a tendency to demonize others. This does not mean that opposition corruption and abuse of power should not be undertaken, but rather that it be done in a spirit of sobriety and self awareness rather than a spirit of zealotry and crusade.

4. Privilege theory has done vastly more harm than good. This is not to say that discrimination cannot be identified and combated. But privilege theory is not about this. Privilege theory is all about ego. It is all about holding all white men collectively accountable for the worst actions of specific individuals, and for circumstances that are not in their power to change. Were feminist and critical race theorists to be honest, they would admit that this is all about implying collective moral superiority.

5. ‘Power plus prejudice’ – this self serving rationalization that claims that women and minorities cannot be sexist or racist because those things require power, which their self referencing dogmas claim they don’t have – needs to die. Again, were honesty to prevail, this post modern antenomianism (an old religious heresy that claimed that moral law did not apply to the ‘elect’) is all about smugness and licensing the shitty behavior of those fortunate enough to fall within the charmed circle of preferred identities privileged enough not to be ‘privileged.’

6. Privilege and inequality, where they still exist and are pressing in their nature, are now primarily economic in nature. Income inequality and the undue influence of money in politics is addressed by center-left parties only at election time. That these parties are often in the back pockets of moneyed interests perhaps explains why identity instead of economics have become such central issues on the left in the last few decades. The need for this to change is urgent.

7. Willful misuse of terms like ‘racist’, ‘misogynist’, ‘homophobe’, ‘Islamophobe’ and so on was not a wise idea. People are becoming increasingly less easily emotionally blackmailed or kafkatrapped into accepting liberal positions on issues by intentionally falsified accusations of bigotry. Doing this also trivializes these terms and erodes their seriousness in the public eye. Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf?

8. Particularly galling is the exploitative misuse of bigotry smears to shield people, ideas or policies from otherwise legitimate criticism and scrutiny. Branding all opposition to mass immigration as ‘racist’ or refusal to support Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign as ‘misogyny’ would be cases in point.

9. It is incumbent upon progressive people to convince others of the merits of their world view. It is not, under any circumstances, an entitlement of progressive people to be agreed with on anything. Progressives must act accordingly at all times.

10. Thesis 9 holds true even if you have a vagina. Or black skin. Or any other marginalized identity. Identity does not determine truth (see theses 4 and 5). Progressives must stop resorting to identity to smear opponents or sidestep arguments made against their positions.

11. Your political views, voting patterns, stances on social issues, marginalized identities or any combination thereof does not make you either morally or intellectually superior to others. Stop acting as though they do.

12. People of color can be racist, even against whites. Women can be sexist, even against men. LGBT people can be cis/heterophobic. Denying this undermines the entire purpose of being against racism, sexism or homophobia. Stop falling back on the worn self serving rationalizations of privilege and power plus prejudice – see theses 4 and 5 above. Progressives will be taken more seriously when they hold themselves to their own moral codes.

13. Expressing disdain for working class and poor white men in liberal terms – implying that they're stupid, inbred, inherently racist and bigoted is the utmost height of arrogance and hypocrisy. Doubly so if this is done from the privileged upper middle class bully pulpits of academia or mainstream media. That the left has no business stigmatizing poverty for anyone, but especially on the basis of race, should require no elaboration.

14. Stop lying. Really. Just stop. Stop denying that any progressive pundit or academic holds unpopular or controversial views when it is demonstrably the case that at least some of them do. Don’t claim that there are no feminists who hate all men or equate heterosex with rape (as two examples of many) when this is demonstrably and provably the case. Once the lie is exposed, do not minimize or rationalize it, or play semantic games to avoid dealing with the implications. Admit, and distance yourselves from stupid or mean spirited views on the left.

15. Deal with dissent and counter arguments in an open and honest manner. Stop with such passive-aggressive behaviors such as playing stupid and willfully misinterpreting or misunderstanding arguments that challenge your world views. Correctly understand opposed arguments before responding to them – even if they trigger you in some way, and address their central thesis and main supporting points when in contention with them.

16. Do not cherry pick opponent’s arguments and present them out of context in order to make them say something they're not.

17. Do not derail conversations by making issues out of minor details in opponent's arguments that are not essential to their main point or thesis.

18. Do not exploit faux outrage – of the ‘I just can’t even’ variety – or treat opponent's arguments as morally abhorrent or intentionally provocative or insulting without clear evidence to support your outrage. Remember that emotional states do not constitute arguments. See theses 9 and 10.

19. When your views are protected in academic safe spaces, are funded by big business and the state, are protected from criticism and scrutiny by ‘harassment’ or ‘hate speech’ laws, and enjoy unchallenged favorable bias in mainstream media outlets, the group that you belong to can no longer call itself or the people it claims to represent ‘marginalized.’ The status enjoyed by feminism and anti-racism in western societies are the very textbook definitions of privilege.

20. Your emotional states are not claims on other people’s behaviors. It is not incumbent on males to cross the street or vote for Hillary Clinton because you’re a woman (see thesis 5) and are afraid of the consequences of males not complying with what would, if honestly assessed, be prejudiced and ideological assumptions underlying those fears.

21. The left has an academia problem. There’s nothing wrong with being a leftist academic. But too much time in Ivory Tower echo chambers creates distance from the realities of common people, and over reliance on self-referencing theory that seems to have to take precedence over reality whenever the two conflict. Academic disdain for the plebs, when it happens, does not belong on the left.

22. Academia has a left problem. It is no secret now that political correctness and an ideological chill effect prevails on many campuses. Censorship and no-platforming of right leaning speakers is merely the tip of the iceberg. Leftist ideologues act as gate keepers, barring career progress for academics who don't tow the correct line. This is not a healthy thing for a democratic polity.

23. Let’s be honest here: Do any of you really believe this postmodernism crap? If morality and even man's basic means of acquiring moral knowledge are really socially constructed and merely reflections of existing prejudices, than how can you be so sure that feminism and multiculturalism are truly preferable to patriarchy and racism? Because you sure act as if they are.

24. The black studies and women’s studies departments do not speak for all people of color and women. Stop acting as if they do. They speak for a cult of ideologues and the closed body of self referencing work it produces. Where external (or even internal) criticisms of cherished doctrines are frowned upon as being ‘oppressive’, you've created a credentialized ideological echo chamber.

25. There is a crucial difference between advocating for equal rights for a discriminated against group, and simply being partisans in favor of that group. Progressives have lost sight of the difference long ago. This was supposed to be about bring women and minorities to parity with white males, not simply being pro-woman, pro minority, right or wrong. See theses 1 and 2.

26. There is a crucial difference between ‘harassment’ and ‘hate speech,’ on the one hand, and disagreement in good faith with the tenets of social justice academia, on the other. Learn what that difference is and see to it that it is respected in legislation, in academia, in the workplace, online and in all of your personal relationships.

27. For God’s sake (no pun intended), learn the difference between a race and a religion. Stop treating religion as a proxy for race, and stop assuming that despite for religions coded white (Christianity) is fair game while despite for religions coded brown/black (Islam) somehow equates to racism or colonialism. See theses 1 and 5 in the previous entry.

28. Pursuant to 21 above, stop with the Islamic exceptionalism already. Please. Just stop. You'd be the first to object to dominionist theologians who want biblical law for western nations, so stop pandering and kowtowing to Islamist migrants who want Shari’a law. Sharia law does not belong in the west. Period.

29. There’s a difference between an honest and critical analysis of Islamic theology on the one hand, and hatred for Muslim people and advocacy of abuse against them on the other. Please display knowledge of this difference during discourse on the subject. See theses 7, 8, 15–18 in the previous entry.

30. Much of the concern that westerners have with Islamism lies with just how illiberal it is. They have no concept of separation of church and state. They have blasphemy laws. They execute people who renounce the faith. They call for the infiltration of and, if possible, the conquest of non Islamic societies. What business do progressive leftists have with any of this? Why do we want it in our countries?

31. The treatment of women, LGBT people, non Muslims, the wrong kinds of Muslims and so on in places like Saudi Arabia, the Islamic State and Taliban controlled Afghanistan should especially concern progressive people. Or is their plight not important because their oppressors aren’t white, Christian or European? Think long on the racism implicit in this line of reasoning. See thesis 1 in the previous entry.

32. Mass immigration. Just mass immigration. Stop and think. By flooding a polity in unskilled laborers, you drive wages down and prices up, and strain existing infrastructure, compromising the government’s ability to provide essential services to its population. The poor and lower rungs of the working classes pay the price for this. If support for mass immigration is therefore progressive, who needs conservatives? See theses 7 and 8 in the previous entry.

33. Reconciling support for mass immigration, especially from Islamic societies with support for radical feminism, queer politics, trans-rights and so on makes squaring the circle look easy, logical and obvious. Unless the name of the game is ‘destroy western civilization by whatever means are necessary,’ which progressives insist it isn’t whenever the far right suggests this, pause and reflect on this. See theses 1, 7 and 8 in the previous entry.

34. Being offended isn't an argument. Stop acting like it is. Hurt feelings do not absolve you of the requirement that you prove your point. See theses 15, 18 and 20.

35. Stop denying or handwaving events that are harmful to your narrative. Do not say that there are no false claims of campus date rape or that there are no substantiated claims of migrant rape, especially in Europe. It’s hard to keep information away from people in the social media age. Even if most moderators on social media pages are progressives who work hard to suppress such news. The news will get out, and it will damage your credibility if you've previously tried to suppress it.

36. Most mainstream media and especially most social media platforms have a strongly progressive/liberal bias. Just admit it. They do. Consider how this might invalidate your claims that your charmed circle of preferred identities are marginalized. See thesis 19. And claiming corporate concentration of media ownership does not get you out of this. Rather, ponder instead the relationship between rapacious capitalism and social liberalism.

37. Laws and corporate policies that limit or suppress free speech almost always work to the ultimate benefit of the powerful. Censorship has very rarely, if ever, really benefited marginalized people. Using hate speech and harassment laws and allegations of bigotry to smear or silence people empowers state and corporate power much more than it empowers marginalized minorities. It is a strategy the left needs to reconsider.

38. Left of center activists have no business trying to get people fired from their jobs due to their political beliefs. For how long did leftists object, and rightly so, when this was done to them? Have we forgotten the red scare and McCarthyism? Supporting the sacking of white nationalists and Christian fundamentalists sets a dangerous precedent that progressives will be reminded of when this is, once again, done to them and they object to it.

39. Any kind of ‘leftism’ that measures progress by how many women and people of color are CEOs of or sit on the boards of directors of fortune 500 corporations is hardly a leftism worth having. The problem here is not equal opportunity to serve in senior management if qualified, but of ignoring the huge concentrations of wealth and power in the hands of so few senior personnel.

40. An off color joke or remark that offends a minority, or a male complementing a female coworker can result in legal settlements worth millions of dollars and destroy multiple careers while abuse of the rights of the workers, union busting, outsourcing, predatory marketing practices, accountancy scandals, environmental degradation and corruption of public officials – among other abuses – barely warrant legislative and quite often media attention. I shouldn’t have to say this is a problem, but I do have to. Frequently.”
“Progressive Reformation,” Samizdat, 1 December 2016.
“Progressive Reformation: Theses 21 to 40,” 5 December 2016.


  1. An excellent manifesto. Completely divorced from any actual modern leftism out there alas. Published anonymously of course. Fear of conservative reaction you think?

    I heard a nice joke. The opposite of the Alt-Left is the Ctrl-Left. Funny but not a meme to spread (he said whilst spreading it) because it minimizes the difference.

    1. Here are examples of mainstream leftism http://twitchy.com/loriz-3139/2016/12/06/kellyanne-conway-celebrates-her-historic-win-left-focus-on-conways-body-hurl-sexual-slurs/

      This kind of thing really is telling. People tweet what they think will make them look good to their peers. This is what leftists think will make them look good to their peers.

      You have your work cut out for you.

  2. #16 & #17 ;-D

    Based on our last little brouhaha, I strongly suggest that requires some reflection on the part of the person who posted it here.

  3. LK, my only issue is "corporate policy" in regards to speech. The problem is finding the right balance in terms f employee privacy and freedom, both at, and away from work.

    Private companies have a right to tell their employees what they can and can't say and how to dress. I can't wear swim trunks to the office while drunk. I can't swear at my employees and use racial epithets, then claim that my "free speech" is under attack when they punish me. I've seen some on the alt-right claim that twitter banning them is "censorship".

    Some employers even google employees to look at their Twitter, Facebook, and other social media profiles.

    I believe that employers have a right to provide their employees a "safe space". Free from any type of harassment from other employees. In addition they need to be able to associate with people they want, so if a company sees someone posting pictures of themselves intoxicated on drugs or alcohol on Facebook, I feel they can fire them.

    At the same time the employers right of association cannot be so absolute. Some libertarians believe that if your boss is sexually harassing you, you should have no ability to pursue legal action, rather its up to you to leave and get another job.

    There is a lot of grey area in how employers regulate their employees behavior. I think we have to look at it on a case by case basis.

    1. Some employers in America demand to see someone's Facebook page, even if it's private, before hiring them. That should be banned; it's the same as making my political or religious opinions the basis for hiring me, or demanding to see whose numbers I have stored on my phone. It should be private if I say so. At the moment in the UK you can't be fired for political opinion, so it should be the same in other countries, and at the hiring stage.

      As for firing people who are pictured drunk on social media, that opens the door to it being done for personal and petty reasons using the (leisure time) drunkenness as a pretext. People are allowed to get drunk in their free time, and to publish photos of this if they like. Illegal drugs are another matter.

    2. 32. I now oppose mass immigration, but it's a bridge too far for you to say the left has to drop it because of your economic argument. The political obstacle the policy creates for the left to get into power will do just fine. We compromise on plenty of other things for electoral reasons and it's considered fine because you can't get elected if you insist on getting every policy you want.

      Consider an alternative view, that the extra workers mean more output, tax revenue, etc and that the per capita incomes of the native born poor may remain the same or even increase when there is mass immigration. While I'm unconvinced that mass immigration is "safe" in this way, we cannot insist the rest of the left has to accept that mass immigration cuts the per capita incomes of the poor. We can get many more leftists simply to accept that it's an unnecessary and counterproductive policy to waste our political capital on defending.

  4. 41. A person you are debating something with is not a "Liar" just because you find their opinion highly objectionable and are able to defend their points with a vociferous zeal that you find unnerving. Try listening with your brains and not your emotions sometime. It's been known to work wonders.