Progressivism is a virus

signI had an epiphany recently.

Someone on Twitter asked, “Is there any actual evidence that _______ is racist?” I don’t remember what _______ was; it doesn’t really matter. Some progressive social justice warrior douchebags had accused someone of being racist, and these people never let the lack of evidence deter them from making accusations. I replied to the tweet, “At this point, racist/sexist/homophobic/etc. are just progressive marketing catch phrases with no actual content.”

This was just an off-the-cuff comment, but the more I thought about it, the more truth I realized it held. Not only are such accusations by progressives just marketing spin; progressive ideology itself is marketing spin. It’s a marketing campaign for itself. To put it another way, progressivism is a virus.

Allow me to explain.

I’ve long been puzzled by the way progressives/liberals respond to questions and criticisms about their positions. For example, a progressive friend posted an article on Facebook that was pushing various–seemingly arbitary–restrictions on gun ownership. The article’s author urged–among other things–outlawing semiautomatic weapons and high capacity magazines. In response, I posted a comment with what I thought were some pretty fundamental questions: are revolvers and other manually loaded guns somehow less dangerous than semiautomatic weapons? (For those who don’t know, “semiautomatic” just means that a bullet loads into the chamber with every squeeze of the trigger; a fully automatic weapon is something entirely different. Fully automatic weapons are extremely difficult for civilians to obtain legally.) Also, I asked, was there some reason to think that outlawing magazines with more than, say, 8 bullets would somehow reduce crime or make mass shootings less severe? Or would a mass shooter simply disregard the ban (or bring a bunch of smaller magazines and switch them, as Adam Lanza did at Sandy Hook)?

Neither my friend nor any of his progressive, pro-gun control cohorts could answer my questions. In fact, they didn’t even try. Instead, they immediately launched into ridicule of me as a gun nut (I’ve never even owned a gun, for the record) and gave vague responses about how it was important to “do something about gun violence.” I left the thread having no better idea how these proposed legislative changes were going to accomplish anything, but I did learn something about progressives’ penchant for eschewing honest discussion for generalities and insults.

teach-men-not-to-rapeAnother time, a friend posted one of those “Don’t teach women not to be raped; teach men not to rape” memes. Curious about the thinking behind this, I posted a comment asking (1) whether my friend thought people generally committed crimes because they didn’t know any better or because they just didn’t care. That is, does someone steal a car because he’s never heard that auto theft is a crime, or because he’s a thief who doesn’t care about other people’s property rights? And secondly, (2) even if eliminating crime were strictly a matter of education, would you leave your keys in your car, knowing that car thieves exist, just to prove a point?

Unsurprisingly, no one was interested in answering these questions either. In fact, several people on the thread were offended that I even asked. You would have thought this would be a perfect opportunity to educate a dumb male about rape (which is what the meme was about, after all!), but the tolerant progressives on this thread mostly called me names and told me that I couldn’t possibly understand because I was a man. So apparently because I’m a man I both (1) need to be educated about rape; and (2) cannot be educated about rape. I came to the discussion thinking that the meme’s message was at best nonsensical and at worst dangerous, and I left in the same state of mind.

For another example of this principle in action, see my post about Unloaded, a crime anthology dedicated to the idea of “reducing gun violence.” I pointed out in my post that nothing about the concept made any sense, and that there was no indication that the organization to which the proceeds were being donated was doing anything about “gun violence.” A commenter responded that my analysis was “logical to fault,” which is exactly right. I had fisked what was essentially a marketing campaign. There was no argument to dissect, just a marketing campaign about how we should do something about gun violence by buying this book that doesn’t have any guns in it and donating to this organization that’s going to do something about gun violence by doing something about gun violence and oh by the way buy our book. There’s no point in using logic on a something like that, because there’s no content to analyze.

One last example: I used to follow the sci-fi author Robert J. Sawyer on Facebook. A few months ago there was big hubbub about the author Colleen McCullough’s obituary in The Australian, which called her “plain” and “overweight.” A lot of observers understandably criticized the newspaper of sexism. Some progressive writers, though–Sawyer among them–tried to fit this incident into a larger narrative of sexism in the media. I can’t recall Sawyer’s exact words in the Facebook post, but it was something to the effect that this sort of thing (sexist obituaries) happened all the time.

That seemed silly to me. The whole reason people went ballistic about this particular obituary was that it was so bizarrely out of character for a major newspaper. If this sort of thing happened all the time, we’d be seeing outraged stories in The Guardian and HuffPo once a week about how Harper Lee had been described as “homely and short” or Maya Angelou had been said to be “built like a Mack truck.” So I left a comment on Sawyer’s page, asking him if he could provide some evidence of this trend that he’d identified. Was there another sexist obit from the past ten years or so that he could point to?

I came back a few hours later to find my comment had gone missing. I had been (believe it or not) completely civil and respectful, so I at first assumed there had been some glitch with Facebook. I apologized for re-posting, saying my comment seemed to have disappeared, and asked once again. Next thing I knew, I’d been blocked. Hilariously, I mentioned this incident a few days ago on Twitter–and this mere mention was enough to get the brave Mr. Sawyer to block me there as well.

These are just a few examples, but I’ve seen this pattern over and over again. I’ve been blocked by Chuck Wendig, muted by John Scalzi, and been called names by David Brin. Never do these seemingly intelligent progressive authors ever attempt to engage in any sort of discussion. They do what they have to to maintain their progressive echo chamber, and go on, blissfully free from the threat of contrary opinions. To the extent that any of these people engage with me at all, it’s generally only to condescendingly explain that I “just don’t get it,” which is admittedly true.

The reason for this behavior was a mystery to me until the other day, when I had my epiphany about progressivism. You see, these people don’t engage in conversation because from their perspective there’s nothing to have a conversation about. Either you want “common sense gun laws” or you’re a redneck gun nut with a tiny penis. Either you’re for a “woman’s right to choose” or you’re a Bible-thumping zealot. Either you think corporations should “pay their fair share” or you’re a greedy Republican asshole. Asking progressives to support their positions–or even explain what these phrases mean!–is largely pointless. You may as well ask why Coke is the “real thing” or what Nike thinks I should “just do” or how Ajax can be “stronger than dirt.”

None of these phrases has any literal meaning, and therefore criticizing them is futile. They aren’t meant to communicate information or persuade you of a proposition; they are meant to evoke a sub-rational, emotional response. Wage gap. War on women. Sensible gun control. Living wage. Fair share. The one percent. Women’s health. Gun violence. Privilege. Climate change. Cultural appropriation. White supremacy. Social justice. The meanings of these terms are as malleable as they are irrelevant. They don’t mean anything, in the strict sense. They’re just marketing slogans.

ajaxAsking the question “What does it mean that Ajax is stronger than dirt?” is pointless. More than that, doing so outs you as an Ajax skeptic. What you’re really saying by asking that question is, “I don’t believe Ajax is really all that great. Give me some proof.” Similarly, if you ask “What do you mean by ‘common sense gun control’?” or “What is the economic principle behind the idea of a living wage?”, you’re just outing yourself as an opponent of the cause of progressivism. And–just as importantly–you’re also on the verge of discovering that progressivism is bullshit. Hence the insults and blocking: by asking a simple question, you’ve (1) shown yourself to be an enemy of progressivism and (2) shown that you’re not going to be satisfied with bullshit marketing slogans, which is generally all progressives have.

But Rob, you say, to what end? What are they trying to sell? I’m still thinking that over, but I think the answer is essentially that progressivism is a marketing campaign for itself. And to the extent this is true, progressivism is, in the end, fascism. It has no ideas other than increasing its own power.

It helps to think of progressivism as a self-replicating meme or cultural virus. A virus doesn’t have any ideas; it just wants to make more of itself. Any rational person trying to make sense of progressive ideology will soon see that it is self-contradictory and incoherent. It’s an ideology, for example, that tries to fight racism by promoting the idea that it’s desirable to discriminate on the basis of race. It pushes the idea that taxes on soda discourage drinking soda but taxes on working don’t discourage working. It tells us that outlawing guns will keep people from having guns but outlawing abortions won’t stop people from having abortions. And on and on. None of it makes a bit of sense, but it doesn’t matter, because progressivism isn’t about making sense. It’s about replication. It’s a set of lowest common denominator beliefs with just enough structure to replicate itself.

Progressivism isn’t an ideology; it’s a virus.


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17 Comments on Progressivism is a virus

  1. Oddly enough, most progressives I’ve met in person aren’t so foolish. They give reasons for what they believe, rather than screaming about this, that, or the other.

    I think you’re describing SJWs for the most part. I very much doubt the average liberal is so foolish as to not even give reasons for what they believe.

    • Of course, nothing guarantees that those reasons they give are not wrong, or that they’ve given any serious consideration to them. They’re just parroting things like long disproven anti-gun statistics or that bogus Campus Rape number, and challenging them on that is a personal insult to their intelligence. Especially when you point out contradictions between two of their reasons that they’ve had no reason to stand up next to each other before you came along.

      • Of course, nothing guarantees that those reasons they give are not wrong, or that they’ve given any serious consideration to them.

        Oh yes. Assumptions are often faulty, but most liberals I know haven’t been malicious about it, or using it to conceal hate.

  2. A lot of the vitriol on the Internet reminds me of fascism. Some people take advantage of the magnitude and anonymity of the Internet to spread sensational lies in order to hurt people they don’t like. It’s like those crappy talk shows (Maury Povich comes to mind) where the none of the participants listens; they just yell over top of each other – apparently thinking that whoever yells the loudest wins the argument. There is no ethical integrity to this strategy, but it is effective.

    • There is no ethical integrity to this strategy, but it is effective.

      This is because people are not rational. They think with their emotional brains, which clouds their better judgement.

  3. It could also be said that the Fox “news” brand of conservatism is only an add campaign for it self. I think what both are are fear mongering. fearful people are easy to lead. Saying progressivism is fascism is the same type of hyperbolic rhetoric.
    It is not a good way to start a conversation.
    The teach men not to Rape meme is just trying to get people to look at sexual assault from a different viewpoint. A long well thought out essay that lays out cultural norms and how best to change them would not go viral.

    I personally like the occasional progressive bullshit on social media its a refreshing break from the non stop barrage of Conservative bullshit that everyone else seems to love to keep cycling around the internet.

    • Oh how Darling! It thinks it can reason! “Both sides are just as bad but your side is worse.” Only thing missing was you didn’t use “Faux News”.

      The whole point of this essay went so far over your head, Robert is going to get a nastygram from the FAA. That you understood it so poorly is evident from your “Clever” attempt to turn it around and tar those nastybad ol’ Conservatives with the same brush. Followed by regurgitation of the same old Progressive tropes that were already shown to have no meaning, as if restating them somehow made them meaningful again. It’s like talking to someone who only speaks in Macros. You are a prime example of exactly the kind of mentality he was talking about.

      Frankly, the only reason you think that Conservative ideas outnumber Progressive ones online must be because you stand firmly in the middle of the seat on the left end of the teeter-totter. But all your Leftist/Marxist/Progressive thought with its belief on a “Direction” of progress that favors them, and a “Right Side of History” justifying whatever evils they do, has its roots in the self-serving fever-dreams of a worthless grifter who talked about “The Worker” but never worked a day in his life.

      Sorry if this is over the Top, Rob, but I was on a roll thinks to this smug little crapsnacker.

      • Thank you so much! You have convinced me. Bernie IS hitler. I was blind but now I see!
        Ii wish I had more time to praise your use of logic and reason, I mean you put Plato to shame, but I have to start my men’s rights website.

        • This illustrates another trait of Liberals, they tend to confuse debate and derision (Hence how they consider “F__k Bush” signs to be a persuasive articulation of their viewpoints). I wasn’t trying to convince you of anything. You’re a leftist, rational argumentation is wasted on you. I was Mocking your foolishness, and now you have given me yet another chance to deride you for your self-important sarcasm that proves nothing to anyone other than that all those participation trophies gave you an over-inflated sense of self-worth.

    • This is what women posting teach men not to rape memes are talking about. It’s not some made up thing by SJW. i have two daughters in their early twenties and this is what they deal with every day.

      I know I shall get attacked for not keeping the ideological purity of the blog but in the off chance some one reading the comments has an open mind I hope this gives food for thought.

      I will not credit the author, I have no desire to unleash the Internet trolls that police this blog on her.
      And yes I see how the last paragraph will make many dismiss her as a SJW. Read the rest of the post with empathy and you can see where the anger comes from.

      If their are spelling or grammatical errors in my part of the reply please excuses them as I am typing this on an iPad with bad glasses and a hangover.

      Dear creepy heterosexual men guarding our bathrooms,

      My entire life, I’ve been told to fear you in one way or another. I’ve been told to cover my body as to not distract you in school, to cover my body to help avoid unwanted advances or comments, to cover my body as to not tempt you to sexually assault me, to reject your unwanted advances politely as to not anger you. I’ve been taught to never walk alone at night, to hold my keys in my fist while walking in parking lots, to check the backseat of my car, to not drink too much because you might take advantage of me. I’ve been told what I should and shouldn’t do with my body as to not jeopardize my relationships with you.

      I’ve been warned not to emasculate you, to let “boys be boys”, to protect your fragile ego and to not tread on your even more fragile masculinity. I’ve been taught to keep my emotions in check, to let you be the unit of measure for how much emotion is appropriate and to adjust my emotions accordingly. I’ve been taught that you’re allowed to categorize women into mothers/sisters/girlfriends/wives/daughters but any woman outside of your protected categories is fair game.

      So to those of you who think you’re being helpful by “protecting” me and my fellow women, you’re like a shark sitting in the Lifeguard chair. I wasn’t uncomfortable until you showed up at the pool and the only potential predator I see is you.

      Your mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives and daughters don’t need you to walk them to the bathroom for safety. Your fathers, brothers, friends and sons need to walk themselves away from their own double standards. Women are sexually harassed and sexually assaulted on school campuses, on the street, at their jobs, on the Internet, in their own homes, in ANY public place. And it has been excused or ignored for so long because of what you and I are taught from the first years of our interactions with each other: You, as a male, are not accountable for your own actions. It’s MY responsibility, as a female, to not “provoke” you. But then you get to Knight-In-Shining-Armor your way through life for those in your protected categories and I am expected to applaud you. Why the outrage now over bathrooms? Why aren’t you outraged every single day?

      If you’re telling me that there are high volumes of boys and men out there, in schools or in general, who are just waiting for a “loop hole” to sexually assault girls and women, we have bigger problems on our hands than bathrooms. The first problem would be your apparent lack of knowledge of how often it happens OUTSIDE of bathrooms, with no “loop holes” needed. This isn’t about Transgender bathroom access. This is about you not trusting the boys and men in your communities and/or fearing that they’re all secretly predators. Why do you have this fear? How many fathers have panicked when their daughters started dating because they “know how teenaged boys can be because they used to be one”? How many times have girls been warned “boys are only after one thing”? A mother can bring her young son into the women’s restroom and that’s fine but a father bringing his young daughter into the men’s restroom is disturbing because men are assumed to be predators and “little girls” shouldn’t be exposed to that.

      So instead of picking up your sword and heading to Target or the girls’ locker room to defend our “rights”, why don’t you start somewhere that could actually make a difference? Challenge your children’s schools to end sexist dress codes and dress codes that sexualize girls as young as age 5. Advocate for proper (or any) sex education classes in all public schools by a certain grade level. Focus more on teaching your sons not to rape vs teaching your daughters how to avoid being raped. Stop asking “How would you feel if that was your mother or sister?” It shouldn’t take the comparison to clue you in to what’s right or wrong. Question why you’re more worried about your daughter being around men than your son being around women in bathrooms and dressing rooms. Stop walking by Victoria’s Secret with no problem but covering your son’s eyes if a woman is breastfeeding in public. Stop treating your daughter’s body as some fortress you’re sworn to protect as if that’s all she’s got to offer the world.

      • “Question why you’re more worried about your daughter being around men than your son being around women in bathrooms and dressing rooms.”

        Because I’m raising my son to be a decent human being. I’m also raising my daughter to be aware that there are men who are not decent human beings.

      • You could at least write your own post, rather than crib something from another blog and lay it out as “Why don’t you two fight?”

        There is just so much crap in that that it’s impossible to unpack the entire bag on the fly in a blog reply. Not that I have any interest in doing so since I wouldn’t be addressing the actual author of it. (I swear though, the first half paragraph could have easily been written by a Muslim woman, if you look at it right.)

        The real problem with what you’ve quoted is that is as sexist to men as any “all blacks are criminals, it’s in their culture and genetic makeup” screed is racist. And then twists reality in such a way that any man who wants to defend women is repressing them. It’s a crude attempt at a Kafkatrap that only works if one accepts the base premise, which is easy enough to reject.

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