Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The difference between progressives and liberals

When it comes to political stances, all kinds of words and terms are thrown around, and it can get a bit confusing. There is left, right, conservative, liberal, authoritarian, progressive...

Two terms in particular are often confused and thought as interchangeable. Namely, "liberal" and "progressive". And both are often considered synonyms with "left-wing" (or "left-leaning".) In other words, if your political stance is left-leaning, you are thus a liberal and a progressive.

However, that is not the case. "Liberal" is not a synonym for "left-leaning". Rather, it's the opposite of "authoritarian". It's on an independent axis compared to the left-right categorization. A simplistic but illustrative way of depicting this is with the following "political compass" graph:

Depending on your political opinions and stances, you can locate yourself basically anywhere on that two-dimensional graph.

Where do "progressives" fall in that graph? They fall really, really up, in other words, extremely authoritarian, and the polar opposite of liberalism.

Modern feminism is largely "progressive", and they hold many opinions that go completely opposite to the core principles of libertarianism.

Progressives want to limit freedom of speech. They want to silence, censor, ban, and stop people from peacefully congregating and talking about subjects they do not like. They advocate for laws that will silence and punish those who express opinions they do not like. They advocate banning everything they do not like, from things that even libertarians can somewhat agree with, all the way to completely ridiculous things, and this goes sometimes to extents that are an affront to the core principles of libertarianism and free democratic constitutional societies.

More and more progressives are calling for laws to punish those with the "wrong" opinions, and laws to ban things they don't like. They want to control the public discussion, and censor everything they don't like. They want to remove people's ability to express their opinions, if those opinions are "wrong", to remove any platform they may have to express publicly their opinions. This goes blatantly against the core principles of freedom of expression.

Moreover, progressives want to reverse the burden of proof with certain crimes (in other words, rather than the accused being considered innocent by default, and the accuser having the burden of proving the guilt of the accused, they want to reverse this, and have the accused considered guilty by default, and prove his own innocence.) This is, once again, an affront to the very principles of libertarianism.

Progressives are also collectivists (while liberals are mostly individualists.) This means that they do not treat people as individuals, judging each person individually based on personal merit, but they always see people as members of a demographic group, and will judge people based on that group. They will assign privileges, responsibilities, rights and guilt based on things like gender or ethnicity, rather than the person's own merits. They judge people based on what they are, rather than who they are. They will, for example, assign blame on someone based solely on that person's gender and ethnicity, without any consideration to that person's merits. Or give some people more or less "rights" to something (such as a cultural behavior) based on their ethnicity. Moreover, they do not consider all people equal before the law, but advocate judging people differently depending on things like gender and ethnicity (such as judging white people committing crimes against black people more harshly than the other way around.)

This, of course, goes completely opposite to libertarianism, where judging people on their own merits completely regardless of things like gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation is a sacrosanct core principle.

All of these stances are highly authoritarian. Limiting people's freedoms, silencing, censoring and banning, punishing for "wrong" opinions, controlling the press, public forums and overall the narrative, reversing the burden of proof in criminal trials, and judging people differently based on their demographic, are all core authoritarian values, and the polar opposite of libertarianism.

This is why calling a progressive feminist a "liberal" is absolutely wrong. "Progressivism" is almost exactly the opposite of libertarianism. (While it's the opposite in the vertical direction of the graph, rather than the horizontal direction, it's still the polar opposite nevertheless.)

1 comment:

  1. Nice article, but it looks like you mix two different terms, e.g. "liberalism" and "libertarianism". The first one has nothing to do with economy (e.g. left vs right or let's say socialism vs capitalism), while second one is about right-wing economy and liberalism together.

    Here is great example of similar graph, where they have not "authoritarian" but "communitarian" as an opposite of liberal, e.g. putting values of hegemon vs smaller groups:

    In this case examples of different political alignments by axis:
    Upper left quadrant: Communism
    Upper right quadrant: conservative capitalism, like US Republican party 10 years ago.
    Lower left: liberal socialism, like US democratic party
    Lower right: Libertarianism, e.g. liberal capitalism