The title “Progressive” and I have something of an uneasy relationship. To me, it’s pregnant with certain implications, at least in its modern usage, that I find both unnecessary and a little pretentious. Certainly, at points I am most definitely a progressive; I abhor war and discrimination, I find firearms discomforting in the least and repugnant most of the time. Yet, on one of the paramount points of progressivism, that of the perfectibility of man and the society that is birthed by community, I must abjure. Indeed, I must take exception to those assumptions with prejudice.
As I see it, society is a peace balanced upon the scales of justice. That it is the Rule of Law that enables the very glimmer of cohesion that seduces us to toy with the presumption that harmony, as an automatic response is an achievable reality. But, I think that history, if it teaches us anything, shows us that, in fact, Rule of Law is the greatest achievement of society. It is the Law that reveals the means to reign in our excess and with the revelation and inculcation of virtue, however approximate or lasting that space granted in the maelstrom of human civilization might be.
So, in that sense, I cannot accept the ideological straitjacket of “progressivism.” It rasps off the rough edges with a master narrative that does no justice to the ideas, people, decisions and events whose story it seeks to tell. Instead, it crams us all into a carton of homogenous political rhetoric and ideology, stripping out the nuances and experience in a process of intellectual pasteurization that is in itself an attempt at self-legitimacy.
So, if it comes to what label I take for myself in the realm of the political, I’ll take just plain old Democrat, Leftist even. Though, the best label I’ve ever heard myself is “community organizer.”
Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also add that I find no fault with those who attach themselves to the baggage train of “progressivism.” I have friends, both old and dear, who wholeheartedly wear the label with pride. And my reticence may simply be the product of my dislike of definition, though I think not.