Only Progressives think they're Liberal.
One person’s concept of the “common good” does violence to another person’s individual rights.
“Canadian protests” or the “Trucker freedom protests” have attracted global attention the last few weeks, and, yesterday, the Canadian government moved to invoke a never-used Emergencies Act so that it might invest itself with what the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, calls the “capacity” to disperse the trucker protesters. The protesters themselves still invest the site in front of the Canadian parliament building in Ottawa and have invested various important commercial sites along the border between the United States and Canada. As of February 15, 2022, the Department of Justice of Canada reports that the Act enables the government to “issue or adopt temporary orders and regulations … Regulating and prohibiting [inter alia] public assemblies, including blockades, other than lawful advocacy, protest or dissent, …”
This morning I read a very nice piece in The Week titled “When protests aren't progressive” and then another nice piece in Spiked titled “Justin Trudeau: a liberal despot: The Canadian PM has invoked emergency powers to crush the truckers’ peaceful protest.”
The author of the first piece, Damon Linker, crisply and sympathetically lays out the Progressive conceit that self-styled Progressives are on “the right side of history.” “The progressive left thinks this is how progress happens”:
[W]hen the powerless, the oppressed, and their allies demand in the streets that the arc of history be bent toward justice, refusing to accept the efforts of the powerful, the rich, and other established powers to resist change. When such protests break out, there is a mighty pull on the left to support and join them — to become part of the solution instead of the problem. The temptation is equally great to extend the benefit of the doubt to those demonstrating, even when they engage in rioting and looting. Their hearts are in the right place, after all. They're on the right side of history and merely impatient. And really, what's a little property damage in comparison with the egregious violations of justice that infect the system as a whole?
The author of the second piece, Meghan Murphy, argues that “The position progressives have taken on Covid measures and now on the movement to restore civil liberties is baffling.”
Let me pose the idea that we shouldn’t be baffled. Unwittingly or not, “Progressives” have always subordinated individual rights to their grand project of securing the “common good.” For example, in the The State (1889), Woodrow Wilson carries on about how we need to use the power of the central authorities to help society achieve the common good — the “common good” as defined by the self-styled “Progressives”. And the Progressives believe that anyone who doesn’t support their concept of the common good is either stupid, mis-informed, or corrupt. In Du Contrat Social, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1762) makes exactly that point and devotes an entire section of the text to justifying censorship. Does that not sound familiar?
Progressives are all about centralization, because concentrating control in the hands of people capable of identifying and securing the common good is the way of doing just that: securing the common good. In contrast, constitutional governance is about protecting the rights of the individual – which means enabling the individual to tell the central authorities to f*** off. That can get in the way of the Progressives’ grand program. Individual rights must therefore be subordinated to the program.
A few weeks ago, I posted a piece titled “Religious Freedom: Who Cares?” The main question was: How did the West develop a concept of constitutional governance and then begin to implement constitutional governance? The question of “religious freedom” was really just one context through which societies in the West did a lot of hard thinking and learning about constitutional governance. Long story short: The Reformation in England resulted in the king supplanting the Catholic Church in England with the Anglican Church. All well and good, some would argue, but the king installed himself as the leader of the new Church. “Church and State” were thus fused together; the king now afforded himself more ways to bully and eliminate politically inconvenient individuals or whole communities. Declaring individuals or whole communities heretical could enable the authorities to dispossess the politically inconvenient and to have them executed.
The Stuart kings proved to be enthusiastic abusers of their authority as both king and leader of the Church. The merging of Church and State thus motivated the English Civil Wars, and the big question there did not pertain to religious freedom or the much clichéd “separation of Church and State” per se. It involved a bigger question about equality before the law. Specifically, is the king above the law, or can he appeal to “divine right” and thus rule arbitrarily above the law? It took most of 50 years of fitful fighting, but ultimately the question was settled: the king is not above the law but must respect the law – just like anyone else. At the same time, the colonists of New England, many of them refugees of the Civil Wars in England, made much progress sorting out what the law should be. Specifically, individuals should have the right to worship as they please. They should not be compelled to conform to the diktats of the State.
Here we are more than 300 years later and the states that comprise the British Commonwealth – most notably Canada, New Zealand, and Australia – are very much occupied with compelling individual citizens to conform to their diktats. Should we be surprised that protests have sprung up motivated by demands that the State respect the rights of the individual?
Progressives might be shocked, because, after all, the rights of the individual should be subordinated to their concept of the common good. And the common good extends to well more than getting everyone to take COVID mRNA therapies (the “vaccines”). Implementing the common good will include governments installing the infrastructure of social credit systems. The infrastructure will include “central bank digital currencies” and global “digital ID’s.” All of this is part of the The Great Reset, and the protesters are in the way.
We all know this. So, let’s stop calling “Progressives” “Liberal”. They believe in the merging of the power of the State with the power of erstwhile private interests — the corporations. We have a word for this: “Fascism”. Even some self-styled liberals get this. See, for example, the exchange between Bill Maher, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Marianne Williamson on just this point:
Ramaswamy: “[T]his is about a merger of government and private enterprise that together is actually far more dangerous than either one [alone]. Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager, managing over $10 trillion, got the deal to administer much of the COVID-19 stimulus, and many of their alumni now staff the [Biden] Administration… This is not a left-wing issue, it is not a right-wing issue, [the protests constitute] a rejection of this marriage of the private sector and government. They don’t really live in the moment of ‘social-distancing’? What I think is that, actually, we need more social-distancing between capitalism and democracy. Let the private sector operate; let government operate; keep them apart from one another.”
Williamson: “There is a word for it. There is a word for when the government is so tied, is so married to corporate interests. That word is ‘Fascism’.”
Maher: “That is the actual definition of ‘Fascism,’ yes.”
A difficulty is that we usually associate Fascism with an out-of-control nationalism. But, note, of course, that “Nazi” was short for “Nationalist-Socialist Party”. The “Socialist” bit is about centralization. The Nazis merely used centralization to achieve their view of the national good, which in their view corresponded to the common good. The hyper-nationalism bit is a distraction from the real action. The real action is centralization.
I would further suggest that the drive for centralization would reveal the dream of folks like Eric Blair (George Orwell) of “democratic socialism” to be an oxymoron. Centralizing control in the hands of a small clique of Self-anointed Best-and-brightest, Progressive Philosopher Kings does violence to the rights of the individual. That was the point of an essay I posted titled “Democratic Socialism – Oxymoron?”
So, again. Let’s stop calling Progressives “Liberals”. They’re not liberals. They explicitly perceive individual rights as obstacles to be destroyed or circumvented. Progressives like Woodrow Wilson explicitly understood that constitutional governance was an obstacle to be destroyed or circumvented. Progressives have never been liberal, notwithstanding the fact that they may perceive themselves as liberal and will dress up their Totalitarian programs in the language of “liberalism.”
In his 1978 essay, “The Power of the Powerless,” poet, playwright and dissident Vaclav Havel basically observed that, when everyone knows that the system is a joke, and when everyone knows that everyone knows that the system is a joke, then the system becomes susceptible to collapse. It becomes just a matter of flipping a coin on any given day.
I submit that we have entered the coin flipping stage. The corruption of the system may be becoming too obvious for even the “normies” in the middle to not notice. Indeed, we may find that the Canadian Trucker Protests serve much the same role that the Gdansk Shipyard Strike served in 1980. The shipyard strike helped everyone in Poland to commonly understand that the system was a joke. The strike inspired the Solidarity Movement, and Solidarity took down a regime – peacefully. It took nearly ten years, but it is hard not to think that Western society is right now operating on a faster time schedule. We will see. Will the regimes (in Canada? across the British Commonwealth? in the United States? the EU?) change? Or will the regimes, operating in lock step thus far, finally conquer the remnants of constitutional governance in the West?
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 https://www.canada.ca/en/department-justice/news/2022/02/canadas-emergencies-act.html, accessed February 16, 2022
 Go to the 9:40 mark of the video clip posted at https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2022/02/12/maher_truckers_not_wrong_to_be_pissed_off_at_the_elites_corrupting_the_system_trudeau_sounds_like_hitler.html.