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Yet another weird SF fan
 

Friday, May 30, 2008

If Progressive Politics Are a Religion …

I am an atheist and Mencius Moldbug is a Satanist. I was trying to figure out why I agreed with him some of the time and wondered what color the sky is on his planet the rest of the time.

For example, he appears to think politics always moves left:

If there is any constant phenomenon in the last few hundred years of Western history, it's that - with occasional reversals - reactionaries tend to lose and progressives tend to win. Whether you call them progressives, liberals, Radicals, Jacobins, republicans, or even revolutionaries, socialists or communists, the left is your winning team.

What's interesting about this effect is the number of theories that have been proposed to explain it.

………

Since all these theories are mutually inconsistent, let's reserve our judgment by calling this mysterious left-favoring force the W-force - W, for Whig.

What explains the W-force? One easy explanation is that it's just the interaction of hindsight and a random walk. Everything changes over time - including opinions. Since by definition we consider ourselves enlightened, history appears as a progress from darkness to light.

………

While this theory is amusing, it is pretty clearly wrong. It depends on the fact that we don't yet have a good definition of what it means to be "progressive." But it clearly does mean something. We don't see these kinds of reversals. We see consistent movement in a single direction. Furthermore, we know that progress is the opposite of reaction, and we have a very good definition of reaction. And we know that reaction tends to lose. That isn't random.

I disagree.

One reason the left appears to win is that failed left-wing movements are no longer considered Left. Another reason is that victorious right-wing movements are frequently reclassified as Left.

You can see these phenomena most clearly in the case of the aftermath of the American Civil War. The losing side engaged in a “long march through the institutions” which first caused a Yankee withdrawal from the occupation of Dixie. It was followed by the growing respectability of eugenics and it then culminated in the capture of the Presidency in 1912.

Come to think of it, the standard left-wing rhetoric about indigenous movements might have been injected into liberalism by Wilson, who might have been looking for an excuse for Confederate independence.

On the other hand, after eugenics failed racism was re-re-classified as right-wing. (Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia comrade!)

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