The Cruel Progressive Creed Undoing Civilization 

Debt is suffocating us. Our currency is on its way to being Lebanonized. 

Most major American cities are broke, dirty, unsafe, and run by either corrupt incumbents, neo-Marxists, or both. The law is optional,  and applied asymmetrically on the basis of race and ideology. The past is found guilty by the laws of the present and so it is being undone.

The military budget is on a trajectory to be the smallest in terms of GDP allotment since World War II; its careerist officers, for their own short-term interests, are now demonizing and will soon be driving away the very demographic that has suffered percentage-wise the greatest casualties in recent wars and was once unquestionably the foundation of the military. 

There is no U.S. border; it is an abstract construct that millions will illegally cross in the next few years, ostensibly because they will become future soldiers in the progressive wars for America to come. The idea of merit that built America is a dirty word, replaced by medieval tribalism of hiring and promotion by superficial appearance. 

In just five months, Joe Biden created a desert and called it progress.

Progressivism is billed as many things. But its foundational brand is devotion to supposedly “scientific” principles to improve the human condition. That Enlightenment project demands greater social welfare expenditure and therapeutic education to “improve” human nature itself. And all this can sometimes require necessary force.

Such utopian dreams of mandated equity attract all sorts to the cause. There are the naïve who feel socialist redistribution, if at last done right just this once, can really, really create social equity and inclusion. Many of the sympathetic rich assume they will be exempt from the tough medicine that follows from their own guilt or sense of civic duty. Some are opportunistic and parasitical careerists piggy-backing on the chaos. Others are social and psychological zealots who find meaning and relevance as wannabe soldiers marching to utopia.

But inherent in such 20th-century hubris is the concession that there will be lots of collateral damage in reordering society. When imposing abstract, but uncompromising theories onto the otherwise unenlightened people, eggs will have to be broken to bake the new omelet. And from what we have seen in the last few months, the progressive toll is becoming every bit as excruciating as our woke custodians are indifferent to it. 

As a general rule, anytime anyone anywhere announces that he has a master plan to reorder society and “fundamentally transform” or “reset” it by creating larger government, more rules, and an elite hierarchy to oversee compliance for the recalcitrant, then run. You can rest assured ultimately the architect will change the language, demonize and marginalize new opponents, given the omelette always needs more eggs. They will subvert institutions, and, if need be, resort to violence to ensure change.

The Progressive Scorecard

Take the border. Human nature over the eons has assumed the world functions according to deterrence. People make choices, good and bad, based on their own cost-to-benefit analyses. In other words, they balance incentives against disincentives about whether to enter the United States illegally or stay home.

Perhaps nearly 2 million illegal aliens will cross the border over this calendar year. Most would never have attempted to do so last summer. 

Why? Because after January 20, 2021, they believed the border was open. Now, meeting a border security guard ensures no detention, much less deportation. 

Now arrivals assume a fast track to permanent residence as “political refugees” and a future of government subsidy and alleviation of the miseries of life south of the border. 

So they rightly believe the risks of illegal entry are far fewer than the rewards of being not just American residents, but protected by a new progressive paternalism that finds advantage in illegal immigration.

Progressives believe, at least in theory, that breaking federal law to usher in millions of poor into the United States reveals to us their own morally superior commitment to improving the lot of mankind. Cynics counter that progressives wish to import not so much people as constituents and voters, to turn more red counties and states blue. 

Who worries much about the ensuing collateral damage: squalid conditions in border halfway stations, cartel predation on the vulnerable, the overtaxing of social welfare services at the expense of American poor, greater rates of crime and gang violence, the diminution in entry-level wages, and less integration and assimilation of newcomers who come en masse?

The crude ideology applies to current spiraling crime—the direct result of progressive rhetoric, policies, and political agendas. It is not that the Left wants violence in the streets, only that it is a small price to pay to implement never-let-a-crisis-go-to waste ideas that normally would have no support. 

Progressives obsess over stop-and-frisk, supposedly inordinate incarceration and racially asymmetrical arrests, but they have little concern for keeping the streets safe for the young, the elderly, the weak, the inner-city poor and the vulnerable from the attacks of history’s archetypical predator, the unbound young male between 15 and 40. 

So naturally crime spikes throughout the country, given deterrence is lost. Criminals prove far better students of human nature than do the professors, lawyers, and politicians. Who would have thought the criminally minded would interpret state laxity as the timidity of a bankrupt establishment to be exploited rather than reciprocated? 

Given that progressivism is the cachet of the rich, the secure, and the influential, rarely does the damage of implementing progressivism law enforcement befall its exempt architects. 

Translated in the real world, the progressive mind fixates on the lone suspect shot in a police confrontation, the rare white on black crime, and almost any anomaly that “proves” the deductive idea of the perennially victimized. It cannot tolerate news or video accounts of the violence in Chicago, now-routine theft in San Francisco, or the street executions in New York. So such norms are simply cut out of the narrative. 

Last week in Portland, Antifa and Black Lives Matter were poised to protest and riot over the police shooting of a supposed “victim” of color—only to dissipate when the victim was announced to be white and the shooter a black officer. The media covers a white policeman shooting an unarmed black suspect as a teachable moment of systemic racism, but smothers the story of an officer of “unknown” race who shot and killed unarmed Ashli Babbitt attempting to climb through a window inside the Capitol Building—and shows its own racist proclivities. Again, the correct revolutionary narrative matters, not the facts or details, in the manner humanity must be saved even if the truth—and some humans—are sacrificed.

Transgendered sports are another example of the callousness of progressivism in all its glory. It believes “science” has rendered passé biological sexual differences between male and female. 

The Left then trumpets its liberation of the transgendered by popularizing a new third sex, as mothers become “birthing people” and men need not have male genitalia. But in the concrete, progressivism cares little that transgenderism is utterly destroying women’s sports. Those born biologically male compete with innately physical advantages over biological females in size, stature, and strength. 

But then who cares about women athletes anyway? Why are not women transitioning to males not also competing successfully, if at all, with men? Again, the aspirations of millions of young female athletes is a tiny charge to pay for the larger transformation, liberation, and equitization of sexuality itself.

Racism can be defined as the ancient and eternal pathology of assessing and stereotyping humans in all manner of human life as inferior. The entire pathology fixates on superficial collective appearances rather than unique individual character, talent and achievement. By that definition, the new wokeism is again racist to the core. The BLM brain trust rails about innately pernicious “whiteness,” and the pathologies that all “whites” share, and the universal need for all “whites” to become “reprogrammed” and “reeducated.” 

Yet racism and igniting tribal wars are small progressive prices to pay for achieving an equity society characterized by an engineered equality of result in all spheres of life and insured by the government. Why worry about individual lives ruined by racial preferences and institutionalized prejudices? 

We know that those with COVID-19 antibodies usually have nearly as much or the same immunity as those vaccinated. We know also that those previously infected may run somewhat greater risk of side effects from vaccinations than those uninfected. And we know that those under 15 may run even more risks from vaccinations than they would coming down with a case of COVID-19 infection. 

Yet progressive science will tell us all that is not true or at least of no interest given the need to vaccinate all 330 million American—or else and until the progressive narrative changes for the greater good as it did with Dr. Fauci and his changing “science” of masks. 

Once progressive science decides what constitutes herd immunity—defined by one of Dr. Fauci’s noble lies of 60, 70, 80, or 90 percent protection with antibodies—then whatever means necessary to achieve the collective good are justified. That can entail everything from vaccinating the very young and the previously infected to misleading the public that white deplorables rank as the most dangerous to us all by their disproportionate resistance to vaccination, or ignoring quarantine violations by large numbers of the right sort of protestors. 

Meanwhile, progressivism’s noble lies assure us that most minorities, who on average actually have fewer vaccinations per capita than do whites and Asians, are not as culpable as working-class whites who are demonized for resisting vaccination. Instead, minorities have no free will and are “underserved” and “marginalized” as they understandably balk at vaccination due to “historic and legitimate suspicions” or “fear of deportation—and the prior 2020 castigations of the vaccinations by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, as well as “experts” warning that being vaxxed still means masks and quarantines, will not really go away.

We know that defunding the police erodes deterrence, encouraging criminals to believe in a cost-to-benefit gamble that the chances of arrest, indictment, conviction, and incarceration are small and the rewards or delights in criminality are ample. But we do not care because it is far more important to advance the narrative that particular groups are victims, and others deductive victimizers. And only the government can apply the power and morality to punish and reward accordingly. If it is a choice between reducing the some 700 shooting deaths of blacks in Chicago by increasing the police presence to protect inner-city residents, and thereby losing the progressive narrative of an epidemic of out-of-control racist rogue cops, then inner-city violence is a tolerable price.

Our Progressive Guardians

Progressivism is also at its basic level elitist. Sweeping reengineering of society, micromanagement of millions of lives, and elimination of individual pathologies require exemptions. For example, crusaders such as John Kerry and Al Gore have offered a valuable window into the progressive heart and mind. 

Kerry reminded us that he often leaves a huge carbon footprint from his wife’s private jet. Indeed, he jets to get a climate change award since such gas-guzzling travel was “the only choice for someone like me” who had to travel the world quickly and in comfort “to win the battle.” This was the progressive bookend argument to his earlier advocacy for higher taxes, as he moved his luxury yacht from its Massachusetts dock to one in low-tax Rhode Island to save nearly $500,000. 

Al Gore once trumped even Kerry’s progressive exemptions in a twofer of rushing to sell his failed cable TV company to carbon-rich, oil-exporting Qatar’s Al Jazeera—in hopes of avoiding projected rises in capital gains taxes. As Platonic Guardians, progressives must have the time, the resources, and the multifarious exemptions to plan and care for the rest of us. 

Think for a minute. In the cases above, if illegal aliens now crossing the Rio Grande proved to be more right-wing than Cubans, the border would be closed tomorrow. If criminals focused their efforts on Presidio Heights, Malibu, Martha’s Vineyard, or Newport, Rhode Island, there would be progressive outcries to fund more police. If transgendering muscular “female” teenage athletes demanded the use of women’s gym showers and restrooms in the nation’s top prep schools, progressives would likely recalibrate their new theories of trisexuality. 

The new progressivism is not the old Democratic Party, or even 1960s’ liberalism. It is a cruel creed, a faith-based ideology that allows no apostasies. Progressivism envisions humanity as a marbleized abstraction, not incarnate humans. If need be, it will alter language, change names, cancel people, erase events, and destroy elements of existing civilization. It stereotypes both adherents and opponents as either useful or disposable. And the carnage it wreaks on the masses is always acceptable damage for these terrifying visions of the anointed. 


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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004, and is the 2023 Giles O'Malley Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson is also a farmer (growing almonds on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author of the just released New York Times best seller, The End of Everything: How Wars Descend into Annihilation, published by Basic Books on May 7, 2024, as well as the recent  The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump, and The Dying Citizen.

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