Can't Really Be X, by Definition

ThirteenValleys - [original thread]

Who gets to call themselves 'Progressive'?

none of these ideas are actually particularly leftist or progressive if placed under serious scrutiny. In fact, they’re all fundamentally in perfect alignment with some form of authoritarian social conservatism that sees “justice” as being defined by “the ability for good people to endlessly punish and brutalize bad people”, only distinct from conventional social conservatism in that it shifts the moral axis to some degree and defines “bad people” in a way that’s more aligned with the values of urban young people, or in some cases doesn’t even do that and simply proposes standard social conservative policies but with some re-framing

Just a random tumblr post, but I thought it might spark some good discussion. The author is making a common complaint, that (some) people who call themselves progressive aren't really open-minded or tolerant or anything else you'd naively associate with such a word. Indeed, they're viciously closed-minded and are aligned with a left-leaning superstructure for political reasons.

My first thought was "authoritarian puritanism isn't some weird betrayal of modern progressivism, it's the natural conclusion of where that ideology has been going for years. You had multiple chances to nip this shit in the bud and kept finding a reason not to, now you want to claim it's the other guys' problem. Well, too bad. You own it now."

This is a very emotionally satisfying conclusion, but emotional satisfaction can work at cross purposes to intellectual honesty. And getting into that mindset reminded me of the fights I've had here with various libertarian-leaning posters about how the Neocon/Romney/David Frum side of the Republican party was not really Republican/conservative, not just in an I-disagree way but in an I-reject-your-reality way. Even when the RINO sticker expands to cover basically every Republican with power and influence, the objection is always primarily philosophical, not strategic: people who believe in internationalism/immigration/neoliberalism can't be conservative, by definition. Real conservatives are blackpilled nrx-adjacent nationalists and everyone else who claims the title is a fraud. Just like OP up there is claiming people who love hierarchical punishment-centric social structures can't really be progressive, they've been infected with something else.

Part of the reason I reject these arguments is that they seem blatantly self-serving; an attempt to hoard all the good stuff to yourself while pretending the bad stuff has nothing to do with you. No True Scotsman but the Scotsmen are running a targeted PR campaign. The warmonger side of the Republican party failed at their goals, but is that sufficient philosophical cause to reject them, or is it just that they're making the rest of you look bad? If you're on the anti-SJ side of things and find yourself levelling the same claims at OP but coming up with excuses for your own side doing the same thing, maybe think about why, and what you're telling yourself exactly.

Complicating the matter is that just because a view is extreme, and its proponents hard-headed, doesn't make it wrong. If you think the Republican Party's true goal should be X and that 90% of the party has abandoned it, are you being 'unreasonable', or do you just have high standards and no desire to lower them?

Ultimately, though, I think for practical purposes the norm has to be somewhere in the middle, and the point of this post is primarily to talk about what that 'middle' might be, such that it includes most of the good faith actors and doesn't shelter the bad ones. Ideologues can't slough off their most annoying or dangerous allies just by unilateral declaration, but they also shouldn't be tarred with the thoughts and actions of everyone who shares the same space. Both responses seem tailor-made to eat away at good faith and social trust, in addition to just not being realistic. Influence is a complex thing, and spare parts of ideologies can pop up in unexpected places.