Thursday, August 18, 2011

Conservatives and Progressives: The Guardian Mixes Them Up on Purpose

The famously, progressive, left-leaning newspaper in Britain, The Guardian, believes that conservatives are always uncaring individualists who hold back progress and that progressives are leading us toward a more collectivist and equal future. But when they start talking about the collapse of that great progressive experiment, the Soviet Union, they get all twisted into knots.

Here is a paragraph from a story about Mikail Gorbachev, one of their heroes. Read it slowly and let it sink in.
By the spring of 1991 Gorbachev was caught between two powerful trends which were narrowing his room for manoeuvre. On one side conservatives and reactionaries in the party were trying to reverse his policies; on the other were progressives who wanted to establish a full multi-party system and take the country towards market reforms.
Huh? Let's read that again and see if it said what it seemed to say first time through.

So . . . Gorbachev was trying to end Communism and bring about economic and personal freedom (which is liberalism) and opposing him were Communists, that is, the progressive forces who seized control of Russia in a revolution against the conservative, Czarist regime. But The Guardian calls these leftists: conservatives. Then, how do they refer to the liberalizing forces who were fighting for free markets? Why, as progressives, of course!

So, in America if you are for free markets, limited government and representative democracy, then you are a conservative. And if you are for social democracy or even outright socialism, then you are a progressive. If you are in Congress, you could even join the Congressional Progressive Caucus, where you could join the socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, and his fellow-travelers in the House in the fight against free markets and for building up the welfare state to Soviet levels (they have already achieved Soviet levels of deficit spending).

But if you are in Russia and you are for free markets, limited government and representative democracy, then you are a progressive, not a nasty old conservative. And if you are for socialism, you are a nasty old conservative.

By now, you might be thinking that the Left is out to hide something with its completely dishonest misuse of the terms. And you would be right; this level of confusion has to be deliberate. The progressives in America today would rather you did not associate them with the nightmare that was the Soviet Union, even though they promote policies that veer as close to outright socialism as they think they can get away with in the context of a center-right country.

This is a rather different stance than Western leftists took during the 1920s and 1930s when they hailed the Soviet Union as the incarnation of Progress and saw it as the wave of the future. How times change. I think the official word for this kind of stuff is "propaganda." You have to wonder how long before the party line changes again.

But look, let's be honest. To call Communists "conservatives" and conservatives and liberals "progressives" is the absolute height of hypocrisy. To re-phrase Sarah Palin, "Hey, if we were really Communists, they would want to pal around with us!"

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