In the Name of Progress

As in all election campaigns, demagoguery is now in full swing. People of all political stripes are attempting to manipulate emotions, fears, and prejudices in an effort to win the high prize of power. The Harper-haters, however, who prefer to demonise the man rather than debate his policies, are a particularly vocal bunch. In the name of progress they spew negative labels in a tone of disgust.

Most of these demagogues proudly wear banners of progress as they proclaim their love for Canada’s ‘progressive tradition’. An in-depth examination, however, reveals that their definition of progress is perverted with regressive ideas, and their love for Canada’s traditional values is skin deep at best.

False promises and authoritarian message
With its false promises of better times, progressive ideology seeks to take us back to when monarchs had absolute power over their subject’s lives, properties, and families. Be it through politically correct speech control, seizure of wealth, central economic planning, or regulation of private activity, it seeks to control and engineer every aspect of life. It is coercive at its core and for this reason alone there is nothing truly progressive about it.

Though masked in sentimental words, the ‘progressive’ message is authoritarian. As it claims to champion personal freedoms, it simultaneously shows contempt for economic freedom. Its proponents refuse to acknowledge that economic freedom is inseparable from personal freedom. One cannot legitimately claim to be a defender of freedom while attempting to forcefully extract as much wealth as possible from productive people through taxation, be it in the name of progress or not.

Progressive ideology regressively endorses what can be described as a modern day version of the divine right of kings, though its advocates prefer to see themselves as Robin Hoods. It holds that since its values are ‘superior’, its adherents are entitled to rule over others, to seize the hard-earned fruits of one’s labour, to determine how the spoils are to be divided, and to dictate how people are to live. “Vote for us and you’ll get free stuff!” they proclaim. “Trust us.”

“Social contract” is no contract at all
In this sense, advocates of progressivism are actually quite patronising; they clearly do not believe Canadians are capable of looking after themselves and each other without the threatening force of law. To mask all of this, they claim that Canadians are bound, by what they call a “social contract”, to hand over their wealth to the government for the supposed greater good of all. A social contract, however, is no contract at all. It is a concept that exists only in the minds of those who wish to exert power and control, and the coercive force of law behind it eliminates all moral value it claims to have.

No one can see the full extent of their own shortcomings when afflicted by the superiority complex of progressive ideology. Regardless of good intentions, the policy of concentrating power leads to corruption, violence, waste, and the misallocation of resources, all of which leads to dependency, poverty, and oppression, be it quickly or slowly. Progressive policies have been doing just that over the last few decades, and this is the relatively brief tradition progressives proclaim their love for.

Canadian values
The near century-long period prior to that, however, in which our nation was built, and in which tremendous progress was made, fostered the Canadian traditions and values of individual responsibility, charity, voluntary cooperation, ingenuity, entrepreneurship, the centrality of family, the dignity of work, a sacred regard for human life, and a minimal role for government, all of which progressive ideology not only has no love for, but actively seeks to either undermine or destroy.

The continual demonization of capitalism reveals a spirit of envy, contempt for freedom, and an ignorance of the wealth creation process. Wealth can only be created in conditions where people are free to use their wealth, property, energy, and creativity as they see fit, while government intrusion is guaranteed to stifle it. Wealth is not a pie that must be cut by he who wields the only available knife. Others at the table are quite capable of learning how to bake their own pies, and of sharing their ingredients and recipes with others.

Duty to liberty
Canadians need not be held at knifepoint to do the right thing. As free citizens, we are quite capable of looking after each other through voluntary means. No one has the natural right or the purity of heart to wield the only knife and to carve society into the utopia they wish it to be.

When we go to the ballot box in October, may we be on guard against authoritarian forces, be they in the name of security, the environment, or progress. As heirs of Canadian liberty, this is our duty; this is what freedom requires of us.

Kevin Richard is a freelance Quebec journalist and a Discourse Online contributor. This article first appeared in The Record, an English language daily newspaper published in Sherbrooke, Quebec.