Eric Zuesse, originally posted at Strategic Culture
An excellent example of the popular confusion between progressivism and liberalism is an article that was published at Strategic Culture on October 28th by Philip Giraldi, titled “The Disappearing America: Progressives Want a Revolution, Not Just Change”. He criticized — and very correctly so — the U.S. Democratic Party’s mischaracterization of America’s main problem as its (supposedly) being a conflict between ethnic groups (religious, cultural, racial, or otherwise), and Giraldi unfortunately merely assumed (falsely) that the Democratic Party’s doing this (alleging that inter-ethnic conflicts are America’s top problem) reflects the Party’s being “progressive,” instead of its being “liberal”; but, actually, there are big differences between those two ideologies, and that Party — just like America’s other major Party, the Republican Party — is controlled by its billionaires, and there simply aren’t any progressive billionaires; there are only liberal and conservative billionaires. America has a liberal Party, the Democratic Party, and a conservative Party, the Republican Party, and both of those Parties are controlled by their respective billionaire donors; and there are no progressive billionaires (as will be shown here). (Also, the differences between those two ideologies will be described.) So, Giraldi was actually attacking progressivism by confusing it with liberalism.
As-of 5 August 2019, when Forbes headlined “Here Are The Democratic Presidential Candidates With The Most Donations From Billionaires”, the rankings were this:
Rank in Billionaire Donors to:
#1 Pete Buttigieg: 23 billionaire donors
#2 Cory Booker: 18 billionaire donors
#3 Kamala Harris: 17 billionaire donors
#4 Michael Bennet: 15 billionaire donors
#5 Joe Biden: 13 billionaire donors
#6 John Hickenlooper: 11 billionaire donors
#7 Beto O’Rourke: 9 billionaire donors
#8 Amy Klobuchar: 8 billionaire donors
#9 Jay Inslee: 5 billionaire donors
#10 Kirsten Gillibrand: 4 billionaire donors
#11 John Delaney: 3 billionaire donors
#12 Elizabeth Warren and Steve Bullock: 2 billionaire donors each
#13 Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang, and Marianne Williamson: 1 billionaire donor each
#14 Bernie Sanders, Julian Castro, Bill De Blasio, and Tim Ryan: 0 billionaire donors
And, then, these were the standings among the Democratic Party’s still-active Presidential contenders as-of immediately prior to Super Tuesday, published by Forbes:
Rank in Billionaire Donors to:
#1 Biden 66
#2 Buttigieg 61
#3 Klobucar 33
#4 Steyer 13
#5 Warren 6
#6 Gabbard 3
#7 Bloomberg 1
#8 Sanders 0
(The others had already dropped out, and were therefore not listed.)
The only candidate whom billionaires blacklisted was Sanders. Despite that, Sanders had the most-passionate supporters, and vastly more donors, than did any other candidate in the contest; and, the polls throughout the Democratic primaries showed that he was virtually always either #2 or (occasionally) #1 in the preferences of all of the polled likely Democratic primary voters. But, Sanders got no billionaire’s money. He got as far as he did, only on his mass-base. He was running as the lone progressive in the field. And, unlike any of the others, he focused on the class-conflict issue, instead of on the ethnic-conflict issue — he focused against the money-power, instead of against “racism” (which was his #2 issue). All of the other candidates placed the ethnic-conflict issue (in the form of anti-Black racism) as being America’s most important problem.
Sanders was the only candidate who blamed America’s billionaires (the people who control both of its Parties) for being the cause of America’s problems and the beneficiaries from those problems. He was the only progressive candidate in the entire contest. Sanders’s competitors were blaming the public (as if the majority of it were anti-Black bigots) — not the aristocracy (not the super-rich — the few people who actually control America). So: all of Sanders’s competitors had billionaires already funding them; and, still more billionaires were waiting in the wings to do so for whomever the Party’s nominee might turn out to be — except if it would be Sanders (who would get nothing from any of them). (And, even if Sanders had won the Democratic nomination, what chance would he have had to win against Trump if even the Democratic Party’s billionaires were donating instead to the Trump campaign?)
Back in 2016, the two most-heavily-funded-by-billionaires candidates were Hillary Clinton (#1) and Donald Trump (#2). And they became the nominees. In today’s America, the billionaires always get their man (or their woman). It’s always a contest between a Republican-billionaires-backed nominee, versus a Democratic-billionaires-backed nominee.
What Giraldi blames on “progressivism” is instead actually “liberalism” (which accepts being ruled by its billionaires) but there are more ways than only this that Giraldi misunderstands the difference between these two ideologies.
Besides the distinction that liberals see the big problem as being various sorts of interethnic (or “racial”) conflict (“Black Lives Matter,” etc.), whereas progressives see it as being the billionaires against the public; there is also the distinction that liberals think that their country has a right to intervene in the internal affairs of any foreign country in order to ‘protect’ that foreign nation’s public from its Government (for example, as America has recently done to Venezuela, Syria, Yemen, Ukraine, Iraq, Iran, etc.), whereas progressives reject that viewpoint, and they hold, as being the only justification for invading another country, that other country’s having already invaded their own country — only defending against an invasion constitutes a justification for invading another country. Progressives believe that only the United Nations has the right to authorize an international invasion against a country in the absence of that country’s having invaded another country. Progressives make a huge distinction between any nation’s laws, on the one hand, and international laws, on the other; and they say that no country (including their own) has the right to override international laws. Liberals reject that progressive view, and support international invasions by their own country that are in violation of international law (such as America’s invasions against Yemen, and against Syria, and against Iraq, etc. — all of America’s invasions after World War II), in order to ‘protect’ the people there. Progressives are insistent that the U.N. not get involved in individual nations’ internal affairs. The profoundly anti-FDR, anti-progressive, “Responsibility to Protect” idea (which now has even acquired the status of being represented by an acronym “R2P” catch-phrase), has increasingly arisen recently to become a guiding principle of international relations, and progressives believe that it must be soundly and uncompromisingly rejected by the U.N. But liberals support “R2P,” as, basically, being a ‘justification’ for their own nation’s imperialism.
Giraldi is clearly arguing in favor of the Republican Party, and against the Democratic Party, but both of them (both the conservative Republican, and the liberal Democratic, Parties) are pro U.S. imperialism. He also argues there against the Government’s taking measures to reduce America’s racial and other inter-ethnic conflicts, such as policies to penalize racist actions and to eliminate systemic and Governmentally-mandated racial preferences. For example, he says that any such Governmental measures against racism “increasingly turn government into an intrusive mechanism for social engineering, abandoning America’s traditional meritocracy while also creating categories that some might describe as fostering reverse racism and sexism.” Though liberals do favor “fostering reverse racism and sexism,” progressives (which he claims to be attacking) do not. Furthermore, Giraldi’s implying that all policies against racism are “an intrusive mechanism for social engineering, abandoning America’s traditional meritocracy” is doubly false: Many anti-racist policies are nothing of the sort, but are instead essential in order to reduce inter-ethnic conflict and to achieve a more just and effective system of laws and of law-enforcement — and a more efficient economy. Moreover, his alleging that to do that (to enact legislation against bigotry) is “abandoning America’s traditional meritocracy,” is, itself, ludicrous, regarding a country such as the United States, which had hundreds of years of enforced racist slavery, which were followed until recently by Jim Crow laws that informally continued bigotry by the Government. The scars from all that have still not yet been healed, and to suggest that they have is callous, at best. And, for Giraldi to refer to America’s long prior history of enforced White supremacy as if it had been instead “America’s traditional meritocracy” is beneath even commenting upon.
Giraldi writes as a conservative who uses the falsehoods that are intrinsic to liberalism as cudgels with which to attack progressivism. He doesn’t understand ideology — especially progressivism. Clearly, it’s not within his purview; and, therefore, his intended attack against progressivism misses its mark, and doesn’t even squarely hit its intended target, which is actually liberalism.
Throughout history, the aristocracies have been of two types: outright conservatives, versus the “noblesse oblige” type of aristocrats, which are called “liberals.” The main actual difference between the two is that, whereas the self-proclaimed conservatives boldly endorse their own supremacism, liberals instead slur it over with nice and kindly-sounding verbiage. Whereas conservatives are unashamed of their having all rights and feeling no obligations to the public (even trying to minimize their taxes), liberals are ashamed of it, but continue their haughty attitudes nonetheless, and refuse to recognize that such extreme inequality of wealth is a curse upon the entire society. Progressives condemn both types of aristocrat: the outright conservatives, and the hypocritical conservatives (liberals). Progressives recognize that the more extreme the inequality of wealth is in a society, the less likely that society is to be an authentic democracy, and they are 100% proponents of democracy. Liberals talk about ‘equality’, but don’t much care about it, actually. That’s why aristocrats can support liberalism, but can’t support progressivism. Progressives recognize that the super-wealthy are the biggest enemies of democracy — that they are intrinsically enemies of the public. Progressives aren’t bought-off even by ‘philanthropists’.
Scientific studies (such as this) have documented that the more wealth a person has, the more conservative that person generally becomes. Furthermore, the richer a person is, the more callous and lacking in compassion that person tends to be. Moreover, the richer and more educated a person is, the likelier that person is to believe that economic success results from a person’s having a higher amount of virtue (and thus failure marks a person’s lacking virtue). And, studies have also shown that the wealthiest 1% tend to be extreme conservatives, and tend to be intensely involved in politics. Consequently, to the exact contrary of Giraldi’s article, the higher levels of politics tend to be filled with excessive concerns about how to serve the desires of the rich, and grossly deficient concerns about even the advisability of serving the needs of the poor. Such attitudes naturally favor the aristocracy, at the expense of the public. Confusing liberalism with progressivism advances the conservative, pro-aristocracy, agenda, at the expense of truth, and at the expense of the public, and even at the expense of democracy itself.
Furthermore: throughout the millennia, aristocracies have been applying the divide-and-conquer principle to set segments of the public against each other so that blame by the public for society’s problems won’t be targeted against themselves (the aristocrats), who actually control and benefit from the corruption that extracts so much from the public and causes those problems. Thus: Black against White, gay against straight, female against male, Muslim against Christian, and immigrant against native, etc. This divide-and-conquer strategy is peddled by both conservative and liberal aristocrats, and has been for thousands of years. Giraldi’s focusing on that as being instead generated by progressives, is not only false — it is profoundly false. It is a fundamental miscomprehension.
So, the popular confusion between progressivism and liberalism is beneficial to the aristocracy, but harmful to the public.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.