Today’s blog post is an excerpt from my book Beheading Hydra: A Radical Plan for Christians in an Atheistic Age
The idea that progress is always good springs from the enlightenment thinkers of the eighteenth century. Voltaire (d.1778) believed science and rationalism would inevitably bring about material progress. Immanuel Kant (d.1804) was less optimistic, but believed humanity was involved in a long, gradual struggle upward.
The philosopher Hegel (d.1831) saw progress in terms of a struggle between opposing forces. There was a proposal—what he called a “thesis.” This was countered by an opposing idea—the “antithesis”. The advocates of the antithesis clashed with the proponents of the thesis and out of the conflict came a new solution—a “synthesis”.
Later in the nineteenth century, Charles Darwin (d.1882) applied Hegel’s ideas to his observations in the natural world. The fittest survived the clash of species. The English thinker Herbert Spencer (d.1903) grabbed the baton from Darwin and ran with it. He applied Darwin’s ideas on evolution to human society. Spencer saw the theory of evolution as a model for a great, inevitable ascent not only the natural world, but also in the human mind, culture and history.
According to progressives, it is this clash within nature and human society which is inevitable and (despite some pain) always creative and positive. Furthermore, true progressives believe it is legitimate to intentionally create the clash in order to bring about the synthesis (the desired new order) because the clash is natural and the synthesis that comes out of the clash is always new and that’s “progress” and progress is always good, right?
This assumption accounts for the unbelievably naive and resilient optimism amongst progressives. They may witness umpteen revolutions and racks, guillotines, gas chambers, gulags, imposed famines, torture chambers and firing squads, but they shrug their shoulders. “It’s just the survival of the fittest. That’s the way nature works. It’s okay. There are some bumps in the road, but we’re always moving onward and upward!” If you stand in the road when the progress bus is hurtling toward you don’t be surprised if you get run over. Hard luck!
This also explains why leftist progressives turn a blind eye to the riots, arson, threats and violent protests of left wing activists but clamp down on peaceful right wing protests. The leftists are progressive pioneers pushing for progress. The right wing are negative reactionaries who want to turn back the clock. Progressives are “good” even when they are violent and murderous. Conservatives are “bad” even when they are peaceful and prayerful.
If a myth is a fantasy story that gives meaning to the world, then this is the myth of progressivism. Notice also how this myth is a substitute for belief in divine providence. Instead of history being “His Story”—instead of seeing God’s mighty hand in all his works, the overarching story of progressivism is that of the noble upward surge of humanity forever driven forward by the mysterious forces of Life itself!
Progressivism is a complicated lie interwoven and derived from the other heads of Hydra, and like the others it is the air we breathe. It is an assumed foundation of our society.
Check out Beheading Hydra here.