Throughout the year, George Payne has written about the progressive movement. For example, in The New Deal is not Dead: Bearing Witness to the Fight for Economic Justice in Rochester.
Today, after the election, George offers Lamentation on Progressivism.
Photography by George Payne with links to articles by George and others
How deserted lies the city,
once so full of people!
How like a widow is she,
who once was great among the nations!
She who was queen among the provinces
has now become a slave.
Bitterly she weeps at night,
tears are on her cheeks.
Among all her lovers
there is no one to comfort her.
All her friends have betrayed her;
they have become her enemies.
Lamentations 1Iakaonne´tha ne oneka
“In America, progressivism began as a social movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and grew into a political movement, in what was known as the Progressive Era. While the term “American progressives” represent a range of diverse political pressure groups (not always united), some American progressives rejected Social Darwinism, believing that the problems society faced (poverty, violence, greed, racism, class warfare) could best be addressed by providing good education, a safe environment, and an efficient workplace.”
“Even the sober desire for progress is sustained by faith—faith in the intrinsic goodness of human nature and in the omnipotence of science. It is a defiant and blasphemous faith, not unlike that held by the men who set out to build a “city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven” and who believed that “nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”
― Eric Hoffer
“A great democracy has got to be progressive or it will soon cease to be great or a democracy.”
― Theodore Roosevelt,
“Fame is fun, money is useful, celebrity can be exciting, but finally life is about optimal well-being and how we achieve that in dominator culture, in a greedy culture, in a culture that uses so much of the world’s resources. How do men and women, boys and girls, live lives of compassion, justice and love? And I think that’s the visionary challenge for feminism and all other progressive movements for social change.”
― bell hooks
“The problem of life was as simple as it was classic. Politics offered no difficulties, for there the moral law was a sure guide. Social perfection was also sure, because human nature worked for Good, and three instruments were all she asked — Suffrage, Common Schools, and Press. On these points doubt was forbidden. Education was divine, and man needed only a correct knowledge of facts to reach perfection:
“Were half the power that fills the world with terror, Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts, Given to redeem the human mind from error, There were no need of arsenals nor forts.”
― Henry Adams,
“When I talk to anyone or read the writings of anyone who has any axe to grind, I feel that intellectual honesty and balanced judgement have simply disappeared from the face of the earth. Everyone’s thought is forensic, everyone is simply putting a “case” with deliberate suppression of his opponent’s point of view, and, what is more, with complete insensitiveness to any sufferings except those of himself and his friends.”
― George Orwell,
“What came in the end was only a small war and a quick victory; when the farmers and the gentlemen finally did coalesce in politics, they produced only the genial reforms of Progressivism; and the man on the white horse turned out to be just a graduate of the Harvard boxing squad, equipped with an immense bag of platitudes, and quite willing to play the democratic game.”
― Richard Hofstadter,
“[Asked by an audience member at a public Q&A session]Considering that atheism cannot possibly have any sense of ‘absolute morality’, would it not then be an irrational leap of faith – which atheists themselves so harshly condemn – for an atheist to decide between right and wrong?
[Dawkins] Absolute morality…the absolute morality that a religious person might profess would include, what, stoning people for adultery? Death for apostasy? […] These are all things which are religiously-based absolute moralities. I don’t think I want an absolute morality; I think I want a morality that is thought out, reasoned, argued, discussed, and based on – you could almost say intelligent design. […]
If you actually look at the moralities that are accepted among modern people – among 21st century people – we don’t believe in slavery anymore; we believe in equality of women; we believe in being gentle; we believe in being kind to animals…these are all things which are entirely recent. They have very little basis in Biblical or Koranic scripture. They are things that have developed over historical time; through a consensus of reasoning, sober discussion, argument, legal theory, political and moral philosophy. These do not come from religion. To the extent that you can find the ‘good bits’ in religious scriptures, you have to cherry-pick. You search your way through the Bible or the Koran, and you find the occasional verse that is an acceptable profession of morality – and you say, look at that! That’s religion!…and you leave out all the horrible bits. And you say, ‘Oh, we don’t believe that anymore, we’ve grown out of that.’ Well, of course we’ve grown out of it. We’ve grown out of it because of secular moral philosophy and rational discussion.”
― Richard Dawkins