Welcome to Everything Progressive
One important aim of this site is to provide a thorough understanding of the political orientation known as "progressivism", especially the variant known as "democratic socialism". This is an especially urgent need in the US, as no perspective has gone so far missing in American political discourse as DS. And this has been disastrous, as hard evidence demonstrates that it is the only successful system of governance. Its achievements completely outstrip those of the corporately managed pseudo-democracy under which Americans currently suffer.
This air-brushing of democratic socialism from honest consideration is, of course, entirely intentional, and can be attributed to the corporate mass media, which serve as the linch-pin of American neo-fascism (the correct term for "neoliberalism").
The nominally mainstream view, though usually not quite so baldly stated, is roughly this: all liberalism is tantamount to Communism; and Communism was represented by the former Soviet Union, especially during its Stalinist period. (US conservatives have since propped up even worse dictators than Stalin repeatedly - and indeed have even gone so far as to install them. And this was long before Trump's strange infatuation with authoritarians across the globe finally made this tendency indisputable.)
However, this sort of account of democratic socialism is an intellectually shoddy, carefully manufactured absurdity, and is in no way deserving of description as "mainstream", or even as rational. It would be much better described as a fringe view - and perhaps "lunatic fringe" would be more descriptive still. Stalin, for his part, was a psychopath who represented nothing so much as his own psychopathology. Democratic socialism and communism are quite different sorts of polity. The persistent attempt to conflate them is flagrantly dishonest, and based in nothing more than the determination of a few to defend unprincipled greed, no matter the cost. Ironically, both conservatism and Stalinism are authoritarian in nature, and, from a psychological standpoint, share a great deal in common.
Progressivism, as genuine liberalism is more correctly named, is now, and has long been, best represented by the Scandinavian social democratic countries, like Norway, Sweden, and, above all, Finland. The political perspective of these countries, and only these countries, can today rightly be considered politically and economically "mainstream". This has long been demonstrated conclusively by clearly superior empirical outcomes. What are these? Basic measures of human development and quality of life in those countries, such as happiness and infant mortality, which all surpass those in the US by shockingly wide margins.
Owing to neo-fascist influence, the United States is simply, factually, not "number one" in terms of its quality of life. In fact, by the measures we refer to, it now stands near the bottom of the nominally first-world countries, somewhere between 15th and 20th, or even lower.
In some ways, however, it truly is exceptional: its abnormally excessive expenditures on weapons of mass destruction are grotesquely in excess of those of any other country, and grossly in excess of any reasonable need; it has now assembled an extensive spying and police apparatus for the illegal and illegitimate political control of its citizens and allies (there are very, very few true terrorists); it incarcerates (and executes) its citizens to an incredible and exceptional degree, and when it incarcerates it is quick to resort to solitary confinement; it suffers acutely from an ever-widening wealth gap; its vapid television entertainments are churned out by a handful of media cartels controlled by narcissistic, out-of-touch CEOs; and its militarization of its police forces, and its hyper-aggressive, "bomb-first/America uber alles" foreign policy make it the terror, not the respected leader, of the civilized world.
Again, the influence of businessmen and bankers, who fantasize that they're doing "God's work", can readily be traced in all of these retrogressive, sociopathic developments. But the mass media never do this sort of tracing, as their owners are themselves the key players in American neo-fascism.
What Everything Progressive is concerned with, at least in its political dimension, is the familiarization of its readers with the actual mainstream. We reject, with little qualification, the politics, the economics, and the pernicious "values" of the corporate extremists. Empirical outcomes aside, there is not now, nor has there ever been, so much as a coherent political philosophy associated with "conservatism". If its advocates could bring themselves to be honest for a few moments, they would admit that conservatism is actually nothing more than a haphazard collection of ad hoc practices for enabling avarice and suppressing democracy and dissent.
Because "conservatism" has always been fundamentally incoherent, and forever politically illegitimate, there is little it can do but lead humanity to unacceptable outcomes across the board.
In a rational society, the debate between liberalism and conservatism would have come to an end long, long ago. The Great Depression revealed its basic and inevitable tendencies; but, rather ironically, the benign social policies of the Roosevelt administration had the effect of masking the true nature of "conservatism". And it was in roughly the same timeframe that the mass media were quietly and almost completely bought up by corporate interests, stifling domestic criticism and launching instead an era of unrelenting neo-fascist propaganda.
Today, in light of the now stark contrast in the quality of life between the United States and the genuine social democracies, not to mention its comprehensively incompetent response to the pandemic, conservatism has yet again revealed itself to be synonymous with corruption and economic, moral, and political failure.
It's "achievements" range from the destruction of the natural world to the hypocritical advancement of an obsolescent view of religion, to enabling grotesque disparities of wealth, to serving up a murderously broken and expensive system of medical care that has shown itself wholly inadequate to the COVID-19 crisis. Stripped bare, what "conservatism" actually means is xenophobia, racism, sexism, and militarism. It means narcissism raised to the level of a fetish. It means the dissolution of humanity and rationality in a fog of opportunistic greed. It means comb-overs and spray-tans substituting for genuine leadership. It means governance converted into profit-making opportunities (including so-called "public-private partnerships").
Underlying all of these individual manifestations of corruption is the total capitulation of principle to the naked pursuit of power for the sake of superfluous and forever squandered wealth.
Unfortunately, what is now sometimes called liberalism, as embodied in the Democratic party apparatus and pseudo-liberals such as Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, is essentially a somewhat less rabid form of the same thing. This version excuses its manifest defects and failures as a matter of being "realistic" and "getting things done", never mind whether the things that get done are half-baked half-measures, or the wrong things altogether. Underneath the hood of Clintonian pseudo-liberalism, and consistently dominating all of its policies, is the fear of alienating wealthy "donors" - which is to say fear of the loss of political bribes.
EP has been designed as an antidote to "conservatism", corporate neofascism, and corporate media - and therefore also as an antidote to corruption, political and economic failure, and environmental and medical catastrophe. The site has been constructed, from the ground up, to provide a consistent and comprehensive progressive perspective on our lives here on Earth.
The underlying aim is to provide an understanding of how a high quality of life for everyone, on a par or exceeding that of the Scandinavian countries, can be achieved here, and indeed, ultimately, everywhere.
Our ancestral website, Progressive Living, was among the first progressive sites on the internet; and it was the only one that was comprehensive in compass, providing both the history and the underlying philosophy of progressive thinking. Given this sort of nominally unfashionable orientation, its explosive growth was startling. Nevertheless, for well more than a decade it was read, ultimately by more than 8 million people, in every country in the world with internet access.
Readers sometimes remarked that what they found refreshing about the site was its depth, it's perspective, its cautious optimism, and the many tools it provided for gaining insight into the nature of genuine democracy, as well as for effectively changing the world in light of democratic ideals.
Eighteen years later, Everything Progressive now offers updated tools; but we still retain, and indeed re-emphasize, our historical and philosophical underpinnings. Our optimism also remains - though, admittedly, it is rather more chastened now than it was then.
Unfortunately, thanks almost entirely to neo-fascism, we now face some very, very serious, urgent, and daunting, problems.
For example, all three branches of government have been largely purchased by businessmen and bankers, who are the true force behind American, and indeed global dysfunction. (Properly understood, the very low approval ratings for Congress really mean very low approval ratings for the businessmen and bankers who own it, and for the media figures who jealously guard their status quo. After all, if the puppets of Congress have been purchased, then surely disgust for Congress is really disgust for those who pull its strings - and for those in the corporate media who propagandize on its behalf.)
Climate vandalism (by those who have long known that their practices threaten civilization itself) is almost certainly an even worse problem than even some of those who have been warning us about it currently realize. (Owing in part to thawing methane stores.)
United States political "elites" are playing very dangerous, destabilizing games in the Middle East and with Russia, in part to protect access to fossil fuels that must remain in the ground; and they are also sharply ramping up US military presence in Africa, to force access to the resources there on behalf of American-based, but rarely loyal, transnational corporations.
Finally, the world now faces truly urgent challenges both economic and medical growing out of the COVID-19 crisis.
In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy doesn't reliably get set on her way home until she unmasks the Wizard. In reality, he isn't notably great, or even a wizard, and is powerful solely because the people of Oz mistakenly allow him to be, on the assumption that he is something that he is not.
The first part of our mission at Everything Progressive is to unmask our own "wizards" - to which end we provide a root cause analysis of the problems besetting us and, indeed, the entire planet, now that it has been co-opted by corporatism (a different thing, incidentally, from capitalism per se).
The second part of our mission: suggesting an alternative course for America and the world, one in which the "wizards" function exclusively as citizens, instead of oligarchs. (We call societies like that "democracies"; and, plutocracy having failed us so badly, we suggest we give democracy a try right here in America.)
Today, though, we have one truly confounding problem that Dorothy didn't have. She at least knew where home was, which made it considerably easier for her to get there. Unfortunately, in the modern world, we don't even know where Kansas is any more, and so it's time to ask ourselves what home really ought to look like.
So an especially-important question is this deceptively simple one: what should society look like, ideally? (The conservative fetish of small government is exceptionally absurd in a country beset with monstrously bloated, globe-spanning corporations, banks, and media conglomerates. However, small corporations, or, far better yet, employee-owned cooperatives, are a really terrific idea; and the conversion of monster corporations into small, local coops would, all by itself, create millions of new jobs. It would also result in much more reasonable CEO compensation packages, and a polity far less threatened by corporately financed political corruption.)
It may be that what democracies need most right now, though, are far better safeguards against nearly monopolistic "wizard" media influence. These could begin with a better-armored wall of separation between commerce and state, and continue with the comprehensive breakup of the media monopolies accompanied by the redistribution of their broadcast licenses.
And, of course, the "Sanders Revolution" or its equivalent is long, long overdue, and must become a permanent feature of American politics. The failed "Reagan" devolution (which was always little more than a slow-motion banker/corporation coup d'etat) has nowhere left to go - except the grave.
Dorothy was also greatly aided in her return home when she found companions who knew that courage, heart, and intelligence were all essential qualities. In taking note of this, what Frank Baum, the author of "The Wizard of Oz", had in mind might be called an ideal of human character.
This sort of ideal is indispensable because even the very best systems of economics and governance simply aren't enough of themselves. Good citizenship is needed, too; and pre-requisite to good citizenship are good values.
In the final analysis, societies are only as good as the individuals of which they are comprised. Yet ideals of character have gone by the wayside in the midst of the modern confusion about anything and everything having to do with values. So we'll want to try to understand just why our wizards are in no way even approximately great (let alone "exceptional"), why that really is an enormous problem, and why, as so many tin men and scarecrows ourselves, we would benefit enormously from rethinking and recommiting to a well-grounded ideal of character. At present, roughly a third of the American electorate lacks even the most basic critical thinking skills, and this is flatly incompatible with democratic governance.
But it simply doesn't have to be that way.
In the pages of Everything Progressive, we refer to thinking about the nature of an ideal (or at least more ideal) society as "ODC", that is, as theory concerning the optimal development of civilization. And we refer to thinking about an ideal of character as "ODS", or the optimal development of the self.
When we have a problem concerning quantities, or we want to know how to find the value of one quantity given one or more others, we make use of a discipline called 'mathematics', and we also employ related tools like calculators and computers. When we want to know something about the nature of physical reality, we turn to the discipline known as 'science', which has developed a whole range of specialized tools of its own.
And when we have questions about values, we can turn to the discipline known as 'philosophy', which provides its own useful toolkit.
Taken together, these three disciplines comprise the research laboratory and workbench of "rationalism", and ultimately of civilization itself. Rationalism has been with us in the West since the ancient Greeks, and in the East since the days of Confucius. It was the guiding light of the Enlightenment, and of the founding fathers of the United States. But neither philosophy nor rationalism are well-regarded by American "elites" today. Philosophy is, after all, essentially subversive: this is because its central aim, a distinctly dangerous one for some, is the promotion of clarity and accuracy of thinking about every subject, without exception.
The nearly total exclusion of philosophy from our cultural toolkit has proven every bit as pernicious as the total exclusion of mathematics or science would (inevitably) be.
Though the reader isn't likely to hear this view expressed anywhere but in the pages of Everything Progressive, we can't arrive at a well-reasoned resolution of our many economic, political, and theological controversies without a good working knowledge of philosophy. And these are far from the only areas that are badly in need of rational, systematic, and orderly thought and debate.
At Everything Progressive, we employ the full toolkit of rationalism; and we commend the use of that toolkit to everyone, everywhere. Until it is understood to be bankrupt, the continued propagandizing of failed neo-fascist views in public discourse will, quite simply, lead to global collapse. In the short term we suggest that Americans simply abandon corporate media altogether, and leave it to the crickets which, in any sane world, would comprise its only audience.
It is only the systematic deployment of the toolkit of rationalism, and a return to Enlightenment ideals, that can provide solutions that can help lead the world out of confusion and back to some semblance of order. But it is certainly possible to go far beyond a mere semblance of order. A true civilization is now possible, for the very first time in human history, if only we will seize the helm.
The Site Architecture
You'll notice, in the diagram below, that 'Rationalism' at the top, securing the foundation for everything else below. In its essentials, rationalism is actually a simple concept: it refers to the idea that logic and evidence should guide our beliefs about the nature of the world and the purposes and conduct of life.
More than anything else, it is our consistent commitment to rationalism that sets Everything Progressive apart from other Progressive sites on the internet. Crucially important though it may be, Progressivism is, nevertheless, only the political manifestation of rationalism.
Most individuals grow up in societies in which one form of authoritarianism or another is offered as the foundation for belief. As might be expected, this has promoted unending confusion and conflict. Confusion, because in the absence of evidence and logic, or in the presence of bad evidence and/or bad logic, almost anything may be believed, no matter how outlandish, absurd, or destructive. And conflict, because if you believe in the infallibility of one scripture, and I believe in another, no conceivable basis for agreement can ever be reached.
Of course, beliefs that aren't grounded in good logic and evidence usually also prove to be embarrassingly wrong. And it is a very small step from embarrassment to catastrophe. Thought and deed are always married, and they can be very badly married indeed.
However, due caution is in order here. Not everything the religions of the world have taught us is wrong. Far from it: both chaff and wheat may be found in all of the great religions of the world. A study of world religions, with a view to identifying the wheat and to winnowing the chaff, can provide one important starting point for developing a robust and genuinely rational religion that has nothing at all to do with faith. The tools developed by philosophers can, and must, aid us in this process of systematic re-evaluation.
So, again, all of the content at Everything Progressive begins with a basic commitment to rationalism; and it continues with the use of philosophical tools to arrive at, among other things, a fully rational religion, as the diagram below is intended to suggest. And at the core of any such religion, we suggest, will be good values, from which all subsequent judgments concerning a morally legitimate economics and politics must follow.
We believe that therein lies the only real hope for the creation of a truly viable world: that is, in the development of a consensus around what constitutes genuinely good values. Ultimately, nothing else, and nothing less, can lead the world out of confusion and into a humanly and humanely good global society. So in 2020, and going forward, we'll be offering a great deal more in the way of insight into how good values and (systematically reformed) institutions can re-connect with each other.
We'll also be assessing the most urgent problems that confront humanity, and offering suggestions around how they can be prioritized in light of good values, with a view to determining what good institutions might do about them.
But Everything Progressive isn't concerned exclusively with purely theoretical issues concerning politics, values, and rationalism, as important as these are. We'll also be providing additional, more immediately useful tools here (or links to the very best tools available elsewhere), pertaining to health, career, money management, and much more. All of these can, and should, be managed in light of our values. Haphazard outcomes, or outcomes based in bad or confused values, will never be optimal outcomes.
In order to get a quick sense of what, more concretely, may be found at Everything Progressive, you can click on any of the buttons below to be directed to an overview page providing our perspective concerning that topic. (Be aware that some topics are currently much more developed than others, a situation we hope to rectify with time.) From each overview page, the menu bar will then provide links to pages with greater detail (when additional detail is currently available).
Anyone who has grown up confused as to how we can go about developing a coherent and consistent set of beliefs will especially enjoy the content here at EP. We've tried to provide a complete set of tools that can lead to the development of good values, which in turn can guide us through the entire range of human concerns, crucially including politics and economics, but by no means stopping there.
We hope that the blueprint of a far more truly human society which we'll be presenting here will be genuinely inspiring - perhaps even for CEOs and bankers. After all, although their bank accounts might end up smaller, they would at least have a future - and one much richer and more hopeful in every other way.
The Editor / Everything Progressive