The Left may be described as progressive, but that does not mean they are liberal. Political progressivism really means nothing more than desiring change. But change towards what? Change toward authoritarianism is just as much ‘progress’ as change toward ‘anarchy’. We must never conflate ‘progressive’ with the genuine meaning of ‘liberal’.
In the days of old, progressives sought to liberate the people from the dominion of the monarchs or oligarchs. Back when politics was dominated by the strong and the wealthy, progressives could accurately be described as ‘liberal’. Liberals wanted a freer society: individual freedoms, economic freedoms, religious freedoms, political freedom, etc.
However, in modern day democracies, progressives are actually arguing for greater state/government control over behaviour and even attitudes. It appears to be a progressive cause to increase legislation over the finer minutiae of individual lives. Modern progressives have very little tolerance for dissenting opinion or freedom of speech. Take for instance prejudice or hate speech laws: conservatives tend to want to preserve individual liberties of free speech, including the right to offend, but progressives want to clamp down on hate speech, even if it infringes on free speech. The point of contention here is not to argue over whether laws against prejudice or hate speech are effective or even desirable. The point is that progressives want to increase state influence, whilst conservatives want to preserve individual liberties.
The political opposite of progressivism is conservatism. Conservatism is about preserving traditions and not wanting to change very much. Since conservatives oppose progressives on the principle of increasing government control, it turns out is the conservatives who are defenders of liberalism. Conservatives want to maintain individual liberties and minimise government intervention in both society and economy.
The Left like to identify themselves as both progressive and liberal. But as I have explained, in the current political climate, you cannot be both. Conservatives want to preserve liberties. Progressives want to increase government control. So we are left with two options: either the Left is conservative and liberal, or they are progressive but not liberal.
The deciding factor looks to be this: the Left like to dismiss conservatives as right-wing. By process of elimination, the Left must self-identify as progressive.
The conclusion that leaves us with is that the Left is authoritarian.
This coheres with everything we know from modern history: The every single Leftist government, whether Socialist or Communist, is famed for their authoritarianism.
This post was originally published by the author on his personal blog: https://hoongwai1984.wordpress.com/2017/03/30/progressives-are-not-liberal/