Monday, November 01, 2010

Progressivism is Atavism

 The Politics of Bad Faith: The Radical Assault on America’s Future, by David Horowitz (1998).
Far from being a progressive conception, the socialist ethic is atavistic and represents the primitive morality of pre-industrial formations: the clan and the tribe. This is why its current incarnation takes the form of “identity politics,” the latest revolt against bourgeois individualism and freedom. Modern radicalism is the return of the repressed. Its values -- equality, cooperation, unity -- are the survival codes of small, vulnerable groups with knowable goals and shared interests. But the morality of tribal communities is self-defeating and disastrous when applied to complex economies, dependent on factors of production that are geographically dispersed and on trade exchanges that are trans-national in scope. In the context of a modern extended economic order, where goals are not shared, where market prices encapsulate knowledge beyond the capacity of a central authority and in situations so complex that no planner can rationally allocate economic tasks, the socialist agenda and its tribal ethos produce social atavisms -- the paternalistic politics, fratricidal nationalisms and economic despotisms, universally characteristic of socialist states.