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Are You a Progressive or a Revolutionary?

by John Spritzler

February 6, 2015

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[Also see "Bernie Sanders & Dwight Eisenhower & Taxing Billionaires"]




Progressives and revolutionaries want entirely different things. Before deciding what you really are, consider how different the goals of each camp are. Progressives and egalitarian revolutionaries (the kind I'm talking about) both say they are for "equality," but they give entirely different meanings to the word. The meanings are in fact exactly the opposite.

For an egalitarian revolutionary, equality means no rich and no poor (it does not mean this). It means that the children of a janitor should enjoy the same standards of education, healthy food, quality health care, comfortable living space, quality clothing, leisure time, fun vacations, healthy and attractive environment, as the children of a doctor or the children of Bill Gates or of anybody else.

For a progressive, equality means an "Equal Opportunity"--regardless of one's race or gender--to get richer than others in a society STILL based on class inequality. Progressives never say that there should be no rich and no poor. They simply insist that everybody, regardless of their race or gender, should have the same opportunity to get rich (and, although they don't mention this, have the same risk of being poor.) In this respect a better name for what progressives actually want would be "perfect inequality" (as opposed to imperfect inequality made imperfect by racial or gender bias.)

Thus, for a progressive, the children of a janitor should NOT enjoy the same quality and standard of life as the children of a doctor or a billionaire.

Bob Reich, the darling of the progressive camp, goes out of his way to defend the right of the rich to be fabulously richer than other people. Reich writes:

"Charles and David Koch should not be blamed for having more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans put together. Nor should they be condemned for their petrochemical empire. As far as I know, they’ve played by the rules and obeyed the laws."

The problem, according to Reich and his fellow progressives, is not that some people are vastly richer than others. No, the problem is merely the lack of Equal Opportunity resulting in some people not having the same "Equal Opportunity" as others to get rich like the Koch brothers. If only the racial and gender composition of the population of poor people and of the population of rich people were the same--the same proportion of blacks in each, etc.--then things would be fine. The inequality, say the progressives, must be perfect.

Here's how Bob Reich explained his progressive "defend the right of the rich to be rich" view (i.e., "Equal Opportunity") in a speech he gave to Occupy Wall Street protesters at the University of California, Berkeley:

"But fundamentally — and let me try to connect some of these dots — fundamentally, the problem with concentrated income wealth and fundamentally with an education system that is no longer available to so many young people and even a K-12 system that is letting so many people down — the fundamental problem is that we are losing equal opportunity in America. We are losing the moral foundation stone on which this country and our democracy are built."

Progressives don't think the poor should be quite so poor as they are today, but neither do they think they should be as well off as other people. Thus progressives favor paying people who work hard all day preparing and serving fast food a bit more than they get today; progressives say such a worker who works a 40 hour week should be paid $30,000 per year (that's what a $15/hr wage would equate to.) Anybody who has ever tried to support a family on $30,000 per year knows that this means an extremely low standard of living for the family. But progressives think this, as opposed to "no rich and no poor" equality, is the appropriate goal for fast food workers!

This darling of the progressives--Bob Reich--made $347,000* in honorariums from 31 speaking engagements in 1993 (who knows how much since then?) and thinks fast food workers should be satisfied with $15/hr ($30,000/year). Is the progressive camp really the one you want to be in?

If you think that the children of a janitor should have as good a quality and standard of life as the children of anybody else, then you belong in the camp of egalitarian revolutionaries, not the camp of progressives. You will find the aims of PDRBoston far more to your liking than any progressive organization or magazine (virtually all of which are controlled by the rich, as discussed in detail here.)


* The Milwaukee Sentinel January 9, 1993 reported, "Labor Secretary-designate Robert Reich made hundreds of thousands of dollars on the lecture circuit last year while serving as a key adviser to President Clinton's campaign, his financial disclosure report showed Friday. The report to the Office of Government Ethics said Reich made $347,000 in honorariums from 31 speaking engagements." I found a link to this Milwaukee Sentinel article online several years ago but the article is no longer online, unfortunately.

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