The Myth of Progress

Progress is normally understood as the gradual improvement in the lot or condition of the individual, the community, society, or the species as a whole. Progress is perceived as movement forward, usually toward a destination. Many individuals throughout the ages have professed a belief in humankind’s progress toward a utopian ideal, wherein there will be social and economic equality, total freedom, and world peace. Politicians of any stripe who state such an idea are perpetuating a myth that, as far as I am aware, is as old as Plato’s Republic and the almost totalitarian-style vision of society that he proposed therein. The flaw in the utopian ideal lies in the idea that all citizens of the state will think, feel, and act in the same manner, thereby eradicating any threats that can turn deadly and put the order of things in jeopardy and lead to its possible dissolution.

This is an unnatural and currently impossible state of existence and can only be achieved by direct brainwashing techniques, which contravenes our freedoms. At some point as all ideologies trod the path toward utopia they do so at the expense of freedom of thought as well as speech, limiting not just one’s reasoning skills but one’s ability to criticize the government and the social order. The dream of utopia is built on the premise that everyone wants the same thing, which is so far from the truth as to be laughable when it is stated, especially, yet again, by the masters of the lie, our politicians. World peace, for instance, comes at a steep price, the price of an irrevocable loss of profit for those whose industries directly profit from all facets of war (including the technologies developed for use in the event of war) and the politicians who have a stake in those industries and their profit-making schemes.

There are different types of progress, but it seems that in the last twenty years, starting with the advent of the Internet, the only type of progress we are making, and at warp speed, is technological. But our social, economic, and moral progress, for example, have stalled and are even regressing. Though in the last two decades other parts of the world have seen a dramatic rise in economic prosperity, economic growth in other parts, including here at home, has not risen at all and has even gone backwards. I will not go into a discussion of globalization and capitalism, imperialism and modernization, which are at the heart of the aggressively widening abyss of inequality between the wealthy and the poor and middle class across the globe; I will only say that, as with all isms, all ideologies, they work in theory, not in practice, and so since humans create these systems, they will always be flawed, they will cause fractures and disruptions, they will force us to reset our course on the waters of life, and they will need to be fixed, supplemented in some way to address the disorder into which they throw society and an ever-increasing number of individual human lives. Thus, with progress, or what one deems progress, there has always been and always will be an asymmetry that attends the advancements made.

But along with the increasing number of people whose lives are negatively impacted by these improvements, there are also an increasing number of people, of voices, who are against the government in particular helping these people get back to a more normal, productive life. Not only do these include the capitalist whores that control this country (both inside the government and out) and each day more and more the world itself, but also those who vote for these selfish, power-hungry, ideologically rigid egomaniacs repeatedly in each election, not allowing for new life to be breathed into the highest levels of state and federal government. This is the incessantly growing and rising population of ignorant constituents who continuously vote against their own interests, who more often than not need the aid that some members of the government want to provide. But then they hear that providing welfare of any kind comes out of their taxes and may even raise them and so they immediately vote for those politicians who are dead set against raising taxes and helping those who need it, and yet they are among those who need the financial assistance. They have been brainwashed to believe that others do not deserve to receive support when they encounter hardship because it is their fault, not the taxpayer’s, and so they do not think their money should go to lifting them up, because they are also told that the government will misuse use the money, and if not that, then those who receive it will, and so the vicious cycle of poverty continues and grows with no end in sight.

These ill-informed voters also do not recognize that it is the government that has allowed rich and powerful corporations to run roughshod over them, the workers, by capping and even decreasing their pay, dismantling their unions (with the government’s permission, mind you), giving them little if any health insurance, and laying them off, sending their jobs overseas or using automation, and soon enough robots, which in many places has already begun, in an effort to increase the wealth of executives, owners, and stockholders.

In a word, there is no progress, no stability for that matter, where the government does not defend and support its citizens against special interest groups whose only concern is maintaining and enlarging a vast sea of wealth and the limitless power that comes along with it at any and all costs, including that of freedom, choice, and equality. There is no progress where those who cannot think critically about what they see, read, or hear (because ignorance is bliss and an easier, happier place in which to live) prevent not only the stability and productive future of another but also their own. These voters are morally bankrupt hypocrites, and as vile and reprehensible as the capitalists and politicians who have destroyed this country over the last four decades, and they are more ignorant than should be tolerated, for they keep reelecting the latter, thereby granting them to power to do as they wish and continue this country on its course toward complete and everlasting ruin.

In the end, there can be no progress politically, socially, or economically, and medical, scientific, and technological progress is ultimately meaningless and can have no real value if it does not benefit all, if it remains only in the hands of the few, and there can be no blazing path toward utopia if there is no moral progress in tandem and commensurate with these other forms. And this moral progress, which must guide the others, itself must be undergirded by intellectual progress. But when the government and social institutions openly and covertly deprive the people of free speech, free and unbiased press, the ability to debate and question, to think critically and protest, then there can be no opening and broadening of the intellect, but rather only a narrowing and closing of the mind, and with that, of the heart and soul as well.

This is the new America; it took a while to reach this point but it has come, and each day I fear more and more that there is no turning back, that the road to redemption has been arrogantly bypassed and deemed a lie, and that we are heading further and further toward self-annihilation.

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