The 14 Dumbest Objections to Progressivism

Dakota Parsons
Nov 26, 2020 · 11 min read

Conservative arguments which blatantly misrepresent reality.

Image for post
Image for post

Today, scrolling through the comments on a video by The Young Turks, I stumbled upon a goldmine. Entirely unrelated to the video, one comment genuinely summarized over a dozen of the talking points which are spouted by figures such as Ben “Babyface” Shapiro and Stephen “Failed Comedian” Crowder — and I couldn’t help but decide to use this as the perfect opportunity for content.

Before we even begin, it must be noted that the author of the comment makes the same mistake which a vast amount of conservatives do: misidentifying progressive, left-wing ideologies as liberalism. Most progressive, genuinely left-wing people despise liberals almost as much as we despise conservatives. I will not get into the differences between these ideologies here, as an abundance of articles already exist on the topic, but it is worth mentioning before we begin — as a matter of clarification.

1. Liberals want blacks to die off. Liberals promote abortion, which effects blacks more than anyone else.

The issue of women’s reproductive rights and the apparent prevalence of abortion within black communities are two separate issues entirely — it ignores asking the question “Why are abortions prevalent in black communities?” and instead makes a cum hoc ergo propter hoc argument, wrongly asserting a cause, i.e. “liberals want blacks to die off,” to explain two variables which are not causally connected, i.e. “liberals promote abortion” and “black communities have higher rates of abortion.”

This argument is quite bold, insofar as credible, academic sources are publicly available which largely discredit it. In a paper by Dehlendorf, Harris, and Weitz, they argue that

Women of lower socioeconomic status and women of color in the United States have higher rates of abortion than women of higher socioeconomic status and White women. Opponents of abortion use these statistics to argue that abortion providers are exploiting women of color and low socioeconomic status, and thus, regulations are needed to protect women. This argument ignores the underlying causes of the disparities.

There are higher rates of abortion within black communities insofar as there are higher rates of abortion among those with a low socioeconomic status (SES) — but issues of socioeconomic disparities trigger the fight or flight response of conservatives, and so it is better for them to brush it off through the use of poor arguments. Furthermore, as Dehlendorf, Harris, and Weitz note, in making the argument that liberals endorse pro-choice policies because they want to kill black babies, the author of the comment is assigning “guilt to women of color who decide to have abortions by implying that they are falling victim to a racist conspiracy.”

Given the positive correlation really exists between low SES and abortion rates, I ask conservatives: if you are pro-life, as you claim to be, surely you would want to reduce abortion rates by lifting black Americans out of poverty — right?

2. Liberals promote a victim complex.

Herein lies an is-ought fallacy, insofar as it conflates the descriptive explanation of the systems of oppression which exist in societies with the normative claim that those who are victimized by these systems ought to act “victimized.” I use victimized here in two senses: the first without quotations, referring to the descriptive element of victimization, and the second with quotations, referring to how conservatives use the term. This second sense, by virtue of how it is used, refers to the notion of a victim complex which is functionally synonymous with the neurosis of a martyr complex — wherein one routinely over-exaggerates, and often creates, negative experiences in order to put the blame on someone else, thereby avoiding responsibility or fulfilling some psychological need. In using victim complex in this way, one is asserting that the frustrations which arise from being victimized by real, historical, and current systems of oppression are mere over-exaggerations or acts of creating problems where they do not exist — and there is a term for this: victim-blaming.

I will, however, apply the principle of charity and assume that the second sense of victimization, which is what conservatives mean by victim complex, instead refers to a defeatist attitude — wherein one expects failure, insofar as they victimized by systems of oppression. The normative aims which progressives do have is separate from the descriptive aim of highlighting systems of oppression, insofar as the normative aims are much broader, and such descriptive aims serve merely as evidence supporting the need for these broader, normative claims. Our broader, normative aims — roughly speaking — involve deconstructing and dismantling the structures upon which stand not only systems of oppression, but systems of exploitation which apply also to the environment, an ethos which encourages and rewards greed, etc; in short, not defeatism, but passionate and coordinated activism.

3. Liberals promote feminism, which destroys families, and weakens generational success.

I will break this statement down into three propositions, and address them individually: (1) liberals — and by that, I remind you again, it is meant progressives — promote feminism; (2) feminism has a negative impact upon the family; (3) feminism has a negative impact upon multi-generational success.

(1) Progressives promote feminism. Yes — yes we do.

(2) Feminism has a negative impact upon the family. Does feminism have a negative impact upon the traditional family structure? Yes — but that is kind of the point. The traditional family structure is part of what forced upon the woman an essence which made her Other; it defined the “woman” in a negative sense in relation to the “man” which was defined positively. She had no say in the essence which was forced upon her; she was merely required to live in accordance with it. So, to hell with the traditional family.

(3) Feminism has a negative impact upon multi-generational success. This is the first time I have been exposed to this sentiment, and I must admit that it perplexes me, and this is only exacerbated by the fact that I can find no credible source which clarifies what is meant by it. I can only assume, if I apply the principle of charity, that the author of the comment is suggesting that women’s liberation has a negative impact upon multi-generational success insofar as it allows women into industries which are historically dominated by men, and the increase of competition within labour markets creates a higher supply of that labour than there is a demand for it. If this is the case being made, so what? This is capitalism — the socioeconomic system which you advocate for, not us — working as intended. Isn’t a competitive labour force a good thing, according to the free market capitalist? Or do you just believe that men inherently deserve the financial benefits they gain from a limited labour force consisting solely of them? In short, this sentiment is either (a) antithetical to the nature of free market capitalism, which conservatives advocate for, or (b) just blatantly sexist.

4. Liberals want to defund the police, which would effect black communities.

Yes — progressives do want to defund the police, and this would effect black communities, but in a positive way. The relationship between black communities and law enforcement has a long, racist history — a history in which blackness has been criminalized, in which blackness is still criminalized, leading to the need for movements such as Black Lives Matter (BLM) today. As is noted in an academic journal article by Smiley and Fakunle,

Documented historical accounts have shown how myths, stereotypes, and racist ideologies led to discriminatory policies and court rulings that fueled racial violence in a post-Reconstruction era and has culminated in the exponential increase of Black male incarceration today. Misconceptions and prejudices manufactured and disseminated through various channels such as the media included references to a “brute” image of Black males. In the 21st century, this negative imagery of Black males has frequently utilized the negative connotation of the terminology “thug.” In recent years, law enforcement agencies have unreasonably used deadly force on Black males allegedly considered to be “suspects” or “persons of interest.” The exploitation of these often-targeted victims’ criminal records, physical appearances, or misperceived attributes has been used to justify their unlawful deaths.

So yes, progressives do want to defund the police, and this would have an effect upon black communities. Defunding the police is one step in the process of decriminalizing blackness.

5. Liberals promote white supremacy, by saying that without government, black people can’t succeed.

I do not think it is necessary to note how obvious of an example this is of a straw man argument. What is more, it is a self-defeating straw man argument; in trying to argue that a greater government influence promotes white supremacy, it admits to the American government being an institution which is built upon and reinforces white supremacy.

6. Liberals call masculinity toxic, and masculinity helps men be successful.

This assertion involves a false equivalence being made between masculinity and toxic masculinity, in asserting that masculinity helps men be successful. Irregardless of any false equivalence of concepts, this assertion is incredibly false. To begin, masculinity is defined as “Something traditionally considered to be characteristic of a male.” Toxic masculinity, however, can be defined as follows:

Toxic masculinity is a narrow and repressive description of manhood, designating manhood as defined by violence, sex, status and aggression. It’s the cultural ideal of manliness, where strength is everything while emotions are a weakness; where sex and brutality are yardsticks by which men are measured, while supposedly “feminine” traits — which can range from emotional vulnerability to simply not being hypersexual — are the means by which your status as “man” can be taken away.

Not only is this characterization of masculinity “narrow and repressive,” but it also does not reflect any significant biological reality, nor does any conception of masculinity. Research has shown that there is very little difference the brains of males and females, and that gender roles ultimately result from social norms. It is social norms, not biological realities, which create our conceptions of masculinity and encourage toxic masculinity in many areas of life. If masculinity in general or toxic masculinity in particular (the author of the comment is unclear) helps men be successful, therefore, to offer any normative argument in its favour is to argue for the preservation of social norms which (1) have an incredibly negative impact upon the success of women, and (2) have no roots in any significant biological reality; in short, a merely sexist sentiment.

7. Liberals promote mass immigration, which causes many blacks to be unemployed, and dependent upon black market activities.

To this, I must ask: and why does mass immigration, according to you, lead to greater unemployment specifically within black communities and not, say, white communities? Is it because the average household income for black Americans is significantly lower than it is for white Americans — and you believe that immigrants will largely increase the labour market for under-paid professions? What do you think is the cause of this? Perhaps there is a massive problem with intergenerational poverty in America, which disproportionately impacts black Americans as is reflected in the fact that they have a significantly lower average household income than white Americans? Surely, rampant individualism is no solution to these problems, as reflected by the fact that intergenerational poverty remains a crisis.

8. Liberals focus more on race, opposed to focusing on the content of your character.

Addressing issues of systemic racism and emphasizing the content of one’s character are not mutually exclusive — you can do both, and progressives do. Also, this cherry-picking of the words of Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) does not make conservatives look good. Do they think that MLK did not “focus on race” in the same ways in which progressives do today — that racial injustice does not remain today a barrier to any real socioeconomic system which actually prioritizes one’s character over their race? Here — let’s play a little game. I will quote two people, one of which is MLK and the other is a BLM activist:

First quote:

This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

Second quote:

We can never be satisfied as long as black Americans are the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. […] We cannot be satisfied as long as the black American’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.

What do you think? Is the first quote from a BLM activist because it seems to advocate for radical change by its rejection of “gradualism,” and your favourite conservative thought leader has convinced you that BLM is a radical socialist movement? Is the second quote from a BLM activist because it mentions police brutality and inter-generational poverty, and your favourite conservative thought leader has convinced you that this language is a way of pushing a radical socialist agenda? Trick question, because they are both quotes from MLK. Progressives today are concerned about a lot of the same issues which concerned MLK, as such issues have in no way been entirely solved. To cherry-pick quotes from MLK is the conservative’s display of their general ignorance surrounding black issues.

9. Liberals promote affirmative action programs, which stereotypes blacks as unable to compete because they’re inferior.

As stated in the response to the “victim complex” objection, you cannot equate the descriptive aim of educating people about the systems of oppression which exist today, with the normative aim of trying to deconstruct and dismantle the foundations which these systems are rooted in.

Furthermore, affirmative action programs are designed to offset the educational disparity which reinforces inter-generational poverty:

The growing income inequality in the U.S. has been accompanied by a widening gap in school achievement between children living in high- vs. low-income families.

Furthermore, affirmative action policies are only a band-aid on the issue; such policies would not be needed if we were to actually address the material conditions upon which educational disparity and inter-generational poverty are built in the first place. If you hate affirmative action policies so much, then perhaps you might want to join us in our effort to address these material conditions.

10. Liberals promote mass welfare, which incentivizes people to work less.

This is not only a creed which promotes false consciousness, it is also objectively wrong. Norway, for example, which has a very strong social safety net, has kept its unemployment rate below 5% for the past two decades, whereas the unemployment rate in America averages at 5.14% for the past two decades.

11. Liberals help fuel a race war via identity politics.

Again, I point to the point I made earlier about the distinction between the descriptive aims of educating people about the systems of oppression which exist today, and the normative aim of deconstructing and dismantling the foundations upon which these systems stand. Do you sincerely believe that progressives are out here advocating for Helter Skelter?

12. Liberals promote forced diversity, which destroys cultures.

“Forced” diversity, by which you mean multiculturalism, as opposed to what — a melting pot, wherein everybody is assimilated into the dominant culture? The only cultures which conservatives are likely concerned about when expressing this sentiment are white cultures; what other cultures, apart from white ones, lose their dominance when we advocate for “the view that cultures, races, and ethnicities, particularly those of minority groups, deserve special acknowledgment of their differences within a dominant political culture”?

13. Liberals ignore the differences in culture, unless it can be used to promote anti-white racism.

First, we just discussed how progressives advocate for “the view that cultures, races, and ethnicities, particularly those of minority groups, deserve special acknowledgment of their differences within a dominant political culture.” Emphasis here, for the purpose of addressing this objection, on the phrase “acknowledgment of their differences.” Second, this concern with “anti-white” racism demonstrates the premise I literally just speculated: that the only cultures which conservatives are worried about being “destroyed” are white cultures.

14. Liberals promote “western culture” as racist, even though it helps people.

Assuming that Western culture “helps people,” should we then ignore racism within it? Also, who exactly does it help? It sure as hell doesn’t help the low-wage labour which we exploit in developing countries, which lack the labour laws we have. It sure as hell hasn’t helped the Middle East, where we are perpetually engaging in war in order to keep the military-industrial complex and our gluttony for oil satiated.

Read more articles like this on our website:

The Left Gazette

Your destination for leftist analyses.

Dakota Parsons

Written by

Graduate Student in Philosophy. Founder of and writer for The Left Gazette.

The Left Gazette

We strive for in-depth, honest, leftist analyses of philosophical, cultural, and political issues — beyond what is available in mainstream media.

Dakota Parsons

Written by

Graduate Student in Philosophy. Founder of and writer for The Left Gazette.

The Left Gazette

We strive for in-depth, honest, leftist analyses of philosophical, cultural, and political issues — beyond what is available in mainstream media.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store