What comes after the collapse of the progressive regulatory state?
We have to figure this out if we are going to survive
Back in May, eugyppius wrote an excellent article where he works through the differences between liberalism, progressivism, and leftism. Eugyppius is a skilled political economist and he always makes a valuable contribution to the conversation.
In this article I’m going to attempt something similar although I use slightly different categories and reach different conclusions. These are broad brush strokes and crude generalizations that cover over a thousand years of history in just a few sentences. If any historians want to fill in additional details or corrections, I would welcome that in the comments.
Feudalism was the dominant economic system of the Middle Ages. In the 14th century, the black plague killed so many people that it shifted the balance of power between peasants and feudal Lords in ways that led to more rights and slightly better compensation for peasants.
Liberalism was a welcome reaction to feudalism. Smart people, who weren’t quite at the top of the hierarchy, advocated for economic liberalism (the right to trade goods on their own) and political liberalism (the right to have a voice in who runs the place). Over several centuries, those rights expanded to include more and more people.
The dirty little secret of classical liberalism is that it came to depend on both slavery and colonial empire to infuse wealth into the system. Adam Smith’s famed “butcher, baker, and brewer” got rich from being downstream of the enormous wealth generated when Scotland cornered the market for new world tobacco (which was slave-grown because indentured servants won’t do it — harvesting green tobacco makes people nauseous).
Marxism was a reaction against the failures of liberalism (think 3 year olds working as chimney sweeps and the abysmal conditions in newly industrialized cities). Marx’s writing partner Friedrich Engels wrote The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 to dispel the myth that chronic illness amongst factory workers was the result of bad morals. In fact, factory workers were overworked, poorly paid, suffered from bad nutrition, and lived amidst horrific pollution in overcrowded slums. As cities addressed these concerns, the health of residents improved.
Progressivism was a reaction by the middle and upper classes against the failures of both liberalism and Marxism while attempting to retain the best aspects of both — seeking to preserve individual liberties while using the state to impose limits on corporate power. Progressive muckraker Upton Sinclair described the disgusting practices of meat packing plants in The Jungle and this led to the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906. Support for anti-trust action to break up large monopolies was another hallmark of progressivism.
And now the progressive regulatory state has failed because it was captured by the industries it was supposed to supervise. As the most glaring example, the FDA, CDC, and NIH all work directly for Pfizer, Moderna, Merck, GSK, and Sanofi.
Making matters significantly more complicated, the billionaires have taken over the political system and weaponized progressive values (equality, environmental protection) and institutions (U.N., W.H.O.) in the attempt to enslave the developed world. So we have an unholy alliance of the technocrats (the top 10% of well-educated people) + the predatory billionaires, using weaponized PR and elaborate psyops to force their twisted ideas upon us by any means necessary.
Many many people in the medical freedom movement just want a return to classical liberalism — let individuals make decisions, leave people alone, get government out of everything. I certainly see the appeal of this and, as readers of this Substack know, I advocate for it regularly.
But the enormous problem with classical liberalism is that it has a tendency to lead to concentrated power (monopolies). Power corrupts and when these monopolistic firms take over the state we lose political liberalism and we are left with fascism. That’s not theoretical — that’s what actually happened in 1940s Germany and 2020s United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. (I’m sure many readers will take issue with this characterization.)
For me, the bottom line question is this: what comes after the failures of classical liberalism, Marxism, progressivism, and psychotic billionaire fascism? That’s what we have to figure out if we are going to survive.
Many of these political philosophies are attempts to deal with the problem of power and how it corrupts.
Liberalism challenges power through competition, but then competition often gives way to collusion and concentrated power.
Marxism attempts to challenge corporate power through unions/factory workers. But that only lasts for a minute and once the revolution has captured the state then it uses state power to accomplish its goals (enriching the revolutionary vanguard).
Progressivism attempts to harness the power of the state for regulation, but then the regulatory agencies are sitting ducks for capture by industry.
And psychotic billionaire fascism likes concentrated power and wants to use it to kill all of us.
It seems to me that whatever political system comes next must wrestle with the question of how to preserve individual liberties while limiting the corrosive effects of concentrated power.
Blessing to the warriors. 🙌
Prayers for everyone working to restore sanity to our troubled world. 🙏
In the comments, please let me know your answer to the question above — what comes after the failures of classical liberalism, Marxism, progressivism, and psychotic billionaire fascism?
Please join me in elevating the discourse and modeling respectful dialogue about contentious topics.
As always, I welcome any corrections.
I've been thinking a bit along the same lines as you, Toby. However, I specifically feel that the weakness in the medical freedom movement is that it is missing some ethical grounding with regard to technology.
To be clear, I wholeheartedly agree with medical freedom (and will vote for whatever candidate supports it best). However, the fact is that the forces of authoritarianism are doing an end-run around freedom-loving progressives in recent years. By espousing progressive-seeming policies, WEF and its minions are either suckering progressives into authoritarianism or scaring freedom-minded people from progressive values. Another way to look at this is that WEF is partly "right" on issues, but WEF is basically grooming the population for authoritarian "emergency" control, because--according to its ethos-- democracy is not good enough to respond to a changing world. The grave problem with this is that authoritarianism never works out as planned, and always works out to benefit those with the reins.
In response, I think what is necessary is a new ethical system that becomes widespread from the base of the population, a movement that both rejects authoritarianism and embraces a new morality regarding use of technology. People have generally been viewing technology as an amoral thing, but practices such as genetic engineering and mRNA manipulation of your immune system are not only incredibly reckless, but also simply immoral. More and more people need to see them as such before good change can happen at the top. Good change in society is not attained from the orders of the elite, it must come as a cultural values shift from the base.
I'm too old but I would say Revolution!