History demolishes progressive movement

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Conservatives revere history more than liberals. And conservatives are more familiar with it. They appreciate history more. Liberals are enamored with change for the sake of change, but conservatives simply want to conserve that which works, that which is eternal. They want to preserve truth itself.

History is a collection of past actions and events that reveal or embody human nature, and history shows that human nature is unchanging. History demonstrates that the nature of man involves a timeless struggle between evil and good. History produces the wisdom of the ages, because each generation transmits the lessons learned to the succeeding generations. That’s why conservatives revere tradition and look to history as a guide, because history teaches what works and what doesn’t.

But liberals have always denied that human nature is fixed and inherent in a human’s genome instructions. They believe that truth is shifting, it’s the way you see something, a matter of perspective. Liberals want freedom from all restraints, most especially the restraints of truth revealed through experience and tradition. Liberals believe there’s no such thing as universal truth, because it’s not in their best interest to accept that—it impedes their ability to do whatever they want to do however disruptive it may be, to impose whatever change they seek. It is the never-satisfied liberals who favor radical change.

Conservatives choose to celebrate America’s historical heroes in spite of their sins. They recognize that man is an imperfect creature, and they admire persons who rise above those imperfections. However, progressives reject these same transgressors in spite of their greatness, because they want to compare them to some ideal of what a person could be, or should be. And yet, that’s a comparison that almost no one can live up to. Liberals believe that human nature can be changed, that they can force humans into a “state of virtue”. But history imposes reality and comes down on the side of conservatives.

Political progressives believe that men and women are perfectible. Conservatives know this is false. And they know that the Left’s fruitless quest has caused more destruction and death throughout human history than any other human delusion. It’s a seductive, persuasive strategy when the progressives tell you that we need more laws to govern behavior, and must spend huge dollars to make better people out of humans; but their battle against reality is not only costly, it’s futile.

The only thing that can be changed about humans is the veneer, the surface behavior. People can be taught to be polite and civil, and to obey most of mankind’s laws, but basic human instincts cannot be changed. If deprived of food, water, safety, humans will eventually kill to get it for themselves and their kin, or kill to obtain the means to get it. Self-protection and propagation of the species is built into our genes.

Nearly every child in America is taught that murder is “bad” or “evil”. And yet, lots of children grow up to be killers. A psychology professor at FSU once told me that every human is capable of killing; it just depends on the circumstances and how hard they are pressed.

The “Robinson Crusoe” author, Daniel Defoe, stated that man would compromise any principle or commit any misdeed “to advance himself or save his skin”.

America’s founders did not trust human nature. They knew that often the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. They believed that when men are left to themselves, they lived lives that were “nasty, brutish and short”. They perceived that American citizens could be aggressive, sometimes thuggish, and ill-tempered. They knew politicians could easily lapse into corruption and become self-serving. The founders designed the Constitution to create a government to guard against a potentially violent public, and one that was “unable or at least unlikely to harm” its own citizens.

There is no pie-in-the-sky solution to the quandary of the human condition. To remain free beings, we have to understand that human nature cannot be “repaired” or cleansed of its irreparable imperfections. We should not be forced to defend ourselves against the progressives in their fruitless quest to force the world into a better place than it ever can be. God save us from the “rescuers”, who would take away our freedoms to achieve their so-called “social utopia”.

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John R. Smith

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