The Bankruptcy Of Progress: The Challenge Of Today

by Milo Clark

June 21, 2004   


(Swans - June 21, 2004)  It is ironic that those who would counter present political trends and processes call themselves "Progressive." "Progress," the great drive toward extinction now dominating the earth, is killing us all and taking everything with it. To be "Progressive," then, is to join with the lemmings heading for their terminal cliff.

Progressives decry the corporation and lament the 1886 Supreme Court decision which granted personhood to corporations. As persons, the corporations claim all the rights and privileges according people, human people only, under our Constitution and Bill of Rights. In spite of the myth of David and Goliath, biggest easily beats littler, at least so far.

Progressives decry the exploitations made possible by the religions, philosophies and politics celebrating human dominance. Survival of the fittest eliminates everything and everyone including those humans less fit.

Progressives decry the rich getting richer while the poor get poorer yet there is no other outcome possible under the dominance of progress.

Progressives decry . . . .

A century or so back in time, there were Progressives in politics. LaFollette of Wisconsin, senator and founder of "The Progressive" magazine was a major leader. Then, throughout the Midwestern states, over into the Plains states and swirling up through the Rockies; Progressives championed the small farmer, the worker, the littler who were getting shafted by the burgeoning biggers.

Pitched battles were fought with Pinkertons hired by the corporations. The governments, with occasional and then fewer exceptions, strongly championed the corporations. Cops, national guards and private armies of corporations protect property rather than people, suits rather than shirts.

Successive wars invoked patriotism and sacrifice to get Progressives to back off. Spanish-American War, World War One (the war to end all wars) and World War Two (the war engendered by the war to end all wars); all saw degrees of anti-Progressive efforts to thwart Progressives as folks were rallied to support our troops. Look up Helen and Scott Nearing's works to get perspective.

Now, with labor on the rack; globalism declared the way of the future; employment security seen as a laughing matter; jobs ratcheting up, up and away; Dennis J. Kucinich (the only nominal Progressive left) ignored; wither Progressive?

Why, other than nostalgia and looking backward to a past long gone, would we want to call ourselves Progressives? Progressive has become as silly and vapid a label as Sustainable. Progress has condemned us. Pushed us and the earth over the edge of the edge. If we are hanging on at all, it is with the tips of our outstretched fingernails sliding down and down.

The twenty years at the end of the 19th century formed the time fulcrum from which the corporate form was catapulted to world dominance. Thomas Berry declares that ". . . no other event in human history bears any proportionate consequence in the disruption of the planetary process. . ." The corporations ". . . took control not only of the human community but in some sense intruded into the functioning of the earth itself. . . and are even in possession of vast areas of the natural world." (1)

So much for progress.

Whither Progressives?

Thomas Berry suggests The Fourfold Wisdom as guidance. Indigenous wisdom. The Wisdom of Women. The Wisdom of the Classical Traditions. The Wisdom of Science.

The old peoples were grounded. Women know. Classical times addressed balance. Science is now discovering earth and nature. Gaia awareness is spreading. All integrate spirit with and as essential to all else.

Within each designated Wisdom lies the consciousness, awareness of being part of rather than dominant over.

The War Department which morphed to the Department of Defense can morph again to the Department of Peace.

Capital may be redefined as sharing rather than exploiting.

Never forget that all things have their right and appropriate size and form. When that right size and form are exceeded, implosion results. We are witnesses to implosions on a roll. (2)

Those who called ourselves Progressives out of some possibly misplaced nostalgia now are challenged to lead in ways which gather up the residue of implosions, reform them to serve all and then to move confidently into today on our ways to tomorrow.

First, let's clear out Washington so we can get on with it.

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Published June 21, 2004
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