Wednesday, May 11, 2005

On The History Of The Idea Of Progress

From Hypocrisies of the Urban Liberal, we get a list of the characteristics of the Urban Liberal. Although the author is Canadian, one will have no problem recognizing the traits of people you know (and love). It opens with:
An Urban Liberal is someone who wants to free the working poor, but not until they've finished cleaning the bathroom. That's why Urban Liberals love gay rights. They get to feel like Martin Luther King without affecting the neighbourhood.
The list was followed by the comments of Mr. Tom Cerber, quoted in full for our edification:
Some of the best commentaries on the origins of modern liberalism are in the form of histories of manners. As the medieval political order broke down, and with them the honor codes that sustained it, it was replaced by first the court society whose mores in turn were extended beyond the urban settings (i.e., London, Florence) to the rural areas and the lower orders. "Courtesy" (from court) and its later equivalent, "civility" (from civitas) were codes of manners for the new mode and order. The 1600s to 1900s saw a plethora of guide books on teaching children how to be polite courtesans. Erasmus wrote the one later authors would copy. The US Founders like George Washington wrote them.

The point of this is that"courtesy" and "civility" became ways to shame and control the "backward" and those "less civilized." It would be used by progressives (the intellectual sources of Urban Liberals) to tarnish "reactionaries." In short, combined with certain versions of progressivism, "courtesy" and "civility" turn into a kind of Manichaeanism that divides the world into the civil and uncivil, or the liberal and non-liberal. This is why many liberals view the influence of socons in politics in such apocalyptic terms. Raise the possiblity of pregnant women marching in chain-gangs and whipped by the editors of the former Alberta Report, and the civil intimidate the "uncivil" to keep their mouth shut. And if that doesn't work, then file a human rights complaint against them.
So remember this little history lesson the next time you advance an argument that will get you dis-invited to the Margaret Sanger White Eugenicist Sheetathon Planned Parenthood Black Tie Ball and subjected to the opprobrium of the assembled Illuminati and their "proper" courtesans.
(Hat tip to SDA.)