Thursday, March 16, 2006


Ernest Partridge is employed as a philosopher by an American university but he seems to be more in the mould of a French philosopher -- in that his aim seems to be cleverness and paradox rather than clarifying anything. He says that he is a "progressive" but says that progressivism is conservative. Those who would normally be described as conservatives in modern politics he terms "regressives".

I am not really sure it is worth commenting on such superficial cleverness. The last amusing practitioners of it in the English-speaking world were people like Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw about a century ago. Derrida and his ilk of course have provided similar entertainment to the French in much more recent times but that is probably little more than a comment on the way French intellectual life is stuck in the past -- in the Marxist past, in particular.

As a boring old Anglo-Saxon philosopher, however, I aim to clarify things as far as I can so I will mention just a few points about the Partridge claims that might help to put them into perspective. With that boring attention to detail that charaterizes most Anglo-Saxon philosophers, I will just look at Partridge's definition of what he believes in:

""Progressivism" is essentially the "liberalism" of most of the twentieth century, as promulgated by both Roosevelts, by the Kennedy Brothers, and by many Republicans, such as Dwight Eisenhower, Jacob Javits and Earl Warren. "Progressivism," to put it simply, is "liberalism""

At first blush, that is a fairly unremarkable statement but on closer examination it betrays either Partridge's typically Leftist ignorance of history or a rather surprising admission of Fascist inclinations. Let us for a start have a look at the two Roosevelts whom Partridge puts first in his list of admirables. Let us start with a quote from a Fascist to give us some context:

"If we are to go forward we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because, without such discipline, no progress is made, no leadership becomes effective. We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to such discipline because it makes possible a leadership which aims at a larger good".

Now that's mainstream Fascism, isn't it? Totally submerging the individual into an army that works only for the common good rather than individual good. The trouble is that it was not in fact a speech made by Mussolini or his ilk. It is an excerpt from the First Inaugural Address of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. From Hegel on, Leftism has gone under many names and many disguises but the basic desire to reduce people to an antlike status remains.

And we DO remember FDR's infatuation with Mussolini and his ideas, don't we? It was after all FDR who referred to Musso as "That admirable Italian gentleman". And we surely DO remember how in 1939, a German ocean liner, the SS St. Louis, with 1,000 Jewish refugees aboard, got so close to Florida that they could see the lights of Miami -- but FDR would not let them land. They returned to Germany to be exterminated by Hitler. So much for FDR. A strange man to admire.

What of the other Roosevelt -- TR, founder of the "Progressive" party and a man who of course, "entirely" agreed that as a race negroes are "altogether inferior to the whites."

No doubt TR's putting his trust in battleships is admired by Partridge and TR's view that war was needed to "cleanse" the national spirit would also be assented to by Partridge. And, of course, sending troops to take over foreign countries would also be warmly approved of by Partridge. TR certainly did that, as the slightest knowledge of American history would tell you.

What I have just said is of course only the quickest indication of what the 20th century Progressivism that Partridge so admires was all about. There is much more detail here.

Clearly, however, Partridge is either a Fascist or an ignoramus. In either case he is certainly an intellectual lightweight -- which fits in with the generally low intelligence that goes with Leftist attitudes.


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