For those of us who love comedy, one of the most delightful ironies of progressivism is how regressive it is, how mired in the past. While conservatives gather to discuss fresh reformist ideas on how to fight poverty and keep a free society afloat, all progressives ever do is reach into their Magic Box of Tomorrow and draw out the same sclerotic socialism that’s been poisoning the lives of nations since at least the 19th century.
How old and out of date is that, you ask. Well, whenever you point out to these seers of the future that not only is socialism a regressive notion, but it is also a notion that has failed utterly everywhere and every time it’s been tried, they immediately respond by pointing proudly to Europe.
Europe! Oh, sure! Where the Future is Born!
There was a time, I guess, when it made a certain amount of sense for American elites to imitate European ways. Two hundred plus years ago — even a hundred and fifty years ago — when the United States was still just getting started, Europe was at its height. Where we were uncultured, they were in the midst of producing the single greatest culture the world has ever known. Where we were experimental and uncertain, they were tried and more or less true. Where we were innocent and optimistic, they were cynical and wise. It was understandable that those who fancied themselves the intellectual elite among us would put on European airs and look to European ideas.
But come on, progressives, you can’t live in the 19th century forever! Today — and for the last sixty years at least — it is we who invent, we who create, we who lead and Europe… well, Europe, if you hadn’t noticed, is dying. No, I’m too kind: it’s just about dead.
So moribund is the grand old continent that they cannot even allow themselves to see the Islamic invaders raping and molesting their women at will in Sweden, England, Germany and elsewhere. European leadership — like an old, old man hobbling home through his once luxurious now decaying neighborhood — thinks it’s best to look away from the criminal violence on every side, pay no attention, pretend not to see. The Ancient One is too weak to fight back, too frightened even to protest, so it’s best he just avert his eyes and keep walking. Get home to his cheerful gas lamp and warm bowl of gruel. Rien a faire, rien a dire, as the French like to say before dropping their weapons and running away.
If progressives weren’t so enmeshed in the coils of yesteryear, they would understand: when they look to Europe and think they see waves of the future, what they’re really looking at are the symptoms of a fatal disease. Single payer health care, a weaponless citizenry, a self-hating multiculturalism and choking centralized government regulation of work, education and speech — these are just the lesions on a cancer victim in the final stages. They are things you do when you are winding down, drawing in, finishing up. They are signs of the end.
For a nation still as mighty and dynamic — and still as young — as ours to imitate the ways of a crumbling society like Europe is to look to the future in the same way Hamlet looks to the future when he stares at Yorick’s skull.
I mean, old age and death come to us all, no doubt. But there’s no call to rush things.