Lawrence W. Reed, Editor
With an Introduction by Ron
Clichés are tired, shop-worn and often misleading. So why have we
compiled a book of them? Because when they are deployed in the
service of a flawed ideology, dressed up to appear new and
refreshing, they lead well-meaning people to make costly
Progressivism is a dead-end philosophy. Its central notion is that
an educated elite should plan and engineer societies by the use of
centralized power. Progressives reject many of the principles upon
which America was founded, including small and limited government,
individual liberty and choice, the sanctity of contract and private
property, and a free market economy.
In many respects, there's little that's truly "progressive"
about Progressivism. One of the crucial lessons of history is that
human progress happens when humans are free, yet the Progressive
agenda would substantially diminish freedom while promising the
unachievable-a gargantuan but somehow wise and compassionate State.
Because Progressives can't succeed if they level with people in
clear and accurate terms, they resort to an endless stream of
half-truths. They've been at it for so long-more than a
century-that many of those half-truths are now clichés that are
widely familiar but often ineffectively answered.
Think of this collection as a handy reference guide no matter what
your level of education or choice of profession may be. You don't
need to be an economist or philosopher to understand what's written
here. Progressive clichés are presented, then stripped of their
deceptions with compelling arguments for a broad, lay audience. For
people who are actively engaged in advancing liberty and combatting
the fallacies of Progressivism, this will be an indispensable
addition to your arsenal of intellectual ammunition.
It is more than a happy coincidence that the Foundation for
Economic Education (FEE) should collaborate with Young America's
Foundation (YAF) in this important project. The antecedents to this
book are two classic FEE publications that YAF helped distribute in
the past: Clichés of Politics, published in 1994, and the
more influential Clichés of Socialism, which made its
first appearance in 1962. Indeed, this new collection contains a
number of chapters from those two earlier works, updated for the
present day. Other entries first appeared in some version in FEE's
journal, The Freeman. Still others are brand new, never
having appeared in print anywhere.
Our two organizations are delighted to provide Clichés ofProgressivism to a large audience of both newcomers to the
ideas of liberty and older friends who want updated answers to the
evolving deceptions of the statist Left. Beginning in April 2014,
chapters will appear first on the web sites of the two
organizations, one per week, and when the series runs its course in
a year or so, the best of them will be printed and distributed in
hard-copy book form.
The FEE/YAF connection takes on a personal perspective with FEE's
president, Lawrence W. ("Larry") Reed as the editor of this
project. At the age of 15, Larry was deeply affected by the Soviet
invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. Within weeks, he
participated in a YAF demonstration against the invasion in
downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He joined YAF and devoured the
information packet provided to new members, including a
subscription to The Freeman, Frederic Bastiat's The
Law, Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson, Henry
Grady Weaver's The Mainspring of Human Progress, Friedrich
Hayek's The Road to Serfdom and yes, an early edition of
Clichés of Socialism. As Larry himself has put it, "The
message was, 'If you want to be an anti-communist, you had to go
deeper than just being against tanks and guns used on innocent
people. You have to know economics and philosophy too, backwards
and forwards.' YAF introduced me to FEE, and now, almost half a
century later, we both are introducing our shared values to new
generations of young people."
At about the same time Larry was getting his start in the
"movement" for liberty, I was doing the same, working my way up
from chapter founder to leadership positions within YAF. I can
attest to the power of the publications and seminars FEE produced
then and still does today, for they were instrumental in the
evolution of my thinking too. It's been a pleasure in recent years
to work with Larry to rekindle our association and, thereby,
magnify the influence of both FEE and YAF.
Clichés of Progressivism is not meant to be the final,
definitive response to a harmful ideology. Progressivism, if
nothing else, has proven to be a slippery, clever beast. It's like
the arcade game, "Whack a Mole." Smack one myth, and another one
rears its head. And the one you smacked never really vanishes; when
people forget its underlying falsehood or a new generation comes
along, it just reappears. This is a project that will require our
attention as far into the future as the best eyes can now see.
The full series of essays can be found by clicking here.