Saturday, October 11, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Progressivism: A Primer on the Idea Destroying America

By P. K.

I’m sure you’ve heard stories of people who have been suffering the symptoms of being sick and getting sicker but unable to diagnose exactly what the problem is. Then, all of a sudden, they try something different, like going gluten-free, and their health miraculously improves. It turns out that there was something completely unknown to them at the time that was making them miserable and endangering their health. Similar to that scenario, many people can agree that America appears to be in bad shape and deteriorating quickly. According to author, attorney and libertarian activist James Ostrowski, the unknown ailment that is the source of our nation’s drastic decline is progressivism. In Progressivism: A Primer on the Idea Destroying America, Ostrowski makes a compelling argument that this ideology has permeated every aspect of our national collective and ultimately shapes our approach to virtually all of the country’s perceived problems for the past 100 years plus.

In a day where wordsmithing by politicians is reaching an art form, Ostrowski spends an entire chapter on defining progressivism to make sure his readers understand what it truly is versus the romanticized version of it trumpeted by the likes of Hillary Clinton and TIME magazine. “Progressivism is a mindset that favors the use of aggressive government force to solve social problems.” While the left would lead us to believe that progressivism is based on science and a zeal for progress, Ostrowski reveals that progressivism has become a “faith for the faithless.  The State replaces God.  Heaven will be achieved here on earth and by means of Godvernment.” Those familiar with James Ostrowski’s writing know that he is not a timid author who tip-toes around to avoid challenging his readers. In Progressivism, he goes after the sacred cows of “the Progressive State of America (PSA)” at such a rapid fire pace that you might miss them if you’re not careful. To name just a few, he skewers day care, government education, pro-labor regulations, agricultural subsidies, social security, unemployment insurance, the progressive approach to race relations and even modern day democracy itself.

He also doesn’t just tell his readers what they want to hear in the hopes of selling more books. For instance, a book critical of progressivism would be an easy sell to those loyal to the Republican Party but Ostrowski takes “conservatives” to task as being progressives themselves. “For example, if you support compulsory government schools, then you must believe that government coercion can produce better results than voluntary cooperation in the marketplace, and therefore you are a progressive.  Calling yourself a Republican or conservative doesn’t change that fact anymore than calling water ‘crude oil’ changes the water in the slightest.” Ostrowski even has an entire chapter entitled “Progressivism’s Vanquished Foe – Conservatism” because he believes that conservatism has been a dismal failure in combatting our nation’s progressive decline and he backs it up with real-life examples (George W. Bush, anyone?).

One of Ostrowski’s greatest strengths as a writer is that his work is accessible to the average reader. You don’t need to be a die-hard libertarian with 45 years of reading scholarly articles under your belt to appreciate and understand this book. He does a great job at breaking down what would normally be an involved subject into easily digestible pieces. For instance, his 8 point definition of progressivism is so spot-on that once you read it, you’ll find yourself constantly thinking back to it the next time you hear progressive nonsense pour out of someone’s mouth. But don’t think this is a dry read overloaded with facts and statistics that’ll put you to sleep. Far from it, Ostrowski delivers one classic line after another which you’ll be chuckling about long after you put the book down. One of Ostrowski’s more memorable observations is that both the media and the public routinely respond to any tragedy with a reactionary clamor to pass new laws. Ostrowski terms it “liberty reduction as a form of grieving” and you’ll be amazed how it happens like clockwork following every dramatic event.

Ostrowski doesn’t shy away from the fact that the majority of the voting public supports progressive programs in overwhelming numbers even with their dismal results. Ostrowski explains that this is the obvious result of over 100 years of a progressive worldview being hammered into our minds from our early years in government schools to later years in life where we are subjected to the progressive echo chamber of politics and the media. It is precisely for this reason that Ostrowski suggests abandoning electoral politics with a series of other maneuvers which he feels can change the course of this nation. Can America be saved from progressivism? Sober analysts would be hard-pressed to think that things can be turned around at this point but one can never give up hope. Perhaps if enough people read this book or at least became aware of its main concepts, then there could be a real movement to stem the tide of progressivism which, Ostrowski repeatedly contends, “has no limiting principle and therefore tends toward creeping totalitarianism.” If America does eventually descend into full-blown tyranny, Ostrowski’s readers won’t be able to say they didn’t know the true culprit.

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