We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Now that we have considered difficulties in the idea of progress, it is time to enter the politics of progress. Progress reduces the scope of politics and thus minimizes the relevance of the common good. The common good tends to become the sum of individual benefits, in which the “common good” is that of individuals similarly benefited, and not sharing and cooperating in a common life. Government promises security—in comfort, of course, not bare survival—for individuals as such; it places this goal above promoting a certain democratic way of life. Americans learn to put their security, meaning each one’s own security, first—ahead of public-spirited thoughts and actions for the whole. Consider Social Security, America’s largest entitlement, which actually individualizes society, rendering security less “social,” by giving each retired worker independent means. Social Security is quite different from the idea of “national security,” which brings Americans together in a whole. The democracy of progressives leads toward the society that Tocqueville described as the soft despotism of “individualism,” in which individuals, out of a sense of their own impotence in the face of vast social change, excuse themselves from pleasures and sacrifices prompted by public-spiritedness.
This may be off topic, maybe I’m a social Darwinist, but I was thinking about adaptive behaviors and maladaptive behaviors. When it comes to culture, I would expect successful adaptive behaviors to persist and prevail, due to attrition, as maladaptive behaviors fade away over time. But our culture, in the guise of government, supports and even incentivizes maladaptive behavior, a real paradox and venal. This exists, despite the fact that our elites, who eschew antisocial and self destructive behaviors, for themselves, lead the cheer for there adoption by the less privileged.