May. 19th, 2016

lizcommotion: A black-and-white photo of a Victorian woman (victorian lady)
I can and will try to write a short answer to this, as I have Many Thoughts on the US ideals of "progress".

(Note: I am writing from a US history perspective here, so I use the word "we" in places to mean "the US mainstream narrative" but it's to save lots of words; I know there are a lot of other perspectives throughout the world and even within the US and I don't want to discount them. Just, language is hard, and expanding beyond the US begins to be beyond the scope of one blog entry.)

Much of the ideas we currently have about progress coalesced during the Progressive Era (1890s-1920s), though they draw from other times and have morphed since then as well.

The Progressive Era was kind of a mixed bag, in a "tally up how we did by today's moral standards" measure. tw: there are some good things here, but gear up for All The Grossness of Historical and Modern Racism, Classism, Sexism, Ableism, anti-NDN policies et al herein, you have been warned )

So, do I think "progress" should be a taboo word like "f-g-t" or banned from the language? No. Plus "I'm making a lot of progress on my life goals" is certainly a fine use of the word.

But I think that knowing the history of how the idea of Progress has been misused is important. (It can have its good points, too.) When I reflexively flinch at the word, now, I also look very carefully at how people use it -- because the speaker can often betray traces of progressivism's history without meaning too.

David Brooks is a soft targettw: yes expect David Brooks to be gross and racist and ethnocentric )

*twitch*

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