I think I’m a “Regressive”

Having lived through a federal election here in Canada last month, and witnessing much of the partisan debate leading up to the presidential election in the US, I hereby declare that the word progressive is devoid of meaning.

If you do insist on using the word, please keep in mind that it is an adjective – not a noun. Pretending, for a moment, that the word had meaning, you cannot “be a progressive”.

Also see: words and phrases due for retirement.


4 thoughts on “I think I’m a “Regressive”

  1. The progressive movement used to be a fairly well-defined term, basically people inside the liberal democratic establishment who want to adopt some socialist policies in order to stave off the increase in political power of unions and more hard-core communist parties. Basically it was borne of practicality, wishing to improve the system from within, instead of by tearing it down first via a revolution.

    In that context ‘progressive’ is a perfectly valid term, the trouble is people using words without knowing their meaning or origin. (see: ‘liberal’ becoming an epithet in the US, somehow…)

    But there are some elements with the environmental / green movement who view ‘progress’ (in the economic sense) as the enemy, and thus calling one’s self a ‘regressive’ would make sense, but it isn’t an antinym of classic ‘progressivism’.

  2. Of course, if this is true, then “liberal” and “conservative” have also long expired. If the overuse and warping of words are left to the whims of politicians, it won’t be long until most words in our vocabularies are useless.

  3. Progressive people know they’re going somewhere. They’re not sure where exactly, but the handbasket is sure comfy. 🙂

    I’m a libertarian, and I keep having to explain that it’s what “liberal” used to be before the term got hijacked.

  4. Another word that has changed its meaning is “radical”. It used to refer just to very left-wing people, but these days it encompasses all extremists

    Boringly enough, communist, democrat, socialist, and republican all mean pretty much the same thing etymologically (philologically? historically? literally?).

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