The Progressive Pragmatism of Shapiro And McCain

Ilana Mercer, July 26, 2018

Ben Shapiro is an anti-Trumper, who continues to assert baselessly that “the future of the Republican party is anti-Trump.”

Fox News, generally pro-POTUS, persists in exposing Deplorables to Shapiro’s twitter travails and spats with a left that, in turn, doesn’t know left from right—for Ben is no rightist; he’s a neoconservative media-pleaser.

In this farcical tradition, Ben was asked to comment on the election of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, whom Rush Limbaugh—he knows a thing or two—calls the female Barack Obama.

Since winning the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th congressional district, Cortez, a hard-core socialist, has been the toast of the town.

True to type, Shapiro failed to come up with one principled argument against Cortez’ socialism. All that came through was:

“It doesn’t work.” Socialism doesn’t work.

Not a word did wonder boy utter about the very crux of the matter. The rights-violating underpinnings of socialism are what makes socialism and its attendant political platform both an economic wrecking ball and plain wicked.

Another popular fount of conservative philosophy is Meghan McCain. She’s as conservative as her father, John McCain, from whom she got a dynastic leg-up in the menagerie of morons that is mainstream media.

On “The View,” a very vulgar program, Meghan made a similar non-case to the one mouthed by motor-mouth Shapiro:

“Name one country that socialism has ever worked” (sic) she blurted. (Translated: “Name a country where socialism has worked.”)

In her defense, we should say that everyone knows Meghan McCain is no Michael Oakeshott. The problem being that Ben is considered the very embodiment of Russell Kirk, a classical conservative, and the intellectual father of American conservatism, may it rest in peace.

For these two establishment crowd-pleasers it all boils down to pragmatism, not principle. Hence “socialism doesn’t work.”

Gone is talk about individual rights. Put differently, if socialism worked—brutal rights-violations and all—conservatives such as Ben and Meghan would have a tough time arguing against it. Did not Trotsky joke that socialism works just fine if you make dissenters “a head shorter”?

What animates the two crass pragmatists is a progressive sensibility.

A real thinker, libertarian Second Amendment attorney James Ostrowski, makes this case in his book, “Progressivism: A Primer on the Idea Destroying America.”

“There is a very close relationship between pragmatism and progressivism,” argues Ostrowski. By pragmatism, he does not mean practicality. Rather, he means “the school of philosophy developed by Charles Peirce, William James and John Dewey from 1870 to 1907.”

“In essence, this group developed the notion that truth is what works. That is, there is no truth in the traditional sense,” namely in the sense of the correspondence between our ideas and objective reality.

“In effect, these men, following the trend of modern philosophy, rejected the notion that there is an objective reality outside our minds that we can know. Instead of explicitly rejecting the notion of truth, these thinkers ‘simply … defined it out of existence.’”

Whatever works or whatever “smart” people like Ben and Meghan thought worked at any particular time: that was truth.

Duly, “Pragmatism also provides ammunition for progressivism’s transformation of democracy from a means to choose leaders whose task is to protect only natural rights, to a system whose highest principle is majority rule. If we cannot know the truth, the notion of natural rights cannot be defended.” Let the mob adjudicate right from wrong.

Pragmatism and thus progressivism, warns Ostrowski, have hardened into rigid dogmas in themselves, with their own proclivity for political violence.

Witness how pragmatists, like the “socialism doesn’t work” progressives aforementioned, justify unconstitutional wars of craven aggression and destruction on the ground that, “Sorry scores died and were displaced in Iraq and Libya; but we thought it would work.”

“Pragmatism, with its denial of objective truth,” posits Ostrowski, “is the ideal epistemology for progressivism, an ideology that has no rational basis in fact or logic and is, ultimately, a form of self-help therapy to make its adherents feel better about an often hostile and puzzling world.”

Not for nothing do the likes of Meghan and Ben, like so many in our progressive flabby body politic, practically trip over one another in showy self-righteousness to protest “racism”; what is, what isn’t. Blah, blah.

Classical liberals and classical conservatives, however, ought to do no more than insist individuals be left to their own devices, just so long as they don’t harm others. And by “harm” we do NOT mean hurt feelings.

“In combating progressivism, there must be an awareness of how pragmatism has been absorbed into the thinking of most Americans. To slay the beast of progressivism, we must first slay its philosophical bodyguard, pragmatism.”

Conservatives are supposed to be principled defenders of natural rights: life, liberty and property. We’re not supposed to be crass pragmatists, who dismiss socialism as no more than unworkable. Instead, inveigh we must against socialism as a rights-infringing, tyrannical, aberrant ideology that subjugates individual to state.

Quarterly Review, The Unz Review,,
The Ludwig von Mises Centre for Property & Freedom,

July 26

CATEGORIES: Conservatism, Individual rights, Iraq, John McCain, Left-liberalism, Natural rights, Neoconservatism, Political Correctness, Political Theory, Socialism