Progressives and the Law

In my last post about arbitrary power, I talked about why we have a Constitution. In light of the State of the Union address last night, I wanted to take a moment to discuss why progressives have such a hard time with the theoretical implications of law.

As important as it is for us to understand the theoretical foundations for the U.S. government and Constitution, it is equally important to understand the theoretical foundations and arguments of the progressive left (feminists/socialists/communists/fascists). Without understanding their goals and beliefs, we are not equipped to rebut them. So, over the next few weeks/months I will be writing a series of posts exploring and explaining the foundations and beliefs of the progressive left. Today’s article is just a beginning. It is a start.

Progressives and Liberty

If you can convince people that freedom is injustice, they will then believe that slavery is freedom.

— Stefan Molyneux

American progressives love the idea of liberty—the idea of freedom. Think about it. Americans (or anyone), they claim, should have the freedom to be who they want to be, do what they want to do, pursue and become what they want and more. Americans should have the right to express themselves in whatever way they want. They should be able to have what they want as well. They should have the freedom and the right to anything—education, healthcare, clean air, the internet. They should be free from the oppression of society or societal expectations or values. They should be free to do to their bodies what they want, to identify their sex/race/age how they want.

And yet, most radical or progressive liberals today reject and dislike law. They reject the Constitution and redefine or disparage standing law. They reject anything that confines the liberty or rights of the people. If a law says that two individuals of the same sex cannot legally marry, the law is wrong. If a law says a woman cannot have an abortion, the law is wrong. If a law says that people must become citizens a certain way, the law is wrong. If a law confines people’s right to any and everything, the law is wrong. In fact, laws imply that there is a right and a wrong and according to most liberal philosophies, a universal right and a universal wrong limit individuals’ liberty to choose right and wrong for themselves. In short, progressives love liberty but reject law. This is the disconnect.

There is no law, there is only conjecture. The Progressive ethos changes the law’s meaning according to fad and fashion.

— A.E. Samaan

Law and Liberty

The point that you need to recognize here is that law confines. Law protects and law provides liberty. Without law, there is no liberty. John Locke is famous for saying that “where-ever law ends, tyranny begins” but he also says, “The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom.”

In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so: that is just what we intend.

— Karl Marx in The Communist Manifesto

Of course, his point here is that because of some restraint, we and our property are safe and therefore free. Law brings freedom. This seems like an oxymoron, does it not? How can law, that which restrains, bring less restraint and/or freedom? The answer to this is predicated upon the belief that human nature is selfish and corrupt. Assuming that humans are selfish and corrupt then, law restrains this selfishness and corruption, allowing for people to live peaceably and freely among one another.

To put it another way, according to Locke, the end goal of government is to protect private property. That is it. That is all. Therefore, the laws that government is created to make are made to protect private property. Private property only needs protection because it is at risk of being violated. It is only at risk of being violated because of unrestrained human nature. Thus, law must be created by government to protect private property from the violent and selfish invasion of others.

Is this making sense?

The Disconnect

Ok, I’m really wanting you all to get the disconnect to which progressives and many on the left have succumbed. Law is freeing! Why? Because without law—assuming humans are naturally selfish and self-willed—violence and chaos are sure to ensue. Thomas Hobbes says that in a state of nature where there is no government, we have a right to any and everything. The consequence of everyone having a right to any and everything is that we all have a right to any and everything and as a result we end up having a right to nothing. Why? Because if I have just as much of a right to “your” house as you do, what is to stop me from trying to take it from you? This causes us to live in a constant state of fear and violence. Law frees us from this. How? Because law says that we don’t have a right to any and everything—an idea that progressives reject. We should—we are entitled—to any and everything according to progressive beliefs.

It’s not an endlessly expanding list of rights — the ‘right’ to education, the ‘right’ to health care, the ‘right’ to food and housing. That’s not freedom, that’s dependency. Those aren’t rights, those are the rations of slavery — hay and a barn for human cattle.

— Toqueville

Here’s where progressives have trouble. Progressives can’t handle law. Right? Because law insinuates that there is a right and there is a wrong. The idea that there is a right and a wrong is something that progressives, especially radical progressives and feminists, reject. They want everyone to be able to have a right to anything, yes? Is not the liberal battle cry today to throw off the chains of societal expectation and “be who you are!”? If you are an immigrant, illegally living in a country, you have a right to be there and a right to express yourself and who you are. If you claim to be of a different gender than you were born with, you have a right to go to the bathroom of your choice. No laws should stop or limit this. Law is the enemy here.

It is only when we have renounced our preoccupation with “I,” “me,” “mine,” that we can truly possess the world in which we live. Everything, provided that we regard nothing as property. And not only is everything ours; it is also everybody else’s.

— Aldous Huxley in The Perennial Philosophy

And yet, without law, there is no liberty. Without law, all of the liberty and rights they claim that human beings have, would be and have been, violated by other humans. Law confines, law protects and law directs.

This next truth is all the more interesting. Every time government agrees on a new “right”, a new law must be created! And who are the biggest proponents of new rights—while rejecting the notion of law? Progressive liberals. Therefore, by arguing for and establishing new rights, they are at the same time increasing and making more law. Because the assumption is, the right must be protected from those who would violate it—requiring law. Ironic, right?

Progressive and liberal theory gets more complicated than this. Their goals more nuanced and dangerous. Their reasoning more complex and expansive. But for this post, I simply wanted to point out the irony of their rampant support for more liberty and rights while rejecting the very means of protecting that liberty and those rights.


This is why, as you read further, study more, and listen closer, you will come to realize that these progressives are and were never trying to protect or fight for liberty and rights after all. They don’t want your property protected, they don’t want your liberty expanded—-but they will always sound compassionate and reassuring when they first begin arguing that they dowhen they argue for your rights, for your property. Just look at this quote by Fidel Castro (a murderer and dictator) bleeding with compassion and sounding eerily similar to American progressives today:

There is often talk of human rights, but it is also necessary to talk of the rights of humanity. Why should some people walk barefoot, so that others can travel in luxurious cars? Why should some live for thirty-five years, so that others can live for seventy years? Why should some be miserably poor, so that others can be hugely rich? I speak on behalf of the children in the world who do not have a piece of bread. I speak on the behalf of the sick who have no medicine, of those whose rights to life and human dignity have been denied.

— Fidel Castro

I’m building to something here and will explain the true goals of the radical progressives in time. For now, take note of their disconnect between law and liberty every time you watch the news, see a liberal or progressive march or listen to a progressive rally cry. The more you do take note, the more you may see through the facade.

The Liberty Belle

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