Progress Cannot Be Defined as Belonging Solely to a Specific Political Spectrum
Debate Rounds (3)
The American Left typically uses the term "Progress" in defining steps in the direction of GLBT rights, the "right" to abort, gun control, etcetera. However, the completely opposite direction can also be progress according to the word's definition.
Progress means "Movement, as toward a goal; advance" according to a one online dictionary. So by this logic, segregation of schools, prohibiting black people from voting, having a member of the KKK elected President of the United States, and outlawing interracial marriage would be progress in a White Supremacist direction.
Forcing women to wear burqas, making non-Muslims pay a special tax, banning alcohol, and putting a radical Islamic regime in power would be progress in a radical Islamic direction.
Is what I'm saying clear? I await a response.
I'll accept that challenge and thank Pro for the opportunity.
THESIS: Some accepted definitions of the word "progress" do not apply to every degree on the political spectrum.
Although the provided definition of the word progress is one recognized definition of the word "progress," there are are other definitions of the word that do not apply in all of the contexts supplied by Pro's argument.
prog·ress [n. prog-res, -ruhs or, esp. British, proh-gres; v. pruh-gres]
:activity in science, technology, etc., especially with reference to the commercial opportunities created thereby or to the promotion of the material well-being of the public through the goods, techniques, or facilities created. 
For a more encyclopaedic perspective on the word progress, let's take a look at Wikipedia:
In historiography and the philosophy of science, progress (from Latin progressus, "an advance") is the idea that the world can become increasingly better in terms of science, technology, modernization, liberty, democracy, quality of life, etc. 
In the context of politics, this definition of the word is the definition that generally applies. Typically, but not quite exclusively, the application of the word "progress" is used to invoke left-of-center politics. However, the notion of progress as a social or technological evolution of humanity is clearly antithetical to some portions of the extreme right-wing: some religious groups would refute any value placed on progress or human self-determination, some nationalist extremists would oppose progress in any global context, some racial supremacists would exclude some human populations from any franchise of improvement, etc.
Certainly, since Teddy Roosevelt, "progress" used as the stem word of Progressive politics or Progressive movements is decidedly left-of-center in political orientation. In 21st century American politics, an organization that places the word "progress" in its name is defining itself on the left as pronouncedly as an organization with "family values" in its name is defining itself on the right. The political orientation of the Vermont Progressive Party, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, or the Center for American Progress is declared by simply invoking progress in the name.
I should say that I am confining this argument to American politics, seeing that Pro begins by refuting the American Left's usage of the word. Left-Wing ideology, stemming as it does from the division of the French Estate General, is here defined as support for social equality.  Conversely, Right-Wing ideology is defined as support for social hierarchy or social inequality.  In so far as the political definition of the word "progress" always implies increased democratization and self-improvement on a national or global scale, the word is generally exclusive of Right-Wing ideology.
So, while abortion rights might be considered tangentially progressive in the extension of a civil right, Obamacare is a more classic representation of an expanded franchise and so progressive legislation. Gun ownership as a right was originally a progressive cause, expanding the franchise of self-defense to every class of people. Gun control today may also be defined as progressive, in as much as the implementation of regulations regarding registration, training, accountability represent organizational improvements. In these contexts, all definitions of the word "progress" are relevant.
A resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, on the other hand, would represent a return to a traditional, less scientific political model. Although it might represent the attainment of some organization's goal, resegregation would not mean "progress" by every definition of the word. Likewise, the continuation of many Islamic traditions, while potentially an attainable goal, would not qualify as "progress" in the sense of human advancement.
You may believe a woman's right to abort is progress, but others on the other political spectrum may disagree. Is there's no absolute moral standard (and no, I'm not trying to change the nature of the debate; this is my argument), there is no way of telling who's right when it comes to ethics. You stated in your argument that the Right Wing opposes progress, but is that really true, or do they simply oppose the Left Wing's definition of progress? You may view tolerance of homosexual marriage as progress, and it may seem like common sense to you that this is progress. However, I may view tolerance of homosexual progress as the opposite of progress, and it may seem like common sense to me.
If progress is defined as a new idea, well, if you don't mind me fulfilling Godwin's supposed Law, Nazi ideas were new when they were first introduced. Granted, Hitler's ideas came from 19th century German philosophers and scientists, but the ideas were untried up until 1933, making them new ideas. So in 1933, would concentration camps have been progress?
If progress is defined as what has been shown to work, extreme Right-Wing and extreme Left-Wing have both been shown to be unbeneficial to the society that embraces either. And then again, who is to say that an idea worked?
Okay, so to oversimplify your argument, the basic idea is that progress can be defined as what is beneficial, better than what was used in the past.
A little too oversimplified. Two essential components to the political definition of progress are that the means of advancement are technological or scientific and that the result of advancement is widespread human benefit (by one definition "the public", by another "the world").
A radical Islamist may believe a world dominated by Shariah Law is a good thing.
To the extent that we are discussing the use of the word in US politics, shariah law has little influence. Shariah refers to the religious law of Islam. A muslim need not qualify as radical to respect shariah, since shariah applies to any observant Muslim. Shariah is overwhelmingly concerned with the minutiae of personal religious conduct and by definition does not apply in the context of national law. Conversely, the First Amendment of the US Constitution forbids Congress from preferring one religion's moral code above another's. Therefore, shariah has as little impact on US politics as the Jewish Halakhah (both bodies of law, in fact, essentially translate as "the way to go" and are more alike than different). Nevertheless, interpretations of shariah are as various and personal as any other religious belief. There are certainly American muslims who understand and apply a progressive political perspective to shariah.
"At the heart of a progressive Muslim interpretation is a simple yet radical idea: every human individual, female or male, Muslim or non-Muslim, rich or poor, northerner or southerner, has exactly the same intrinsic worth." 
Shariah does not inherently exclude progressive politics, however much conservative mullahs might disagree.
A Ku Klux Klan guy, though nothing he does would be progress by your standard, would consider almost everything he did beneficial.
But not to the benefit of humanity or even all Americans. The Klan would reserve most advantages for anglo-saxons protestants of good moral standing (i.e. member of the Klan). Each iteration of the Klan was a traditionalist, nativist reaction to social and technological change. In fact, the "Birth of the Nation" Klan of the 1920's is viewed by historians as an explicit rejection of Roosevelt and "The Progressive Era." Progressivism, as the word is used in American politics, stands in nearly diametrical opposition to Ku Kluxism.
You may consider Conservative policies not to be progress, but a Conservative would, and a Conservative would consider liberal policies not to be progress, while a Liberal would.
The conservative/liberal spectrum is not quite the same thing as the Right-Wing/Left-Wing spectrum. Let's check in with Merriam-Webster:
con·ser·va·tism noun: belief in the value of established and traditional practices in politics and society 
On this point, I think a Progressive argument may be made on either side. Abortion when expressed as the civil right of women to be free of the shackles of mandatory baby-making is a Progressive argument. Progressive arguments can also be made in favor of the civil rights of the unborn integrated with improved maternal healthcare, a civil right not to be fired for getting pregnant, equal pay for women, cheap availability of prophylactics, etc.
Is there's no absolute moral standard (and no, I'm not trying to change the nature of the debate; this is my argument), there is no way of telling who's right when it comes to ethics.
I don't ascribe to that philosophy, but be that as it may, moral philosophies have names and definitions. We don't have to agree with a philosophy in order to study it. Pro's argument is that the word "progress" does not particularly belong to Left-Wing or Liberal ideology. My argument is that there is a correct, objective definition of the word "progress" that is so intimately associated with Liberal ideology that it would be difficult to speak of American Liberalism without the word. The word progress has a specific political and philosophical meaning that is used to invoke Liberal, Left-wing, Progressive ideology.
You stated in your argument that the Right Wing opposes progress, but is that really true, or do they simply oppose the Left Wing's definition of progress?
That's really true. It is not the Left-Wing's definition of progress, it is the objective definition of progress as inherently Left-Wing. Left-Wing means "all men were created equal." That's the objective, historic definition of the word. Right-Wing means "all men were not created equal." That's the definition of the word, irregardless of political perspective.
The Oxford English Dictionary notes: "The verb became obsolete in British English use at the end of the 17th century and was readopted from American English in the early 19th century." 
In American usage, "The intellectual leaders of the American Revolution—such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, were immersed in Enlightenment thought and believed the Idea of Progress meant that they could reorganize the political system to the benefit of the human condition—for Americans and also, as Jefferson put it, for an "Empire of Liberty" that would benefit all mankind. Thus was born the idea of inevitable American future progress. What gave the American Revolution its widespread appeal and linked it to all subsequent political revolutions was its association with the Idea of Progress." 
The word progress came into usage in America as the political expression of Voltaire's enlightenment: science and reason could provide social equality for all humanity. The word progress means leaving monarchs and social hierarchies behind and so progress is by definition Left-Wing. The word progress means the autonomy of individuals and so progress is by definition Liberal.
RE: Gay Marriage
Same deal. Since support for gay marriage expands the political franchise, reflects new sociological and biological perspectives on homosexuality, and advances civil rights that support is by definition progressive. Arguments against gay marriage invoke traditional hierarchies, shrink the political franchise, and reflect older understandings of homosexuality so those arguments are not progressive.
Same deal. Since Facism by definiton collapsed the political franchise, renounced civil rights for whole sectors of society, embraced authoritarianism and sought to restore the political hegemony of the Holy Roman Empire (Reich), Nazism could not be called Progressive. Although American Progressives might be linked to Nazi Germany in so far as both embraced the pseudo-science of eugenics, Progressives were firmly alligned against Hitler after German intervention in the Spanish Civil War doomed the Spanish Republic. Facism, generally considered an extreme Right-Wing movement, found little else to admire in American Progressivism. 
The Pro-Life is not about misogyny, as much as the Left may claim this is the case. It is about the rights of the fetus. If there were a safe way for babies to be produced besides biological conception and pregnancy, I'd be for it. If we could simply extract sperm and egg from two human beings and mix it up in a laboratory somewhere, cause it to be "born" or whatever this case's equivalent would be, and then give they baby to two parents (as you already know, Conservatives are in favor of a heterosexual nuclear family), then that'd be great.
As for the "anti-gay" movement, except for a few jerks who like to say "death to f*gs" (I don't use that word) we do not oppose the basic rights of GLBT people. Their right to exist, their right to freedom, their right to bear arms, etcetera...we do not oppose them having their basic rights. I do not oppose Civil Unions either. Civil Unions should have all the same benefits as Marriage. However, it could be argued that if they have the same rights, the only real difference between a Civil Union and a Marriage is a religious difference. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and others consider marriage to be a union between a man and a woman (though it can be debated that Islam advocates polygamy). They consider it a sacred thing. So if a Civil Union and a Marriage are equal in the eyes of the law, which perhaps they will be 100% one day, why the heck would marriage be chosen over a civil union by a GLBT person?
Let's talk welfare now. Contrary to what "Being Liberal" (a Facebook page) and "Addicting Info" will tell you, Conservatives to not wish to do away with welfare. I acknowledge that many people who receive it need it. However, there are also abusers of the system and measures need to be taken to make sure drug addicts, prostitutes, alcoholics, and others in this category don't get welfare until they get the help they need.
As for Intelligent Design (which hasn't actually been debunked despite claims to the contrary), it can be used to the advantage of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, etcetera. A large number of religions could use Intelligent Design and Creationsim if they wanted to. It's not necessarily "Christians forcing their pseudoscience on others," as the Left may think.
Now, all the above issues could be debated on until my hair turns grey. But the point is, your definition of "Conservative" and your definition of "Liberal" don't necessarily match real life Conservatives and real life Liberals in America. Now, I'll move on.
Your point on the Ku Klux Klan is noted. They themselves will acknowledge that their ideal world would only include White people and not Blacks, Asians, Hispanics (who, ironically, are often white), Native Americans (who are also white sometimes), Mixed people (when they have black and white parents, they are also partially white), etcetera. So you have a strict definition of progress and their ideas cannot possibly fit your definition of progress.
But then again, there still is no universal standard to determine what is and what isn't progress, a standard written in stone. A dictionary declaring what is progress and Wikipedia declaring what is progress and a bunch of "progressives" declaring what is progress don't make progress what it is. I still could, if I wanted to, argue that euthanizing black people is progress (I do NOT believe that, by the way).
Ok, as you said in your argument, "Liberal means all men are created equal and Conservative means all men are not created equal."
Nope. That's wrong. I said that Left-Wing means all men are created equal, Right-Wing means all men are not created equal. My opponent is conflating the Left-Wing/Right-Wing spectrum with the Liberal/Conservative spectrum, a commplace mistake. Left-Wing/Right-Wing is an allusion to the French Estates General evolving out of the French Revolution. The terms "left" and "right" appeared during the French Revolution of 1789 when members of the National Assembly divided into supporters of the king to the president's right and supporters of the revolution to his left. As I established in Round 1, Left-Wing describes an outlook or specific position that accepts or supports social equality, Right-Wing describes an outlook or specific position that accepts or supports social heirarchy or social inequality. 
That is the origin and meaning of those terms. That's not a personal perspective or a Liberal perspective, that's just reporting the facts. Any person who admires the first sentence of the Declaration of Independence is by definition Left-Wing. Many conservatives define themselves as Right-Wing without investigating the meaning of the word, but you'd better believe that when Newt Gingrich or Rush Limbaugh define themselves as Right-Wing, they are perfectly cognizant of the term's history and connotation.
your definition of "Conservative" and your definition of "Liberal" don't necessarily match real life Conservatives and real life Liberals in America
Again, these are not my definitions, I am quoting Merriam-Webster as an objective source. Nevertheless, I would certainly agree that most Americans are not neatly pigeon-holed into Conservative/Liberal ideology. Almost every American admires the capacity of science and reason to promote social equality and at the same time upholds some traditional values or worries about the consequences of change. The political views of American citizens are far more complex and nuanced than the labels offered by American ideology.
RE: abortion, LGBT rights, Intelligent Design, Ku Klux Klan
Perhaps not unexpectedly, Pro has drifted away from his original argument into a general survey of American political issues. For the final round, let's remember that Pro's resolution was that the word "progress" cannot be defined as belonging to a specific political spectrum. To support his argument, Pro offered one definiton of the word progress: "movement as towards a goal." Pro then offered a variety of poltical scenarios wherein Right-Wing or Conservative movements can be seen as moving towards a goal. Pro has overlooked (and persisted in that oversight while ignoring the evidence) the fact that the word progress has more than one meaning. Some well documented, objective, persistent definitions of the word "progress" reflect a decidedly Left-Wing, Liberal agenda.
A dictionary declaring what is progress and Wikipedia declaring what is progress and a bunch of "progressives" declaring what is progress don't make progress what it is.
I agree that the objectivity of politicians should be challenged when it comes to defining the word "progress," although it is difficult when one political movement had so much influence on the meaning of the word. Therefore, I relied on more objective sources such as dictionaries and encyclopedias, just as Pro turned to a dictionary in Round 1. The problem with Pro's argument is that he only considered one possible definition of the word "progress" when "progress," like most English words, has multiple meanings depending on context and intent. If my opponent wishes to challenge the objectivity of Merriam-Webster or the Oxford English Dictionary, then Pro must demonstrate the ways in which those sources are unreliable and offer alternative definitions that refute the "Englightenment" definition of the word. If Pro wishes to toss out the dictionaries and encyclopedias when defining the word "progress," what definiton from what source is Pro offering in their place?
The word progress originally described an official parade or tour in Middle English, descending from the latin progradi "to walk forward." The word developed in the 16th and 17th century to encompass Pro's definition, advancement, but fell out of use in England by the 18th century. In the late 18th, early 19th century, the word was revived by the thinkers of American Enlightenment (Franklin, Jefferson) to connote "the theory that advances in technology, science, and social organization can produce an improvement in the human condition."  The word was resurrected by American Liberals for the purposes of American Liberalism. In this later-day usage, the word progress is virtually inseperable from Liberalism.
liberalism: a political and social philosophy advocating individual freedom, representational forms of government, progress and reform, and protection of civil liberties. (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary) 
liberalism: a political philosophy based on belief in progress (Merriam-Webster) 
liberalism:favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs. (Dictionary.com) 
Here's a modern analogy. Microsoft can point out that the word "google" in lowercase just means to search the internet. Microsoft can point out that the word "google" has been use for more than a century as a number (1 followed by 100 zeroes). However, Microsoft can't complain that Google acts like they invented the word, because in a very real sense they did. Common usage of the word "google" is a direct reflection of the popularity of the Google search engine, in the same way that common usage of the word "progress" is a direct reflection of the popularity of American Liberalism after the Revolutionary War. Pro can't complain that Liberals act like they invented the word "progess," because in a very real sense they did.
I have demonstrated that there are multiple defnitions for the word "progress" and that one ordinary set of definitons explicity implies and is derived from the American Liberal tradition. To the extent that my opponent has only offered one definition of the word progress, a definition that is not as relevant to American politics as my definition, Pro's argument that progress cannot be defined as belonging to one side of any political spectrum stands refuted. My thesis, that some accepted definitions of the word "progress" do not apply to every degree on the political spectrum (extreme Right-Wing, for example, or radical Conservatism), stands proven.
Thanks to Pro for interesting discussion. Please VOTE CON!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by bsh1 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Sources go to Con for his extensive use of them. Arguments also go to Con because Pro fails to logically warrant many of his claims, misconstrues many of Con's more subtle points (Left/Right vs. Liberal/Conservative) and makes wild claims like, "who is to say freedom is morally superior to slavery." Thus, I vote Con.
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