Branding has become such a norm in society that it is now not limited to the fashion industry alone; individuals have labeled themselves as liberal, populist, progressive, and conservative—a trademark coherent to their personality, a projection of their persona.
In our contemporary lexicon, traditional “liberals” are people who emphasize spending tax dollars to make society a better place. “Progressives” are those who concentrate on using the power of the state to force powerful institutions to adhere to a set of rules.
Liberal and progressive are used interchangeably in daily word usage by man; they are different, and the distinction is ideological.
The Progressive’s Growth Mindset
Progressivism is an ideology that embraces change in all spheres of life; for example, social, economic, political, and financial sectors; it is opposite to conservatism which strongly opposes any change corresponding to any front.
The progressive era from the late 1890s to the late 1910s was a time frame where social activism and various reforms in the political sector helped combat corruption, monopoly, inefficiency, and waste.
Thus, it is very evident that progressive ideology and mindset resulted in a rebellion against conservatism because people wanted to free themselves from the fatal chains of conservative and the dictatorial rule of aristocracy.
It was a reaction to labor exploitation and widespread poverty because it was a deliberate action. The hidden agenda was to broaden the gap between the rich and the poor.
Progressive movements worked for democratic advancement, development in the scientific areas, enhancement of efficiency and professionalism, business regulation, environmental protection and conditions for employees, and improvement in residential facilities in the urban sectors.
That makes it very clear that the advocates of the progressive movements belonged to the socially active middle class because they were aware of everyday difficulties. Another significant aspect of progressive ideology is empathy. It supports social work for the least privileged ones in society.
Progressives advocate that rules and laws vary for individuals in different circumstances. This idea is contrary to one-size-fits liberalism. Thus, progressive ideology supports equal distribution of assets, better educational facilities, and work opportunities for all without any class difference.
It is a growth mindset that passionately supports continuous development.
Liberalism: A Legacy of Rebellion
On the other hand, liberalism emerged as a colossal reaction to monarchy in the 17th century, a revolutionary consequence of the unjust and unfair rule of tyranny that brought misery to the subjects.
Liberals believe that government is necessary to protect human rights, life, and liberty; they support human rights, fair elections, and the right to practice self-chosen faith and religion.
Liberalism believes that the primary responsibility of the government is to remove such obstacles from the lives of its citizens that hinder their productivity in personal and professional divisions of their lives. This frame of mind surfaced with the protestant reform movements and the rise of the Renaissance in Europe.
John Locke is the father of liberalism; he is responsible for the awakening of society against the abuse of power. That resulted in the development of the governmental type that worked for and by the people. That implies that liberalism is related to democracy but with a few differences.
Democracy works on deriving power and authority via elections; liberalism primarily focuses on the scope of governmental activity. Unlike a democratic ideology, where tyrants can misuse power, liberalism embraces human individuality.
Are the Two Terminologies Interchangeable?
- The two terminologies seem to be on the same side of a coin; liberals would like the idea to be called a progressive. A few surveys have reported public dislike towards liberalism. It was to the extent that people favored conservatism against liberalism.
- Not to mention, progressivism outshines the rest. Public disagreement with liberalism is evident. Many liberal political figures re-label and pronounce themselves as progressives, defamed mainly after the failure of liberal figures to openly accuse the abuse of power by the despots in the countries such as Palestine and Syria.
- In terms of economy, liberalism supported the laissez-faire policy to maintain market control; the progressive opposed to using the taxpayers’ money in the company. According to them, a more progressively workable idea would be to invest the company’s assets to produce goods and services.
- Progressives were critical of the subjects of concern. Liberalism practices equality before the law, which contradicts the idea of compassion as proposed and practiced in progressivism. In education, for example, a progressive mindset supports sex education for all, on which a liberal might raise some reservations.
- Liberal also proposes the idea of inter-religious marriages. In broader terms, the liberal mindset is more supportive of capitalism which somehow negates social justice, poor empowerment, and provision of legal and governmental help to the less privileged.
- A modern example of progressivism would be that the sole purpose of education must not only be the preparation for adulthood but continuous learning and development.
- Liberalism supports the philosophy of education which empowers individuals with knowledge and transferable skills necessary to maintain a social status as adults that has roots in the medieval liberal arts.
Differences Between Liberals and Progressives
|Elites support the liberal mindset.||A progressive mindset is purely middle-class who is self-reliant.|
|Liberals focus on the utilization of taxpayer money to formulate a better society.||Progressives focus on building rules and regulations by the government to formulate a better society.|
|Liberals support increasing funds to resolve high energy costs issues.||Progressives focus on reducing costs. They also suggest better law-making to increase profit.|
|Liberals would suggest increasing funds for the pharmaceutical industry for better health facilities.||Progressives would suggest price reduction and bulk purchasing in this domain.|
|Liberalism supports the aristocracy because they consider it inevitable.||Progressives reject all kinds of aristocracy, imperialism, and capitalism.|
|Liberalism respects money and financial status.||Progressives support virtue and truthfulness.|
The Philosophy of Liberalism
The philosophy of John Locke is nothing more than might-is-right enveloped in the decent veil of liberalism, which was criticized by many because it did not have spirituality other than the security of property.
It is consistent with slavery because Locke’s philosophy would have failed to impress the aristocracy had it not supported slavery. It also allowed unequal distribution of rights upon possession and inheritance of wealth, indicating that the wealthy were considered more respectful than the poor.
Locke’s philosophy strongly supported class-based and property-based hierarchies that paved a decent way for the aristocrats. It was highly euphemistic. In contrast, progressivism is a complete rejection of conservatism which does not classify people due to their financial status and does not support the win-and-lose approach.
Instead, they support growth, fulfillment, and happiness and reject all economic, social, moral, and ethical evils. It admires the traits of goodness in individuals and honors them based on their character.
As progressivism and conservatism are the opposite ends of a chord, liberalism is somewhere between the two. Progressive strongly rejects evil, and liberals support the compromise between good and evil, often the elite class.
Why is the Difference Between the Two Ideologies?
What makes it so difficult to differentiate between the two ideologies is that many liberals portray themselves as progressives, thus creating confusion between the two distinct mindsets.
This approach is used in foreign policy making because the average individual is unaware of international relations compared to their medical budget; it is easier for the fake progressives to work on their hidden agendas.
They are consciously ignorant of the manipulation and misuse of power by the powerful in underdeveloped third-world countries. They immensely believe in the supremacy of power from the core of their hearts: the complete opposite of what they project.
Progressives, on the other hand, consider virtue as virtuous and accept historical facts; they have no space for myths; Locke chose whatever supported his ideals.
Does Progressivism Exist?
Though critics believe the progressive mindset exists ideally, it works maximum for their cause to promote social, economic, and financial well-being.
Thus, from the detailed discussion of the two, it is vivid that despite everything, the liberal and progressive mindsets have different practices that are inevitable to ignore. Though subtle, these differences are impactful.
The Need For Progressivism
Liberalism is controversial. It makes individuals insecure. This insecurity is the primary reason for the emergence of progression.
People felt a need for continual development in all genres of life that liberalism did not fulfill.
Liberalism is more likely to mask the ugly countenance of aristocracy, capitalism, and imperialism. Liberalism has no optimistic conception of goodness in society. It supports egoistic individualism.
Thus, it has become suspicious. As liberalism has so many faults, one might be perplexed if it works!
So Which is a Workable Approach?
- A suitable approach is progressive liberalism which has respect for individual opinions; it works for a lively society.
- Progressive liberalism is a safe approach for many liberals because liberalism has fractured on so many accounts. Liberalism cannot stand alone because of its now-obvious reputation.
- Progressive liberalism emerged as a safe route to governance. That can benefit the officials in the long run.
Also, it has worked to eradicate the exploitation of human rights.
- Progressivism is an ideology that embraces change in all spheres of life; for example, social, economic, political, and financial sectors; it is opposite to conservatism which strongly opposes any change corresponding to any front.
- Progressives advocate that rules and laws vary for individuals in different circumstances. This idea is contrary to one-size-fits liberalism.
- Liberalism believes that government is a necessary evil to protect human rights, life, and liberty; it supports human rights, fair elections, and the right to practice self-chosen faith and religion.
- As progressivism and conservatism are the opposite ends of a chord, liberalism is somewhere between the two. Progressive strongly rejects evil, and liberals support the compromise between good and evil, often the elite class.