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What do you mean by "politically progressive"? Many anarchists reject "politics" and "progressivism" based on certain definitions, while others may embrace them...even given those same definitions. It also depends on different anarchist schools of thought and their compatibility with this thing called "Leftism".

4 Answers

–1 vote
well,  we as a family, aren't necessairly "political progressive", because we are against all types of politics.
by (180 points)
"as a family", really? I've heard "scene", "milieu", and "community", but never the anarchist "family". Kinda creepy.
this answer has problems because it doesn't say enough.
(for those of us with family issues, the word is creepy.  i can imagine it being sweet though.)
"Family" takes on some interesting dimensions in queer communities. Not sure if it's really applicable to anarchist groups (of whatever gender/sex orientation) because we aren't really known for uncritical acceptance, which i think such use of the term implies.
to me "family" refers to a lasting connection that is not significantly impacted by disagreements or conflict. so, not "uncritical acceptance", since people can hate each other, but continuing connection (you go to thanksgiving even though you hate it and you just stay drunk the whole time, for example). there is overlap here with what "community" means or is supposed to mean.
we don't have many words for functioning, sustained relationships. that's sad.
+2 votes
"progress" is a word with such a wide meaning and has had so many interpretations and uses that this question deserves a very complex answer. Economic progress is mainly associated with economic growth, higher productivity and material affluence. On the other hand "social progress" is associated with political equality, economic and gender justice, better education access for everyone, a vibrant cultural life and significant reduction if not elimination of violence between a society´s members. Not only anarchists but also radical liberals and enlightenment thinkers, social democrats and marxists have seen a possible conflict between  mainstream and vulgar views of economic progress and a deeper vision of "social progress understood as I just described.

I could say anarchists could be said to be social progressives in the deeper sense I defined it and more often critics of mainstream and vulgar views of economic or economicistic progress. Now of course not only on anarchism but in other places there is people who prefer to not use the word progress since it leads to so many confusions and since it is a word politicians also use a lot in a populistic way abusing the confusions and extremely wide interpretations of it. One influential critic of the word progress has been the modern (and "postmodern") environmental and ecologist movement. There has been a mutual influence between environmentalism and anarchism and so many anarchists agree with the view of an important part of the enviromentalist movements who criticize things like the push for economic growth and the consumerism associated with it.

So if "progressive" is used in a sense meaning "not conservative" then anarchism is obviously progressive. Nevertheless I really haven´t seen contemporary anarchists using that word most likely for the reasons previously mentioned.
by (3.3k points)
edited by
What do you mean by "radical liberals"?
More or less political enlightenment thought has been subsumed under "liberalism". Nevertheless within enlightenment thought there was already people who started becoming critics of economic exploitation occurring in the rising post-feudal and post-"ancien regime" societies. Such criticism didnt label itself "socialist" or "anti-capitalist" yet, but nevertheless it became influential in early socialist thought. A main example of this was the thought of english enlightenment and utilitarianist thinker William Godwin who in every historical work on anarchism is included within the anarchist tradition mainly because of his anti-authoritarianism, anti-statism and proto-anticapitalist libertarian socialist views. That could be said to be a radical form of liberalism (meaning against absolutism and anti-feudalism) and another is that of Godwin´s wife, the main englitenment era feminist Mary Wollstonscraft.

In the XIX century there emerged a conflict between pro-capitalist liberal thinkers and politicians who defended a rising capitalist economic oligarchy and a globalizing capitalist market; and on the other hand radical democratic liberals who from then on became known as "radicals" or "radicalism" in mediterranean countries. These latter people wanted things like universal suffrage incluiding the working class and women, land redistribution, separation of church and state and other things now associated with social democracy but rejected by the previously mentioned pro-capitalist liberals. (for more on this see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radicalism_%28historical%29) To this day there exist parties who call themselves "radical" parties of this persuasion in France, Italy and Chile who have representation in parliaments.

In the twentieth century the british economist John Maynard Keynes became the main theorist of economic measures associated with western welfare states but he never stopped calling himself "liberal" even though right wing economists of the austrian school such as Friedrick Hayek also called themselves liberals.

Now for more contemporary times I think it is important to deal with the USA only situation of the word "liberal". In the rest of the world "liberals" and "liberalism" are associated with civil libertarianism and neoliberal pro-capitalist free market economics. Only in the United States it happens that what in most of the world are called "social democrats", there they call people who are for a welfare state and keynesian economics "liberals" and people who are for civil libertarianism and neoliberal pro-capitalist free market economics "libertarians". In the rest of the world the word "libertarian" is mostly used in a positive self labeling by anarchists who of course are all opposed to the capitalist system and what they will call "liberals" or "neoliberals" and so this is the reason why there exists things like "libertarian socialism" and "libertarian communism".  

I was not born in the US and I do not live there. I just thought it would be nice to inform US anarchists of this latter thing.
Nothing new to me but I honestly appreciate the intention. I regret not having specified if you meant Enlightenment type liberals or contemporary American liberals because it seems you spent a good bit of time writing up a really solid response to my poorly formed question. That is a solid response and I will refer people to it in the future for a better understanding of the history of the terms. I mainly just wanted to see if you meant by "radical liberal" the type of person embodied by conflicts such as, "We have occupied this public space without permission to discuss in our general assembly how to improve voter turnout in the upcoming elections."
+2 votes
No.  The term "progressive" as a political designation means liberal.  It is a new term that Liberals are using to get away from how conservatives have smeared the term 'liberal.'  Anarchists have nothing to do with this petty political posturing.  Anarchist have always opposed liberal and will continue to oppose them as the change their name to progressives.
by (1.7k points)
+2 votes
The previous answers have addressed certain dimensions of this topic well, but i have to add that for some anarchists the entire notion of Progress itself has come into question. "Progress" as a term can be used to bolster almost any agenda, except those that are unapologetically reactionary. The spread of birth control, secularization, the end of legal slavery and advent of gay marriage have all been described as progress, but so too have the genocide of native North Americans, the enclosure of the world by Capital and the torture of non-human animals in the name of Science. "Progress" may be an accurate term to describe very precise historical events, but it is ill-suited to serve as a general worldview.

Progressivism was at it's peak in the late 19th Century. You see it in the now obviously naive millennialism in Marxism and also in much of liberal Christian theology of the period in which "human perfectibility" was a hot idea. Progressivism lost its zeitgeist status in the aftermath of WWI, which left millions disillusioned with the prospects for humanity. Of course the notion of progress endures, but not with the universal appeal it once had. With the exception of the progressives (AKA liberals), the concept of progress is not an overall theme, but it can still pack a rhetorical punch.
by (6.1k points)
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