Various outcroppings of what is occasionally called “progressivism” are perhaps best understood as religions without all that tedious God business. There is, however, one distinct difference:
One of the things about these Rousseau-ist cults is they always end up handing power to the worst elements in their cult. From The Reign of Terror forward the pattern has always been the same. The movement grows increasingly fanatical until control is in the hands of psychotic lunatics.
The reason for this is that utopian religions have no natural limit. There’s no line that reads, “This is enough.” Christianity has those lines. Judaism has those lines. Once you do certain things, show you believe certain things, you are pious enough. Built into the religion is an upper bound and a caution about trying to go beyond it. The Catholic Church burned more than a few heretics for trying to immanentize eschaton.
In Rousseau-ist cults, no such limit exists. They are premised on the firm belief that there is a way to arrange things just the right way to create heaven on earth. They don’t call it that, but the echos are there in discussion of health care or poverty programs, for example. Obama spent three years talking about his plan to have more people on government health services while also lowering the cost, a mathematical impossibility.
And it’s inextricably bound up with a political impossibility: everyone, with the possible exception of Ted Cruz, has pretty much decided that reducing the number of people on government health services, irrespective of cost savings, can’t be allowed to happen, because optics. Do not wait by your window for the postman to bring you word that the ACA has been repealed: it will not happen. This bothers me less than the idea that the next scheme by the Rosseauvians — and there’s always a next scheme — will be something much, much worse.