Gun Control is in Progressivism’s DNA

Gun Control is in Progressivism's DNA

Dean Weingarten

Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- Progressive infatuation with gun control and population disarmament stems from their foundational premises about the nature of reality.

Progressivism was born out of the end of the frontier and of frustrations with the restraints of the Constitution.  Politicians wanted more power than the Constitution allowed.

They rejected the entire theory of natural rights and the idea that governments exist by the consent of the governed.

From heritage.org, a quote from Charles Merriam, an early, leading Progressive political scientist:

The individualistic ideas of the “natural right” school of political theory, indorsed in the Revolution, are discredited and repudiated…. The origin of the state is regarded, not as the result of a deliberate agreement among men, but as the result of historical development, instinctive rather than conscious; and rights are considered to have their source not in nature, but in law.

Progressives believed (and still do) that experts should rule society, that the “average man” was incapable of knowing their own best interest. Progressives believe, generally, there is no absolute right and wrong, right and wrong is defined by Progressives and their experts at any particular time.

To Progressives, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are obstacles to be overcome, not pillars of American society that must be defended. Because Progressives generally view the State as god, or at least the manifestation of God on earth, right is anything that advances Progressivism. Wrong is anything that hinders advancing the Progressive agenda.  President Wilson, one of the political foundational Progressives, is attributed as believing that “limits on government power should be abolished”.

To Progressives, the Second Amendment is simply a wrong idea, long discredited, that should either be ignored, re-defined as meaningless, or removed from the body of law. They do not believe in natural law or individual rights. The Second Amendment is simply a political inconvenience.

When I attended the University of Wisconsin, decades ago, professors would put forward this statement as a shortcut to discussion. It was usually done in math or science courses:

“It is intuitively obvious upon casual observation.”

What is intuitively obvious, however, depends on what the observer holds as basic assumptions about the nature of reality.

If you believe the state is god, that unlimited government power is a positive good, that experts are far better at determining what is good for you than you are for yourself, and human nature is something created by the state and its educational organs; it is intuitively obvious the Second Amendment was a historical mistake.

The Second Amendment limits government power. The belief in natural law, that the Second Amendment is based on, defies, and is in direct contradiction, to the theory of Progressivism.  The idea that people have a right and the ability, to rule themselves is treated by Progressives as absurd.

No Progressive idea is absolute. Progressive policies change with the times. When Woodrow Wilson was President, prohibition and racial segregation were progressive policies. Now they are not. A few years from now, they could be embraced by Progressives again.

George Orwell's ideas in the novel, 1984, are a direct outgrowth of Progressive theory.  In the novel, the state controls history by controlling the flow of information. The purpose of the power of the elite is to maintain their power.

The resurgence of Constitutionalists and belief in natural rights and natural law is the result of bitter experience over the last hundred years.  Over and over again, various iterations of Progressives have taken over governments and instituted their theories, backed by the absolute power of the state. They have uniformly ended in failure, often spectacular failure. Here is a partial list:

Italy and Germany during World War Two. WWII Japan could fit, but is complicated by the Emperor and the corrupted code of Bushido in the Japanese military. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics,  China under Mao, Cambodia under Pol Pot, Cuba under Castro, Zimbabwe under Mugabe, and currently, Venezuela and North Korea.

You do not see these spectacular failures under governments that are limited under a law which recognize natural rights.  To be clear, there are very few of them. The United States, Switzerland, post-war Austria, Australia, Canada, perhaps the UK. Many countries in Europe seem to be sliding into unlimited government, while former East Block countries such as the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, and others, have moved toward limited government.

Unlimited government is an old idea that started before the Pharaohs. Progressives believed they had something new because of the industrial revolution, widespread literacy and the ability of the state to control citizens with industrial methods of education and indoctrination.

They have been shown to be wrong through numerous real-world examples.

“Experts” have been shown to disagree about everything from eugenics to race to sexuality to industrial policy to climate change. Pick your topic, and you can find an “expert” to agree with you.  Therein lies the failure of Progressivism. The choice of policy depends on the choice of experts, who are people and fallible.

Government officials have their own desires, prejudices, personal interests, and the desire to remain in power. The unlimited power of the state is put in their hands, leading to disastrous consequences.

The theory of natural law, based on fallible human nature,  and the need to limit government power, has been shown to optimize society far better than the theory of Progressivism, based on beneficent, unlimited government and the rule by experts.

2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30-year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

  • 14 thoughts on “Gun Control is in Progressivism’s DNA

    1. Dean, best you’ve ever written. Thanks. We should send this to everyone we know. Another word which could be added is “Marxist,” for that is what they are.

    2. Many thanks to Dean Weingarten for expertly teaching Ammoland readers the ugly history behind the benign-sounding tag “Progressive.” Liberals adopted this old and accurate term in the 1990s, when “the L word” came to be an epithet. They correctly guessed that the public would be ignorant of the century-old foundations of Progressivism, but I hope Dean’s article here will be the beginning of a new lesson for the 21st century–Progressivism stands for everything America should not be, according to our founders.

      My group Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership was originally a project of the Claremont Institute here in the Inland Empire. The scholars at the Institute (such as Ron Pestritto mentioned in a comment above) are the foremost experts on the Progressive movement. Some years ago several of them moved to Hillsdale College, where they assumed leadership and faculty positions. Both Claremont and Hillsdale are excellent learning resources about the Progressives and their dream of re-creating our government of limited powers into a statist paradise.

      Thanks again to Dean Weingarten for this excellent article.

      Timothy Wheeler, MD
      Past Director
      Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership
      A Project of the Second Amendment Foundation

    3. It’s a pity the Republicans are now progressive, supporting prohibition and segregation as they do. You’ve missed a few, though. The progressives wanted to severely limit immigration! The progressives were in favor of white nationalism and scientific racism, both of which are now represented amongst conservatives.

    4. It’s been a while since I’ve read such a poignant & enlightening article here. The information is outstanding & straight to the point. A very, very good article. Well done!

    5. My Goodness! What a timely and 10 ring article!!! I have broken this down to it’s basic components, this is a war between Believers and the ungodly. Keep up the excellent work Mr Weingarten,

    6. Unfortunately so-called conservatives today have adopted much of the progressive agenda while rejecting it philosophically. Just look at how they rail against libertarians who advocate peace, ending the income tax and ending the Fed.

    7. For further enlightenment about the Constitution and how Progressivism is in direct contravention to it I would suggest that one take the Constitution 101 Course at Hillsdale College. The “Progressives” are trying to put us back under a system of governance we broke away from in 1776. Anyone who thinks progressivism is “forward thinking” has only two brain cells fighting for living space in their pointy little heads. No other person knows what’s better for me than me, and the only being I take my marching orders from is God Almighty. For me it is God, Family, and Country – and those I will fight and die (if necessary) to defend.

      1. VE Vet
        I agree 100% with the author as I also do with you. Especially/specifically your last sentence – God, family, and country.

    8. Good job, Dean. And for more history of the subject, I would like to humbly recommend, “Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism” by Ronald J. Pestritto.

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