Of Safe Spaces and Other Follies

By Edward Thal /

The essence of “progressive” thinking that characterizes much of what passes for wisdom in the Western world is an impulse towards self-deification. Having denied the possibility of God those who subscribe to the tenets of modern liberalism are compelled to validate their identity and purpose in life by acting in God’s stead to heal all of the world’s ills. This impulse to deity fuels a passion for “justice” and a rage against those who resist: to deny the wisdom of progressive elites and reject their edicts for the betterment of humanity and the physical world is seen by them as evil!

It is the only evil they will admit. There is no sin: people are guilty only of feeling guilty and can be educated (or psychologically “adjusted”) to feel not guilty. There are no bad people, only misguided or oppressed people who sometimes do things that are not helpful. The few truly evil people in the world are identified as reactionary Christians whose submission to Jesus Christ flows from their recognition of innate human sinfulness (including their own) and empowers them to deny the progressive worldview.

An incisive and illuminating explanation of this worldview has been provided by author and commentator Evan Sayet. He eviscerates progressives for looking back on human history and coming to the conclusion that none of the religions, philosophies, ideologies or forms of government constructed by mankind have eliminated war, poverty, crime and injustice: consequently, since all of these ideas and institutions have proved to be wrong, the cause of war, poverty, crime and injustice must lie in mankind’s striving to find the “right” way. The simplistic progressive answer is to banish all possibility of right and wrong. If nobody ever thought that they were right we would have nothing to disagree about. If we don’t disagree we won’t fight. If we don’t fight we won’t have wars; if we don’t have wars we won’t have poverty; if we don’t have poverty we would not have crime; if we don’t have crime there would be no injustice.

In Sayet’s words, the logical outcome of this line of reasoning is “the rejection of all fact, evidence, logic, truth, morality, and human ambition. Any tools or systems that seek to define and defend what is right in a misguided attempt to make the world a better place – by trying to be right, by siding with right, by recognizing what is right and moving towards it – are part of the problem, not part of the solution.”

Sayet argues that everything progressive thinkers say, everything they teach in our schools, everything they make into films, and the television shows and newspaper stories, everything they select and how they present it demonstrates an unshaken commitment to this belief and its one criterion: tear down what is “good” and “right” until there is nothing left to believe in and nothing left to fight over. There can be no standard for truth, beauty or decency – the only standard is that those who believe in right, are wrong. Those who are intolerant of “wrong” will not be tolerated.

 Sayet calls it “the cult of indiscriminateness.”  It is a moral imperative. It is the highest good; indeed, it is the only good.

Such thinking has become so entrenched in the modern Western mind as to be instinctive, masking its fatal weakness: in a complex world peopled by complex societies rational thought leading to decisive action is essential for survival. The essence of the rational thought process of adults is to consciously choose the better of available options, to choose between right and wrong. The alternative to rationality and objectivity is to adopt the mentality of a five-year-old (which is often evident in progressive thinking).

Sayet notes that in this paradigm the only explanation for success is that someone has cheated, since achievement must come at the expense of another. Failure, on the other hand, is proof that someone has been victimized. And since nothing can be deemed “good” or “evil”, that which may be viewed as good is undoubtedly the beneficiary of prejudice, and that which may be viewed as evil must be the victim of bigotry (except, of course, in the case of Bible-believing Christians who are intrinsically evil). Thus, out of a sense of justice a progressive thinker will instinctively side with wrong over right, and behavior that leads to failure rather than behavior that leads to success. There should be no attempt to replace something “bad” with something “better” – everything must be questioned, nothing must be trusted, and no effort should be made to offer any worthwhile or workable alternatives.

Attempting to debate someone who holds such a worldview is an exercise in futility. Without any concept of good, it is impossible to progress towards good. And without any basis in logic or reason, it is virtually impossible to define core arguments for the purpose of exposing potential flaws. Progressive thinkers simply know they are right, and the argument ends there! But when inconvenient facts intrude on the comfortable fantasy of their dream world, emotional breakdown follows, ranging all the way from whimpering confusion to uncontrollable rage, giving rise to demands for “safe spaces” where healing may occur.

Alas, real life outside of safe space bubbles offers no respite. The real world is governed, as it has always been, by conservative principles: reality is objective, life is not fair, good and evil do exist and hard work and self-discipline are required for personal progress. Individuals who are able to get ahead through the investment of personal sweat equity do not “owe” their gains to anyone else, while those who will not strive to improve their circumstances do not “deserve” anything more than they have.

Life is what we make of it, not what we wish it could be. Unfortunately, those who live in their self-constructed safe space dreamscapes are willfully blind to reality until reality tramples them underfoot, in this life or the next. Then it is too late to wake up to their folly.