Under newthink, the progressive worldview, social virtue is created by collective public action toward utopia.
The unconscious logic supporting this belief goes like this, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:
• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
• We should celebrate human beings, not God.
• Humanity is the ultimate authority.
• Utopia is possible.
• Social virtue is created by collective public action toward utopia.
The unconscious logic branching out of this belief is:
• To achieve desirable social results, one should become part of a collective public organization and work toward one’s goals.
• Positive social action can be achieved through governmental, academic, media, union, and other organizations.
This belief in a collective progression toward utopia is the spark that inspires many newthinkers to shape their lives around their worldview. It animated the 1960s counterculture. Progressives imagine their heaven on earth with the same passion that traditional Americans imagined heaven.
Though traditional Americans believed that social good was created by serving God, country, community and family, progressives believe that social virtue is created by collective public action toward utopia. The green movement, for example, encourages everyone to recycle and reduce their “carbon footprint” in order to save the planet. The socialist movement treats the government as the solution for social inequity and envisions a future where everyone shares the wealth.
Traditional American society was like nature: a chaotic mess that miraculously worked. Progressive society is more like a beehive: a progressive hive of worker bees who toil steadily and tirelessly toward their utopian ideal.
Traditional American society was essentially an individual enterprise in which the group existed as a framework to uphold individual rights; progressivism is essentially a collective enterprise in which the individual subsumes himself to the group. Traditional American society was like nature: a chaotic mess that miraculously worked. Progressive society is more like a beehive: a progressive hive of worker bees who toil steadily and tirelessly toward their utopian ideal. The newthinking worker bees tend to be hard-working, intelligent, ideological, confident and positive in the pursuance of their often-unconscious goal. Every beehive owes its existence to its worker bees. The progressive takeover of most public organizations – universities, libraries, high schools, churches, government bureaucracies, etc. – has been accomplished by them.
The unending large-scale social improvement process of newthinkers is progression.
progression n : 1 the progressive social improvement process <the schools have become an instrument of progression.> 2 progressive do-goodery
progress vb : to improve society through large-scale change
One form of progression is youth indoctrination into newthink through public school instruction. One shouldn’t judge newthinkers too harshly for indoctrinating their youth; all cultures do that. But one also shouldn’t pretend that indoctrination isn’t happening. The difference between newthink and traditional American cultural indoctrination is in the content.
If you want to know what a culture truly believes, look at what it is teaching its children. For instance, children’s history books’ descriptions of native Americans have changed dramatically over the last century. A Primary History of the United States (1901) by John Bach McMaster describes the Indian resistance toward European settlement in the Great Lakes area like this:
The British held the forts along the Great Lakes, traded with the savages, and sold them guns and powder. With guns and powder so obtained, the Indians tried to drive out the people who were settling north of the Ohio. Concealed in the woods along the banks, the redskins attacked the boats as they floated by; they even put out in canoes and climbed on board to massacre the immigrants. Sometimes when a boat was seen coming down the Ohio, the Indians would force a white prisoner to stand by the water’s edge and beg piteously to be taken on board; and when the immigrants stopped to help him, the savages would kill every man, woman and child on the boat. When the whites in return attacked the Indians and burned their towns, a war broke out and raged for six years.*
Notice that the native Americans were called, among other things, “savages.” This was not accidental, nor was it gratuitous derogation. As we will see later when discussing the society metaphor, traditional Americans did see the natives as uncivilized and savage. Also notice that the Indians and the European immigrants are frankly described as being at war, and that the traditional American teachers’ focus was on the violent savagery of the native Americans. Male native Americans were described like this:
The duty of the Indian man, or ‘brave,’ was to hunt, fish, and fight. He would make arrows, bows, canoes, and stone tools, but he thought any other kind of work was beneath him. No young Indian was of any importance till he had killed an enemy and brought home the scalp; and the more scalps he brought home, the greater ‘brave’ he was thought to be. As the scalp was the proof of victory, each warrior wore a scalp lock as a challenge to his enemies, and defended it with his life. The lock was made by shaving the hair close except on the crown of the head, where it was allowed to grow long, and was ornamented with feathers. The Indian’s way of fighting was to the white man dishonorable. The fair and open fight had no charm for the redskins. To their minds it was the height of folly to kill an enemy at the risk of their own lives, when they might shoot the foe from behind a tree, or waylay him in ambush as he hurried along a forest trail, or at the dead of night rouse their sleeping victims with the hideous war whoop and kill them in cold blood. The Indians were very skillful in laying an ambush, that is, in hiding themselves so that they could attack the enemy when he did not expect it.**
In contrast, newthinkers, from a more removed distance in time, paint for their children a more progressively enlightened picture of native Americans than did traditional Americans. Newthinkers tend to focus on what they see as the genocide of American Indians by European immigrants and the dishonorable treatment the Indians received from them. Howard Zinn in his book A Young People’s History of the United States (2007) describes how white America repeatedly swindled and mistreated the Indians.*** Zinn characterizes native American culture as communal, with shared property and power.****
A more objective observer might point out the commonalities between native American tribal cultures and European tribal cultures before Christianity and capitalism.
Traditional Americans acknowledged their own immigration into Indian lands and the war between their cultures; further, they, by their own accounts, often viewed native Americans as uncivilized, dishonorable and savage. Newthinkers have a completely different view of Indians: their societies sound like idyllic communes, with land, work, food and power shared equally among everyone. In progressive accounts, the dishonorable behavior seems to come almost solely from the European immigrants. A more objective observer might point out the commonalities between native American tribal cultures and European tribal cultures before Christianity and capitalism. Whatever the truth of the matter, the point here is that each culture indoctrinates its youth in its core beliefs and values in a very revealing way. From the excerpts of adults of each worldview educating their children, we see clearly into the hearts and minds of the teachers.
Education is, to newthinkers, a primary avenue for progression. Since all cultures teach their children their beliefs, that should be no surprise. With a new worldview comes a new culture; with a new culture comes new types of indoctrination. What do you expect progressives to do? Walkers walk. Talkers talk. Progressives progress.
* John Bach McMaster, A Primary History of the United States, (American Book Company, 1901), pp. 162-163.
** Ibid., p.20.
*** Howard Zinn, A Young People’s History of the United States, Vol. 1, (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2007) pp. 73-75.