This piece is a spinoff of a piece by Rebecca Bynum she produced in 2010 titled: “The Progressive Diminishment of Man” published in the online, New English Review (http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm/frm/56585/sec_id/56585). My article extends Bynum’s thesis further to reveal the basis of the ideology of the Progressive/Liberal movement, and how it diminishes Man through Big Government’s diminishment of the Individual.
To summarize Bynum’s revealing piece, she postulates that science has progressively diminished the value that Man has of himself in nature to the point that Man is seen a cause and a deleterious effect upon it. This results in Man losing a sense of potency and self regard. He is seen as just any other animal on the planet. However, science believes that Man’s population is causing harm to the global environment and it must be reduced. This diminishment of Man by science can be seen in today’s art and literature and in the cinema. In art we see the haphazard use of form and color; in literature, the aggrandizement of the villain over the hero; and in cinema, the obsession with blowing things up, vampires and zombies. Art imitating life?
Bynum states that Man, in this post modern, post Christian world, has the belief that science will ultimately answer all the questions of life and of the universe. Consequently, we have elevated science to a religion. As Bynum puts it:
The ostensible purpose of science is to serve man through the ever-expanding knowledge of facts, and yet as science has ascended, many scientists have mounted a purposeful attack on the ancient concept of man in order to diminish him in his own estimation. The feeling among scientists seems to be that man does not deserve a privileged place in the universe.
So how did we get from what Bynum refers to as the “ancient concept of man”, otherwise the conception of Man as stated in the Old Testament of the Bible:
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Genesis 1:26, (NIV)
to the aforementioned conception of the diminished Man found in science?
The answer can be traced back to two 19th century men: Friedrich Nietzsche and Charles Darwin. The influence of their writings and philosophies, and others of similar ilk, who followed, strongly affected the Progressive movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They also influenced the current philosophical and religious fad called, Post-Modernism, which too has had a profound influence on the modern Progressive/Liberal movement.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th century anti-Christian German philosopher. He is noted for the oft referred to quote: “God is dead”, found in his book, “Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None” written between 1883 and 1885. Nietzsche also introduced the concept of “nihilism” into his philosophical thought. Nietzsche describes nihilism as the devaluation of morals and values, and the deconstruction of truth and knowledge. Through this process of nihilism, Nietzsche believed that Man evolves by constructing new meanings becoming what Nietzsche elsewhere calls the Übermensch, or superman.
Whenever Nietzsche is brought up, I find myself asking, “So when did God die, and says who” (At least, in the study of Man’s thought i.e., philosophy)? We can trace the answer to this question back to Charles Darwin. Darwin was a 19th century scientist, oft referred to as the father of the theory of evolution. In Darwin’s, “The Origin of the Species” (1859), his theory is that all life began as single cell entities that somehow were created by the accidental combination of chemicals. Over the eons, in the primordial ooze, these cells then somehow changed into other single cell entities, and then into multi-cell entities, thus eventually into all the animal and plant life found on the planet, including man. Therefore, Darwin rejected the Creation process, thus rejecting God and thus supposedly proving Nietzsche’s contention that “God is dead.”
Nietzsche and Darwin provided the fodder that lead to other German, French and English thinkers that eventually lead the way to anti-Judeo-Christian Post Modernism. Post Modernism rejects and seeks to deconstruct the philosophy, virtues and morality of the Enlightenment, classical Liberalism and the Natural Law of our Founding Fathers. It rejects the notion that there are absolute truths. It sees that all truth is relevant to the times in which we live. These beliefs were embraced by the early elite, intellectual Progressives of the Northeast and continue on to today.
Many in the Progressive/Liberal Democratic Party appear to be, at least in the upper ranks, atheists or at best agnostics. They consider themselves to be post-modern and post-Christian in their beliefs. The proof of this was clearly demonstrated during the 2012 Democratic Party Convention where the party’s platform, for the first time ever, did not include any mention of God. When the media caught wind of this, President Obama instructed the party officials to put the mention of God back into the language of their party’s platform. The amendment to change the platform had to be forced against what appeared to be a voice vote of “nays.” The “nays”, heard on National TV, then turned into boos after the convention chairman, Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles, force ruled the amendment as passed after three attempts at a voice vote, each clearly voting “nay” to keep God out of the platform.
The Progressive movement in the U.S., beginning with President Teddy Roosevelt and greatly expanded by President Woodrow Wilson, President Franklin Roosevelt, President Lyndon Johnson and then President Obama is the source of much of the diminishment of our Founding Documents leading to Big Government, hence the diminishment of the Individual’s Rights and Liberties and hence, the diminishment of the Man.