The Illusion of Progress

The core narrative of politics everywhere is progress, i.e. “moving forward.” If progress isn’t being made, politicos and the system are failing.

In the past, “progressive” movements sought to advance both social and economic opportunities for marginalized groups.

For a variety of reasons, social progress has been decoupled from economic progress.

In broadly disintegrative eras such as the present, the stagnation of economic opportunity is masked by redefining progress in purely social terms: progress is defined as the social advance of a marginalized populace into the mainstream.

When the marginalized populace is comprised of many millions of individuals, social progress and economic progress are mutually reinforcing dynamics: opportunities for social advancement in the mainstream created economic opportunities, and vice versa.

Now that social/economic progress has lifted the major marginalized populaces–ethnic and religious minorities, gays–substantially into the mainstream, those remaining marginalized populaces are modest in size. Estimates of the trans-gender populace, for example, are generally less than 1% of the total population.

The marginalized groups’ advances that are markers for “proof of progress” have decoupled from economic advances. Few if any social-justice promoters of trans-gender rights, for example, claim any economic gains will accompany this social progress.

The reason why social progress has been effectively decoupled from economic progress is that the woeful lack of economic progress for the bottom 90% proves financial progress is now limited to an elite comprised of Oligarchs, Nomenklatura, the Technocrat Class and a relative handful of entrepreneurs.

Everyone else has been losing ground in wages, wealth and opportunity. If we measure progress in very broad terms such as participation in and ownership of the most productive parts of the current mode of production, then this chart forces us to conclude that movement for the vast majority is now backward, not forward.

To mask this disquieting and politically discordant reality, the status quo of the Corporate Media, academia, state functionaries and technocrats has redefined “progress” to exclude hard financial data that reflects widespread, systemic stagnation for the bottom 90% in favor of “feel-good” social-justice virtue-signaling.

This is precisely what you’d expect of a self-serving elite that is desperate to cloak the potentially explosive reality that the relative few are benefiting immensely at the expense of the many. So please take your social-justice “progress” with a grain of salt the size of the iceberg that sank the Titanic: if we measure progress solely by participation in and ownership of the most productive parts of the current mode of production, a much different snapshot emerges: economic stagnation is not progress.

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