The Progressive Framework is Anti-individual

by | Jul 20, 2022

The Progressive framework relegates the individual to second-class status. The collective reigns supreme.

The Progressive framework subordinates the individual—every individual—to the group. That framework is anti-individual and demands that the individual sacrifice his values and ambitions—his life—to the group. When the collective is the standard, what happens to the individual is regarded as irrelevant. When put into practice, this framework unleashes a power struggle as various groups compete to influence government officials and secure political favors.

The favors dispensed by government officials always come at the expense of others—non-members of the favored group. Tenants receive the favor of rent control at the expense of landlords who can only increase rents by an amount dictated by the government. Low- and moderate-income households receive the favor of below-market-rate housing imposed by inclusionary zoning at the expense of their neighbors who must pay higher rents to subsidize “affordable housing.”

Often these favors are justified as “empowering” the beneficiaries or “balancing the power” between two groups. The truth is these favors give the group power over individuals. These favors grant the group the authority to control the actions of other individuals.

This is precisely what the Progressive framework demands. Individuals, in the words of Progressive philosopher of James Edwin Creighton, have value “just in so far as they embody and express the life and purpose of a larger social whole of which they are members.” The Progressive framework relegates the individual to second-class status. The collective reigns supreme.

When the alleged well-being of the group serves as the standard, the individual is necessarily harmed. He is forced to sacrifice for others, regardless of his own values and desires. His interests and aspirations are secondary to the group’s demands.

The Progressive framework has dominated housing and related policies for more than a century. That framework is the cause of the housing crisis. If we truly wish to solve the crisis, then we must reject that anti-individual framework. In its place, we must adopt a pro-individual framework, a framework that empowers the individual with control over his own life, not the lives of others.

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Brian Phillips is the founder of the Texas Institute for Property Rights. Brian has been defending property rights for nearly thirty years. He played a key role in defeating zoning in Houston, Texas, and in Hobbs, New Mexico. He is the author of three books: Individual Rights and Government Wrongs, The Innovator Versus the Collective, and Principles and Property Rights. Visit his website at texasipr.com.

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