Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

This Is How the Progressives Will Write the History of Covid

Posted by M. C. on February 12, 2022

How many people today are aware that America’s past experiments in Prohibition, ethnic discrimination, and eugenics were all once fervent policies of progressivism? And in many ways it already seems to have begun: only days after a Johns Hopkins University study found that lockdowns caused far more harm than good, the Biden administration claimed it has “not been pro-lockdown; that has not been his agenda—most of the lockdowns actually happened under the previous President.”

Robert Zumwalt

It seems obvious that wherever vaccine mandates, mask mandates, and lockdowns have been imposed in response to covid-19, progressive political and media elites have been the driving forces behind them. This is clear to those of us alive today, but it is worth considering whether future history books will attempt to erase progressives’ culpability for the disasters their covid policies have caused. The argument that follows is speculative, but bad ideologies should be held to the fires of their own making, and it seems to be in the nature of progressivism to attempt to escape the historical reckoning it is due.

Not long ago, it seemed more likely that the progressive elites would eventually just declare covid-19 to be over and herald themselves as humanity’s saviors. But as the pandemic has worn on, the cracks in the covid disinformation regime have widened for all to see. The failures and destructiveness of their policies are now beyond deniability to reasonable people, and so long as it is well known that progressivism was the driving force behind those policies, this episode will tarnish its reputation and its core dogma that technocratic social planners holding “correct” moral beliefs will save mankind from itself.

Therefore, it now seems likely the progressive elites who engineered and proselytized these disastrous public health policies will begin to distance themselves from those actions and eventually attempt to paint a new history absolving their ideology from today’s failures. Philosophy professor Alex Rosenberg argues in How History Gets Things Wrong that narrative histories almost always get the “why” of history wrong because the narratives we spin about history, especially popular histories, are usually motivated by our own moral causes. If true, perhaps even the “what” of history can be distorted for the same reasons.

As Murray Rothbard demonstrated in The Progressive Era, American progressivism was born of just this type of motivated moral cause:

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