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What is the Regressive Left?

Updated on March 1, 2016
Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull writes articles on topics such as religion and skepticism - original poetry and short-stories - and film/tv/book/game reviews.


A new term has recently entered the political landscape and has quickly become used to label a loosely connected group of people most of whom identify themselves as Progressive Liberals. Due to the terms quickly growing popularity and general overuse confusion has naturally arisen about what, exactly, makes someone a Regressive.

Like any term on the internet Regressive is a label that gets put on people for a lot of different reasons. Some might want to shut a conversation down, some might simply want to tag someone they disagree with with a label and “otherize” them while still others seem to simply be struggling with the bizarre things that some Progressives do and say.

In this hub I hope to briefly explain my own thoughts on what a Regressive actually is in a way that I hope illustrates that the Regressive Left is both a real thing and a danger if it is not called out.

What is the Regressive Left?

The simplest illustration I can give for what the Regressive Left is would be to compare it to the phrase, “three lefts make a right”. The Regressive Left is that part of the Left wing that has taken three left turns and come back around to holding a policy that makes them look like part of the Right.

The definition is in the name, Regressive, whether they realize it or not they want to take us backward.
The definition is in the name, Regressive, whether they realize it or not they want to take us backward.

Puritanical Nonsense

Take, for example, the positions of some Feminists and “Social Justice Warriors” about video games. They see any sexualized representation of women as a bad thing and rail against video games that show scantily clad or attractive women.

In complaining about women showing skin they actually seem to be arguing from a puritanical perspective, that women should be covered and always fully clothed in video games. Naturally such puritanical values identify far closer with the ideals of a social conservative than they do with a Progressive Liberal.

You would expect someone who is Progressive and LIBERAL to want art and entertainment to depict whatever the artist wants without restraint on his or her personal liberty. Instead there are many who seem to have gone so far Left they have come back around to a position more commonly associated with the right. They attack certain art, entertainment and speech as offensive or even OPPRESSIVE.

The Racist Left

We see the same thing when it comes to racial issues. There is a lot of white guilt out there in the world and attempts to purge it often lead to disparaging depictions of white people. There are situations currently on College Campuses here in the United States where “non-white” safe spaces are a thing. Students of various ethnicities are choosing to segregate themselves from the rest of the world. These safe spaces are available only to “people of color”.

Black students are being taught that they are oppressed while they sit comfortably in wealthy institutions of learning. This includes millionaires like Johnathan Butler, a black student at the University of Missouri who led a student protest group that shouted lines from the Communist manifesto like “we have nothing to lose but our chains”. This is the son of a millionaire convincing other black students that they are oppressed and hated and demanding that white people check their “privilege”.

There is a resurgence of race based fear mongering that seems to stem from people on the Left that seems completely disproportionate to the level of racism on the Right. But of course, the Right wing is the wing of traditionalists and is, more so than the Left, associated with racism or xenophobia.

Yet it is the Left, through the advent of identity politics and intersectionality, that has begun judging people based on the color of their skin by gauging how much they have been oppressed. White people are privileged and must somehow be held responsible for the actions of their ancestors hundreds of years ago, while black people, even the children of millionaires, have nothing to lose but their “chains”.

This sort of thing is exactly what we mean when we say Regressive. Clearly the Liberal principles our society prides itself on, like judging each other as equals regardless of things like race, gender, etc is under attack. Shockingly that attack is no longer coming from the Right but is coming from those who have gone so far Left they have gone off the deep end!

Political Correctness

Self-censorship is an insidious thing in a society that is meant to enable and encourage the free exchange of ideas and yet in today's world it is becoming more and more difficult to avoid self-censoring. We have entered an age where literally everyone and everything is seen as having its roots in evil or prejudice or slavery.

Everyone and everything is potentially offensive to someone somewhere and this has led to a culture of perpetual offense takers on the internet. It has gotten to the point now where someone who isn't offended by your comment his or herself will report something you've said because it MIGHT be offensive to some other person or group that they are not a part of.

Take that last sentence you just read as an example. Someone might see that I've said his or herself and be offended that I did not include the gender fluid, gender neutral, agender and transgender in that statement. I have not respected the pronouns of others and thus I might have offended someone somewhere down the line.

We live in a world of micro-aggressions where if I were to begin a statement with the phrase “ladies and gentlemen” I run the risk of “triggering” someone who doesn't fit into the gender binary. And so the insidious wheels of self-censorship start spinning. You start policing your own speech, your own writings, for anything that might potentially offend someone. You start policing yourself so that the PC police don't come down on you.

It starts to become more and more difficult to formulate the language in a way that won't offend people but still retain the meaning you intend. Words that were once okay to use get stripped away one by one for arbitrary reasons. Suddenly calling someone disabled or crippled or retarded is “ABLEISM”.

People are walking on eggshells whenever they open their mouths afraid that the professional offense police out there will jump all over them for the slightest transgression of speech. That is not conducive to a free and open exchange of ideas and it does nothing but restrict our ability to use the language we want to describe things.

Criticism of Islam

One of the biggest areas where Regressivism rears it's head is in discussions of Islam and Islamic ideas. There are a lot of people who seem afraid to call out Islam in the same capacity that they would Christianity or who will even bring up Christian terrorism in a discussion about Islamic terrorism. There is a conflation of the idea that criticizing the ideas and practices of Islam is the same thing as criticizing Muslims as people.

The disconnect here seems to be due to the fact that they, and many others, cannot disconnect their own individuality from these collectivist identities. For example Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, etc. There seems to be an inability for people to decouple their identities from the religion they follow and also a conflation of that religion with certain racial characteristics. And thus, in their minds, criticizing Islam = Criticizing All Muslims = Racism and xenophobia.

There is also, in many circles, the belief that US Foreign policy is solely responsible for the creation of terrorism and which wishes to push from the discussion any other factors, such as the fundamental ideas within Islam's tenants and “holy” text. Of course US foreign policy in the Middle East has had a mostly negative impact on the region – of course it has contributed to the radicalization and insurgency of many people – but Islamic terror is currently leading the world in terrorism and pretending that that has nothing to do with the ideas of Islam is simply delusional.

Cartoons of Muhammad (Peanut Butter Be Upon Him)

Demonizing white people, demonizing the West and sympathizing with or excusing the actions of extremists are all things associated with the Regressive Left because, again, they have gone so far Left they are now standing firmly against Liberal principles that form the backbone of our society. Take, for example, Freedom of Speech vs. Islam. There is debate among people on the Left whether satirical cartoons of the prophet Muhammad which mock or defame him should be classified as hate speech.

They think that such actions make us look hateful and make Muslims feel unwelcome and alienated. I'm sorry but if part of your religion is the belief that people who draw cartoons deserve to be killed, or imprisoned, you have no business attempting to join a free society as part of it. I don't want my rights to freedom of speech threatened because Muslims think a cartoon depiction should be classified as hate speech and made illegal. It would be the same if Christians got outraged any time someone made fun of Jesus and wanted it labeled hate speech and made illegal.

It makes little difference to me how hardcore the mocking is, how blasphemous, as long as the cartoons are not calling for violence against modern day Muslims.

Learn how to separate your ideas and beliefs from yourself, attacking Muhammad is not the same thing as attacking Muslims. I'm an atheist but I wouldn't call for the arrest of those who slander and attack atheism, and trust me I see and hear people accusing atheists and atheism of the worst atrocities imaginable. But I respect their right to do so as long as they are not attempting to inspire real world violence or discrimination. Freedom of speech should have limitations only where actual harm can be done, such as in those calling for violence.


For someone to be a Regressive they must identify as a Progressive or Liberal but, when you get into their actual stances, they seem to share more in common with the Right. Their stances are so far left of center that they are actually illiberal in some way. They are, quite literally, REGRESSIVE, as in wanting to walk society backward. This is why they are obsessed with divisive issues of race and gender and are afraid of addressing ideas as being separate from the identities that people become attached to.

It is not that their intentions are bad, often times they have very noble intentions and believe they are doing the right thing – but that is what makes Regressives so dangerous.

That's my take on things, let me know how wrong I am in the comments!

A Regressive at work


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    • profile image


      14 months ago

      I call that hypocrisy and its just as easily given to the so called regressive right. I beg the Republicans to repeal health care so I can watch them all be voted from office. I hope they destroy every institution in this land and no one does anything. Once you break every law and do nothing then no one will be held accountable. Once you quit doing your job to protect your agenda they only have to remind you of when you broke the law. The quetion is when will ordinary people get tired of being your corporate slaves. Thats right you persecute them on the smallest crimes yet if you have enough money and power you can do anything you want. Its easy to find a dumb person who follows a hypocrit but its not regressive. Its not a policy or belief to be rich and to believe that what ever you tweet will be believed minus all facts and common sense. No one cares about political correctness until it cost you a lot of money. Its not surprising that someone would use it as a weapon to gain support any more then getting support from politically incorrect people. The bottom line is where do people get sick of people attacking people and the so called politically incorrect people seem kind of rude and less defendible. Why do we not try treating people with kindness and learn who is the real racist, sexist and most so called politically correct. Why not decide to make everything unpolitical and see it for what it really is.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      My first time reading hubpages and your articulation was very thought provoking and most enjoyable, thankyou. I too, like you, lean to the side that accords with my common sense and view at the time that I chose to lean (or not).. And so reading thoughtful views such as yours certainly helps with a deeper understanding of the symptoms that can ill humanity.

      And my [current] synoptic view - It seems that when you couple the regressive [left] mentality with the prevalent societal view of entitlement there is a spiralling mental void that inevitably leads to actual harm to humanity.

      Thanks again for your articulation.

    • jgshorebird profile image

      Jack Shorebird 

      2 years ago from Southeastern U.S.

      Interesting take. Enjoyed your hub. Keep it up.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Hallelujah I'm not a 'regressive' :)

      Never really been 'on the left' apart from playing Soccer!

      If you look at the extremes of both parties you see they're identical! Makes me wonder "who moved?" as both claim to be true to their roots yet end up opposite to where they started out!

      Enjoyed this hub.


    • Taopi profile image


      2 years ago

      Quote: "So I've never felt comfortable identifying with any one label but I do consider myself left leaning and thus this schism in the Left is very troubling and worth talking about."

      Yes, absolutely. Left leaning myself, I know where you are coming from with the disturbing trend these recent years, and it IS a critical discussion. Very much so.

    • Titen-Sxull profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from back in the lab again

      Thanks Taopi, I'm glad to be one the authors that keeps you coming back to hubpages.

      The thing about Progressives and the Regressive Left is that their hearts are often in the right place but the conclusions they reach and the methods they use often seem counter to basic liberal principals. There is a certain level of collectivism in their thinking that I think is responsible for much of the back lash from what we might term the "classical Left". And as you point out they also inadvertently put fuel on the fire of popularity for people like Trump.

      I've always been a bit hard to pin down politically, on many social issues and foreign policy I'd qualify as a Libertarian, on issues regarding abortion, gun control, gay marriage and financial regulation I'd be a Liberal or even an honorary Progressive. So I've never felt comfortable identifying with any one label but I do consider myself left leaning and thus this schism in the Left is very troubling and worth talking about.

    • Taopi profile image


      2 years ago

      The quote by Stephen Fry is one of my absolute favorites.

      You have given valid points, and perhaps the most important being that what may have started out as good intent has in reality turned into a restrictive extreme of those micro-aggressions that are impossible to keep up with. It has the dangerous components of an oppressive overlord, where the infraction is in the details and the interpretations. Perhaps this explains, at least to a degree, the supporters of Donald Trump. People are pent up and they are tired.

      Sometimes, I think it is merely the dawn of a new era that none anticipated and everyone is trying to "fit" into the picture that is not yet fully formed. Most of my friends are Progressive, and it is, indeed, becoming increasingly difficult to converse on current events, and things have become almost dogmatic in approach. It does, indeed, stifle creative energy and open debate on some very crucial issues.

      Again, as always, I enjoy reading your essays. I haven't participated much on Hubpages recently, having been caught up in some discussions over at Cross Examined on Patheos, but there are writers here that I genuinely like to read, and your hub is such a one.


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