Progress and the Progressive

Progress means a ‘moving forward’, something ‘getting better or worse (!)’ as opposed to remaining in a state.

An illustration of the word progressive could be progressive algorithms, for example Bubble sort is progressive whereas Insertion sort isn’t. Bubble sort iterates through a list comparing the current item with the next item and swapping them if they are in the wrong order. After a half run, we have a list which is almost correctly sorted. Insertion sort removes all items to a temporary storage, picks one item and inserts it in its proper place. After a half run, we have a list with only half of its entries in it. That is, a half run of Insertion sort creates more corruption and of a more serious kind, than Bubble sort, when it is interrupted midway. For this reason many engineers and hackers like progressive algorithms because of their progressiveness, which is a good quality because an engineer, it is assumed, would produce code that accomplished constructive things for a user, a product or a project.

Suddenly somebody, perhaps a journalist, will ask the engineer: “Are you progressive?” or “Do you like progressive policy?”. To this, of course, the engineer will answer something like: “Yeah, progressive stuff is good and reliable. Why would somebody not think it awesome?”

In politics progressive has meant any person or policy which favour change over tradition and praxis. This is very confusing, because Western political tradition has involved not trying to make thing perfect directly, but to aim for simple and reliable institutions and incentives that solve some problems and leave other problems untackled. That is pretty much what conservatism is about. Once these measures are in place, it would be possible to device new measures to try to solve the remaining issues. Like a progressive algorithm. Awesome!

So the word progressive in politics mean the opposite of the word progressive in technology.

In politics, more recently progressive has referred to tax rates that are higher for subjects who earn more, and lower for subjects who earn less. This is because tax rates weren’t correlated to income 90+ years ago, so making that change seemed to many people to be progress.

A most disturbing definition of progressiveness/progressivity is it’s a policy which has the State support innovation, change, trade and technology habituation. It would seem like an engineer would appreciate such a policy, wouldn’t it?

The alternative isn’t to be hostile towards innovation, trade and technology, but to remove the State from it. In other words, a person’s relation to tech is a false dichotomy. Do your pick and you will be less intelligent than yesterday. Refuse to choose and you are fine (recommended).

What we need is to introduce some decentralization in the form of individualism. We want the individual to be in charge of their own life. This means they need to have access to at least as good technology as sovereign states have. Sovereigns can buy weapons, aircraft, they have laboratories, cameras, satellites, computer clusters, ships and panels of experts on everything. It’s not possible to give most of a society’s individuals control over all that.

The feasible alternative is to deny that technology to sovereigns. Realistically, the highest of high-tech can be denied. This is done to some extent today. Military technology usually have export restrictions so that it is denied to some countries (people and government). What is missing, from an anti (bad-definition-of-)progressive point of view, is institutions which would enable private companies to exercise benevolent responsible capitalism by selling high-tech to individuals while denying it to the governments. This could be accomplished by means of power sharing, where the judicial systems (pl.) have their own militias and can make sure a government will have to pay if they should have let an agent acquire tech while pretending to be unrelated to the government.

If you came here after searching for Bubble sort, here’s some Java code for copy+paste:

class BubbleSort{
        public static void main(String[] argv){

                String[] aaaa = {"amjo","mi","ke","aard","pule","ölen"};
                int[] bbbb = { 638, 54, 76891, 333, -123, 87};

                // BubbleSort algorithm starts here ================
                int nofl = (aaaa.length < bbbb.length)? aaaa.length : bbbb.length;

                for ( int i = 0; i < nofl; i++){
                        for ( int j = 0; j < (nofl - 1); j++){

                                // if need shift
                                if ( aaaa[j].compareToIgnoreCase( aaaa[j+1]) >= 0){
                                        String holder = aaaa[j];
                                        int holdix = bbbb[j];
                                        aaaa[j] = aaaa[j+1];
                                        bbbb[j] = bbbb[j+1];
                                        aaaa[j+1] = holder;
                                        bbbb[j+1] = holdix;
                // BubbleSort algorithm ends here =================

                for ( int z = 0; z < nofl; z++){
                        System.out.println("" + z + " aaaa= " + aaaa[z] + " bbbb= " + bbbb[z]);

This is for the cases similar to when you wish to create a phone book, where names should be sorted alphabetically and the number needs to remain associated with the same name as in the input.

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