This post is subject to updating.
July 5: bit about the host's flaws constraining the rulers.
Progressivism is an atheistic religious cult bent on political domination for the purposes of parasitically living off the host culture.
I'm about the call the host culture shallow, easily manipulated, and gullible towards even mediocre authority. Possibly I'll also reference that its historical literacy is negative, that curiosity is slightly frowned on, and that two of the most respected kinds of jobs are politicians and actors - both of which have 'excellent liar' on the want ad.
Progressivism uses lies/bullshit and social pressure to spread behaviours that uphold progressive power structures.
As a result, while Progressivism is historically rooted, proximally all
of its professed beliefs are those which support its own power.
For example, Progressivism thought of vegetarianism because it is a child of Puritan Protestantism, which hates the idea that anyone might be enjoying themselves, because they're sure not. But, it amplified/bandwagoned and upheld vegetarianism because meat is warrior food. Meat promotes honour, independence, and self-reliance by supporting the underlying endocrinology. As another example, Progressive's atheism most likely stems from the injunction about separating church and state. Much easier to pretend not to be a church if nobody goes to church, rather than trying to reverse the injunction.
Progressivism exploits the limited inferential distance of the layhuman.
For example, it supports lies by opposing it to a more obvious lie.
Creationism. The Progressive take on evolution would be autoaphyxiating if they seriously believed it. However, it is portrayed as the alternative to creationism. Creationism seems obviously crazy; Progressive evolution, only crazy once you think one or two implications down the road.
Progressivism uses emotional vulnerabilities. Using rhetoric, sympathy
is spun into power. Using rhetoric, power anoints the sympathetic. The ruler who rules for the downtrodden is considered legitimate. Even if the downtrodden are made worse off, as is the case.
The poor were once a useful club to beat various groups with. Now they're not, so their sympathy status was revoked and given to somebody else.
Women were not historically oppressed. Women had a set of imposed obligations that matched the obligations men had to care for them. However, "That's mean to girls!" is a highly sympathetic statement, and so now women are so privileged in divorce court that no man would marry one unless they absolutely have to. (I exaggerate. Slightly.)
See also: China aborting girls. Because pensioners are legally obliged to support their unmarried daughters, whereas sons are legally obliged to support their parents. Attempting to privilege women falls afoul of market effects and game theory.
It doesn't matter whether 'for the downtrodden' is a good idea or even
possible. It doesn't matter who in fact deserves sympathy.
For the layhuman, that they feel sympathy is strong evidence that sympathy is deserved. Having to admit a mistake is much worse than sympathetically supporting or sacrificing to someone undeserving.
Progressivism has successfully appointed itself arbiter of evidence. Any
fact contrary to its pathetic rhetoric can be suppressed by fiat.
It is not only by inspection that we know that men are different from women, we know it scientifically. (Via.) This paper will of course never be mentioned in any American Empire newspaper, and I highly advise you to not bring it up at the watercooler. If it does somehow get a public showing, it will be denounced as crimethink, and a combination of loyalty and fear will immediately send it to the memory hole.
Tragically for science, what these differences mean, in terms of face-to-face and lifelong outcomes, will not be investigated. Presumably some male-female difference is cultural and thus up for debate and experimentation. How much? Which ones? Wouldn't it be cool to be able to choose from an array of archetypes to try to live up to?
Many progressives live only for Moldbug's 'impact.' The point of gay marriage isn't marriage, much less gays. The point is to pick a fight and then win it, because that's fun.
Welfare makes the poor poorer. Do you think the blacks in Detroit have profited by the measures used to ethnically cleanse the city of whites? If you do, isn't it kind of racist to say they would be even worse off if the state hadn't sided with them?
Progressivism jealously despises all other forms of power and influence.
Is Progressivism Marxist? No, in its opposition to e.g. the family, Marxism is Progressive, and thus progressives adopted it. Are Progressives Keynesian? No, Keynesianism justifies the economic fuckery the progressive was doing anyway, and so it was adopted by Progressives. Is Progressivism equalist? No, Progressivism grew up in democracy and in the minds of demagogues. The people by and large are consumed by envy, and thus envy leads to sympathetic arguments for 'equality' and thus equality is Progressive.
The paradigm progressive fears losing power above all else, irrationally. The peasant progressive's primal fear is a variant, about being in the wrong mob.
As true children of Puritanism, proggies have difficulty genuinely enjoying things. It is also obvious that enjoying yourself isn't that hard - if nothing else, children do it all the time. No training. This results in a persecution complex, which results in a desperate desire for power, to defeat the persecutors. Power is rewarding in a crocodile sort of sense, which reinforces this vicious cycle.
Like any social group, Progressives must keep outsiders on the outside. Since equality and inclusivity are explicit premises, they must do so covertly.
One primary mechanism is by selecting for tolerance to cognitive dissonance. The more contradictory ideas you can hold at once without aggravation or having them kill each other, the more Progressive status you can attain. This is especially important for hypocrisy, such as maintaining the exclusivity. These beliefs are euphemized as 'counter-intuitive' and the trait of believing them to the exclusion of progressive-condemned beliefs as 'open-mindedness.' Openness is a genetic personality trait.
This also helps with playing no true Scotsman. Since Progressivism is self-contradictory by design, almost anyone who does not uphold their power directive can be cast out by using one horn of the dilemma or the other.
That the host culture is shallow, easily manipulated, and gullible toward even mediocre authority puts some constraints on what the ruling elite can be like. Any elite that does not exploit these flaws for power will likely lose in competition for power. Those with the personality and ideology to fully exploit these flaws will end up looking a lot like Progressives.
This unfortunately means that even taking away the demotist power and legitimacy structure would not likely create much social change. It might temper the worst excesses.
My pet example being my own pet ideal - property rights uber alles.
It would make it impossible for progressives to pay off their allies by coercing payments from enemies. However, they could exploit the gullibility vector to make the payments voluntary. The shallowness would prevent many of the victims from realizing they're victims, and thus they won't even resist.
Freedom of association would become absolute. Quotas would then come from progressives exploiting their appearance of moral authority to exhort the willing, consenting inhabitants to follow quotas.
CEOs would be ruthlessly selected for leadership competence, instead of selected for obedience to progressives. The progressive candidate would still win, since the employees they're leading would still be gullible, easily manipulated, and shallow.
Of relevance, conspecific parasitism. It's unstable because host can convert to parasite, simultaneously increasing parasite load and reducing the supply of hosts, thus making the marginal host more likely to convert, twice over.
Early feudal lords seemed to realize this and slowed the process by legally demarcking classes. However, their sons had downward mobility, creating a darwinian incentive to abolish or mitigate the system. Simultaneously, the merchant classes were not nobles, and the nobles became poor. Stick, carrot.