The title of this reflection is, in part, inspired by what Wikipedia refers to as "a feat of smooth and ruthless efficiency", the historic "double play" action of infield basemen of the 1906-1910 Chicago Cubs that also inspired a short poem, entitled "Baseball's Sad Lexicon," also known as "Tinker to Evers to Chance", by Franklin P. Adams. (See Baseball's Sad Lexicon.)
To summarize, the terms refer to the following "progressive" phenomena:
- Progressives have tinkered with the philosophical foundations and practice of government (e.g. jurisprudence, our republican form of government, legislative and executive traditions, reinterpreting the Preamble, Commerce Clause, the Bill of Rights, the post Civil War amendments, adding amendments that weaken state sovereignty, the so-called "nuclear option" in the Senate, and the most recent innovations of the impeachment traditions in the House), the economy (e.g. deficit spending, social security [including using the surplus as a cash cow), "entitlements", turning over major segments of the economy to government control e.g. education and healthcare), new forms of Federal Reserve tinkering, with sexual morality (e.g. lifting restrictions on pornography, no-fault divorce, legalizing and subsidizing and mandating abortion, gay/lesbian marriage, transsexual surgical and other entitlements), redefining citizenship and citizenship rights (as well as "open borders"), and, last but not least, ideological imperialism.
- A term, alluding to "never Trumpers", represents systematic efforts to oppose any return to sanity in the areas of tinkering, above. (Cf. political correctness and the Overton Window.)
- The inevitable result of sustained, systemic and increasingly rapid philosophical and practical tinkering in all areas of life by ideological elites.
Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins— or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer
One can become a tool of Lucifer (more popularly known as Satan, whose role in God's plan [as "the accuser", or, more specifically, the ruthless and malicious fault finder] is well described in the Book of Job in the Old Testament) either through a warped naivety or through deliberately malicious intent. Only God knows which was the case for Mr. Alinsky, though great destruction can result from either stance. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was most likely just naive when he preached the inherent innocence of savage humanity, but his picture became highly appealing to revolutionaries determined to remove existing governing structures and replace them with anarchic or socialist substitutes. Edgar Rice Burroughs' character, Tarzan, popularized the idea of the noble savage just before World War I (which popularized the idea that civilization stinks). (Johnny Weissmuller's portrayal of Tarzan in feature films of the 1930s and 40s helped to cement the notion in the public mind.)
Alinsky's idea of Lucifer as a rebel is fundamentally based on the picture portrayed in John Milton's epic poem, Paradise Lost. For further information, check out the Wikipedia article or read the epic, itself. Note, in particular, the following from the synopsis in Wikipedia:
Satan, formerly called Lucifer, is the first major character introduced in the poem. He was once the most beautiful of all angels, and is a tragic figure who famously declares: "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven." Following his failed rebellion against God, he is cast out from Heaven and condemned to Hell. Satan's desire to rebel against his creator stems from his unwillingness to be subjugated by God and his Son, claiming that angels are "self-begot, self-raised," and thereby denying God's authority over them as their creator.
Alinsky has in mind creating a "new world order" (to use President George H. W. Bush's seductive phrase), one which erases the past in order to attempt to write a more seductive future.
This is the fundamental mindset of radicals. When you're trying to establish a Utopian vision (like Marxism or its 20th century offshoots, or 21st century secular humanist progressivism and its eugenicist/Malthusian antecedents), the ends are thought to justify the deadly means, We find it in the French Jacobins, the Russian Bolsheviks, Germany's Nazi Party, the Chinese Maoists' Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, Che Guevara's el Hombre Nuevo, and so on... And all of these Utopian movements become dominated by a single individual who is portrayed as godlike. (See Cult of Personality.) This popular deification of the ruthless genius is as old as humanity, itself, apparently. The Egyptian Pharaoh's for example, were considered to be gods.
The result is mass psychology that buys into a Utopian (Utopia being a word coined by Sir Thomas More, meaning "no place", and made the title of a satirical novel portraying a vision of an ideal society) vision. Today's 21st century Progressive Humanists are trying to establish a new Utopia.
St. Paul, the Apostle, understood that all such Tower of Babel ambitions would inevitably end in disaster…
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. [Romans 8:19-21,, RSV]
To put it in more modern and scientific terms, civilizations that rise inevitably fall as a result of the law of entropy. (See, especially, Information Entropy.) They fall because of an increase of social, economic and governmental chaos.
Some, like the 21st century Progressive Movement, see in sustained near-chaos a possibility of the spontaneous creation of something new and original. See chaos theory and self-organized criticality (SOC). SOC has been invoked to explain black swans in economics and punctuated equilibrium. Unfortunately, a lot of death has to happen before that something new and original is established, including the death of civilizations.
Meanwhile, the true believers always fight against efforts to restore prior equilibria. Those efforts are the work of true conservatives. In a fundamental sense, conservatives study history so that they can try to reestablish some good that existed in the past, like, for example, Constitutional order. Progressives, on the other hand, worship the new and different, with a vision of turning planet Earth into a natural paradise, where human beings are reduced to a "sustainable" population level (like 1/2 billion), subjected to eugenic purification, and live "happy", "productive" lives. These two visions are utterly incompatible, and the clash will inevitably grow in violence. That violence almost inevitably leads, eventually, to chaos and death.
And, if you dare to oppose that march toward chaos and death, you will be attacked by the "nevers" who see themselves as the guardians of the Hegelian march of history.