What Makes a Post-Progressive?

Examining this new political movement

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Democratic Socialists of America, an example of a post-progressive organization.

The Elements

Post-progressivism appears to display the following features:

  • Preference for values of identity politics over universal human values
  • In addition to a focus on identity groups, a de-emphasis on economic class
  • Criticism of markets and private ownership generally (Marxist influence)
  • Support for state-sponsored programs, such as universal health care
  • Episodic, pragmatic praise of corporations that pander to identitarian values (odd bed-fellows with the economic right-wing)
  • Rejection of politically incongruous science and facts
  • Hardline opposition to any military action
  • Ambivalence toward progressivism
  • A pursuit of justice over progress (hence “post-progressive”)

Prominent Examples

  • Democratic Socialists of America
  • Justice Democrats
  • Black Lives Matter (with exceptions in respect to local autonomy)
  • The Young Turks

Relationship to Progressivism

Naturally, this movement does have a relationship to progressive politics. One area of similarity is a critical attitude of unfettered capitalism and a concern about inequality. Post-progressives also favor certain public programs and borrow progressive terminology (Green New Deal).


Post-progressives are a reaction to the events and problems of the time. They consist primarily of millennials who have come of age during events such as the Great Recession of 2008, record wealth inequality, the Iraq War, America’s first non-white President, the melting of glaciers and sea-level rise, increased optics about police brutality/prison abuse, and the Patriot Act and Snowden leaks. With the large gap in time between them and previous progressive movements, it is therefore unsurprising that they diverge significantly and have adopted values that are unrelated to or even in conflict with progressivism.

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