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Home The Forwardism Disease

The Forwardism Disease

The Obama slogan for 2012 is in and it's "Forward", which is a compact version of that old classic, "Don't change horses in the middle of a stream" that every incumbent is forced to run on sooner or later. Forward implies that there's no alternative but to go backward, which is a place that no right-thinking person wants to go.

The left has always been enamored of "Forwardism" or "Progressivism" which mean much the same thing. Before MSNBC had Lean Forward, Mao had the Great Leap Forward which killed some 40 million people, far more people than MSNBC can ever dream of tuning in to their programs.

When Lenin wanted to launch his own newspaper, he called it, "Vperod" or Forward. The name still lingers on among the left and appears on the mastheads of newspapers across the world. It's Vorwarts in Germany, Voorwarts in the Netherlands and Ila al-Amam in the Arab world. Back in New York it's The Forward, the venerable blotting paper of the Jewish left.

There are any number of left-wing political parties who have already named themselves "Forward", including the Forward Communist Party of India, Kadima, the left-wing opposition party in Israel, and Vperod, a Russian political party that split off from the Socialist Resistance on account of the latter not being radical enough.

Picking "Forward" as his campaign slogan puts Obama in good company with the likes of Lenin and Mao, and it sounds positive until you stop and realize that it's meant more as an order than a suggestion. There's a reason most leftist newspapers with that name add an exclamation mark at the end of it. It's not a proposal, it's a command. Lean forward, march forward, live forward and then die forward. We've burned the bridges, run up the deficit and trashed the economy so there's no going back.

An old Soviet era joke told the story of the wife of a Communist leader who upon hearing that her husband had developed a progressive paralysis, clapped her hands and exclaimed that at least it was progressive. That is the underlying message of "Forward" to voters, the country may be paralyzed, but at least it's a progressive paralysis which leaves us unable to move our heads and stop leaning forward while the Entertainer in Chief croons to us about the wonderful world to come.

That may be why it remains a popular campaign slogan among desperate left of center candidates. When Adlai Stevenson, dean of the liberal eggheads, ran in 1952, the campaign buttons read, "Forward with Stevenson". The country chose to go backward instead with Eisenhower winning by a landslide.

Tony Blair ran for his third term under the slogan, "Britain, forward, not back", which despite its clumsiness did conclusively explain that"Forward" as a campaign slogan means there's no going back. However Blair forgot to tell voters that this referred to his immigration policy which helped create Broken Britain.

In this forward-thinking Britain, the police are being trained to look for signs of sorcery among immigrants after children have been murdered on suspicion that they might be witches. The last woman to be executed on witchcraft charges in the area was back in 1727, but now the UK is back in the witch hunting business or the hunting witchhunters business as the case may be. That's not to mention the Islamic female genital mutilation business, which is also booming as part of Britain's forward march into the 7th century.

Had Blair been a touch more honest, the slogan would have been, "Britain, so forward, it's backward." Much like having a mind so open your brains fall out, that is one of the dangers of being so forward, going so far ahead you end up in the middle of the Arabian desert praising absolute monarchies and slave states like Qatar as beacons of freedom and democracy, while your police hunt witchhunters and the mutilators of little girls.

In Australia, Julia Gillard rolled out "Moving Forward", explaining that the slogan fit because Australians are an optimistic forward-looking people. Which they had to be as their country had suffered the worst economic decline in twenty years. When things are that bad, you might as well look forward and find something to be optimistic about.

The Grenadan Revolution had its own forward thinking slogans like "Who Controls the Minds of the People Have the Power" and "Forward Ever, Backward Never". Sadly the revolution ended up going backward when the reactionary running dog capitalists overthrew the Cuban backed revolutionaries and robbed them of control over the minds of the people.

The Obama campaign has largely adopted both Grenadan slogans, but its control over the minds of the people may prove to be as tenuous as that of the People's Revolutionary Army did over Grenada. The backward view is surprisingly appealing even to Obama supporters who can't help remembering that there used to be more jobs and more money before the Hope and Change revolution.

Romney might ask you if you are better off now than you were four years ago, but Obama will tell you to forget the past and look forward to the eternal future that is always peeking over the horizon. The mirage of the progressive world of tomorrow which we can reach over a pile of dead senior citizens, energy saving lightbulbs and multicultural coloring books.

The very use of "Forward" as a slogan summons up a century's worth of socialist ghosts that they are blind to. But recognizing that would require looking backward, which forward thinking people do not do.

In Maryland, Governor Martin O'Malley, a liberal Democrat, turned a billion dollar surplus into a two billion dollar deficit, and then ran for reelection on what other slogan but, "Moving Maryland Forward". The people of Maryland have moved on to what else but more billion dollar deficits. That is what you get when you move "Forward", deficit spending today that will reap dividends in tomorrow's utopias, economics by officials who can't be bothered to count how much money they have because they're too busy looking forward to the future.

Forwardistan is not some enigmatic place, it's Lenin's Russia, Mao's China, O'Malley's Maryland and Obama's America. It's what happens when you drive leaning forward, because maps and rear view mirrors are for backward thinking people who lack the courage to take the great leap of faith forward into the economic dead zone of uncontrolled spending and crude control of the economy.

Progressives do not like looking backward in the rearview mirror, there's too many things there that they would rather not see, like the Great Leap Forward, the Gulags, the ghosts of Five Year Plans and a thousand failed ideologies and dead philosophies taunting them. Forwardism frees them from having to contemplate the unemployment figures or the deficit, there is no past, only the eternal future. Forget your troubles and groove to a new hopeful slogan that promises a better world tomorrow for a hamburger today.

In 1887, Edward Bellamy published the classic socialist tract, "Looking Backward" that imagined a Socialist America in the year 2000 where all industries had been nationalized, the economy had been militarized into an industrial army and retirement age was set at forty-five. Though Bellamy named his book, "Looking Backward", he actually meant looking forward to the wonders of a new age that would apply progressive ideals and industrialization to every sphere of human affairs.

Bellamy's utopia never quite came about, except in parts of Europe, which are swiftly going down the economic tubes, and the Soviet Union, which imploded in failed production quotas, debt and senseless tyranny. But there is one brief excerpt from "Looking Backward" that amply sums up the wrongness of Forwardism.

"It is easier for a general up in a balloon with perfect survey of the field, to manoeuvre a million men to victory than for a sergeant to manage a platoon in a thicket," one of Bellamy's future mouthpieces explains, laying out why the individual businessman is inferior to the wisdom of a planned economy.

Bellamy was fifteen when the Civil War ended and he died without ever seeing his country fight another major war. Had he lived to the Great War, he might have understood something of the wisdom of sergeants and the folly of generals. Perhaps he would have even realized that while generals can see farther than sergeants, they don't know the terrain or what it takes to hold it.

After a century of Bellamy's scientific generals of industry losing the battle on every front, his successors are still moving backward by looking forward, not to the year 2000, but perhaps to 3000, or at least 2100. Some year in the distant future when mankind will finally be run by a machine state that will run everything fairly and rationally under the guidance of the generals of the state.

That is what "Forward" really means. The "Forwardism" of that future which never seems to work, but is on the edge of working, with enough money, enough laws and enough marching orders, mankind will finally set foot into that mechanical state where leaders look upon us from their balloons and tell us how to live and how to die.

On college campuses, Obama stretches out his hand, urging students to take it and make that great leap forward with him into the future. That is what this election is really about and that is what this year will decide. Do we leap forward with him off the cliff or do we turn back and try to find a better way ahead?


  1. Anonymous2/5/12

    Yes, and the Forward thing is like the Change thing. I'm a firm believer in, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I've lived a long time. Definitely long enough to know that most change is for the worse.

    I'm convinced that the people obsessing about Change and Forward are miserable people who just plain aren't happy, so they're sure that if only everything were different, they'd be happier!

    People who enjoy their lives as they are, and value even the little things, aren't in any hurry for "change."

    When I was young it was safe to walk to school, fast-food burgers and fries were awesome (it was before the Food Police screwed them up), there was no such thing as ADD, and the only drug ads on TV were for aspirin and cold medicine. Things have definitely "changed."

    1. Anonymous2/5/12

      Don't be an eejit
      Of course there was ADD & ADHD. They just didn't call it that.

  2. Kyra2/5/12

    Gov O'Malley has an Irish traditional band called O'Malley's March. Maybe he should call it O'Malley's Long March.

  3. Anonymous said...

    'Don't be an eejit
    Of course there was ADD & ADHD. They just didn't call it that.'

    They also didn't tell kids there was something wrong with them and medicate them into zombies.

    Great read, as always, Daniel.

    1. Anonymous2/5/12

      I've been on meds for ADD since I was 39. It totally changed my world. I could finally catch the sparks of ideas that were shooting all around me & realize them into tangible form.
      I realize this is off topic so I won't be posting about it again

  4. Forward is an awful slogan. Except for the infamous leftist newspaper who may enjoy it. And I can imagine effective ads for Romney that utilize the word Forward, stating debt, unemployment #'s, etc.. and ask "is this Forward?
    But, somehow I fear this opportunity to hold Obama responsible for his record may be passed up.

  5. One minor minor thing; in Dutch it is voorwaArts, not voorwarts.
    Apart from that, as usual i agree with you about 90%.
    How do you know and understand all these things so well?
    I once read that it is the tragedy of the French revolution/enlightment also. The utopia never realy works out the way it was suposed to do. So often a new generation has to invent the wheel all over again. Hereby rebeling against older generations who knew it all also. Kind of tragic. It could go on till the end of days. Untill they discover true Thora values which are timeless, and where there is no need to rebel against a society that failed the ideals that presumebly stood for the French revolution. You can see this in France all the time with all the strikes and riots and everything

  6. Anonymous2/5/12

    This may be your best column ever Mr. Knish. I recall when Ronald Reagan died the execrable "Forward" wrote a disgusting editorial lambasting the man who was probably the most pro-Israel president ever.

  7. Anonymous2/5/12

    Forward, progressive, hit the rich, we want only what's good for you. All these words work today and sound right because:
    1. people are so shallow, they don't think or analyze
    2. people have no education and the instruments to verify over the teleprompter.
    Why did the revolution in Russia work? They were all peasants with not much knowledge except the promisses they got.
    We have the leaders we deserve and its going to get much worse.

  8. Anonymous2/5/12

    love your stuff but its lunacy to tighten the belts when the economy is contracting...that misguided policy landed us in the great depression in the thirties...today the news came out that only small businesses are hiring yet our corporations are sitting on record amounts of cash..it is the conservative corporations who have betrayed this country...they have purposely kept unemployment high to bring down wages...want to cut medicare, medicade, social security because the rich don't need it...tax breaks fro the small businesses? took months of wrangling with those bribe taking Republicans who in economic matters represent only the rich but couch their deceits in other terms... on the social issues i'm in total agreement with them...don't worry about deficit spending (just as the younger Bush) once the stimulus works it increases the tax base, increases money in circulation and the deficit comes down...why the Republicans want a favored classs is to oppress..while the evidence is in that full employment makes them richer as stimulus increases jobs, which in turn is paid back in taxes and with more people spending money the businesses get more business...the Republicans who have gotten rich recently with bribes, raiding the treasury, decre4sed regulations breaking the unions are not interested in this country only in oppression...they want it all...stick to the social issues...

  9. revereridesagain2/5/12

    Somebody break out the "Bass-Ackward" bumper stickers so I can place my order today!

    OT, but anyone who thinks the set of traits that characterize ADD are either non-existent or good healthy fun has never tried living with them. (And yes they were noted long before the "ADD/ADHD" tag was added; one of the most poignant examples is a child in the novel "Jane Eyre".)

  10. NeeNee2/5/12

    'Don't be an eejit
    Of course there was ADD & ADHD. They just didn't call it that.'

    Yes, I'm sure ADD & ADHD exist. But I'm also willing to bet it's a tag hung on children who grew up with little adult supervision, and no good example who are out of control. My "children" are now 44, 40 and 34. When they were toddlers, they were not allowed to rip/tear/deface magazines or books because they were taught to revere the printed word. All of them got A's in reading, spelling and language. I taught all of them to read the summer before first grade. Middle child is a dreamer, and perhaps has the least "intelligence marbles" with which to play. But she knows how to lead her kids down the academic path to success and both of those grandchildren are readers & writers.

    I graduated from a small midwestern high school in 1966. Out of 54, there was ONE---count it, one---boy who may have been ADD. Everyone else managed to get their subjects studied, graduated and went on to have successful lives. Statistically, I think there are now more kids on ADD meds than 1/54; my girlfriend's daughter says that in her class of 195 the nurse gives out ADD meds to over a dozen kids.

    While we're on statistics, why in 1966 were 200+ kids at my high school served meals with no thoughts to allergies . . .because NOBODY.HAD.ANY!! All of us ate the same stuff at noon and no one had a seizure or breathing problem. As far as I know, there were no pollen or animal dander allergies either. Most of us lived on farms and grew up doing chores that subjected us to those substances on a daily basis.

  11. Well, I suggest Romney adopt LEAN BACK from the Terror-squad..It is a black negro-ditty that may serve him very well, not only it contradicts the cardboard-image mister Romney is accused of, but also because it is a cool way of actually counseling the opposite of what BHO is promoting..: "Lean back, let´s evaluate our course and take a good look at what is being done in our name"

    Because it is a black negro-ditty the lyrics should be evaluated carefully of course, in case the republican candidate might be mistaken for something he is not..
    I have to admit I have absolutely no idea what this Fat Joe is going on about, but then maybe nobody really does, so it mightn´t matter anyhow

  12. Anonymous3/5/12

    But, But , but .... you see ... it is not an insult to compare Obama with Mao or any other progressive type mass murderer.

    The Obama gang are proud of their communism or more appropriately, Totalitarian desires to finally get control of the planet and save it for the slaves who will now die in misery until there is only about a fifth of our numbers left and almost no White People left at all.

    Perhaps they will save a few buxom blue-eyed blonds for sexual purposes, but that's about it. No more Whitey to solve problems and develop technology .... for we are going back to the caves and hovels of the middle ages.

  13. It doesn't surprise me in the least that leaders such as Obama and his ilk want to push forward and leave the past behind. They want to close the door on the evils of the past (Communism) and the evil dictators of the past.

    They're also more than willing to close the door on what we cherish whether it is art, classical music, and replace those with liberal ideals and images.

    I'm surprised Obama hasn't uttered the immortal, "That was then, this is now."

  14. Slight OT but you might want to read this op-ed that appeared in the Buffalo News. It was written by a Cuban American and how he became free of Communism.

    The piece is entitled Man Cannot Live by Slogans Alone

    Little excerpt:

    "I chose to seek refuge in an imaginary world, the library.

    "Obviously, such books as “Animal Farm,” “1984” and “The Power of the Powerless” did not exist there.

    "My intuition, though, told me that a few subversive books might have escaped censorship. I looked forward to their enlightenment.

    "I wanted to find out who I was and what my place should be in society. Then I found “The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind” by Gustave Le Bon.

    "This book was not only a sort of dictator’s manual, but also a picture of me, a sheep.

    "But I was not a sheep. The day I raised a sign in the street claiming my human rights, I was put in jail.

    "I felt like a beast, and it felt so great because I knew from that day on I would be a free man."

    You can read the rest here:


  15. Anonymous4/5/12

    Progressives, communists, socialists (PCS), do not like looking in the rear view mirror because what they see are the ghosts 150m that they murdered in the death camps and gulags.

    The tragedy is when the PCS loose, nothing much happens to them, but if they win, they make sure that they kill any and all opposition. There has to be a way to make the PCS pay for what they did in the 20th century.


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