About this book
This book traces the word ‘progressive’ through modern British history, from the Enlightenment to Brexit. It explores the shifting meanings of this term and the contradictory political projects to which it has been attached. It also places this political language in its cultural context, asking how it relates to ideas about progressive social development, progressive business, and progressive rock music.
‘Progressive’ is often associated with a centre-left political tradition, but this book shows that this was only ever one use of the term – and one that was heavily contested even from its inception.
The power of the term ‘progressive’ is that it appears to anticipate the future. This can be politically and culturally valuable, but it is also dangerous. The suggestion that there is only one way forward has led to fear and doubt, anger and apathy, even amongst those who would like to consider themselves ‘progressive people’.
language British history culture progressive politics British politics political parties